The evening's final session began with Higgins leading 13 frames to 12, the only time he had been in front since the end of frame 5. The rapturous reception that awaited both players was something that had not been experienced to that level before. "I've never experienced anything like that before, it was 100 times better than anything," said Higgins.
A break of 62 saw Higgins start where he had left off, but Trump knew he had to show his resolve and managed to win the next 2 frames to draw level at 14-14.
Trump had the first chance of the 29th frame and led 51-0 but he was unlucky to run out of position when he split the pack. Higgins proceeded to make a 44 break but then missed the last red down the side cushion. Fortunately, he got a reprieve as Trump missed the black off the last red, and Higgins made a fine clearance, the highlight being a tough brown.
The next frame was a scrappy one which came down to the colours. Higgins potted a long yellow and added the green but had to play safe on the brown. Trump, trailing by 15 points, went for a thin cut on the brown but left it over the jaws and before he knew it he was 16-14 down. A 70 break in the next frame by Trump saw him reduce the deficit to one frame, the score of the match now being 16-15 to Higgins.
Trump had two scoring chances in frame 32 but could only build a 39-0 lead. Higgins made an excellent 50 before missing the last brown with the rest, but he got another chance and slotted the brown home to go two up with three to play at 17-15.
In the 33rd, Trump looked certain to pull one back until he missed an easy pink at 60-0. Higgins clawed his way back into the frame, though when Trump potted the last red he trailed by 32 points on the colours.
Cleverly, Higgins potted yellow, green, brown and blue so he needed just one snooker to win, then trapped his opponent behind the black. Trump missed the pink, and after a brief safety tussle, Higgins fired an inspired double into a middle pocket and added the black to end one of the all-time great tournaments.
It was a stunning finale from Higgins, whose career looked in jeopardy a year ago, as he sealed victory in a match which boasted high-class snooker throughout the four sessions.
Higgins, 'The Wizard of Wishaw', has been far from his best during the tournament but his sheer grit and tactical nous proved enough to thwart the potting talent of the spiky-haired Trump.
"It has been amazing, an unbelievable 12 months but it has been great," said a tearful Higgins - who suffered the death of his father in February - as he embraced his wife and three children at the end.
"It was really tough match-play. I knew I had to come into the third session [on Monday afternoon] and play great, and I think I did that to get back into the match and make Judd think a little bit.
"He was the better player. He was playing a brand of snooker I have never seen before in my life. It was unbelievable the amount of long shots he was potting, it was incredible. It was great to watch - we have got the new sensation of the game."
Higgins' 24th ranking title, which earned him a winners' cheque of £250,000, added to his Crucible triumphs of 1998, 2007 and 2009.
He is out on his own on four world titles, behind Stephen Hendry (seven), Steve Davis (six) and Ray Reardon (six) in the modern era.
But if his experience proved crucial in the final analysis, there is no doubt snooker has found a new star in Trump, whose confidence after winning his first ranking title at the China Open last month took him all the way to the final.
"I came here and was not expected to do that well so to get to the final is a good achievement," said Trump, who picked up £125,000 as runner-up and has rocketed up to number nine in the world rankings.
"Obviously I would have liked to have won but John was the better player on the day and played the better snooker over the two days and I think he is a deserving winner."