Autumn is in full swing here in Germany and right now happens to be the peak of festival season. Germany’s famous Oktoberfest in Munich ran from September 19 – October 4 this year and the Cannstatter Volksfest, Germany’s second biggest folk festival in Stuttgart, is still running right now until October 12.
Another great festival nearby is the Kürbisausstellung Ludwigsburg (Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival). S and I got a little peek of the festival when we toured the Ludwigsburg Schloss when my mom came to visit last year in October. We didn’t actually attend the festival but knew we would have to come back and see it.
We went last Sunday which was the perfect fall day – warm and sunny with blue skies. Unbeknownst to us, there were actually a ton of events going on in Ludwigsburg that day: the pumpkin festival, a large flea market, a wedding fair, a Ludwigsburg vs. Munich basketball game, a street fair downtown, AND the downtown shops were open (a rarity for German shops on a Sunday). Needless to say, it was almost impossible to find parking in the city, but we managed to find a spot not too far away from the festival.
We purchased our tickets from the Schloss entrance gate. Tip #1: Make sure you buy tickets for entrance into the garden and NOT the palace (unless you actually want to go inside the palace). Last year we accidentally did the reverse – we bought tickets for entrance into the garden when we actually wanted to go inside the palace. We had to go through quite a lot of trouble to exchange the garden tickets for the correct palace tickets. Lucky for us, though, that we at least got to see a tiny bit of the pumpkin festival by accident (which is how we learned about the festival in the first place)!
The special event of the day when we went was a weigh-off for the heaviest pumpkin. It was a bit hard to see the actual weighing because of the crowds, but we could see the ‘pumpkins in waiting’ off to the side of the scale. The pumpkins were so enormous that they reminded me of bread dough rising out of control and falling out the sides of a bowl.
We followed the path around the side of the palace to the main gardens where we found the bulk of the pumpkin festival. Every year the festival has a special theme and this year’s theme was ‘royal’. There were a number of royal-themed pumpkin statues on display, including a Frog King, a chess set, a playing card, Elvis Presley, a T-rex, a pair of jousters, and more. Scroll through the images below to see some of my favourite statues at the festival.
There were a number of different food stalls at the festival serving all types of dishes featuring pumpkin. I ordered a pumpkin soup topped with pumpkin oil and pumpkin seeds, but we also saw pumpkin spaghetti, cookies and muffins with pumpkin, pumpkin Maultaschen, pumpkin Schorle, and more. Tip #2: A few stands selling pumpkin goods also had free samples so be sure to check those out. I tried a piece of curry seasoned fried pumpkin and some cinnamon sugar roasted pumpkin seeds. Delish!
I loved seeing the variety of pumpkins on display in the middle section of the garden. Who knew there were so many kinds of pumpkins? They came in all shapes, sizes, and colours. The pumpkins on display hailed from Japan, Italy, the USA, Canada, Germany, as well as from several other countries. I think my favourite kind was a pumpkin breed called ‘Cannon Ball’ – it was completely round! The tiny white ones called ‘Baby Boo’ were a close second, though!
I was a little surprised to see that you can also purchase pumpkins at the festival. Tip #3: If you’re after a unique variety of pumpkin, this is the place to get it! The standard types that you can see in German supermarkets (Hokkaido, Butternut, and Acorn Squash) were available, but also many, many other kinds that I’d never seen. I did notice that they were considerably more expensive than pumpkins found in the supermarket, but if you’re after a unique kind of pumpkin, I’d say it’s worth the splurge. Not only are pumpkins great for cooking and baking, but also for decoration (whether you carve them or not).
The Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival runs from September 5 – November 2, 2014. You can purchase tickets at the entrance to the Ludwigsburg Schloss. Festival hours and special events during the festival are listed through their website.
Which festivals have you been to this fall?