The famous Kurbisfest, or Pumpkin Festival in Germany is an absolute must do. Whether you race in a pumpkin boat, take in all the sculptures, or just eat. You won’t want to miss it!
September is the month of festivals in Germany, so you can find many more to attend like the world-famous Oktoberfest which happens during some of the same time. No matter what the reason for the festival, you can bet there will be good food, good drink, and fun times for the whole family.
I love a festival. And one that involves food, well, that’s a no-brainer. We were going. I love pumpkin, and I’d heard there was plenty of pumpkin specialties to be tasted, so off we went to Stuttgart.
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Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival, Germany’s Largest
Germany’s largest pumpkin festival is held every year at Ludwigsburg palace near Stuttgart. While the festival runs from late August through early November, not all activities are available throughout the entire time. Activities include pumpkin carving, a giant pumpkin contest, pumpkin boat races, and even pumpkin smashing!
Check the schedule and plan your tip accordingly so you don’t miss out on anything important to you. Don’t worry, however, you can be sure the festival will be entertaining and fun for the whole family no matter when you go.
Pumpkin Fest Tickets and Entrance
Germany’s largest pumpkin festival is also the most popular so plan accordingly. As mentioned before, not all events happen every weekend. Check the schedule early in the planning process. Once you have dates for your visit, purchase your tickets online if it’s early enough.
If you weren’t able to buy your tickets ahead of time, don’t stress. You can still buy tickets at the festival. Just try to get there as early as possible. The festival grounds open at 9:00 A.M. and the lines at the entrance can get long shortly after opening.
After buying the tickets or showing your online tickets, walk down through the palace gardens past the lake where the pumpkin boat races are held. Behind the garden is really where the majority of the festival is located, but the gardens themselves are beautiful and well worth a look as you walk through.
Pumpkin Boat Races
The main reason we went this particular weekend was for the pumpkin canoe races, and after seeing it I might like to row my own canoe in the future. What a great bucket list item. It is rather comical to watch, but the carved out gigantic pumpkins are really quite steady and we didn’t see anyone capsize.
You are encouraged to start growing your own humongous pumpkin at the end of April so that it is ready to be plucked and carved for canoeing in September. In fact, you can contact the race organizer to get seeds, find out more about giant pumpkins, and register for the races.
Luckily, you don’t need to bring your own pumpkin. You can use one of the ones that he has grown and shared. You should bring a dry set of clothes, though, just in case. Interested in racing in giant carved out pumpkin? You’ll need to register as early as possible, slots are limited!
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Pumpkins, Pumpkins, and More Pumpkins
After you leave the pumpkin boat racing lake, you head into the lower gardens and into the largest pumpkin festival in Germany. Local artists have put every ounce of energy possible into creating the most elaborate, delightful pumpkin sculptures imaginable. Each year the festival has a different theme with a new round of sculptures. This year’s theme is Music, so expect pumpkin “rock and roller’s” and even a pumpkin Beethoven!
The sculptures are made entirely out of pumpkins, and there were as many different sculptures as there are types of pumpkins, from flying carpets, to rockets, to insects. It was amazing what you can do with a huge wooden frame and a bunch of round vegetables.
I never knew pumpkin art was such a big deal, but there is one American pumpkin carver, Ray Villafane, who comes to the festival each year and has made a name for himself all over the world. Ray has developed a family of pumpkins that he calls the Hubbards.
He carves them with a huge, full of personality face, on the main part of the pumpkin and then completes his people with small arms and legs. The Hubbard people are adorable on their own, but he also creates scenes for them which are just hilarious. This year look for Hubbards playing musical instruments.
Other types of exhibits include a wall of pumpkins from around the world, all different sizes and shapes and even colors. There are also pumpkin gardens to stroll, through, and the European pumpkin Championship weigh off to behold. Naturally, there’s more to do with pumpkins than just looking at them.
All Things Pumpkin – Shopping and Eating
We found vendors selling everything pumpkin including pumpkin spices and pumpkin wine. Jim bought a bottle of specialty pumpkin seed oil and I fell in love with the roasted pumpkin seeds.
My favorite, though, is the pumpkin café which sells a pretty vast variety of pumpkin dishes. Since there were four of us, we tried everything, spaghetti, fritters, and even desserts. Most of them were delicious!
Tips for visiting Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival
The pumpkin festival is family friendly so strollers, toddlers, even dogs are allowed and encouraged. It can get crowded so plan on an early arrival. Tickets can purchased online to save time at the entrance. Bring your appetite and sample a few different pumpkin treats.
The cost of the festival is determined by the castle, the Blühenden Barock so please check the website before you go (below). It is very stroller-friendly, and the kids will really enjoy everything about the pumpkin festival. You can also take your dog as long as he or she remains on the leash at all times.
Where is the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival?
Ludwigsburg is very close to the city of Stuttgart, which of course, has its own airport. However, most people will be traveling from other larger cities either by train or car. Happily, Ludwigsburg is well connected via bus, train, and car.
Driving Times and Directions
From Stuttgart take the B27 north for about half an hour. From Frankfurt or Wiesbaden take the A3 east to the A81 south for about 2 hours. From Munich take the A8 west to the A81 north about 3hours. From Grafenwöhr take the A9 south to the A6 west and then the A81 south about 3 hours. The Ludwigsburg Palace is clearly signed and there is paid parking right near the festival.
Ludwigsburg is also easily accessible by train. Take the train to the Stuttgart main station and then the S4 or S5 to Ludwigsburg, a mere 10 minutes ride. From the Ludwigsburg Hauptbahnhof (train station) to the Blühenden Barock where the festival is held, you can take bus 421 or bus 430. Buses run every 15 -20 minutes and it takes about 16 minutes to get there.
Other things to do in the area:
To find out more about the Pumpkin festival go to the their main website which has a list of activities for each weekend.
Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.
Pin the Pumpkin Festival for something you will want to include in your German Itinerary!
Saturday 7th of March 2020
This is so much fun! What an exciting and unique event.
Sunday 8th of March 2020
Sunday 21st of August 2016
This is a really fascinating festival. Never knew so many things could be done from Pumpkin. The Pumpkin sculptures are really great pieces of art.
Monday 22nd of August 2016
Vyjay, It really is fun! I couldn't believe it either.
Thursday 18th of August 2016
This is way too cool. It reminds me of butter carving. I love the artistry it takes to make so many of the sculptures.
Friday 19th of August 2016
Rob, This one is a blast. I really want to ride those pumpkins!
Thursday 18th of August 2016
Thi s is an incredible festival, I'd love to ride one of those pumpkin canoes!
Thursday 18th of August 2016
Cathy, Me too! I might need to go back just to do that!
Sunday 14th of August 2016
Yes you do...it's a great time!