The world’s largest pumpkin festival is home to some 400,000 pumpkins. It’s held each year in Ludwigsburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, located just 17 km north of Stuttgart.
The first time I went to the pumpkin festival was three years ago, albeit reluctantly. My German partner at the time dragged me. He said it would be fun.
Having never been to a pumpkin festival and not really wanting to go, I thought it sounded cheesy and something just for kids.
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I’ve since changed my mind and have been several more times. It’s one of my favourite foodie experience ever. I suspect I’m not the only Pumpkin Festival doubter out there, so here are:
5 reasons to visit the world’s largest pumpkin festival:
1) Pumpkin Art
Each year the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival has a theme. The first year I went it was Under the Sea featuring dolphins and blue whales made out entirely of pumpkins. Another year it was larger than life dinosaurs made of pumpkins:
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Kids loved seeing the dinosaurs, but so do kids at heart, at least I did.
In 2016 the theme was Pumpkin Circus, which was fun! It’s a great place to get some pumpkin carving inspiration, including some that are easy to do at home, aka, not life-size!
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2) Pumpkin Shopping
Not surprisingly the world’s largest pumpkin festival is an excellent place to buy a pumpkin. You’ll find different kinds from all over the world. Get your pumpkin carving toolkit ready!
I know that pumpkin and wine sound like a strange combination, but it’s actually really good. I love serving it to guests, as it always takes them by surprise. It sounds like a very odd, and not very tasty combination.
I bet when you first read pumpkin wine, you squished up your face and curled your lip. It’s OK to admit it. I know I did when I first saw it.
Although I was skeptical, I was also curious. I had to try it.
I took a small sip, ready to spit it out. To my surprise, not only did I not spit it out, I had another sip, then another. In fact, I liked it so much that I ordered another glass.
Now I’m hooked and stock up on pumpkin sparkling wine each year since it’s difficult to get out of season.
It’s surprisingly sweet, but not too sweet. It isn’t too pumpkiny tasting, there’s just a hint of pumpkin. It’s refreshing, yet balances the heavier flavours of a seasonal soup at the same time.
3) Eating Pumpkins
In keeping with the theme you can also eat an assorted variety of pumpkin goodies so go hungry. My favourite is the pumpkin soup, which is consistently the best I’ve ever tasted.
I’ve also tried the Pumpkin Rösti (fried grated potato) which had an interesting flavour, although I wouldn’t have wanted to eat a whole plate of it. The Maultaschen (the German take on ravioli invented in nearby Maulbronn) looked amazing as well.
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4) Seeing Pumpkins from All Over the World
What would the world’s largest pumpkin festival be without a judging competition? The judging doesn’t happen until October but these two unique ones get my vote:
5) Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival Setting
The festival is behind Ludwigsburg Palace, one of the largest Baroque buildings in Europe. Just walking through the palace gardens and grounds is worthwhile in itself.
However, seeing the contrast of a palace and pumpkins is really something else. It also is my favourite castle tour in all of Germany and I’ve visited a lot of castles in Germany. You can easily combine it with the festival.
If you do decide to do the castle tour and are doing some other sightseeing in and around Stuttgart, consider the StuttCard. It gives you free entrance to the castle.
Know Before You Got to the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival:
- The theme changes each year. For 2020 it’s Music.
- It runs from the end of August to November of each year. (Aug 28 to Nov 1 for 2020).
- The festival is open daily from 9:00 to 8:30 pm.
- The shops are open from 10:00 to 6:00 pm.
- Pumpkin dining is available from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm
- Your ticket also includes entrance to the fairy garden, which children will enjoy.
- Allow several hours to visit the festival, more if you also want to do a palace tour, which I highly recommend.
Where to Stay in Ludwigsburg:
- If you’re travelling by car, I recommend Schlosshotel Monrepos. It’s a 4-star castle hotel situated on the lakeshore of Monrepos See. You’ll find a golf course, riding stables and wine estate there. It’s a 10-minute drive to the centre of Ludwigsburg.
- If you don’t have access to a car, the nestor Hotel Stuttgart-Ludwigsburg is a better choice. This 4-star hotel is just 400 metres from Ludwigsburg Palace. It features 19th-century brickwork design, elegant rooms and a traditional German bakery.
More information about the Pumpkin Festival can be found here.
The Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival is great for both kids, and kids at heart!
Note: This article was originally published in 2011 but was updated in September 2020 to provide the most up-to-date information.