The World’s Largest Pumpkin Festival
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Germany doesn’t really do pumpkin patches like I was used to growing up with in the States. And while I totally miss the atmosphere of autumn, cool evenings next to a bonfire, hayrack rides, and apple cider, Germany DOES have the world’s largest pumpkin festival, so that’s got to be the next best thing, right!? With over 500,000 pumpkins, the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival (or Ludwigsburg Kürbisfest) is truly a fest NOT to be missed!
^Thinking Of Going To Germany’s Pumpkin Fest? Pin It!^
While Oktoberfest is one of the biggest festivals in the world, the Ludwisgburg pumpkin festival in Germany is just as culturally fun, and arguably, way more unique. I mean, Pumpkin WINE? Pumpkin boat races!? And while it may not have the largest pumpkin in the world, 800 pound pumpkins is nothing to scoff at!
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Where Is The Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival
The Kürbisausstellung Ludwigsburg (Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Exhibition) is located in, well…Ludwigsburg, Germany! It’s just about 30 minutes north of Stuttgart in the Southeastern state of Baden-Württemberg.
- Stuttgart to Ludwigsburg: 30 Minutes
- From Heidelberg: A little over an hour south
- 2.5 hours from Munich
The festival takes place on the grounds of the beautiful Ludwigsburg Schloss (palace), especially in the Blühendes Barock (garden) section.
Every year, the “theme” of the festival changes. In 2022 it was “Underwater” where throughout the entire palace grounds there were all sorts of amazing structures and basically artworks created from pumpkins! Cue your inner Little Mermaid!!!! They haven’t announced the 2023 theme yet, but it’s always fun and creative!
For US Military, the world’s largest pumpkin festival is a fantastic day trip!
- Ramstein to Ludwigsburg: about 2 hours
- Grafenwöhr to Ludwigsburg: about 3 hours
- Hohenfels to Ludwigsburg: about 2.5 hours
Address: Schlossstraße 30, 71634 Ludwigsburg
Getting To The Pumpkin Festival In Germany
Driving in Germany might be the easiest and fastest mode of transportation to get to Ludwigsburg. There are also plenty of parking lots and garages to choose from to park for the day at as well as residential roads nearby (free parking) if you can find an open spot. The easiest thing to do is plug in the Schloss Residence to your GPS (Mömpelgardstraße 28 71640 Ludwigsburg) and then look for the Blue Parking Garage or ParkPlatz signs that are nearby.
Pro Tip: Do not park at the actual Ludwigsburg Parkplatz. This is far more expensive than nearby garages and lots.
Pro Tip 2: On Sundays, most of the outdoor parking lots are free (double check before parking). Any other day of the week, expect to pay
Train/ Public Transportation
Germany has wonderful public transportation options. Of course, depending on where you are originating from will depend on what ticket and route you will need to get to Stuttgart and then onto Ludwigsburg. A few options might be the:
- Baden-Württemberg-Ticket: €24 for first passenger + €5 per additional person (up to 5 passengers total per ticket), Valid after 9 am-3am the following day. Also includes public transportation on all regional trains as well as S and U-Bahns.
- Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket: €42 for the first traveler + €6.50 per person additional travelers (up to 5 passengers total per ticket)
- If you are on the English section of the DB Site, at the top, click on Offers>Regional Offers. Then on the left hand side click on “Regional day tickets”
Once you get to the main train station in Stuttgart, there are a few options on getting to Ludwigsburg. It takes about 30 minutes via S-Bahn/Bus combo to reach the gardens. The easiest way to do this is to use google maps. Plug in Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof to Mömpelgardstraße 28 71640 Ludwigsburg and it will tell you exactly which SBahns/ Buses you’ll need (as it will vary depending on the time of day).
2023 Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival Dates
The Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival runs yearly, generally from the beginning of September to early November. This year’s theme is “Jungle/ Rainforest” (Although I will admit, the exhibits seemed to take a bit of stretch with that theme this year. but they are still cool)
2023 Dates: August 25- December 3, 2023
Different events are held all throughout the festival, so check out the official website to find out what is going on when you’ll be there.
The festival opens daily from 9am-8:30 pm (although, this is a bit odd, as it is not lit at night, so it’s not exactly advisable to go after dark…?)
You can get food and souvenirs from 10:30am-5:30 pm daily
Cost and Tickets To the Pumpkin Festival
The cost of the festival is actually the cost of admittance into the Bluhendes Barock Residence (the flower gardens of the Ludwigsburg Palace). While the grounds are beautiful, this does not include admission to the palace itself. However, there is not an additional cost for the pumpkin festival.
Adults: € 10.00
Children (4-15): € 4.80
There are some family cards as well, which will vary on the number of children, so just ask when you get there to see if that is a better price.
There are no “online” tickets, per-se. If you would like to guarantee your entrance, you can purchase a ticket online, but they will mail you the ticket (you must have this paper ticket for entrance). It should take 5-8 days to arrive, so plan accordingly. You can get the tickets here. However, I have never had issues getting tickets upon arrival at the Schloss every time I have gone.
Time Needed At The World’s Largest Pumpkin Festival
This is highly dependent on you, your family, and what you like to do. Some people will just go for a few hours, walk the grounds once, grab a bite to eat, and be on their way.
Others will stay for hours taking pictures of every single structure, playing at the playground, watching all the events that are going on during the day, and still wish they had more time!
For me personally, since I am making a day trip from Bavaria, I want to spend as much time as possible, so I can easily spend the whole day at the festival. For someone popping over from Stuttgart, they could be content and happy with a few hours.
The grounds are stroller friendly and the entire festival is a children’s delight, so depending on what you (or your kids) want to see or do, I would plan on anywhere from 2-6 hours.
What To Do At The Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festivals
Check the website for what is going on because each week there is often a different “theme” and differing activities each week.
One weekend might be solely devoted to pumpkin carving. And no, I’m not talking about a little Jack-O-Lantern. I’m talking seriously impressive pieces of art!
Another popular weekend (and one of the busiest) is when there is the Pumpkin Regatta. Yup. A pumpkin boat race. They take those huuuuuge pumpkins, scoop them out to make little boats and then have racing contests throughout the day. What is especially fun is that anyone can sign up to race, even those without their own ginormous Kurbis! Just be sure to show up early (check the website, as the registration time may change).
Pumpkin Regatta 2023: September 16 and 17
Another fun weekend is when they do the pumpkin smash. I’m thinking this year, my 4 year old would LOVE this theme!
Other Fun 2023 Events to Put On Your Calendar:
- September 23th and 24th: Germany’s Largest Pumpkin Soup
- October 9: Pumpkin Weighing; which will be the largest!? (The record is 1226 kg- that’s 2702 pounds!!!!)
- October 15th: The amazing pumpkin carving competition by professionals (we aren’t talking just Jack o Lanterns, folks!)
- October 21st and 22nd: Pumpkin carving for anyone!
- October 28th-31st: Lit up pumpkins for Halloween!
- November 26th: The “Slaughter” Festival where pumpkins are smashed and broken into. You can even get some seeds of your own to plant!
Marvel at all of the Statues and Displays
Each year, the palace grounds are covered in fantastic works of (pumpkin) art from elaborate pumpkin statues to creative displays. It was truly amazing to see what kind of creativeness goes behind each piece or art. (Yes, pumpkin art!)
Shop For Goodies
There are all sorts of fun souvenirs, decorations, trinkets, and, of course, food products that you can shop around for.
Spend Some Time At the Story Book Park
An included, and very large, section of the gardens is the the fairy tale (Story Book) section. This is just about the only part of the festival that actually has nothing to do with pumpkins, but is a real treat to enjoy, especially if you are bringing kids!
In true German fashion, there are all the classic Grimm’s Fairy tales, but in real-life form (well, sort of creepy, animatronic form at least). You can walk up to Hansel and Gretel’s gingerbread home, ask Snow White’s mirror who the fairest one of all is, and call for Rapunzel to let down her hair (which she then does!). You can even take a (tiny) boat ride or a (mini) train ride through the story book village.
I’m not going to lie, I (as a fully grown adult!) had so much fun entertaining the inner child in me here!
Eat All The (Pumpkin) Foods!
This is the world’s largest pumpkin festival after all, so expect ALL things pumpkin. It’s like in Forest Gump when Bubba says all the ways you can make shrimp, except the list goes on and on (and on and on) with pumpkin! Like, I seriously thought the list ended at things like “bread” or “soup.” Nope. Here are some of the more notable things you should keep an eye out for:
- Kurbis Creme Suppe (Pumpkin cream soup): This is one of my all time favorite fall dishes to slurp down in Germany, whether it be at a local restaurant or at the Ludswigsburg Pumpkin Festival
- Pumpkin Pasta: (kind of like a ravioli)
- Roasted Pumpkin and Veggie Rice
- Pumpkin Bread
- Pumpkin Streusel
- Pumpkin Prossecco
- Pumpin Seed Bratwurst
- Pumpkin Ice Cream!!!
Out of everything, I am still obsessed with the pumpkin fries with an amazingly, creamy, garlic aioli sauce slathered all over the fries.
Not a fan of pumpkin? (gasp!) Have no fear. You are in Germany after all (and at a fest!) so you can always get a (non pumpkin) brat and “normal” (aka potato) french fries…..(BORING! Just kidding!)
But I am sorry to announce that there is NO Pumpkin Spice Lattes (actually, no, I’m not….I hate those things. #SorryNotSorry)
Sip On Pumpkin Prosseco
I know what you are thinking. Pumpkin. Wine??? Carbonated pumpkin wine!?!?!
I know, I know. My first gut reaction was “YUCK” as well, but this one was a bit surprising. Would I drink it all the time? No. But was it totally worth trying as a fun, special thing at the kürbisfest? Absolutely!! I mean, when in
Buy Your Own Pumpkin
While it isn’t the world’s largest pumpkin patch (that title belongs in the UK), you won’t be lacking in finding the absolute perfect pumpkin for you to purchase and bring home yourself. There are what seems like endless varieties, sizes, shapes and colors to choose from.
Stop To Smell The Roses
While the main attraction this time of year is clearly the pumpkins, don’t forget you are in the stunning Blühenden Barock (Blooming Barock) Gardens. Make sure you take a stroll through the actual flower gardens themselves as they are beautiful in and of themselves and done in the lavish and pristine Barock garden style.
Pet the Animals
There is a small “petting zoo” type area. I was particularly fond of this friendly goat!
Walk Around Ludwigsburg Alstadt
If you still have some daylight to burn, walking around actual Ludwigsburg can be a delight as well. With it’s classic German cobblestone streets, a charming PINK church, and more, it’s worth even just a short stroll.
Tour The Residence
While you are AT the palace grounds, of course, you can consider taking a tour of the Baroque style Schloss! In true Baroque fashion, it is ornately and beautifully decorated. (Some rooms are currently under restoration until about 2023 however and won’t be able to be viewed, like the King and Queen’s apartments)
The palace is open daily from 10am-5pm but you can only tour the palace with a guided tour.
English Guided Tour Times:
March 15- Nov 15:
- Mon- Friday 1:15 pm and 3.15 pm
- Sat and Sun: 11:15am, 1:15pm, 3:15pm, 5:15pm
Nov 16- March 14
- Mon- Friday 1:15 pm and 3.15 pm
- Sat and Sun: 11:15am, 1:15pm, 3:15pm
Residential Palace Admission (Includes the guided tour) :
*This is a separate admission fee than the Pumpkin Festival at the Barock Gardens.
Ok, so maybe you are not the world’s largest pumpkin fan. That’s ok. The Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival is still a really fun, unique, and different kind of fest to experience in Germany.
Other Things To Do In Stuttgart
Why not make a weekend out of it? Some other popular and favorite things to do in Stuttgart are:
- Visit the Wilhelma Zoo and Botanical Gardens
- Check out the Mercedes Benz OR Porsche Museums
- Stroll along Koenigstrasse
- If you aren’t palaced out, check out the Neues Schloss and Schlossplatz
- Pair the Pumpkin Festival with the famous Cannstatter Fest
- Do a Day Trip To Lichtenstein Castle and Hohenzollern Castle
Where to Stay in Stuttgart
Every time we’ve stayed in Stuttgart, we’ve actually stayed at the A&O Stuttgart Hostel– YES, even as a family!! They have amazing family rooms that have their own bathroom, queen bed, and bunk beds! (and the kids love the Fussball table and kids area!)
FAQ About The Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival
Is the Pumpkin Fest Dog Friendly?
Like so many places in Germany, dogs are welcome to the palace grounds as long as they are on a leash. All dogs are obviously also prohibited from the lawn, flowers, and planter areas.
Is it Stroller or Kid Friendly
The whole area is very flat and mostly paved, so it is stroller friendly. However, it can get quite crowded at times, so strollers can be a nuisance. If you can baby wear, that would probably make it a smidge easier. This is the baby carrier we’ve used for years, including at the festival this year with our 3 month old baby.
Kids will absolutely love the pumpkin festival. They’ll find the carvings totally unique and fun and will be completely engrossed in the story brook village!
When Is the Best Time To Go To The Pumpkin Festival?
If you can go during the week, that is probably the best time to avoid crowds. However, the Pumpkin Regatta is another great day (on a Sunday typically) to be there as well.
If you can’t avoid the weekend, try to be there right at opening (9am) as it starts to get busy around 11am.
How Much Are the Tickets To Germany’s Pumpkin Festival at Ludwigsburg
Admission is €10.00 for adults and €4.80. If you purchase tickets online, allow for 5-8 business days for them to arrive via mail (instant online booking not available)
How Much Time Should I Spend at Germany’s Pumpkin Festival?
Anywhere from 2-6 hours, depending on your interests.