I’m almost ashamed to admit that we’ve lived here for three years and finally just made it to the world’s largest pumpkin festival. We made it to the Hitscherhof festival last year, but we weren’t going to let another year pass without seeing the king of them all. During the third weekend in September, we finally made a trip to Kürbisaustelling Ludwigsburg, or the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival.
I scoured the local Facebook groups to make sure we didn’t make all of the rookie mistakes. As usual, following basic advice offered in the Facebook groups made for a great trip. In this post, I’ll give you all four must-dos before hitting the road, as well a few suggestions that will truly enrichen your experience!
Tip #1: Pre-purchase tickets
If you are reading this in 2020, don’t forget we are still in the midst of a pandemic. As I write this, Europe is coming to grips with the second wave of COVID-19. As an extra precaution, the festival caps attendance at 6,000 people. If you don’t pre-purchase your tickets, it’s another thing that will slow you up at the gate, especially if there is a long line to get into the festival. Pre-purchase your ticket so you can walk right in.
Pre-purchasing tickets is actually very easy. Just head to the fest’s website at www.kuerbisausstellung-ludwigsburg.de and follow the instructions. The page is in German, so you may need to translate the page by using the Google Chrome browser. Tickets are only €10 each, and they were delivered to my residence within three days. Make sure you have plenty of time between ordering tickets and attending, as you’ll need to have your tickets delivered to your door before you head out.
Tip #2: Get there early
The festival begins at 9am daily. We showed up at 10am on a Saturday and were surprised that the festival was not yet packed. We didn’t have to wait in line for a powdered waffle, and enjoyed photographing the displays in relative peace.
That all changed about lunch time, when it seemed that hordes of people were starting to pour into the park, including tour busses dropping visitors off. We waited 30 minutes to grab lunch and had to be aggressive just to find a place to sit to eat. It became a little harder to photograph the displays undisturbed, and the park just started to feel uncomfortably crowded (remember, COVID). Fortunately, we got there early and were ready to head out by 2pm.
Tip #3: Plan parking
If your plan is to put the festival into Google Maps and drive right up to the door, you will be disappointed. Unfortunately, that’s what I did, which resulted in circling around for a few minutes to find parking. Nellie found parking garage on Google Maps, which ended up being right next to our hotel. We parked at Parkhaus im Marstall, which was very affordable at €10 per day. The parking garage has over 500 spaces, and the garage was practically empty when we showed up just before 10am. However when we went to grab our luggage around 3pm, the parking garage was completely full. Once again, another incentive to get there early.
Tip #4: Bring lots of cash
This should go without being said, but it’s a festival in Germany. I’m surprised at how many people still don’t carry cash in Germany, so here is your reminder. Bring lots of cash, or you won’t be able to buy anything. You’ll want cash to buy snacks, lunch, drinks, and souvenirs to bring home.
The good thing is that the festival isn’t overpriced, so just bring what you think is reasonable. For two of us, €100 was plenty for a few trips to the snack shack, lunch, a few beers, and a few bottles of pumpkin prosecco to bring home.
While the tips above are must-dos, I have a few suggestions that will make things a little more comfortable for you.
Suggestion #1: Bring water and food
You’ll probably be surprised at just how much walking you can do while you’re there. We easily hit our 10,000 daily step goal before we left the park. You’ll want to make sure you have water to stay hydrated for all the walking you’ll be doing, including several hills. Also if you are trying to save a few bucks, bring food so you can picnic and avoid waiting 30 minutes in line for lunch.
Suggestion #2: Stay overnight
If it’s within your budget, make it a short weekend getaway by staying overnight. The drive is only two hours away, but after getting there early and crushing your 10,000 step goal, you’ll be pretty exhausted and ready to take a nap. That’s what we did, and Boutique-Hotel Kronenstuben was perfect for the two of us. I paid €77 for one night, and the hotel is only a five minute walk from the festival. It is directly outside of a shopping mall and close by to plenty of places to eat. Ludwigsburg is actually a surprisingly fun town to enjoy yourself in. After taking a mid-day nap, we met our friends for dinner and drinks at a romantic Italian restaurant Da Tafuro.
The Kürbisaustelling Ludwigsburg is open until December 6th this year and open daily from 9am to 6pm. The theme is “Music,” so you can enjoy displays such as pumpkins formed Elvis, a radio, and a disc jockey. The festival is at a former palace, which you’ll easily admire as you pass by the courtyard to the festival entrance. As soon as you make it in, head over to the palace gardens to see their contest pumpkins, which I promise will be the largest pumpkins you will ever see!
Other than the pumpkin display, I was surprised at the many other displays they had, bringing back memories of our last trip to Europa-Park. You’ll see many displays of fairytale characters to include Rapunzel, Snow White, and Little Red Riding Hood. There is also a small park, a train, and even boat ride. We found four hours to be plenty for two adults, but you can easily entertain your Kinder longer.
I’m glad we made time this year to visit the world’s largest pumpkin festival. We will certainly make time to check it out next year!