On weekends from September to November, downtown Ludwigsburg engages in revelry celebrating the harvest of the season—pumpkins. Giant pumpkin sculptures designed around a theme take pride of place near the town market in southwestern Germany. There’s also a display of close to 800 types of pumpkins and other squash grown locally in Ludwigsburg. There are pumpkin carving contests and food stalls featuring dishes made using the sweet squash, including what is known as “Germany’s biggest pumpkin soup” that is sold to raise money for charity.
The highlights at the Kurbisausstellung Ludwigsburg (Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival) are the paddlers and the weigh-offs. For the former, participants paddle across Castle Lake in giant hollowed-out pumpkins. Meanwhile, the biggest, heaviest pumpkins battle it out at the Pumpkin Weigh-Offs (the European record holder is a 1054-kilogram specimen from 2014). Winning entries are proudly displayed before being smashed to smithereens by revellers on the last day. Some do it for fun, others to collect the seeds to grow their own prize pumpkin.