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Friday, October 23, 2015

Fall Adventures: The Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival

I've tried to avoid the cliche-ridden behaviour that is proclaiming a love for chunky knits, giant blanket scarves, steaming cups of tea and basically every other fall-related thing so far, but I can't help myself anymore and have to go all basic blogger on you: I love fall!

I love breathing the fresh and crisp morning air, seeing the leaves change color and wearing all my boots again, but what I may just enjoy the most is the food. I do love summer vegetables and the refreshing taste of really good ice cream, but now that October has come around, all I seem to crave is hearty stews, comforting soups and – you probably guessed it – pumpkin!

Pumpkin is the perfect fall vegetable. You can use it in about a thousand different variations of soup, roast it in the oven, turn it into hummus and use it in dessert... the options seem to be endless!

But I'm sure we can also all agree that pumpkins aren't just extremely tasty, but also super decorative - and since I find pumpkins so adorable that I kind of want to squeal when I see one (is that normal?), I just had to visit the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival the other day for a healthy dose of fall inspiration.

The Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival takes place for two months every year in the Residential Palace of Ludwigsburg, a beautiful Baroque palace constructed in the early 18th century and the gardens of the palace are decorated with pumpkins in all shapes and sizes, many of which have been turned into large statues to correspond with a yearly theme.

S and me had visited the festival the year before and it had been such great fun that I had been looking forward to going back ever since and when it was finally time again, I was giddy with excitement.

When we entered the park at the main entrance, our eyes were immediately drawn to the beautiful fa├žade of the palace at the end of the French-style garden. The flowers were still blooming and I loved seeing all the unusual shades of purple, but I couldn't linger too long when I spotted one of the highlights of the festival in the distance:

The largest pumpkins of our state and all of Germany were showcased just in front of the palace and we marveled at how down-right outlandish these giant plants looked. I don’t know about you, but giant pumpkins always remind me of Harry Potter: They bring images of Hagrid’s cozy cabin and the Forbidden Forest looming in the background to the forefront of my mind and leave me wishing I could apparate to Hogwarts right away!

If you visit later in the year, you also have the chance to see the largest pumpkins in Europe and I imagine that they make these fellows look pretty small!

Most of the pumpkin exhibition took place in the landscape garden on the other side of the palace, though, and as we made our way over there, we started to spot more and more pumpkins until we were greeted by the sight of a vicious dragon.

There were also shops were you could stock up on many different types of pumpkins and since some of them were a little bit harder find in regular supermarkets, I couldn't resist temptation and later left the festival with a bag full of goodies.

From Spaghetti Squash (which I have never seen anywhere else in Germany!) to strangely named varieties like Sweet Dumpling and Blue Banana and the more common Butternut Squash, there were just so many different types of pumpkins to choose from!

The theme of this year's festival was "Flying" and so all of the pumpkin statues paid homage to this in some way or form. Seeing just what you can do with hundreds and hundreds of pumpkins was incredibly and left me wondering just how someone becomes a pumpkin artist.

My favorite part of the Pumpkin Festival was an exhibition of hundreds of different varieties of pumpkins from all over the world. Some looked very much like you'd imagine a classic pumpkin to look while others came in the strangest shapes and forms and with the craziest names. Many of the pumpkins originally came from the US, but it seemed as if every single region of the world had its own variety.

Is that a giant pear or a pumpkin?

And because you cannot go to a Pumpkin Festival and not eat pumpkin, we stopped at one of the stands for lunch. We had a tasty slice of Pumpkin Quiche and bowl of Spaghetti with Pumpkin Seed Pesto, but the true highlight of the meal was the Pumpkin Pound Cake. Please promise me you're going to have a slice, if you visit the festival yourself!

After passing even more adorable pumpkin statues – seriously, how crafty are some people? – we decided to explore the parts of the gardens, that weren’t part of the exhibition, a bit.

Landscape gardens are my favorite because they are so much whimsical than the strict geometric patterns of classic French gardens and the Residential Palace of Ludwigsburg is no exception - a visit would be worth it, even when the Pumpkin Festival doesn't currently take place!

It had been a bit of a dreary day, but after spending most of September prolonging summer in the south of Europe, I really cherished experiencing a proper fall day.

There is something beautiful about each and every season, but there just seems to be something about fall that feels especially magical - but I'm probably going to say the same thing once winter begins! (And don't we know that winter is always coming.)

The Pumpkin Place is still taking place until the 6th of November and I definitely recommend a visit should you find yourself in the area. I imagine that it would be especially fun for children, but since I’m still a kid at heart, I cannot think of many other fall adventures that could be better!


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