The weather here in Belgium hasn’t seemed exactly autumnal, but even with temperatures reaching the 70’s, the leaves are beginning to turn, crops are being harvested, and the days are growing shorter. Autumn is my favorite season. I love the weather as it turns crisp and the expectations it holds for the holiday seasons ahead. I love the changing colors and the leaves that crunch underfoot, and here in Europe I love the festivals it brings.
We recently headed to Rongy for Fête de la Pomme – the Apple Festival in Rongy Belgium.
This festival is held annually on the first weekend of October to celebrate the apples (and some pears) as well as the local products. It was a delicious way to spend a Sunday afternoon. We arrived early, before the crowds really started to gather and walked through the various tents, sampling various apples and products.
Your entrance to the festival includes quite a few free samples. The fresh pressed apple juice was divine, and the local apples were delicious. Of course most of the vendors were willing to let you sample their products as well, and I tried some interesting apple and pear based liqueurs, Normandy ciders, local honey, and delicious handmade candies!
The vendor tent was definitely a feast for the eyes, but for me, the smell of all those beautiful apples was the best. One of the products not to be missed is the apple fritters – slices of apple dipped in batter and fried to perfection, then dusted with powdered sugar.
Although our visit didn’t coincide with any of the biggest events, like hot air balloons or riding demonstrations, we did find quite a bit to entertain ourselves. My daughter was even able to take a ride on a “unicorn”.
It was a lovely afternoon, and the best part was when we were able to join a group of friends on a tour of the local orchards.
While we stood in line waiting to take our wagon tour through the orchards, we were able to watch a bit of the birds of prey demonstration and catch sight of a sheepdog in action. Our group managed to fit in a wagon drawn by two young draft horses, and we took a beautiful trip through a nearby orchard.
Mark your calendars for next year, according to the Wallonia tourism website, the festival will be Saturday 05 – Sunday 06 October 2019!
The largest Pumpkin Festival
Spending time at a festival devoted to apples reminded me of another festival we’d attended during our second year in Germany, the Ludwigsburg Kürbisfest at Blühendes Barock.
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, this is the largest pumpkin festival in the world. Each year, the festival has a theme. This year’s theme is “Pumpkin Forest”. The festival runs through November 4th, so there is still plenty of time to visit.
The year we attended, the theme was Jurassic Park, with dinosaurs crafted from pumpkins. Not pumpkins carved into dinosaurs, mind you, but enormous dinosaurs completely covered with different varieties of squash.
The lovely thing about this festival is that it runs so long (from late August to early November) it’s an easy one to visit and not experience overwhelming crowds. We visited on a beautiful autumn day, and enjoyed a long stroll around the park. The kids enjoyed the dinosaurs and playing in the hay playground.
We watched a giant pumpkin carving demonstration, and when we got hungry we headed over to the fest tents for our pumpkin based foods.
The food, if you are a fan of all things pumpkin, is fantastic. There are of course the expected pumpkin breads and muffins, but it’s the unexpected that are really special. After living in Germany, one of our favorite pumpkin specialties is pumpkin-cream soup – which not only do they have at Ludwigsburg, but they make the largest batch of pumpkin-cream soup annually. We also tested pumpkin maultashen, pumpkin drinks, and toasted pumpkin seeds. It was truly pumpkinrific!
After we had explored all of the pumpkins we could possibly handle, we headed next door to the fairytale village!