Entenrennen: Germany's annual rubber duck race

Entenrennen rubber duck race, River, Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, GermanyEnten 2012 (60) by Michael PanseCreative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY 2.0)

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Location: Alleenbrücke, Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Dates: early October

Level of participation: 4 – try your luck in the bobbing derby

It’s not exactly the Running of the Bulls. Indeed, the ducks involved in this bridge-to-bridge race aren’t even alive: they’re the yellow, rubber species whose usual habitat is the bathtub. Nonetheless, Tübingen’s annual contest is spectacular, if inexplicable. In a random, Germanic version of the ‘Poohsticks’ game enjoyed by Piglet et al in Winnie-the-Pooh, a truck dumps some 7000 duckies into the Neckar River from Alleenbrücke. The sunflower-coloured shower is accompanied by cheers from crowds lining the river banks. Many of the spectators are clutching a ticket with a number corresponding to one of the speeding water demons. The first synthetic contender past the finishing line at Neckarbrücke wins its patron a €1000 holiday voucher, with plenty of other prizes for runners-up.

Related article: Festivals of the world: where to go in October

Although the dazzling idea of the duck race is thought to come from Canada, it’s big business in Germany, where there are corporate duck-racing specialists. The season begins in March, with more than 150 competitions taking place in towns such as Erfurt, Bielefeld and Göttingen, as well as smaller villages.

Essentials: get there before the race starts to buy a ticket.

Local attractions: come down from the duck-related adrenaline with a stroll around late-medieval Tübingen. A hilltop fortress, cobbled alleys and half-timbered houses are the background for a lively university scene.

More info: www.tuebinger-entenrennen.de [in German]

See other festivals in October here.