So you are taking a leisurely stroll along the banks of the Necker and you chance upon the spectacular sight of thousands of ducks bobbing down the river. Just like races that involve horses, camels and other livestock, we bring to you – (drumroll please) – The Tübingen Duck race, albeit with a small twist! This event is a race between the rubber ducks usually found in our bathtubs and not the usual feathered variety as one may expect. It turns the river into a lovely shade of sunflower yellow and is easily one of Germany’s weirdest festivals. The event is known as ‘Entenrennen’ in German, and it is big business for the small town!
The beautifully preserved town of Tübingen, Germany
In the first half of October every year
What is it and why is it celebrated?
This quacky…oops! whacky festival has taken place every year since 1999 and is essentially held for charity. The Tübingen Duck Race is open to all and is slowly becoming quite famous as people actually travel there to be a part of this event. There are corporate duck-racing specialists in Germany, and the Germans are known to take the race quite seriously. While duck-racing is a part of other festivals, this definitely remains the biggest and most well-known in the country.
So what exactly happens?
You only need a small rubber duck to be able to participate in the race, which you can also rent for 3 Euros. There is no limit to the number of ducks that may participate and the event usually has around 7,000 yellow rubber ducks with their happy and smiling faces in the water. All ducks (both owned and rented) must be brought to the starting point between 11 AM and 1 PM. The race starts at Alleenbrücke at exactly 2:00 PM, and ends by 2:45 PM at Neckarbrücke. No one is allowed to enter a duck later than the stated timings, attach propelling mechanisms for the ducks to move faster, or throw a duck into the race at any point other than Alleenbrücke.
Before the race begins, participants write their name and number on the ducks that are then released into the water with a small metal weight attached to their underside to ensure that they don’t flip over. It is quite exciting to watch as the truck drops the rubber ducks ‘en masse’ into the water below, amidst loud cheers, and then see them bobbing happily as the flowing water carries them away. It takes them approximately 45 minutes to cover the Alleenbrücke- Neckarbrücke stretch while being continuously cheered on along the way.
While it my seem fun and laid-back, the race can get quite competitive as the first duck to cross the finishing line wins its owner a holiday voucher worth 1000 Euros with many other prizes for the runners up.
This duck race certainly makes for an unusual yet amusing event!