Sunny spring weather, a fun whitewater course, plenty of exhibitors and exciting side activites drew around 3,000 visitors to the XXL Paddelfestival last weekend, making it the biggest kayak and canoe test event in Germany ever.
Before the festival, we at Palm didn’t really know what to expect. Snow and cold winter conditions had been persistent in Germany and no one could tell whether kayakers were prepared for an early start of the season yet. Also, we have had no idea what the event area was like. The course had been built only a few years ago and is located in the, for whitewater paddlers rather remote, town of Markkleeberg just south of Leipzig (Saxony). We went anyway and were curious what would happen. With us, a large number of manufacturers came and brought their latest products along for paddlers to compare and test.
Saturday started cloudy and windy but it soon became apparent that this wouldn’t keep paddlers away. As soon as the turbines started working and the course was openend, the water basin filled up with boats of all sorts in no time. Not only whitewater enthusiasts had come all the way to Markkleeberg. We counted dozens of touring paddlers in sea kayaks, people in open canoes, inflatables and on SUPs. The scenic lake right next to the course provided the perfect testing ground for calm water experts as well as beginners.
While paddlers kept coming, the clouds finally made way for warm sunshine. Everyone was so excited about the great conditions and the large variety of products on offer, that the number of boats on the water rose to an almost worrying amount. A certain queue time to get on the conveyor belt and back to the put in had to be taken into account. This, however, could do no harm to the fun and great time that everyone had.
In the evening, spectators were spoilt with a selection of Big-O kayak movie highlights and a spectacular boater-X in the darkness with floodlight illumination. Drinks and stories were shared at the bonfire party, making sure that no one went to bed early. Sunday brought even more sunshine and, you guessed it already, more people still. In the end the organisers counted a total of 3,000 visitors, making the XXL Paddelfestival the biggest canoe and kayak testival in Germany so far.
Highlight of the day was certainly the Palm Junior Trophy, where a dozen kids between five and fouteen years competed in a fun boater-X which was held in the main pool. The contenders raced in groups of two to four and had to paddle around big red floatation bags (converted into buoyes) in order to win one of the many prizes supplied by Palm. No one, of course, missed out and in the end there were smiling faces all-around.
A big thank you goes to the organisers, Horst Fürsattel and the KANU crew, for coming up with such a fantastic event. There will certainly be a second edition next year. So make sure you’ll mark the date in your calendar. It’s definitely worth the trip!