I am not a huge fan of Halloween generally. Back in the dark ages when I was a child it was not such a big deal as it is now. I don't like walking round in the cold, dark (and often damp) on October 30 and I find the idea of buying sweets for children I often don't know a little odd. But I DO love carving pumpkins- apart from the mess that is. Thankfully this year I got to have all of the fun with the children with none of the mess at Mursley Pumpkin Festival near Milton Keynes.
I was very pleasantly surprised to discover how much there is to do at the venue for the pumpkin festival. Mursley Farm Shop is huge with a wide variety of products ranging from vegan fudge (delicious!) and various jams, pickles and preserves to handbags, fresh meat and lots of things which would be great for gifts.
There's a lovely cafe too with very competitive prices. Think cream teas, Gazzeria ice cream, breakfasts, lunches and beverages. At the moment they are even offering the obligatory seasonal pumpkin latte but my daughter opted for a luxurious milkshake made with ice cream and topped with whipped cream while my other pumpkin carvers chose ice creams.
We still had ten minutes before our booked pumpkin carving experience so we went to say hello to the spotty pigs, agile goats, sheep, alpacas and the many, many free ranging chickens. We spotted a lovely play area for younger children too.
Next we headed to the building where the Halloween themed activities would take place. We were greeted by lovely friendly staff and invited to choose our pumpkins from the "pumpkin patch" next to the building. OK so it was just piles of pumpkins on hay bales but we had a variety of sizes and colours to choose from and there's no difference in the price - your pumpkin is included in the price of admission if you buy a carving rather than a spectator ticket.
We were then given a table number (each party has their own table to help keep the event COVID secure) and after being handed carving tools, shown the spooky photo booth (lots of fun!) craft activities and a mini-cafe selling hot and cold drinks and snacks we were ready to carve.
Thankfully the organisers wield the sharp knife to cut the top off the pumpkin to form the lid and you are given spoons and scoops to clean the inside out. There are bowls on each table for the pumpkin inners which are fed to the sheep. Since I am not a fan of pumpkin pie and always feel guilty about wasting the inners this pleased me muchly.
There are stencils on each table but my three decided to go freehand. We spent a happy relaxed hour creating our Halloween pumpkin lanterns which I think have come out rather well.
Want to see them lit up in the dark? Check out my TikTok video 🎃
We had enough time to go outside and have a go at the traditional garden games then headed home loaded down with pumpkins, including a gorgeous ornamental variety from the farm shop, fudge, eggs and a spooky Halloween mug my eldest daughter could not resist.
How to Book.
If you fancy all the fun with none of the mess the Mursley Pumpkin Festival will run from October 23-31st 2021. Check prices and book here and please read the information carefully before booking. For instance parties must be no bigger than 6 people (as you are allocated a table) and carvers must be aged 4+. Under fours go free. Smaller parties may be asked to share a table at busy times.
Is the event Autism friendly?
Although older than your average visitor all my children including autistics were made extremely welcome and coped very well despite the constant music (mostly Disney songs) in the background. There was a sensory foam table for people who like that kind of thing and at the time we visited, no queues or crowds. It was not particularly noisy when we visited but it was not too busy. There is a toilet in quite a large room.
Can I Dress Up?
Fancy dress is welcome and actually I wish I had thought of dressing up as there were quite a few families in costume. There are props in the DIY photo booth room if you want to take a spooky pic as a memento.
Many thanks to Janthea from organisers, NIPPERBOUT for a lovely afternoon of family fun at Mursley Pumpkin Festival.
DISCLAIMER We were given free tickets in return for this honest review.