I first visited Pumpkinferno at Upper Canada Village in 2013, in its second year of operation. Much like my children at the time, it was but a baby. My how the times change. Now in its 7th year, this traditional fall celebration of orange gourds is only getting better and better. If you’re looking for a non-spooky, fun outing with your family each fall, then Pumpkinferno is the perfect evening out. What follows is my original article, thankfully the information remains completely relevant, only I’m a little outdated now!
Visiting Pumpkinferno with Your Family
I learned something new while attending Pumpkinferno at Upper Canada Village. What little tidbit did I pick up while marvelling at 6000 hand-carved pumpkins? Lean close, here it is — don’t ignore your children’s school field trips. That’s it. That’s the wisdom I gleaned from this most delightful Autumn event. You see, my children have each been twice to Upper Canada Village for school field trips and four times I have found an excuse to decline. I am nothing if not a fair parent. I am also a little sad I dismissed the chance so quickly, because if the opportunity should present itself again, I’m in.
I’m a living history fool, so Upper Canada Village immediately spoke to me upon entering through the front gate. I could feel it’s charm working on me and I knew I would want more. I wasn’t here for the history this time though. I was here for Pumpkinferno, a wildly successful event that is drawing visitors from near and far. In its first year in 2012, Pumpkinferno drew a staggering 35,000 attendees in nineteen days. If the people that were there when I attended were any indication of its success, they will blow that out of the water this year. And it is no wonder why. This isn’t just a bunch of Jack O’ Lanterns after all, this is art.
Drawing from a pool of extremely talented and creative youth (the Creative Director is 22), Pumpkinferno doesn’t have a boring display in sight. Whimsy is everywhere, from the incredible dragon displayed over water to the Under the Sea motif (complete with mermaids and scuba divers), to the Egyptian Pharoah to the Word Search which stops everyone in it’s tracks (hint: search for the random word).
I don’t know about you, but it takes me one full day to carve a pumpkin that is embarrassingly rudimentary. So, how long does it take to carve six thousand? Well consider this, when you’re pulling out your patio furniture in May, they’ve already been carving pumpkins for a couple of weeks. Quite obviously then, these pumpkins are not real, but rather molds of pumpkins made from foam. That does not change the most impressive fact about all of this — each one is painstakingly hand carved.
The piece de resistance this year has to be The House of Horoscopes, featuring 1000 carved pumpkins displaying the signs of the zodiac in a stunning overhead environment. Ooohs and aaaahs abound under this 14 foot high canopy.
Pumpkinferno is the most delightful thing to happen to fall since Thanksgiving in my humble opinion. It offers a perfect family outing for all age groups, keeping the season’s typical scare fare to a minimum and the entertainment factor on high. Plan on attending a little earlier and having dinner at Willard’s Hotel. I fell in love with the Chicken Pot Pie and Apple Rhubarb Crumble—comfort food at it’s finest. There are also quick dining options available at the Village Cafe or the Food Truck. Don’t miss stopping in at the store on the way out to get some homemade bread, made on site, from the hand milled flour, also made on site. And for those with a sweet tooth, a candy shop awaits you for treats on the way home.
On the way back to our car my kids asked me if we could come back next year to Pumpkinferno. “Absolutely!”, I said, adding, “Do you happen to know when your next field trip is?”
New Pumpkinferno Installments 2019
This year, Pumpkinferno has 7000 pumpkins on display with everything from dogs to trains to superheroes.