Have you picked up your pumpkin for Halloween yet? We did the whole pumpkin patch this year for the first time – it seems to be becoming the thing to do here in the UK now having been popular in the US for a while (like the whole Halloween thing).
We went to Willow’s Farm just outside St Albans on Monday for their Halloween themed Pumpkin Festival. We’ve been to the farm a few times now, the last time for their Easter Extravaganza. It’s impressive how they change around the farm in terms of decor, the shows, activities and menu choices depending on which event is on. The entry price, it on the expensive side for a farm visit, I paid £31 for Seren and I (under 2’s are free) but there are often vouchers floating about if you can get one of those plus £1 off each person when you book online. The entrance fee does include almost everything (apart from some £1 games) once you are in. And on this occasion included a pumpkin per child too.
There is a phenomenal amount to do, we have yet to do everything there despite being 4 times now. The farm regularly evolves too, there is a new, huge sandpit play area. ‘The Big Dig’, that we hadn’t seen before and a Peter Rabbit themed play area is opening in the spring. Hmmmm play areas. Yes, this is a farm and there are animals and tractor rides (and lots of mud) but I think of Willow’s as an adventure park that has animals too as opposed to being a farm with a play area.
We did accomplish a lot during our visit though! After a 20 minute queue to get in (I guess everyone wants to get there at opening time), we started in Toddler Town, a role play area for Under 5’s with a Post Office, Vet, School Room etc. Then it was softplay. Despite being very busy, this is a well thought out area catering for children from 0 to 10+. There is a fun baby area for under 2’s (which is monitored too as our 4 year olds tried to get in to join their younger siblings but we were told they couldn’t. Quite right, we were just trying to catch them anyway!), an area for 2-4’s then a massive, area for over 4’s which included two scary looking vertical slides.
We decided to try to beat the lunch queues and landed in Curly Tails Cafe just before the rush. We went for their homemade pumpkin soup (OK, but rather sweet) and chips. Then we went for a walk to try to get the babies to nap whilst the big ones played on some of the games and milked the pretend cow.
Then we saw some real animals and watched the Daft Duck Trials before heading over to the outdoor play areas. Again, there are different play areas for different ages with older kids being well catered for too. Imogen was awake by this point and mainly wanted to run around to find sheep. After a pick-me-up by way of ice-cream and cups of tea, we popped into the JCB Young Drivers Zone to drive some toy diggers (all the kids liked this and it was remarkably calm in there).
The afternoon sun was starting to dip so we thought we would tackle the pumpkin patch whilst we still had the energy. But, where was it? Detective Seren spotted the rows of orange globes a couple of fields away, which is impressive as she usually can’t find things that are right in front of her. The track leading to the patch was decorated and had some education fun facts displayed (something else for when they’re older). We left our buggies and started to traipse through the mud, past the manky, discarded pumpkins over to where the good ones were. My friend decided to head back with her little one, but (I’m mad) and decided I could tackle finding two pumpkins whilst shepherding two 4 year olds and a 1 year old (who was trying to eat everything). Whilst older kids were all looking for the biggest and best pumpkins, I instructed Seren and her friend to look for small ish ones which they could carry. When they found them they were so proud of themselves! I love the photo at the top of the post of Seren and how the sun is casting eerie shadows across her face. I did end up carrying both of the pumpkins, of course, plus Imogen out of the field.
I think I had an adrenaline rush after that so we headed off to the petting area then followed it with a Sam-Tastic magic show. Imogen loved being so close to the animals in the petting area and Seren loved holding a guinea pig. We saw the last 10 minutes of the show (Room on the Broom was also being read out at other times) which was pretty cool though the kids were really impressed and Seren said it was one of her favourite things from the day.
Then it was time to leave and for the usual ‘get-them-to-the-car-bribery’ in the form of ONE thing from the gift shop. I fully expected her to pick up some sort of Halloween tat but she choose a Schleich horse, and insisted that Imogen wanted one too. Of course.
Seren is still so pleased with her pumpkin – we painted and decorated it today and I think we’ll carve it tomorrow.
The Pumpkin Festival at Willow’s Activity Farm is on until the 1st November. Their next special event will be at Christmas.