Where to take the kids for pumpkin carving this Halloween

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Where to carve pumpkins halloween events 2017

Find places to pick and carve pumpkins near you, and get top tips on carving with our guide

Halloween is a great excuse to get messy carving pumpkins and to get outdoors at the various pumpkin-themed events happening around the country

It’s pumpkin carving day on 26 October, so make use our list of places to go and carve a pumpkin ready for Halloween. You could even pick your own pumpkin – find pick-you-own farms in your area here.

Keep scrolling down to find our top tips for choosing and carving the best pumpkin jack-o’-lantern… 


1. Cannon Hall Farm, Barnsley

21–31 October, 10.30am–5pm

As part of the farm's annual pumpkin festival, you can pick and carve pumpkins in the marquee, where experts are on hand to help families create the perfect lantern. Little ones can also win prizes for fancy dress, create a Halloween headdress and take part in the trick-or-treat trail in Witches' Wood.

Admission includes access to the farm, outdoor adventure and indoor soft play areas, sheep and ferret racing, milk demonstrations, tractor and trailer rides, and the opportunity to meet shire horses and meerkats.

Entry fees apply, see website for details.


2. Audley End House and Gardens, Essex

23–29 October, 11am–4pm

As well as enjoying a host of other ghastly goings-on at Audley End this Halloween, you can carve your own pumpkin to take away (additional charge of £4 applies).

Free for English Heritage members (£17.50 adults/£10.50 children for non-members). Boundless members can save on English Heritage membership.


3. Down House, Kent

23–29 October, 11am, 12pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm & 3.30pm

At the former home of Charles Darwin, you can carve your own pumpkins and enter the fancy dress competition, which takes place at 2pm each day.

Pumpkin carving costs £4 and is on a first come, first served basis.

Free entry for English Heritage members (£11.80 adults/£7.10 children for non-members) Boundless members can save on English Heritage membership.


4. Eltham Palace and Gardens, London

23–27 October, 11am, 12pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm & 3.30pm

Will you carve a ghoulish face, a bat or something more horrifyingly original? Go along to a pumpkin carving session in the grounds of the 1930s art deco mansion Eltham Palace.

Pumpkin carving costs £4 and is on a first come, first served basis.

Free entry for English Heritage members (£14.40 adults/£8.60 children for non-members) Boundless members can save on English Heritage membership.


5. Dinefwr Park and Castle, Carmarthenshire

21, 26 & 27 October, 7–8pm

Children aged six and over can carve pumpkins in the atmospheric surroundings of Dinefwr, before climbing up to the creepy ruins of the castle on the hill. There will also be a spooky storyteller on hand. £6 per person for pumpkin carving, booking advised.


6. Tyntesfield, North Somerset  

21–29 October, 2pm, 2.30pm, 3pm & 3.30pm

Go along to a pumpkin-carving workshop in the grounds of Tyntesfield, a spectacular Victorian Gothic Revival house near Bristol. A team of helpers will be on hand for 30-minute workshops. £3 per pumpkin. Booking advised.


7. Riverford Pumpkin Day, nationwide

28 October, 11am–4pm

Head down to your local Riverford organic farm to take part in its pumpkin carving competition. The winner from each farm will receive a Christmas hamper.   There will also be face painting, farm walks, live music, food and more.

Tickets are £3 per person, including a pumpkin for each child. Children under three are free. Numbers are limited, so online booking is advised.


8. Scottish Crannog Centre, Perthshire

31 October, 7pm–9pm

This event will take you into the dark heart of All Hallows’ Eve at the Scottish Crannog Centre, which shows what Iron Age life was like with a reconstructed prehistoric loch dwelling.

The evening will follow the old Scottish tradition of Samhain, which marks the end of harvest and the beginning of winter. Bring along your carved pumpkin (or traditional Scottish turnip!) to light the way into the spirit world in your best Halloween outfit.

Adults £10.50, children £6.50.


How to carve the perfect Halloween pumpkin

How to carve a halloween pumpkin

Preparation

Put down some newspaper or a plastic tablecloth – it’s going to get messy. Get some bowls ready for the innards. If you want to, have one bowl for the seeds and one for the flesh, which you could use for soup or stews.

Size

Medium-sized pumpkins are best. It might be tempting to choose the biggest one, but it will take more time to scoop it out and you’ll need a bigger candle to light it up. If it's too small, you’ll struggle to get inside it for scooping.

Cutting the lid

When carving off the top, make sure you carve straight across, not downwards, otherwise your lid will fall in. It needs a ledge to sit on. Make sure the opening is wide enough for you to scrape out the inside.

Choosing your tools

You can buy special plastic tool kits that are safer than using knives but are still effective. The serrated plastic saws are especially useful for carving accurate images. Ice-cream scoops are perfect for scraping out the inside.

When to stop scooping

Keep scraping out until your pumpkin is about an inch thick – this will make it easier to carve and more light will shine through.

Keep it simple

Kids might lose interest if you try to create designs that are too complicated. If you want to show off your artistic talents by depicting Yoda or Pennywise the Dancing Clown on a pumpkin, invite some friends round for an evening of grown-up carving once the kids have gone to bed.

Have a look online for ideas – you can even download and print templates if art isn’t your thing. You don’t have to stick to the classics – instead of a traditional Halloween face, you could try a simple cat design. Carved stars look dramatic in the dark when the pumpkin is lit up.

Draw your image on first with a pen before you start carving. This will avoid lopsided faces and mismatched eyes. Straight lines are easier than circles, so beginners should stick to squares and triangles.

Preserving your pumpkin

Once you’ve finished carving, rub some Vaseline or diluted lemon juice on to the exposed parts to stop the flesh from turning brown. Keep it in the fridge when you’re not home and it will last a bit longer.

Light it up

To illuminate your pumpkin, use a candle in a small glass, leaving the lid off slightly to allow the heat to escape, or cut a small smoke hole in the back. Alternatively, fairy lights and battery-operated candles work well, too.

Happy Halloween!

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