When you think of Halloween, you probably think of ghosts, goblins, scary witches, zombies and haunted houses; but those are not always for the faint of heart.
If you’re looking to take in some of the Halloween season magic without something sinister popping out at you and scaring you out of your wits, you’ll definitely love Pumpkinferno.
Going into its fifth year, this popular outdoor harvest season event takes place from Sept. 30 to Oct. 30, 2016 at the charming and historic Upper Canada Village. In Morrisburg, Ont. – about an hour’s drive south of downtown Ottawa – you’ll find more than 7,000 hand-carved pumpkins arranged into about 30 different themes and sculptures. Imagine walking through a darkened, 1860’s village as glowing pumpkins softly guide your way. Whether you’re young or older, you’ll be sure to fall in love with the truly enchanting scenes displayed before you.
Liam Mills, Product Enrichment Supervisor for the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, said in an interview with Ottawa Tourism that Pumpkinferno is popular as it not only appeals to a wide audience, but it is different from all the other Halloween activities that are available. “I don’t think there’s much to do that’s not scaring you around [this] time,” Mills said. “It’s something you can do with your family. It’s a family fall event and you don’t have to worry about getting scared.”
Mills has been behind Pumpkinferno since its very beginning, helping with the original concept for the project as well as the sculpture designs. He told Ottawa Tourism that the design process for the event begins in January and goes until May, when the carving process begins and runs until September. “There are 36-hour weeks right until the end of August and the end of carving. That’s carving every day for pretty much the whole summer,” Mills said.
And you might think that considering the large scale of this event, Mills assembles quite a large team of pumpkin carvers, but that’s not the case. According to Mills, only a small team works together to create 25 to 30 life-size, glowing sculptures that are very different from each other.
“We’ve got themes from fish floating on the water to a giant 30×30-foot pumpkin made out of hundreds of [individual] pumpkin faces,” Mills said. He noted that new sculptures are added each year to keep the event exciting and fresh.
Mills also said that in addition to the 7,000 pumpkins that are carved at Upper Canada Village, one thousand are sent to local public and high schools to be painted by students. The painted pumpkins are then picked up, to be displayed in a 60×20-foot tent that is Pumpkinferno’s Jack o’ lantern Library. “But rather than displaying books, it displays all of the pumpkins the students have painted,” he said.
Susan Le Clair, Manager of Customer Service and Corporate Communications at the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, said in an interview with Ottawa Tourism that the Pumpkinferno team works hard each year to keep guests coming back. “Every year, they kind of out do themselves with some new exhibits,” she said.
Le Clair added that Pumpkinferno’s “wow factor” is the large scale of the exhibits that are put together. “It’s not just individual pumpkins,” Le Clair said. “They turn them into this life-size, Noah’s Ark kind of exhibit.” She noted people that attend Pumpkinferno tend to be surprised by their experience because it’s beyond what they can imagine. “You really have to come see it to really understand what it is,” Le Clair said. “It’s a great mix of creativity and artistry, yet it’s entertaining.”
Pumpkinferno starts on Sept. 30 and runs Thursday through Sunday. Entry for an adult is $14 CDN, a senior is $12 and a youth is $10. Entry for children five-years-old and under is free. Make sure to bring a camera!
Also, Pumpkinferno is only one of the many great events going on in Ottawa and its surrounding regions this fall. To learn about other fall season activities, browse Ottawa Tourism’s See & Do page.