Every year since we moved back to Cheshire we’ve visited Cholmondley Castle on the day of its Pumpkin Festival. It’s become our little Halloween tradition and I look forward to it every year. I even dragged myself there 6 days post my third c-section, determined not to miss it!
In the depths of the Cheshire countryside, the privately owned Cholmondeley Castle sits in 70 acres of parkland, which in the Autumn months the colours are nothing but stunning. Over the years I’ve got some great photos of the kids playing in the gardens with the Autumn leaves as a backdrop.
The castle itself is closed to the public, but the gardens are open for the summer months and for set days in October, the one day only pumpkin festival being one of those. Entry cost is cheaper if you pre book (£20 for a family ticket, or £7 per adult (£8.50 on the day) and £4 a child (under 5’s are free). If you’re organised you can bring an entry for submission to the annual pumpkin carving competition which entitles you to one free child per pumpkin creation. Each year I endeavour to carve Mount Rushmore into a pumpkin and each year I end up going empty handed!
The activities change somewhat every year, but this time (2019) there was arts and crafts (badge and mask making etc), toasting marshmallows on an open fire, doughnut bobbing and a conker championship. Throughout the gardens they dot pumpkins around to spot, which is a sure fire way to get the kids to have a good walk around, although annoyingly the numbers of pumpkins do seem to be dwindling each year….
As we’ve been so many times now we have a little routine for our visit. We tend to park up then head first towards the gardens, beginning with the beautiful Temple Garden. The kids will spend a good while playing in the bushes and ponds, spotting those pumpkins and generally larking about. At the entrance you usually get given a nature trail leaflet where the kids are tasked with collecting various items (leaves/seeds) as they’re going round so this is a good way of prolonging the fun!
Once we’ve exhausted the gardens we then move onto the activity area which is next to the Tea room and white gates. Most of the activities are under canvas just in case of bad weather. Once they’ve had their fill of playing we always enjoy viewing the pumpkin carving competition entries which get judged in the afternoon.
By this time we’re all ready for a cake and drink in the cafe next door. Be prepared to queue as it’s not the quickest of service, there’s seating indoors and outdoors but the weather has always been kind on our visits so we like to sit outside and watch the fun.
There’s a little play area hidden away behind the tea rooms which is very easy to miss if you don’t know about it. If you are facing the tea room, walk down the paved path on the right hand side of the hut, then as it turns left towards the toilets cut straight ahead across the grass and you’ll come to it.
The aptly named den is a small area of gnarly old trees, little wooden seats and a bug hotel, it’s probably the children’s favorite bit to play at Cholmondley. The very first year we came here it was decorated all spooky and was amazing, but sadly they’ve never repeated it - Cholomondley if you’re reading this please do this again!!
Next stop is the playground. There used to be one right by the castle but unfortunately this has gone now, so head back to the car park and either walk or drive over to the play area which you passed on your way in. We really love it here and it’s a great way to end the day, it’s probably best for older kids more than toddlers but there is stuff for all ages.
Hope to see you there next Halloween!