Pumpkins and scarecrows to takeover Castle Ward

Clodagh, Odhran and Aoife Johnston at last year's Castle Ward Pumpkinfest
Clodagh, Odhran and Aoife Johnston at last year's Castle Ward Pumpkinfest

Pumpkinfest is back. The hugely popular autumn spectacular returns to Castle Ward, Downpatrick, on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 October to kick off half term holidays with a bang.

Over 3,000 plump pumpkins are being grown, ready for delivery to the National Trust property, situated on the shores of Strangford Lough, for the annual festival that attracts crowds from across Northern Ireland.

Pumpkins at the Castle Ward Pumpkinfest

Pumpkins at the Castle Ward Pumpkinfest

Choose your favourite pumpkins, scoop out the insides and draw on your own unique designs before handing them to expert carvers to complete the perfect pumpkin for you to take home. Create your own unusual and exciting scarecrow to enter the scarecrow pageant, with some fantastic prizes put up by O2 Downpatrick. Scarecrows can be big and beautiful, small and elegant, themed or traditional, and should be dropped off at the sign-posted pageant location between 10am and 3pm for registration, ahead of judging.

Prizes for the scarecrow pageant are awarded in two categories each day: under 12s, and over 12s to adult. Tags should be attached to scarecrows with the name, age and telephone number of the person entering the competition.

Castle Ward’s 18th century mansion also plays host to the wizard’s spooky cellar, where young and old can visit if they dare.

Other activities running across the weekend include organic pumpkin soup sampling, an autumn trail, horse and carriage rides (weather permitting) and free-flow mansion tours from 12pm to 5pm (ground floor only, last entry 4pm).

Large crowds at the Castle Ward Pumpkinfest

Large crowds at the Castle Ward Pumpkinfest

Phil’s Farm is on site giving you the opportunity to get up close and personal with a range of farm and exotic animals, while children can also enjoy the adventure and woodland playgrounds, Victorian children’s playroom, and the Barn with its indoor and outdoor play areas.

Castle Ward’s resident crafters are displaying their work in the farmyard area with the chance to buy handcrafted items direct from the makers, while the tea room, gift shop and second-hand book shop are also open.

A wide range of vendors offer themed hot food, tasty treats and crafts with an autumn twist.

Normal National Trust admission charges apply, while entry for members is free. If you become a member of the National Trust on the day you receive free admission to the event.

For regular event updates on Pumpkinfest see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/castleward, www.facebook.com/NTCastleWard and follow CastleWardNT on Instagram.