Hendrwennol has gained quite a reputation over the last few years for its Halloween festivities.
Gone are the strawberries the pick-your-own farm is famous for in the early summer, and in place are thousands of pumpkins, picked over the last couple of weeks, and ready to be carved, as one of the highlights of their week-long family-friendly event which combines traditional crafting activities with children’s entertainment and outdoor trails.
Being a farm, and with some of the activities taking place outdoors, wellies are a must and maybe even a change of clothes. Activities also have to be pre-booked, and sell out quickly, so do act fast if you want to go between now and Sunday.
We arrived at around 10.45am this morning, and the place was already packed with families.
First on our agenda was a half hour show from Magic Carl, taking place in one of the marquees, with the audience sat on benches made from hay bales. Clad in a wizard’s cape and hat, the children in the audience were shrieking with laughter at his magic tricks. He’s one of a few local magicians performing throughout the week, with three shows a day. The shows are free, provided you have purchased tickets for the other activities (more on that later).
From there we headed outside to the play area with its sand pit and giant hay bales, which kept my children entertained for around 45 minutes. Sandwiched between the sand pit and the bales were a few traditional fun fair rides and games. At £2 a ride, I told my children they could choose just one to go on, so Little Miss E, 6¾, and Little Man O, 5, opted for the swing boats. Toddler Boy I, 2½, wasn’t fussed and saved me £2 by going to play in the sand pit instead.
It was just gone 12 at this point, and so we headed to the Dusty Knuckle pizza stall for lunch. Now usually, I don’t buy food when we are out, instead taking a picnic with us, but Dusty Knuckle make the most amazing wood-fired pizzas (read our previous review here) and so I treated us to two margheritas to share, costing £10 in total.
Next to Dusty Knuckle is a stall selling hot dogs and other hot food – both cash only – and a cafe in the next room where you can pay by card and get cash back for a £1 fee.
There’s plenty of indoor and outdoor picnic tables, although space was in demand.
From there, we headed to the Spooky Village, one of two Halloween-themed outdoor trails at Hendrewennol. The other is Terror Trail, which has an age guidance of eight. I knew my three would have been terrified, so we opted for the Spooky Village, where children can explore a selection of little houses, collect a letter stamp in each, and if you can work out the word, claim a sticker from the witch in her house. Other than two witches, one with a green face, one with purple, it wasn’t barely spooky, and so great for younger visitors.
Next up for us was broomstick making and pumpkin carving.
For £5.50 a head, children can customise their pre-made wooden brooms with ribbon, feathers and beads. My eldest two loved it, but Toddler was probably a bit young, although he loves the finished result we helped him create.
Pumpkin carving was again £5.50 per head, with children able to choose their own from a counter packed full of them. Once carved, you can leave them for later collection with a cloak room style ticket system – but I still made sure my children chose small ones because I was thinking practically about getting three pumpkins, three broomsticks and three children back to the car by myself!
The other activity on offer is web making, for £3.50.
Also inside the main tent, there’s a stall with spooky balloon sculpting and glitter tattoos; face painting; and Photo Junior with their spooky photo booth photos. All of these cost around £3-£5 – so the costs can quickly add up. We were fortunate to be reviewing so were able to take part in more activities than I would otherwise have been able to afford.
That said, the inclusive magic show and outdoor play area meant we were at Hendrewennol for more than four hours, so it did provide value for money, especially if you bring your own lunch.
Other points worth mentioning, it is buggy friendly, although busy, so if you can get away without one, then do. There’s plenty of onsite parking, with a short walk from the car park to the activities. There’s lots of extra toilets on site, although they are chemical portaloos, and not the cleanest.
With regards to tickets, as mentioned it all needs to be pre-booked. Adults will need a grounds pass at a cost of £2.50, although children under 2 who are not taking part in an activity do not need a ticket.
We had a really great time; it was so lovely to see so many families enjoying craft activities and outdoor play on a cold and drizzly day. Halloween at Hendrewennol – we highly recommend.
Hendrewennol, Bonvilston, Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan CF5 6TS. Halloween events run until Sunday 3oth October 2016.