The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival: Tips for the Best Visit Ever {2016}

The 7th Annual Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival will take place on October 7 – 9, 2016! Since this is one of my family’s favorite fall activities, I can’t wait to share our best tips for enjoying the festival with you.

The Great Highwood Pumpkin FestivalTips for Visiting the Highwood Pumpkin Festival

The festival prelude begins on Monday, October 3rd through Thursday, October 6th, where the public is invited to bring a carved pumpkin to City Hall between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Or you can stop by and carve one of the pumpkins they have on hand. The goal is to break the Guinness World Record of 30,581  jack-o’-lanterns carved and lit at the same time–and your help is needed. If you bring a carved pumpkin (or two or three) to add to the total, you’ll receive a FREE admission pass to the weekend’s event.

The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival
Photo Source Celebrate Highwood

The event officially starts on Friday, October 7th at 4:00 p.m. You can find the full schedule of events at the official event website. Our family loves going on Friday night because it’s a great way to end the week, and it’s so much fun to be at the pumpkin festival at night. We love Buffo’s (also one of Little Lake County’s favorite places for Best Outdoor Dining in Lake County), so we enjoy a fabulous thin crust pizza before walking over to the festival. But no matter what time you arrive, you will need to find a place to park. I suggest looking at the options for free parking online, so you have an idea of where to park before you arrive.

The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival
© S. Benassi | Little Lake | 2016

With full tummies, we head over to the festival and carve pumpkins. The best part about the Highwood Pumpkin Fest is that the the seeds have already been scooped out of the pumpkins! You can get right to carving, and you’re invited to carve as many as you’d like. We’ve carved faces into pumpkins, and we’ve also carved letters to spell a word. Be as creative as you’d like, and don’t worry about bringing your own carving knife–they’ll have plenty there for you to use.

The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival
© J. Vincent | Little Lake | 2016

Once our kids have carved all the pumpkins they can, we head over to the carnival rides. The festival also features music, food and great kiddie carnival rides. I personally love the rides all lit up at night, but they are also available all weekend. We usually stay as long as our kids will last!

The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival
© R. Benassi | Little Lake | 2016

If you decide to attend on Saturday or Sunday, be sure to check the event website ahead of time and sign up for anything that sounds fun to you. Maybe you want to join the pet costume parade or the costume contest (kid’s or adult) or even the pie eating contest. Besides their goal to break the Guinness World Record, they would like to raise over $600,000 for Make-A-Wish Illinois to help grant 100 wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions in Illinois. Register and dress up for the Superhero 5K Run/Walk–all proceeds will be donated to Make-A-Wish Illinois.

The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival
© R. Benassi | Little Lake | 2016

No matter which day you decide to visit Highwood’s Great Pumpkin Festival, try to at least stay one full evening so you can see all the pumpkins lit up. It’s really amazing to look at giant the walls of pumpkins. I hope this year they’ll be able to break the Guiness World Record, but we’ll be there no matter what! It’s a great family event we wouldn’t ever think of missing.

The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival
Downtown Highwood Festival Grounds
Highwood, IL
Friday, October 7, 4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Saturday October 8, 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sunday October 9, 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Admission is $2 per person.

Do you have a favorite tip to share about attending The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival? Let us know about it in the comments section below.


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