Love Halloween? Imagine heading out after dark to a large public park, and walking along a winding one-kilometre gravel trail covered with 10,000 glowing hand-carved pumpkins creepily nestled in Halloween-themed groupings – everything from classically creepy themes to pop culture references and movies.
Now imagine taking your dog along – Pumpkins After Dark is a one-month-long Halloween experience in Milton, Ontario that’s introduced something new for 2023: the last three Wednesdays of October are Pet Nights.
Is Pumpkins After Dark Dog-friendly?
Spooky, creepy, photo-perfect Pumpkins After Dark in Milton, Ontario is permitting leashed pet pups to stroll the grounds with you, but only for three nights (and there are two Pet Nights remaining). Dogs can attend the Milton Pumpkins After Dark on October 11, 18 and 25 only. Yes, I even noticed one leashed cat.
It’s a bit of an experiment. So, hopefully, pup parents will make this a fun time for everyone by keeping their dogs on leash (it’ll be dark after all), picking up after their pup, and remaining on the trail. No restrictions on dog breed or size. Of the four Pumpkins After Dark experiences across Canada – others are in Edmonton, Alberta; Ottawa, Ontario and Burnaby, British Columbia – only the Milton, Ontario location is offering Pet Nights. At the others, no pets are permitted on any night with the exception of certified service dogs.
Pumpkins After Dark is approximately a one-hour walk-through experience (and dogs love a good walk) requiring advanced ticket purchases for select time slots (exchangeable but not refundable). Costumed actors walk the paths, but this isn’t an adrenaline-pumping scream fest designed to frighten people, children … or dogs.
Pumpkins After Dark is a collection of themed people-sized carved pumpkin groupings – every theme imaginable from Star Trek to Peanuts. My favourite is the more traditional haunted stagecoach, insane asylum, and nightmarish amusement park. True to Halloween, the experience is dark, chill, but no more frightening than the Haunted House ride at Disneyland.
Photography is encouraged, but challenging considering how dark it is – the lit barn is set up specifically for photo opts, and it’s here you’ll find the pumpkin carving in action. A pug face in honour of Pet Night was in the works when we visited. Otherwise, yes, facilities such as washrooms and concession stands are on-site, along with a Beavertails food truck. Be prepared for a line-up, though.
Did my dog love Pumpkins After Dark?
Yes! Not wanting to miss the first opportunity, my crazy spaniel headed out to experience her first Pumpkins After Dark event on October 11, 2023. She’s up for anything and thousands of glowing smirking jack-lanterns didn’t phase her – especially if there’s a lot to smell.
But it was the sounds that caught her attention.
My dog loved the animated displays the best – the more creepy noise or music the better. The Adams Family theme song got her attention when the collection of colourful pumpkins, lead by one large pumpkin spewing dry ice fog, launched into a version of that familiar beat.
My dog even stopped for an extended time focused on the dog-shaped skeleton in the dino display … I was a little surprised too. The entire fall outdoor experience was definitely stimulating for her, and she slept the entire ride home.
Should you take your dog to Pumpkins After Dark?
Whether or not this experience is for you depends on your dog. My pup is high-energy, fearless, and almost bomb proof. Other than pulling on the leash issue (we’re still working on that), I had little fear she’d not love a dog-friendly after-dark Halloween adventure. However, a word of caution: if your dog isn’t as fearless as mine, the fog machines, black lights, and creepy seasonal music, along with occasional loud sound effects might leave them with their tail between their legs – or worse. Anxious dogs might want to sit this one out.
If you go….
Pumpkins After Dark runs September 23 to October 31, 2023, in Milton, Ontario at Country Heritage Park, 8560 Tremaine Road, Milton, Ontario. Pet Nights are October 11, 18, and 25 only.
Admission starts at $25 for adults and must be purchased in advance online for a select date and time slot. Seasons passes are available and so are one-price family passes.
Tip: If you have a glow-in-the-dark dog collar, use it. It will help others not to trip into your pup along the path. Poop bags are offered at the door, but bring a flashlight – both to clean up and get back to your car safely. No water bowls for dogs are provided.
Note: The Pumpkins After Dark company also has events in Burnaby, Edmonton, and Ottawa but none of these locations are pet-friendly on any date.
Please check out other Pet-friendly Halloween 2023 events here and consider entering our SodaPup Halloween Bundle Contest here (if you’re a US resident). Otherwise, please subscribe to dogtrotting.net to receive weekly dog-friendly inspiration via email.
Writer bio: Sherri Telenko has been a professional writer for decades and a travel writer for the last two. She’s a member of TMAC (Travel Media Association of Canada) and Dog Writers Association of America and travels almost weekly with her canine companion, Victoria. Contact Sherri at dogtrotting.net here. All written content is original, written by a person, and based on experience and research. Please subscribe!