Annual Enchanted Pumpkin Garden returns to downtown Carefree

CAREFREE – Halloween once again invades the Town of Carefree in the form of whimsical pumpkin carvings from the world-renowned master sculptor Ray Villafane, and his team for a fifth incredible year.

The Enchanted Pumpkin Garden, a one-of-a-kind fall festival celebrating the magic of the fall season, takes place October 18–27. The amazing artistry of Villafane Studios will be on display throughout the four-acre Carefree Desert Gardens in downtown Carefree.

Admission to the Gardens will be $15 per person Friday through Sunday, and $10 Monday through Thursday. Children age two and under are free.

Villafane Studios vignettes at the annual Enchanted Pumpkin Garden in Carefree truly make the whimsical pumpkin characters come to life.
(Photos by Tara Alatorre)

Weekdays will feature the exceptionally talented Villafane Studios carving team creating new and exciting pumpkin artworks.  Also a variety of unique fall-themed edible creations and merchandise will be available, and special Halloween-themed performances happening throughout the gardens.

Weekend entry includes full access to the gardens, a Harvest Market, live musical performances on two stages, novelty concessions and local food trucks. It also gives attendees access to the Haunted Happenings zone, which includes a haunted house attraction, giant slide, obstacle course, carnival games, petting zoo, pony rides and more.

New in 2019 is a partnership with the Arizona Giant Pumpkin Growers Association to host an official Great Pumpkin Commonwealth (GPC) Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off on Saturday, October 19, at 11 a.m.

“The best giant gourd growers in the Southwest will be bringing their obscenely large, fascinating, ginormous orange orbs to town, in hopes of squashing the giant pumpkin world record,” stated a press release from Carefree.

The Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off is free to attend, and will be held on the Community Stage, just outside of Historic Spanish Village in downtown Carefree.

All of the pumpkins entered in the GPC contest will remain on-site, with Villafane’s team of carvers working their artistry on the gourds live throughout the garden during the remaining days of the event.

Ray Villafane helping a local youth carve a giant pumpkin.

Friday and Saturday nights will feature live headline entertainment each evening from 7–9:30 p.m. on the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion stage. Valley favorites The Walkens Band brings their unique blend of country and Southern rock favorites on Friday, Oct. 18. Phoenix native and American Idol season 17 favorite, Wade Cota, performs with his band on Saturday, Oct. 19.

The second weekend kicks off on Friday, Oct. 25 with Rock Lobster playing the biggest music hits of the 80s and  90s. The ultimate Steve Miller tribute band, Pompatus of Love rocks the stage on Saturday, Oct. 26, featuring Steve Miller Band and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist Greg Douglass.

Popular holiday-themed activities include pie-eating contests both weekends, sponsored by Venues Café; and costume contests for kids, adults and pets on Sunday, Oct. 27.

Another crowd favorite at is the carved pickled pumpkins that are placed in faux saguaros throughout the four-acre garden.

Additional weekend event highlights include: Basha’s “Adopt a Pumpkin” patch, with proceeds benefiting Desert Foothills YMCA;  a Harvest Market, featuring a variety of fall-themed vendor goods and autumnal treats; the Jack O’Lantern beer garden with seasonal craft beers provided by Four Peaks Brewery, operated by the Sonoran Arts League; and the Haunted Happenings area, with family-friendly attractions for kids of all ages.

For hours of operation, event schedules and more information about this annual Halloween attraction, visit EnchantedPumpkinGarden.com or call 480-488-3686. For information about Ray Villafane and Villafane Studios, visit VillafaneStudios.com.

Another crowd favorite at is the carved pickled pumpkins that are placed in faux saguaros throughout the four-acre garden.