Image at top: Disney Princesses fashioned from pumpkins gaze out from a fairy tale castle in Nights of the Jack.
Los Angeles is being invaded by pumpkins! When Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns retreated back to New York after only a few years in Los Angeles, disappointed Halloween fans might thought that meant the end of large-scale outdoor art installations featuring pumpkins artfully carved into everything from monsters to dinosaurs to aliens to celebrities. Fortunately, that turned out not to be the case. Halloween 2019 features no less than three such events: Nights of the Jack: A Halloween Jack O’Lantern Experience, Pumpkin Nights, and Carved. The three events are widely divergent in terms of schedule and location, but all of them promise spectacular displays that should satisfy those seeking family-friendly Halloween fun emphasizing beauty rather than horror.
Nights of the Jack is set on the grounds of the King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas, where hundreds of Jack O'Lanterns create a Halloween wonderland along a half-mile trail, enhanced with lighting and music. This season features a “SpongeBob SquarePants” installation and an "Are You Afraid of the Dark?” pre-show tent space with an "interactive augmented reality experience." Nights of the Jack also includes live pumpkin carving, a gift shop, food trucks, and a "Spookeasy Bar" serving Halloween cocktails.
Pumpkin Nights will launch on October 10 and continue until November 3. Its half-mile path will include a Forbidden Pumpkin City, a pirate’s cove, and other scenes fashioned from thousands of hand-carved real and synthetic pumpkins. The event also includes a fire show, treats, and outdoor movie screenings.
Pumpkin Nights takes place at the Pomona Fairplex. Hours are 5:30pm to 10:30pm. The address is: 1101 W. McKinley Avenue, Pomona, CA 91768. The event's listing at the Fairplex is here. The event organizer's website is here.
Carved runs five nights on in October: the 23rd through the 27th. The event will transform a one-mile trail with "a thousand professionally carved pumpkins – some as large as 100 pounds and all of them real." (As noted above, some of these events carve their Jack O'Lanterns from synthetic pumpkins, which purists may consider "cheating.") For the five days before Carved opens, curious guests may get a sneak preview by attending Carved: Pumpkin Artists at Work. There is also a sold-out Pumpkin Carving Workshop on October 26.
Carved is set in Descanso Gardens, the location formerly used by Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns, which is co-producing the event with the venue. (The Descano Gardens listing for Carved does not mention this, but the event is referenced on Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns' website.) Hours are 6:30pm to 10:30pm. The address is 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, 91011. Get more information here.