Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns is around the corner! And I feel like it wasn’t that long ago since we attended last year’s event. When we went, I had heard about it but really had no idea what it was. I actually thought it was more of a haunted house kind of thing since it took place leading up to Halloween, but it’s really more of a special fall outdoor art exhibition. It was certainly a unique experience and one that I recommend. For us, it was the perfect low-key, not too time-consuming outing that fit nicely into our fall schedule.
We had tickets for Saturday, November 1, at 6:30pm, at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, which if it wasn’t the very last day of the event, it was certainly near the very end of it. Being a Saturday evening, the drive to La Cañada Flintridge from West LA wasn’t too bad (23 miles, about 30 minutes). Once we arrived, the parking was easy and the crowds were reasonable since it was still early in the evening.
The Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns experience consists of a short walk along a path where thousands of hand-carved lit jack o’lanterns are creatively displayed, and there is background music which adds to the ambiance. The event takes place in the evening, and it happens rain or shine!
We began our visit with a stop at the refreshment booth. We bought the boys some hot cider and popcorn before we moved on. Next, we observed a sculptor in action as he was carving a pumpkin. With headphones on and his back to us, he seemed oblivious to all of us watching him work.
Then we walked along the path a bit before we came to the beginning of the jack o’lantern displays. Sometimes it was the wide view that was impressive; others times it was the close-up of carved pumpkins that amazed. You never knew what was coming up around the next bend which made it all the more exciting. Rounding one corner, we particularly enjoyed suddenly seeing the dinosaurs appear.
The jack o’lantern displays were organized into different themes. Last year some of the themes were video games, the solar system, dinosaurs, sports, celebrities, Dia de los Muertos, along with many more.
A note of interest, not all the jack o’lanterns are made from real pumpkins, but that doesn’t diminish the experience. All 5,000 jack o’lanterns are still intricately hand-carved. They use “literally TONS” of real pumpkins, but they also use carvable foam pumpkins (because they last longer). They have no secret trick to keeping the real pumpkins from rotting during the monthlong event. Each week they have to replace the rotting jack o’lanterns with fresh ones.
The 2015 Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns seems like it will be another interesting experience. According to their website, “New themes this year include a safari with larger-than-life animals carved from dozens of jack o’lanterns, an auto show featuring classic cars that have been re-imagined in a gourd-geous new way, and a dragon that’s over 50 feet long and contains hundreds of jacks! You’ll also see our talented artists hand-paint and hand-carve the images of some of your favorite TV and movie stars into giant 100 pound pumpkins at our live carving station!”
If you’re considering going, I recommend searching for discount codes. I’ve been getting emails from The Rise with information on discounted tickets (you can sign up on their site to receive promocodes), and some deal sites like Groupon will also offer deals, if they aren’t already. And remember, fall evenings in Southern California can get chilly. Bring warm clothing so you don’t have to rush through it but instead can enjoy it fully.
And for my readers outside of the Los Angeles area, they also have events in San Diego, CA, and on Long Island, NY. For details on locations and tickets, click here.