October 08, 2022
After the hot, hot, hot summer we just endured in Texas, I have never been more ready for fall. All things pumpkin and pumpkin spice — bring it, and help me forget summer ever existed. So when I heard about Pumpkin Nights, a walking trail through themed lands packed with creative jack-o’-lanterns, I was all in.
Weekend admission for 3 adults is pricey, and parking is extra, but all was worth it for the enchanting jack-o’-lanterns along the 1/2-mile trail at Pioneer Farms in northeast Austin. Plus there’s a fire show, food trucks, a pumpkin carver, and giant pumpkins to enjoy before you even reach the trail.
But the trail is the main attraction, and it’s immersive, magical, and photo-worthy.
A long tunnel of hanging jack-o’-lanterns makes a glowing, grinning entrance.
The displays along the trail are created with hand-carved artificial pumpkins — about 5,000 of them! — that won’t rot during the month that the trail is open. They look like real pumpkins with different shapes and sizes and seemingly hundreds of different expressions.
As you walk along the green-lit trail, you encounter a half-dozen or so themed lands. A glowing blue moon in Enchanted Forest makes a popular photo op.
The trail soon gets a bit spookier.
Bugs and fairies abound.
A gigantic owl made of pumpkins looms tall at the end of the Forest.
The Great Hall
The Great Hall evokes the Halloween feast at Harry Potter‘s Hogwarts, with candles and pumpkins and owls floating overhead.
The Forbidden City
In the Forbidden City, an undulating dragon and masses of Chinese lanterns — all made of pumpkins — had us oohing and aahing.
Maravilla Lane evokes the movie Coco with Day of the Dead-themed jack-o’-lanterns.
A buzzy display of giant houseflies and Venus fly traps was either part of Neon Reef or the playground area Monster Mash. Yep, those are pumpkin eyes and a giant pumpkin body!
The carved-pumpkin Venus fly traps were enjoying a snack of pumpkin flies.
With a black-light glow, Neon Reef features dangling pumpkin jellyfish, pufferfish, and toothy anglerfish.
And then…giant spiders lurking in thick webs.
And finally, in Pirate Cove, frollicking jack-o’-lantern pirates swing cutlasses at each other and hoard pieces of eight.
As we circled back to the exit, I was sorry to see the holiday magic come to a close. But for a couple of hours, the witching hour had done a great job of banishing that scary summer from my mind.
Pumpkin Nights is open every evening except Tuesdays and ends on October 30th. There’s a Pumpkin Nights in Dallas too.
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The Oct. 20th Garden Spark talk “Black Flora” by author Teresa Speight is on sale now, and you’re invited! Teri will be sharing stories of pioneering Black florists, floral activists, and flower farmers doing incredible work across the U.S. Her profiles of these unstoppable creatives in Black Flora are uplifting and inspiring; check out my book review for more info. Come join us and meet Teri at her talk and book signing. Seating is limited, and tickets must be purchased in advance.
Come learn about garden design from the experts at Garden Spark! I organize in-person talks by inspiring designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added. You can find this year’s speaker lineup here.
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