A Few of the 5,000+ Pumpkins at the Minnesota Zoo’s Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

And they truly are spectacular

Erik Tormoen

More than 5,000 pumpkins jostle in the trees, side-eye each other, and exhale so much LED light: It’s the Minnesota Zoo’s second annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, open through November 3.

They flank a looped trail that takes 40-50 minutes to complete—classic jack-o’-lanterns crowding pedestalled objets d’art, with tarantulas, Disney characters, and fantasy scapes scraped into the flesh of prize-winning 200-pounders (not including the “Atlantic Giants,” which roll in from rural Minnesota and Wisconsin, weighing up to 2,000 pounds).

The ground-to-treetops spectacle resembles an orange-tinted bioluminescent forest. It opened for audiences October 1 courtesy of the country’s top-tier pumpkin carvers, as organized by the Massachusetts-based Passion for Pumpkins, Inc., which holds similar events in Rhode Island and Kentucky. In place of last year’s trip-through-time theme: an around-the-world jaunt, visiting Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

Here, peruse a few of our favorites. If you’re convinced, see if online-only tickets are available—because they’re going fast. And if you go, one rule for photographers to remember: Turn off your flash!

Representing Australia, a couple koalas
Representing Australia, a couple koalas

Erik Tormoen

Grumpy Cat—R.I.P.
Grumpy Cat—R.I.P.

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Under the sea, in the Caribbean section (and can you spot the jack-o'-lanterns-within-a-jack-o'-lantern?)
Under the sea, in the Caribbean section

Erik Tormoen

Many of the elaborately carved pumpkins had jack-o'-lanterns hidden within them. (Also: At the end of the trail, one pumpkin alluded to several characters that may or may not be hidden throughout, including Carmen Sandiego, Waldo, and Rick and Morty.)
Many of the elaborately carved pumpkins had jack-o’-lanterns hidden within them. (Also: At the end of the trail, one pumpkin alluded to several characters that may or may not be hidden throughout, including Carmen Sandiego, Waldo, and Rick and Morty.)

Erik Tormoen

Big Ben makes a cameo
Big Ben makes a cameo

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The Westminster Bridge, seen outside a castle installation
The Westminster Bridge, seen outside a castle installation

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Elephant and zebras for the African section
Elephant and zebras for the African section

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Medusa, representing Greece
Medusa, representing Greece

Erik Tormoen

A pumpkin references Mayan art
A pumpkin references Mayan art

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Mayan architecture installation
Mayan architecture installation

Erik Tormoen

The Leaning Tower of Pisa appears behind a scene of Venice
The Leaning Tower of Pisa appears behind a scene of Venice

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Salvador Dalí (front) and Pablo Picasso
Salvador Dalí (front) and Pablo Picasso

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Leonardo da Vinci and the Vitruvian Man
Leonardo da Vinci and the Vitruvian Man

Erik Tormoen

A geisha depicted before a Japanese garden with reflective pool
A geisha depicted before a Japanese garden with reflective pool

Erik Tormoen

A panda representing the Asian section
A panda representing the Asian section

Erik Tormoen

Through Passion for Pumpkins, anyone can reach out to become a contributing artist
Through Passion for Pumpkins, anyone can reach out to become a contributing artist

Erik Tormoen

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