Plenty o' Pumpkins at the Zoo

The month-long Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular brings an enchanted pumpkin forest to the Minnesota Zoo for all ages to enjoy

The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at the Minnesota Zoo lines the trail with thousands of illuminated pumpkins. Courtesy Minnesota Zoo.
Photo courtesy Minnesota Zoo

By day, visitors at the Minnesota Zoo can stroll along a variety of paths to see creatures from across the globe, but throughout the month of October, they are invited back to experience a family-friendly nighttime event that transforms a portion of the zoo into an enchanting pumpkin forest.

The Jack-O-Lantern spectacular will feature a quarter-mile trail decorated with 5,000 carved and illuminated pumpkins of all shapes, sizes, and expressions from ground to treetop. 

“We really wanted to do something big for Minnesota in the fall,” Director of the Minnesota Zoo John Frawley says. “We also wanted to fill the void for family and all-age friendly events.” 

Accompanied with LED lights, fog, and music, these pumpkins will provide visitors with a retrospective blast from the past through their “History Through the Decades” theme attributing key events and cultural elements spanning back to prehistoric times. 

The pumpkins are hand carved by artists through Passion for Pumpkins Inc., a multimedia production company that has been redefining fall by transforming landscapes into illuminated organic galleries for 25 years. 

In order to keep the pumpkins in shape for the month-long event, the artists continue to carve and enhance the display throughout the running of the 28-night show, rounding off the total amount of used pumpkins to nearly 20,000.

Open every day rain or shine, the event will also feature a variety of feel-good fall favorites from food and beverages, hayrides and on-site pumpkin carving with the artists. 

Through engaging, family-friendly activities, Frawley said that the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is a representation of the Minnesota Zoo’s mission to connect people, animals, and the natural world to save wildlife. With that, the proceeds of this event will go toward the zoo’s animal care, environmental education and conservation efforts both locally and globally. 

If you’re looking for a fun, fall event, look no further and visit this whimsical Halloween extravaganza at the Minnesota Zoo. 


  • Tickets are sold online and at zoo admissions.
  • Prime Nights (Friday and Saturday): Adult tickets are $18, and seniors (65+) and children (ages 3-12) tickets are $15. The trail is open from 7-11 p.m., with the last ticket sold at 10 p.m.
  • Value Nights (Sunday through Thursday): Adult tickets are $15, and seniors (65+) and children (ages 3-12) are $12. The trail is open 7-10 p.m., with the last ticket sold at 9 p.m.
  • Children under two years old are always admitted for free.