Pumpkin Nights is a Halloween-themed fair featuring over 3,000 carved pumpkins and is held in various cities around the U.S. I visited Pumpkin Nights Auburn, the one closest to my home in Sacramento, but there are ones in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Denver. The event is set up so you can walk through various pumpkin-themed lands. Best of all, it’s very family-friendly and there are no scary elements throughout the night.
Pumpkin Nights Activities
The first thing that you see when you enter the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn, is Pumpkin Central, where you can take photos in the pumpkin tunnel, have someone take your pic with the giant Pumpkin Nights pumpkin, and browse the food and event booths. There are food trucks, adult beverages, and plenty of sweet treats, including kettle corn (a personal favorite), cotton candy, hot chocolate and cider.
The first land that you enter is The Great Hall, which is Harry Potter-themed with pumpkins featuring, floating candles, owls in flight and sorting hats. They did a great job setting the mood with the low lighting and the mist lending an air of mystery throughout the building.
The Great Pumpkin Reef (my favorite), which transports you to under the sea with colorful pumpkin displays, mini bubbles, lively music and strings of bright lights. The highlight of this land was the giant pumpkin octopus near the end, which is a great photo opp.
Maravilla Land features Day of the Dead pumpkins, with a few gazebos to take photos in. This area got a bit congested when I was there, so I didn’t get to stay as long as I wanted, but I loved the details on the displays and the Pumpkin Passage that had the floating Day of the Dead pumpkins overhead.
Spider Alley was one of the most clever lands, with a giant spider pumpkin amid venus fly traps, and a display with a larger-than-life spider web.
Another one of my favorites was Pumpkin Pirate Cove, which featured skeleton pumpkin pirates, an impressive pirate ship, and pumpkin palm trees. Definitely a lot of great detail put into this display.
The final land was the Forbidden Pumpkin City, with an elaborate lifesized pumpkin dragon and an archway of pumpkin lanterns. This was one of the prettier displays.
Other activities include the Spirit of Pumpkin fire show (aka the fire dancers), a screening of Coco, and pumpkin carvers in action. Specifically for kids, there is a scavenger hunt throughout all the lands, digging for treasure in the Pumpkin Pirate Cove, and pumpkin seesaws to ride.
Pumpkin Nights Info
The event runs from October 17-November 4, from 5:30-10:30 daily, except for Halloween night.
The tickets are before 8pm $20 for adults, $16 for children/seniors (60+), $60 for the family pack (2 adults, 2 children) and after 8pm (night owl special) $14 adults, $12 children/seniors, $40 for the family pack. Children 3 and under are free. It’s recommended you buy tickets online, since there are limited tickets at the door and they cost more.
Tickets have special entry times, but once you enter you can stay as long as you like.
Costumes are recommended, masks are allowed, props are not. Each city hosts themed costume nights, so check out the calendar in your respective city beforehand.
The official website mentions that parking is $6, but we parked in the main lot for free.
Not all areas are well lit, so be aware of this as you are making your way around the event.
Here’s a few commonly asked questions to plan your trip.
Should I purchase the regular priced ticket or the night owl ticket?
I would definitely purchase the night owl ticket to save a few bucks, unless you want to go early and hang out before sunset at Pumpkin Central or have very young kids who go to bed early. Otherwise, the best time to see Pumpkin Nights is in the dark, since not all the illuminated exhibits are inside.
What kind of food do they have at Pumpkin Central?
It’s mostly sweets, but there was one food truck that sold savory items like garlic fries and Korean grilled meat. I would recommend eating dinner beforehand and then coming here for dessert.
What is the ideal age to enjoy Pumpkin Nights?
The majority of people who come to this event are families, but I went with my husband and we enjoyed ourselves (we also both love Halloween). I saw other couples, and groups of teens there as well, and as long as you’re into Halloween décor, then it should be right up your alley.
How long does it take to go through the different lands?
I would say about half-an-hour if you really linger.
When is the best time to go?
The best time to go would be later in the evening on weekdays. I went the second night it was opened on a Thursday, and it felt pretty crowded, so I can only imagine weekends.
So there you have it, Pumpkin Nights is a unique event that gets you into the Halloween spirit and will inspire future pumpkin carvings ideas for years to come. If you’re in the area I highly recommend stopping by.