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Pumpkins at Dalston Curve Garden
Photograph: James Manning

Dalston’s annual Pumpkin Lantern Festival has been cancelled

The annual pumpkin-athon is off

By Joe Mackertich
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Every October, more than 1,000 artfully carved pumpkins are placed around the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden and then illuminated by an enthusiastic army of flame-wielding children by night. This year was set to be the tenth edition of the much-loved east London gourd-fest, but due to The Thing That Shall Not Be Named, it’s had to be cancelled.

‘Not only does (the pumpkin festival) showcase Hackney’s creativity on a huge scale, it also brings our community, young and old, together in a big and joyful way, to share each other’s work and enjoy the spectacle,’ said the event’s organisers in an Instagram post. ‘The current situation means that an event of this scale, with hundreds of people queuing and gathering together, is just not possible.’

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Our annual Pumpkin Lantern Festival welcomes thousands of visitors every year to carve pumpkins and see them all lit up together nightly in the Garden. We are so sad that COVID restrictions on large public gatherings, and our need to keep everyone safe and well, means that our Pumpkin Lantern Festival cannot take place this year. We love our Pumpkin Festival, as not only does it showcase Hackney’s creativity on a huge scale, but it also brings our community, young and old, together in a big and joyful way, to share each other’s work and enjoy the spectacle of thousands of imaginatively carved lanterns lighting up the Garden. The current situation means that an event of this scale, with hundreds of people queuing and gathering together, is just not possible. We’ve thought long and hard about what we could do to still celebrate the Autumn season and how we can stay true to the open, accessible and creative spirit of our annual Pumpkin Lantern Festival. So we are inviting local residents to carve a pumpkin at home, to bring to the Curve Garden to be entered into our first ‘Dalston Pumpkins’ competition. There will be prizes for the most creative and unusual ones, all of the pumpkins will be displayed in the Garden throughout the half-term during the day for visitors to enjoy and we’ll share photos on our social media. Current restrictions mean that our nightly big light-up nights cannot take place. Over the past 10 years we’ve had pumpkins carved with Cinderella in her coach, the Tower of London, Dalston Curve Garden carved in a pumpkin and bats, cats and everything in between. We can’t wait to see what people come up with this year - for us every pumpkin lantern has its own magic! You can find out more about entering the ‘Dalston Pumpkins’ competition at www.dalstongarden.org #dalstoncurvegarden #dalstonpumpkins #pumpkins #competitiontime #creativehackney #pumpkinlanterns #autumn

A post shared by Dalston Curve Garden (@dalstongarden) on

Londoners jonesing for a pretty pumpkin fix should not totally lose hope, however. The Curve Garden will be putting the best carved efforts of local Hackney residents on show during daylight hours. There are prizes for the most ‘creative and unusual’ ones, and they’ll all be on display throughout half-term. Are you creative and unusual? Get involved here.

Willing to go a bit further afield to see some quality orange veg? We have you sorted, with our guide to where to go pumpkin picking.

Here are ten spooky Halloween events actually happening.

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