Stroll through a mile-long trail filled with all things pumpkins, including an illuminated forest of jack-o’-lanterns, during Descanso Gardens’ annual Carved.
For three weeks this fall (Oct 6–29), the event lines a loop of the botanical garden with pumpkins in all sorts of forms: as a sea monster rising from a pond, in thick clusters on ground and cobbled together into a house.
For the 2023 edition, Carved has slightly reconfigured the route, with an expanded Día de los Muertos ofrenda altar near the entrance (you can leave your own remembrance photo) and a new, larger area for the neon-hued tangle of the Rhizome installation.
You’ll find two main areas of jack-o’-lanterns. The first is a forested section lined with expressively carved (but fake) pumpkins, some of which have been arranged into wonderfully whimsical characters (a crow-like scarecrow and a pumpkin holding its own head, among them). Meanwhile, there’s a pavilion in the rose garden with real ones whose designs are inspired by pop culture characters (plus a station where you can see them being carved).
There are a few familiar sights if you’ve ever attended Descanso’s other holiday tradition, Enchanted, but tweaked for Halloween (stomp along the trunk-encircling platforms in the oak grove and you’ll hear shrill cackles instead of sparkly sounds). Like Enchanted, the music is moody (but not spooky or scary; this is definitely made for families) and the installations are artfully assembled: Sure, they could’ve just dumped a bunch of jack-o’-lanterns everywhere, but supplementing them with woven straw lanterns, glowing boxes and a neon tangle of web-like ropes was a way more creative choice.
Depending on the crowds and how often you stop for photos, expect to spend at least 45 minutes walking around—plus some extra time if you stop for snacks and drinks in the courtyard or some sweets in the rose garden. Timed tickets ($35–$45) are required. Alternatively, while you’ll miss out on all of the after-dark elements, the decor is all still visible during a daytime trip to Descanso; it’s considerably cheaper ($15) this way, and while nothing will be illuminated (which is admittedly the essence of Carved) you can still pose in front of the pumpkin house or navigate the hay maze.