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pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

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Pumpkins Around the World

Thursday, september 28th - tuesday, october 31st, 2023. .

New England’s favorite fall event is back at Roger Williams Park Zoo.  This year’s Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, presented by Citizens, takes you around the world.  Thousands of artistically carved pumpkins will magically transport you to Europe, Africa, Asia and even Route 66. From the Pyramids of Giza to the Tower of Pisa, the Spectacular will satisfy everyone’s case of wanderlust…  No passports are required.

Add a bit of excitement to the experience and witness the glowing pumpkins from 115 feet above on the Zoo’s Soaring Eagle Zip Ride. BUY TICKETS   All tickets are only available online and must be purchased in advance.  

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Admission and Hours 

Prime Nights  (Friday, Saturday, Sunday):

Sold online only and timed ticket entry requires pre-registration. Adult $21, Child $18 (ages 2-12). Children 1 year and under are admitted free. Trail open 6:00pm-10:30 pm. LAST ENTRY AT 10:00pm.   Purchase Tickets   All tickets are only available online and must be purchased in advance.  

Value Nights  (Monday through Thursday): Sold online only and timed ticket entry requires pre-registration. Adult $18; Child $15 (ages 2-12). Children 1 year and under are admitted free.  Trail open 6:00pm-10:30pm LAST ENTRY AT 10:00pm Purchase Tickets   All tickets are only available online and must be purchased in advance.  

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is open rain or shine . No refunds or rescheduling.

Membership Policy Active Roger Williams Park Zoo members save $2 off adult and $1 off child tickets nightly for the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular.  

Free parking with premiere parking available. Uber/Lyft drop off at Zoo entrance to Lot A.

Tips for Families with Kids

Weekends get very busy.  The staff at Roger Williams Park Zoo highly recommends attending, if possible, Monday – Thursday evenings.  The crowds are more manageable, and everyone has more time to see all the pumpkins.  Guests are not allowed on the pumpkin trail until the sun sets – lit pumpkins are best in the dark.  So, wait until about 6:30 - 7:00 pm if you can. Crowds do diminish as the night goes on.  Roger Williams Park Zoo is completely accessible.  

Group Savings 

Host a Private Event: We offer the opportunity for organizations to host private events Sunday through Friday nights during our Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular.  No matter how big or small the event, we can provide you with an exciting evening. For more information please contact: [email protected] . Purchase Discounted Tickets: Guests can save $1 per ticket when they order at least 25 paid tickets in a single order! The discount is available Sunday – Friday nights, but ticket supply is limited- popular nights will sell out quickly, so order ahead to lock in your place! For more information please contact [email protected].

Soaring Eagle Zip Ride

Ride tickets are sold on-site at a first-come, first-served basis (no advanced registration). Soar through the night sky, gliding 115 feet above ground, in the Soaring Eagle Zip Ride! This ride is exclusively open to same-night Jack-o-Lantern ticketholders!  Riders may participate after they finish exploring the pumpkin trail. Soaring Eagle Zip Ride Pricing: $15 per rider; $13 for current RWP Zoo members Please note: Open all seven nights of the week - weather permitting – will not operate in heavy rain and/or high winds.

Weather Policy – Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is open rain or shine. In the case of light to moderate rain, the show will be open. There will be no refunds or rescheduling. Please check the website or visit Facebook for updates.  

Event Times

There are no upcoming dates scheduled for this event.

pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

Attraction Info

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Type of Attraction-Activity

Indoor-outdoor, facility type, ticketing type, admission type, admission payments, age recommendations, timing-hours-season, property extras, other details, general parking.

pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

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pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

Photo of Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular - Providence, RI, US. Over 5,000 pumpkins light up the Zoo's Wetland's Trail

Review Highlights

Wendy F.

“ Although it is located at the Roger Williams Park Zoo , it is a separate entity with no animals and no other zoo-like qualities. ” in 6 reviews

Steph P.

“ Stunningly carved themed pumpkins complete with music will fully immerses you in a truly unique arts experience. ” in 3 reviews

jack-o-lantern-spectacular-providence-2 photo sYe4egx_3rqhRIShDyMyOg

“ I have been to the Jack-O-Lantern many times and once before with Yelp so I wasn't sure it could be elevated but it was. ” in 3 reviews

Location & Hours

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Map

1000 Elmwood Ave

Providence, RI 02907

South Elmwood

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Amenities and More

Ask the community.

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Is there food available?

There are snacks, drinks and beer available at the entrance.

Can you go to the zoo and then do the trail? Or do you need to choose one or the other? (Seems like the zoo closes at 4 and the trail starts at 6).

I don't believe that you can.

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Overall rating

161 reviews

Photo of Stephanie T.

This was my first time visiting the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo. The concept is not new to me since I've been to RISE of the Jack O'Lanterns in Long Island, NY. The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is open nightly from 6 - 10:30 pm through October 31, 2023. This year's theme was Pumpkins Around the World. There were pumpkins carved of famous landmarks, animals, and so much more. Also, there were many pumpkins hanging off the trees. It was a wonderful experience and I can't imagine all the hardwork the carvers do to prepare for this event. I would say this event is smaller than the one I went to in NY, but it was still great and I would definitely come back again. It is easy to buy tickets online. There may be different prices depending if you are going on a weekday/weekend and for adults and children. There is ample parking spots and people directing traffic.

pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

See all photos from Stephanie T. for Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

Photo of Rachel O.

I just wanted to add that every year, Roger Williams Park Zoo offers an exclusive time slot to for folks with sensory processing issues. They open the exhibit an hour early & turn off the music & special effects. This special time slot, designed for folks with Autism, is available for just a few nights out of the month. Check their website for details. Thank you, Roger Williams Park Zoo, for making accessibility a priority.

A solid 5 stars for my beloved Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo. This is such a quintessential Rhode Island event & it brings me so much joy to share it with other people. Last night, I brought my partner who had never attended the Spectacular before. We spent most of the evening in silence, in total awe of the artistry & effort that goes into this event. The theme this year is "Pumpkins Around the World" & it's marvelous. I'm not sure if any theme will beat Vivaldi's Four Seasons (I think that was 2019?) but that's okay. I've noticed that so many negative reviews are gripes about the organization of the event. The lines, the wait time, the traffic, etc. Last night, we experienced none of this. It's clear that RWPZ has stepped up their game to accommodate the masses of people who want to come to the Spectacular. What a testament, also, to the magnificence of the event, that folks are arriving in droves to behold the pumpkins! This is a fundraising event for Roger Williams Park Zoo, & it is made possible due to a lot of love & devotion - from the artists, volunteers, & sponsors. This zoo is "one of the good ones" as they are deeply committed to the environment & sustainability. They are actively involved in dozens of repopulation efforts & conservation programs. They care about their animals. Although we experienced no disorganization last night, if we HAD, I would've absolutely excused it. The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is worth it. Thank you RWPZ & everyone who worked so hard to put this together. Also, shout out to the volunteers who are constantly telling folks to turn their camera flash off. It disturbs the animals!

Photo of J R.

TRULY AMAZING EXPERIENCE! A Marvel to behold and see all those expertly carved pumpkins on display. Hundreds of perfectly lite carved Jack-o-lanterns hanging from trees, shrubs, on Rocks and perfectly displayed for maximum visitors pleasure. This evening was so busy with spectators on this Full Moon evening. I anticipated it would be the best time to walk in and around pathways and be visually entertained! I was right...... it was the perfect night and witness this pumpkin spectacular. Glad to return for another Fall Year of outdoor activity that satisfied all my senses. Lots and lots of Family's with little children that lite all their faces. This yearly event truly brings all family's together for a night of wonder. The staff from parking to tickets to guides and vendors we're as nice and helpful they could possibly be. I will cherish my photos and recall how much fun and joy it brought me. If you have never walked thru the Zoo for this event and look real hard, you can see Elephants walking around the backdrop of these pumpkins along with a few Giraffes walking around. But mostly the public zoned in on all those displays of carved works of Art.

pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

See all photos from J R. for Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

Photo of Amber C.

10 out of 10 experience here!! My friends and I came here on a Monday night and we had the best time! Honestly, so worth that $19. I think it might be pricier on the weekends, but if you come during a weekday, parking is pretty easy as there is a pretty large lot, not many lines, easy to grab good pictures, and such a good way to enjoy the artistry they put on here! I honestly was not expecting much, but I was so blown away by how professional and beautiful a lot of the carvings were. So many of them were seriously awe inspiring. The theme for this year was different countries around the world, and it was so fun to walk through the pretty long walkway going through carvings of cultural icons throughout different countries. They even had music in the background matching some of the regions. We spent about an hour there, taking pictures, admiring the carvings, and just having a good time. They also have food and drinks, including spiked chocolate, beers, hotdogs, turkey legs at the entrance. My friend caught the peppermint spiked hot chocolate, and said she probably wouldn't need it next time, but even without those this place is a must visit for the fall season. The only annoying thing would probably be the website. You must buy tickets online on their website in advance, and the website looks very outdated, a bit difficult to navigate. We weren't able to purchase tickets on her phone, so make sure to do it on the computer before you come!

pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

See all photos from Amber C. for Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

Photo of Freesia E.

Always an excellent way to spend the evening!! Staff are amazing, friendly and overall fantastic people!! Love that you can buy tickets ahead of time and have a timed entry. The staff do a great job at helping people park.. I love getting a pumpkin beer and strolling through the woods with all the pumpkins and music. This is a highlight of my spooky festive activities!! I will say that the zoo should consider a different food truck at the end - the kids (4 of them) running the food truck we're rude to everyone, messy, and did nothing to answer people's questions (they only had powdered sugar, no cinnamon or any other condiments). It was $8 for a fried dough and they were reluctant to give me my change (and others!). The truck was a disastrous hot mess - skip it.

pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

Absolutely love this event!!! It is my favorite event of the year in RI and each year it gets better and better. Visit their website and reserve tickets in advance. Tickets are reserved in hour time slots and you must arrive within the hour of your reservation. If going on a TH,F,Sat, or Sun night plan to wait In traffic going into the park. They may direct you to go the long way around the park but usually you can park within the zoo's parking and not have to park and walk up. Once you enter the park grab a pumpkin beer or a treat and enjoy all that it has to offer. It is on the pricier side but I highly suggest making the investment. This family fun event is well worth it!

pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

See all photos from Maureen C. for Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

Photo of Dustin W.

Really fun. So many pumpkins to see. Good music. Not overly crowded. Absolutely amazing carving and painting on the jack-o-lanterns.

pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

Spectacular indeed! Every year the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, R.I. is the home to the Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular. And Spectacular it is! There must have been over a thousand pumpkins carved for this display. All just fleeting works of art. Viewing is done after dark. There are so many pumpkins, they are displayed in theme sections. And once the season is over, which lasts about a month, I was told these masterpieces are given to the animals for their delight. Adding onto the festivities is a section of the expansive park, about 3/4 mile away, featuring a huge food truck party; I believe I saw at least a 15 food setups! There was a sign that listed about three dozen which attend on a rotating schedule. Well done Providence, all the pumpkin carvers and community sponsors. Well done.

pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

See all photos from Li Y. for Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

Photo of Robert S.

Every year, when Fall comes and Halloween approaches, Roger Williams Park presents the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. I have been several times through the years and it is always a fun thing to do....Every year the theme is different but they always have a section at the end of celebrities that had passed in the last year...very nice and moving. Passion for Pumpkins from Oxford, MA designs the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, and carves the over 5,000 illuminated pumpkins you see on the Wetlands Trail. They keep carving and enhancing the displays throughout the life of the show. The carvers expect to go through about 20,000 pumpkins during the course of the 32-night run. The price for entry this year was: Friday, Saturday & Sunday Adult $21, child $18 (ages 2-12) Monday - Thursday Adult $18, child $15 (ages 2-12)

pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

Get tickets for when they open and come 20-30 min. early so you get a parking spot! We took our time getting concession stand food ($7 sausages/hot dogs and $10-14 beer/Pinot Grigio) and bathroom runs. By the time we were ready, the sun was finally going down making it the perfect time to walk through the park. No flash photography so don't be that jerk. Took off a star because one of the concession stand's grills caught fire and the staff was absolutely clueless on what to do. Weren't they taught fire safety? Also, where were the fire extinguishers?!

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Roger Williams Park

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

October 28, 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 10:30 pm.

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Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo!

September 29–October 31, 2022

Time: 6:00 – 10:30 pm. Last entry at 10:00 pm.

All tickets must be purchased online in advance – Click HERE for more info and to order.

Put down the remote, shut off the streaming and don’t miss this year’s Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, celebrating 75 years of television,  September 29 – October 31, 2022.

Presented by Citizens, guests will share in the nostalgia of their favorite tv shows, artistically carved on thousands of pumpkins. From Mr. Ed to The Walking Dead, this year’s Spectacular has something for everyone. Visitors will have a “yabba-dabba-do time” while “taking a break from all their troubles,” as the show’s musical theme songs accompany the experience.

Pricing varies by date and membership, see all details including weather and refund policies at the link below.

Have a Spooktacular time!!

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Pumpkins Around the World opens at the Roger Williams Park Zoo

Russell Anderson seals of a pumpkin from light leaks before Thursday eveningÕs opening night of the Roger Williams Park Zoo Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular.

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See Thousands of Jack-O-Lanterns in Providence

Wanna see 6,000 carved pumpkins? Of course you do.

From day trips to weekend getaways, our biweekly Traveler newsletter shows you the best of New England and beyond.

Colorful glowing jack-o-lanterns.

Photo by Trig Photography

Halloween is a sacred holiday, especially for New Englanders. And no spooky season is complete without scraping out some pumpkin guts to carve your own buck-toothed jack-o-lantern. But where can you go to admire other glowing gourd creations? If you’re trying to skip the mobs in Salem this year, consider taking a quick trip to Providence.

The annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo is back and ready for you to walk, dance, or fly your broomstick through a trail of thousands of top-tier pumpkin carvings. You may be wondering, how many jack-o-lanterns could there possibly be? A lot , is the answer. This year the event is sporting 6,000 glowing gourds, which is the most they’ve ever had. And they’re all lit with LED lights, so don’t worry about getting there before the candles burn out. Once you arrive at the entrance to the pumpkin trail near the bison exhibit, give yourself about 45 minutes to explore the show.

The horde of gourds are all carved by an Oxford, Mass outlet called Passion for Pumpkins, which boasts 25 years of experience in transforming landscapes into an “illuminated organic gallery.” Their skilled artists will keep carving and enhancing the displays throughout the season, so if you saw it earlier this fall, it might look a little different now. The carvers are expected go through an absurd amount of pumpkins for the duration of the show—about 20,000 pumpkins are projected to be carved by the end of their 32-night run this year.

While you’re there, be on the lookout for treats including hot chocolate, hot apple cider, fried dough, fried oreos, turkey legs, hot dogs, beer and much more.

Tickets start at $17, open daily, 6 p.m.-10:30 p.m., through Oct. 31, Roger Williams Park Zoo, 1000 Elmwood Ave. Providence, RI, rwpzoo.org .

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Thousands of jack-o-lanterns light up Roger Williams Park Zoo. Meet the ‘pumpkin king’ behind the display.

John reckner’s friends know him as the “pumpkin king.” it’s obvious why..

Visitors stroll through the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular pumpkin trail at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island. The annual event features thousands of carved pumpkins along a trail through the zoo.

P ROVIDENCE — A glowing display of 5,000 intricately-carved pumpkins is once again lighting up Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence this month, during the annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular .

Starting at dusk every evening through Halloween, guests can stroll along a pumpkin-trimmed path and take in the detailed artistry carved into the gourd canvases, like paintings in an art gallery. Music, lights, and props will accompany the experience, and this year’s theme, “Pumpkins Around the World,” will give people a lot to explore.

“It’s not just cutting out eyes and a nose and putting it out on your front yard,” said Vicki Scharfberg, director of marketing and public relations at Roger Williams Park Zoo. “It requires a very specific skillset.”

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And there’s only one person with the creative abilities to meet those requirements: John Reckner, a retired postal worker from Oxford, Mass., whose friends have fittingly dubbed him the “Pumpkin King.”

Reckner was inspired to start the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular after a trip to northern Vermont with his family in 1987. It was there that he saw a display of about 500 jack-o-lanterns glowing in the mountains.

Later, when he returned home, he was taking a walk in the woods with his dogs one night when “the light bulb went off.”

“I was thinking of real ornate, intricate pumpkin art, displayed in an attractive landscape with background lighting and background music,” said Reckner, 77. “So those three elements kind of come into play. And when the lights go out, it’s like a different world.”

Reckner never envisioned he’d still be doing it decades later.

“But every year the crowds just keep getting bigger,” he said.

His business, Passion for Pumpkins , operates the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular not only in Providence, but also at zoos in Kentucky and Minnesota. Reckner said that there is demand to do more shows, but he doesn’t have the staff to pull it off.

From left Phoenix Houle, 7, Lauren Houle, Robert Lello, Maddox Lello, 2, and Jax Lello, stop to look at carved pumpkins while on a family walk through the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular pumpkin trail at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence.

For the Rhode Island exhibit, Reckner relies on a team of 20 artists for about six weeks. There’s also a staff of about 80 others at the zoo who assist with the show’s preparation and upkeep. The pumpkins are constantly replenished, and due to this year’s unseasonably warm temperatures, they only last about a week before they need to be swapped out, Reckner said.

“They all have to be redone four times over the course of the month,” he said. “So that’s what makes it a challenge.”

Reckner’s team, which works out of a studio in Oxford called the “Pumpkin House,” begins work in mid-September. From then on, they’re constantly carving into the skins of hundreds of gourds. Designs for one pumpkin can take up to eight hours, and artists use a combination of grayscale and Sharpie markers to achieve the fine lines and three-dimensional details.

There are about 500 pumpkins for artists to work with over the course of the month. This year’s crop was supplied by a farm in Pennsylvania, Reckner said, because farms in Massachusetts and Connecticut were flooded during the wet summer season and lost many of their crops.

Over at the Pumpkin House, artists are busy “rocking and rolling,” said John Conway, a longtime carver on Reckner’s team who find working with the orange spheres “terribly interesting.”

“I can do things on a pumpkin that I can’t do on paper,” he said, describing how the skin doesn’t fully absorb the ink, allowing for more movement and artistic freedom.

Many of the other artists involved in the project are illustrators or tattoo artists who take breathers from their full-time jobs to pursue pumpkins for six weeks.

“I’ve had people come back for 20 years,” Reckner said. “Some people do two to three pumpkins per week, and some do 10.”

Besides coming up with the themes for the shows and working with artists to fine tune design ideas, Reckner, who went to art school in Cincinnati, also contributes a few pumpkins of his own.

“Basically any kind of artwork you can think of, we can put on a pumpkin,” he said.

A smiling jack-o-lantern looks out on the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular pumpkin trail at Roger Williams Park Zoo.

He called one design carved onto a 600 pound pumpkin last year — Norman Rockwell’s “Golden Rule.” — “one of the nicest pumpkins we’ve ever done.”

After they’re carved the pumpkins are shipped to the zoo, where they’re prepared for the show. Each pumpkin is lit with an LED and then zoo officials help build structures, configure lighting, and maintain all of the components of the interactive display.

In between shows, staff preserves the pumpkins by placing fans on them to cure them and dry them out. The pumpkins are also sprayed with water and bleach from the inside, which helps them last a little longer, Reckner said.

When it comes to seeing their finished work, Conway and other artists always make sure they’re there for opening night.

“It’s very important when the show opens that I go down so I can make sure what I’m trying to do is working out on my pumpkin,” said Conway, adding that while the pumpkins are carved in Oxford, they don’t get scooped out until they’re trucked to the zoo.

Although Reckner retired from his job at the post office 10 years ago, he doesn’t see himself sitting out on this Halloween tradition any time soon.

“I would have thought by now I’d gone the way of the wind,” he said. “But last year we had 160,000 [guests] down there. It’s going to continue to be very popular.”

Liz Cavedon of North Smithfield, Rhode Island, stops to take a photo along the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular pumpkin trail at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence.

Brittany Bowker can be reached at [email protected] . Follow her @brittbowker and also on Instagram @brittbowker .

The Boston Globe

Thousands of jack-o-lanterns light up Roger Williams Park Zoo. Meet the ‘pumpkin king’ behind the display.

P ROVIDENCE — A glowing display of 5,000 intricately-carved pumpkins is once again lighting up Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence this month, during the annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular .

Starting at dusk every evening through Halloween, guests can stroll along a pumpkin-trimmed path and take in the detailed artistry carved into the gourd canvases, like paintings in an art gallery. Music, lights, and props will accompany the experience, and this year’s theme, “Pumpkins Around the World,” will give people a lot to explore.

“It’s not just cutting out eyes and a nose and putting it out on your front yard,” said Vicki Scharfberg, director of marketing and public relations at Roger Williams Park Zoo. “It requires a very specific skillset.”

And there’s only one person with the creative abilities to meet those requirements: John Reckner, a retired postal worker from Oxford, Mass., whose friends have fittingly dubbed him the “Pumpkin King.”

Reckner was inspired to start the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular after a trip to northern Vermont with his family in 1987. It was there that he saw a display of about 500 jack-o-lanterns glowing in the mountains.

Later, when he returned home, he was taking a walk in the woods with his dogs one night when “the light bulb went off.”

“I was thinking of real ornate, intricate pumpkin art, displayed in an attractive landscape with background lighting and background music,” said Reckner, 77. “So those three elements kind of come into play. And when the lights go out, it’s like a different world.”

Reckner never envisioned he’d still be doing it decades later.

“But every year the crowds just keep getting bigger,” he said.

His business, Passion for Pumpkins , operates the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular not only in Providence, but also at zoos in Kentucky and Minnesota. Reckner said that there is demand to do more shows, but he doesn’t have the staff to pull it off.

For the Rhode Island exhibit, Reckner relies on a team of 20 artists for about six weeks. There’s also a staff of about 80 others at the zoo who assist with the show’s preparation and upkeep. The pumpkins are constantly replenished, and due to this year’s unseasonably warm temperatures, they only last about a week before they need to be swapped out, Reckner said.

“They all have to be redone four times over the course of the month,” he said. “So that’s what makes it a challenge.”

Reckner’s team, which works out of a studio in Oxford called the “Pumpkin House,” begins work in mid-September. From then on, they’re constantly carving into the skins of hundreds of gourds. Designs for one pumpkin can take up to eight hours, and artists use a combination of grayscale and Sharpie markers to achieve the fine lines and three-dimensional details.

There are about 500 pumpkins for artists to work with over the course of the month. This year’s crop was supplied by a farm in Pennsylvania, Reckner said, because farms in Massachusetts and Connecticut were flooded during the wet summer season and lost many of their crops.

Over at the Pumpkin House, artists are busy “rocking and rolling,” said John Conway, a longtime carver on Reckner’s team who find working with the orange spheres “terribly interesting.”

“I can do things on a pumpkin that I can’t do on paper,” he said, describing how the skin doesn’t fully absorb the ink, allowing for more movement and artistic freedom.

Many of the other artists involved in the project are illustrators or tattoo artists who take breathers from their full-time jobs to pursue pumpkins for six weeks.

“I’ve had people come back for 20 years,” Reckner said. “Some people do two to three pumpkins per week, and some do 10.”

Besides coming up with the themes for the shows and working with artists to fine tune design ideas, Reckner, who went to art school in Cincinnati, also contributes a few pumpkins of his own.

“Basically any kind of artwork you can think of, we can put on a pumpkin,” he said.

He called one design carved onto a 600 pound pumpkin last year — Norman Rockwell’s “Golden Rule.” — “one of the nicest pumpkins we’ve ever done.”

After they’re carved the pumpkins are shipped to the zoo, where they’re prepared for the show. Each pumpkin is lit with an LED and then zoo officials help build structures, configure lighting, and maintain all of the components of the interactive display.

In between shows, staff preserves the pumpkins by placing fans on them to cure them and dry them out. The pumpkins are also sprayed with water and bleach from the inside, which helps them last a little longer, Reckner said.

When it comes to seeing their finished work, Conway and other artists always make sure they’re there for opening night.

“It’s very important when the show opens that I go down so I can make sure what I’m trying to do is working out on my pumpkin,” said Conway, adding that while the pumpkins are carved in Oxford, they don’t get scooped out until they’re trucked to the zoo.

Although Reckner retired from his job at the post office 10 years ago, he doesn’t see himself sitting out on this Halloween tradition any time soon.

“I would have thought by now I’d gone the way of the wind,” he said. “But last year we had 160,000 [guests] down there. It’s going to continue to be very popular.”

Visitors stroll through the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular pumpkin trail at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island. The annual event features thousands of carved pumpkins along a trail through the zoo.

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pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

The dates for this event have already occurred, please check back again for new dates.

  • 1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, RI 02907
  • September 28, 2023 - October 31, 2023

New England’s favorite Halloween tradition is back! Take a trip around the world at this year’s Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular:  Pumpkins Around the World!  Thousands of artistically carved, illuminated pumpkins will magically transport you on a European vacation, wildlife safari, and a trip down Route 66! From the Pyramids of Giza to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, this nighttime family event will satisfy your case of wanderlust – no passports required!

Trail open nightly from 6:00 – 10:30 pm, last entry at 10:00 pm. The Spectacular is open rain or shine. NO REFUNDS OR RESCHEDULING.  ALL event tickets must be purchased online in advance.   This event does not include animal exhibits. All animal exhibits close at end of daytime Zoo hours.

pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

Additional Information

  • Dates: September 28, 2023 - October 31, 2023
  • Recurrence: Recurring daily
  • Location: Roger Williams Park Zoo
  • Address: 1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, RI 02907
  • Phone: 401-785-3510
  • Time: 6:30-11 p.m. (gates will close at 10:30 p.m.)
  • Price: Adult (Over 13): $18.00+ Child (2 -12): $15.00+ Please see website for day -specific pricing.

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Spooktacular Display - Roger Williams Park Zoo

  • United States    
  • Rhode Island (RI)    
  • Providence    
  • Providence - Things to Do    
  • Roger Williams Park Zoo

Have traveled here a couple of times. This time, their food pantry collected can goods for free... read more

pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

Went here for the Jack O Lantern Experience. It was amazing. I would highly recommend. I have... read more

pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

Spooktacular Display

I visited the Roger Williams Park Zoo for the Pumpkin Spooktacular event. I did the zoo during the day to see the animals and the jack-o-lantern event in the evening! It was amazing. The zoo was nice and the animals seemed happy. The pumpkin event was AMAZING. I have never seen such beautifully carved pumpkins in my life! Thousands of pumpkins all lit up and gorgeous! Definitely a must if you are in the Providence area around Halloween!

pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

Nice to be hear during a slow day, got to see the animals with no crowds. Not the largest zoo, but well laid out and some good exhibits.

It is very clean and the animals seem well cared for. It wasn't crazy crowded even on labor day weekend. There are places to get food and plenty of clean restrooms. You can see everything in less than 3 hours which is a plus to me.

Do not visit this zoo on a cloudy/rainy day since mostly every kind of outside activity is closed. All the kiosks were closed and none of the shows were running. It was not worth the expensive price and we could not find any workers throughout the park. It was abandoned and not a worker could be found! No animal shows, no feeding the giraffes, no music shows ...absolutely nothing extra to be found.

I heard it was the best zoo in New England but it certainly was not. I went to see the giraffes and was disappointed that you never really got close even if you feed them. I was able to see the entire zoo in 3 hours.

This is a nice zoo and a good place to bring children. It is noticeable that the zoo is updating its displays to give the animals the room they deserve and more natural habitat. The rain forest area is beautiful and modern. There are other areas that need work to give the animals better natural habitats. They are working on it. Overall however a very nice place. The kids can brush, pet and feed the goats. It’s a memorable day spent with the children.

Stylish Life for Moms

Roger Williams Zoo Pumpkins Spectacular

Have you ever been to the Roger Williams Zoo Pumpkins Spectacular ? It’s one of the best family activities to do during the month of October in Rhode Island. We were invited last night on behalf of Dunkin’ to enjoy the sights and fun spookiness and had the best time.

If you’ve ever wondered about going to the Roger William Pumpkin Spectacular, you should do it. It’s one of those things that you will do one and then quickly add to your holiday rotation every single year. We went for the first time when William was a baby and loved it. It was exactly the kind of Halloween fun we wanted for our family and we’ve continued to go throughout the years.

roger williams zoo pumpkins

In 2012, I remember going and thinking I was potentially pregnant. I spent the whole time hoping I was, and the next day found out that I was expecting a baby (my Victoria!). I always think about that whenever I see the Roger Williams Zoo Pumpkin Spectacular signage.

roger williams zoo pumpkins

And then the next year!

roger williams zoo pumpkins

You’ll be amazed at the Roger Williams Zoo pumpkins because there are so many, and on top of that… are carved spectacularly! It’d become one of those things that people from all over are coming to visit and see because it’s such a fantastic show. Each year there’s a theme that makes it extra special.

ROger Williams Zoo Pumpkin Spectacular

It’s music to our ears as the nationally acclaimed walk-through Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo is back and better than ever. Presented by Citizens, this year’s spectacular takes you from Joplin to Jay-Z, as we celebrate the greatest music from the last 150 years. Stroll, or dance your way, past thousands of intricately carved pumpkins displayed while listening to the soundtracks from 1860’s through today. Feast your senses on Rhode Island’s biggest and greatest pumpkin spectacular!

Light up pumpkins

What I personally love about the Roger Williams Zoo Pumpkin Spectacular is that it’s great for people of all ages. It’s incredible seeing a child in a stroller light up with delight, as well as someone in their 70’s or 80’s. It’s one of those things that just brings people together and brings them joy and happiness. You can’t help but smile as you stroll along checking out each one of the carved pumpkins.

ROger Williams Zoo Pumpkin Spectacular

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular Pricing

  • Adult $21; child $18 (ages 2-12) | Current RWP Zoo members save $2 off adult and $1 off child tickets.
  • Trail open 6:00 – 10:30 pm. LAST ENTRY AT 10:00 PM.
  • Children one and younger are always admitted free.
  • Adult $17, child $14 (ages 2-12) | Current RWP Zoo members save $2 off adult and $1 off child tickets.
  • Trail open 6:00 – 10:30 pm. LAST ENTRY 10:00 PM.
  • To receive the member discount for online tickets, all members must log in to their RWPZoo online member account and the discount will automatically apply at checkout.
  • Reciprocal memberships do not apply.

*If you’re looking for Roger Williams Zoo Pumpkin Spectacular coupons, check online to see if you can find any with a quick google search. Sometimes you’ll get a code that will pop up. You never know till you try!

*Trail opens 6:00 – 10:30 pm. LAST ENTRY AT 10:00 PM.

Light up pumpkins

Last night was special at the Roger Williams Zoo Pumpkins, Dunkin’ was there passing out some of their DIY Decorating Kits. They were passing out to the first 500 guests or so as they entered the Roger Williams Park Zoo Pumpkin Spectacular. It was fun to see the kids so excited about the decorating kits.

ROger Williams Zoo Pumpkin Spectacular

Cuppy was even on hand last night for some photo opps too with people! It was great seeing my daughter get excited about seeing Cuppy. She ran over and asked me to snap a photo. It was adorable!

ROger Williams Zoo Pumpkin Spectacular

My advice to anyone who is thinking about going over the next couple of days (they end on Halloween), make sure you GO! It’s a wonderful event for your family. If you missed this year, make sure you get there next year. This is one tradition to start with your family that you’ll be thrilled about. It’s a fun way to kick off the FULL holiday season ahead!

If you’ve been to the Roger Williams Zoo Pumpkins Spectacular, share below what your favorite part about it was, love to hear!

More information here.

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*Thank you to Dunkin’ for the tickets last night. I’m a Dunkin’ partner.

pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

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Travel with RWPZ to The Bronx Zoo

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Join us on Saturday, May 11th as we visit the largest urban zoo in the United States! You will see the urban jungle fall away to reveal 265 acres of…

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Party with a purpose at the Zoo’s 32nd annual Zoobilee presented by BankRI. Join us on Saturday, June 29th for a night of roaring fun, all for a great cause!…

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IMAGES

  1. 2019 Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular Opens At Roger Williams Park Zoo

    pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

  2. 2019 Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular Opens At Roger Williams Park Zoo

    pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

  3. Roger Williams Park Zoo 2013 Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

    pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

  4. 2014 Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

    pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

  5. 2019 Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular Opens At Roger Williams Park Zoo

    pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

  6. At the 2013 Halloween Pumpkin Spectacular at Roger Williams Zoo

    pumpkin spooktacular roger williams zoo

COMMENTS

  1. Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

    Pumpkin trail is open nightly from 6:00 - 10:30 pm, last entry at 10:00 pm. The Spectacular is open rain or shine. NO REFUNDS OR RESCHEDULING. Free nightly parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please remember to bring along your patience - the magical experience inside is worth every moment!

  2. Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

    Share Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular September 28 - October 31, 2023. This year's Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, presented by Citizens, takes you around the world. Thousands of artistically carved pumpkins will magically transport you to Europe, Africa, Asia, and even down Route 66.

  3. Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo

    The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular in Providence, RI is the premier pumpkin festival experience in all of New England. Open throughout October, and located at the Roger Williams Park and Zoo, this event features over 5,000 hand-carved jack-o-lanterns for an unforgettable family-friendly, all-ages, Halloween experience.

  4. Jack-O-Lantern Halloween Spectacular: Roger Williams Zoo 2023

    We have Not Yet Posted This Year's Information for This Event Yet. If new information for this event is already available for this year, please let us know. Venue: Roger Williams Park Zoo. Dates: Thursday, September 28, 2023 - Tuesday, October 31, 2023. Hours: 6:00 pm - 10:30 pm. Ages:

  5. Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

    The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular in Providence, RI is the premier pumpkin festival experience in all of New England. Located at the Roger Williams Park and Zoo. Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular Pumpkins Around the World Thursday, September 28th - Tuesday, October 31st, 2023. New England's favorite fall event is back at Roger Williams Park Zoo.

  6. JACK-O-LANTERN SPECTACULAR

    Location & Hours Suggest an edit 1000 Elmwood Ave Providence, RI 02907 South Elmwood Get directions You Might Also Consider Sponsored Providence Place Cinemas 16 and IMAX 147 2.5 miles away from Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular Xiao Z. said "I can't believe that after going to this place after so many years, I've never actually written a review.

  7. Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

    Presented by Citizens, guests will share in the nostalgia of their favorite tv shows, artistically carved on thousands of pumpkins. From Mr. Ed to The Walking Dead, this year's Spectacular has something for everyone.

  8. Pumpkins Around the World opens at the Roger Williams Park Zoo

    Pumpkins Around the World opens at the Roger Williams Park Zoo The Providence Journal Russell Anderson seals of a pumpkin from light leaks before Thursday eveningÕs opening night of the...

  9. See Thousands of Lit Up Jack-O-Lanterns at the Roger Williams Zoo

    The annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo is back and ready for you to walk, dance, or fly your broomstick through a trail of thousands of top-tier pumpkin...

  10. Roger Williams Park Zoo's Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular: Meet the artists

    Meet the 'pumpkin king' behind the display. John Reckner's friends know him as the "pumpkin king." It's obvious why. By Brittany Bowker Globe Staff,Updated October 4, 2023, 9:43 a.m. Visitors...

  11. Thousands of jack-o-lanterns light up Roger Williams Park Zoo. Meet the

    PROVIDENCE — A glowing display of 5,000 intricately-carved pumpkins is once again lighting up Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence this month, during the annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular.

  12. The Magic Behind Roger Williams Park Zoo's Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

    With the theme of "time travel," the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is guaranteed to catch the eye of everyone who attends. Starting with the dinosaurs and going through the Ice Age, Ancient Egypt and Rome, the Renaissance, and through the 19th and 20th centuries, the beautifully carved pumpkins are a built-in history lesson for your children.

  13. Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

    Thousands of artistically carved, illuminated pumpkins will magically transport you on a European vacation, wildlife safari, and a trip down Route 66! From the Pyramids of Giza to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, this nighttime family event will satisfy your case of wanderlust - no passports required!

  14. Spooktacular Display

    I visited the Roger Williams Park Zoo for the Pumpkin Spooktacular event. I did the zoo during the day to see the animals and the jack-o-lantern event in the evening! It was amazing. The zoo was nice and the animals seemed happy. The pumpkin event was AMAZING. I have never seen such beautifully carved pumpkins in my life!

  15. Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo: Highlights and

    When we were invited by the Roger Williams Park Zoo to attend the annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, I was delighted—but when something is billed as "spectacular," I am always at least a little bit skeptical. As it turns out, the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular lives up to its name. More than just a collection of carved pumpkins, it is a curated show of highly skilled and imaginative artwork ...

  16. Jack O'Lantern Spectacular 2022! Roger Williams Park Zoo ...

    This video is a walk-through of the Halloween 2022 Roger Williams Park Zoo Jack O'Lantern Spectacular! This Halloween Display is a walk through the history ...

  17. Roger Williams Zoo Pumpkins Spectacular

    Roger Williams Zoo Pumpkins Spectacular Have you ever been to the Roger Williams Zoo Pumpkins Spectacular? It's one of the best family activities to do during the month of October in Rhode Island. We were invited last night on behalf of Dunkin' to enjoy the sights and fun spookiness and had the best time. Roger Williams Zoo Pumpkins Spectacular

  18. Roger Williams Park Zoo Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

    The annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is going on at Roger Williams Park Zoo through October 31st at the Roger Williams Park Zoo; it's a show everyone in th...

  19. Discounts & Offers

    Discounts & Offers - Roger Williams Park Zoo Winter Wonder Days are here! Now through February 29th, enjoy half-priced Zoo admission. Discounts & Special Offers As a non-profit, we are grateful for your admission because it funds our animal care and conservation efforts. Even so, we do have a few limited ways to save on Zoo tickets and memberships:

  20. Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular: Pumpkins Around the World!

    Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular: Pumpkins Around the World! Wednesday, August 16, 2023 (Updated August 16) September 28-Oct 31, 2023 Providence, Rhode Island (August 16, 2023) New England's favorite fall event is back at Roger Williams Park Zoo. This year's Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, presented by Citizens, takes you around the world.

  21. Calendar of Events

    Roger Williams Park Zoo is supported and managed by the Rhode Island Zoological Society (a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization) and is owned by the City of Providence. MISSION: As leaders in conservation and animal care, we create engaging experiences that empower guests to join us in conserving wildlife and wild places.