Carved at Descanso Gardens- A Spooky Fun Time
La Cañada Flintridge, CA- It is the most wonderful time of the year! For me, Halloween and the month of October is my favorite time of the year. There is something about this time of year that really gets me excited. Maybe it’s the air getting a little chilly in the early morning Maybe it’s rewatching all of my favorite childhood Halloween movies. Maybe it’s decorating my home with my spider webs and bats, sewing up costuming, and attending some fun Halloween events. Halloween just does it for me.
While many prefer events with mazes that cause the heart to race in anticipation of what lurks around the corner, I usually avoid those events. I attended one of the horror-type events once at the Queen Mary and honestly spent the entire maze as a ball of anxiety. It wasn’t fun at all for me personally. This is why as someone who adores the Halloween season… but hates horror mazes… I was elated to discover Descanso Garden’s Carved in 2019. The event was canceled in 2020, but I was delighted that it was back again in 2021.
Carved takes place at Descanso Gardens, located in La Cañada Flintridge. When the sun sets, the gardens are transformed into a magically spooky, enchanted forest filled with carved pumpkins. It was an event I was looking forward to for a very long and even frantically sewed a 1930s-inspired Pumpkin Witch costume to match the bewitching atmosphere. I was joined by a friend who was a first-timer to the Carved event, but who was also one of those huge fans of horror-style mazes, so I was interested in her opinion of the event.
We immediately entered the spectacled event and grabbed a warm drink of hot apple cider with a splash of whiskey. The nice part of the event is there are plenty of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to choose from… and even more snacks. Nothing warms you up on a chilly night as a warm hot apple cider with whiskey!
Feeling warm and toasty we decided to begin the journey through the garden. The first thing on the path was the pumpkin house. Honestly, it looked straight out of a fairy tale; a delightful house covered in all types of pumpkins. Sadly, the line to go inside and take a photo was a bit long so we took photos on the side. After capturing the perfect Instagram shots we continued on the path. As we walked through the wooden archway, purple and red-hued lights transported us to some mysterious forest coved in fog.
It was a mesmerizing vision, reminiscent of Sleepy Hollow, and I almost expected the Headless Horseman to gallop by, truly a hauntingly beautiful setting. The carved pumpkins glowed in the darkness. The one thing the being a regular to the event is that I noticed the pumpkins are different every year. This year some of the major themes were Marvel I loved the WandaVision one, some favorite Halloween Classics, such as the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Hocus Pocus, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. There were also a few pumpkins that paid tribute to those celebrities, athletes, and prominent figures that had passed away earlier this year and last, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna It was nice to pause and study each pumpkin we came across. I am so impressed by the artistry of each creation. I was amazed to witness some of the artists in person carve, scrape, and chisel each section to create a masterpiece out of a plump orange pumpkin. I have attempted to carve more elaborate pumpkins than the traditional triangle eyes and smile but never could get it to that level of artistry so it’s nice to appreciate the talent I lack in the carving department. While this may not be the typical medium of canvas and paints, pumpkin carving truly is an art form that should be more appreciated.
As we continued down the path we were led out of the pumpkins and onto a grove of trees with decks built around the trunk, as you get closer to it, you realize the decks have lights installed and are color-changing based on pressure. It was delightful to see kids bouncing and running around trees trying to get the sounds and lights to change colors, as yes even I got up on the deck and stomped and ran around with such glee as if I was a kid again.
More delightful spookiness lurked in every section of the gardens, from these wooden creatures that reminded me of something straight out of M. Night Shyamalan the Village which were beyond frighting, to wooden cute pumpkin lantern that scattered the main courtyard.
Descanso added a new addition to Carved, the year, a section devoted to Día de Los Muertos, There were two beautiful alters on each side of the walkway. One of the alters was filled with photos of loved ones and notable people that have passed away. It was a beautiful way of honoring the dead. For me, the moment to stop and reflect on the loved ones that are no longer with us but remain in our hearts was one of those beautiful moments. My friend truly appreciated that section after losing a family member recently so it was a comforting and beautiful moment to stop and pay respect.
As we exited Descanso I asked my friend, Alyssa, what she thought. After all, she is a regular at events like Horror Nights at Universal Studios and enjoys being terrified. She responded that she liked it a lot and it was just what she needed after a hectic week and would definitely return next year. Well, if this won her over I feel many others would enjoy the festivities as well.
It was a magical spellbinding night that I look forward to attending next year. As Anne Shirley once said in L.M. Montgomery Anne of Green Gables “ I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers” There are a few more Halloween events I have planned for the month, but I always love attending Descanso Gardens’s Carved event. I always feel such a sense of calm and peace, maybe it’s the spiked hot apple cider or the serenity of walking in the woods, but I can’t help but leave the event with a heart that is just overjoyed with the spirit of Halloween.
Carved continues on until the end of October and I highly recommend checking it out, attend alone, with friends, or with your family. It’s one of those events that is perfect for all ages and will delight most Halloween fanatics.
For more information on purchasing tickets for Carved check out https://www.descansogardens.org for ticket availability. I also recommend their winter event Enchanted, which transforms the garden into magical winter wonderland. You can also follow Descanso Gardens on Instagram or Facebook