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Dalston Pumpkins Competition 2020

This year’s COVID-19 safety restrictions and guidelines mean that sadly our annual Dalston Pumpkin Lantern Festival cannot take place this year. However we still want to showcase Hackney’s creativity and for children and other visitors to be able to see pumpkins in the Curve Garden in October, so we are inviting everyone to carve a pumpkin at home, to bring to the Garden for entry into our ‘Dalston Pumpkins Competition’. Please see below for all the details that you need to enter the competition and the answers to any questions you may have. We can’t wait to see what entries all you creative pumpkin carvers will come up with!

How do I enter the competition?

  1. Carve your pumpkin at home. Please make sure to read the safety notes below before you begin. You can enter as many pumpkin lanterns as you want. Do not light your pumpkin in advance of bringing it (in our experience they start to decompose once they are lit.)
  1. Bring your carved pumpkin lantern to the Curve Garden between 2 – 6pm on Monday 26 – Thursday 29 Oct and register your details, including an email address, with us when you drop it off.
  2. Your pumpkin will be displayed in the Garden along with all the other competition entries and pumpkins carved by some of our partner community groups, during the week of half-term, for visitors to enjoy during our daytime opening hours.  
  3. Entries will close at 6pm on Thursday 29 October and the entries will then be judged. 

What are the categories for the competition? 

Depending on entries received, judging categories may include funniest pumpkin face, best pumpkin creature, spookiest pumpkin, most magical pumpkin, best Hackney related design or even best set of teeth on a pumpkin! There will be special categories for pumpkins carved by young people aged 13 – 18, and for pumpkins carved by families working with children under 12.

When will the winners be announced and how?

We will contact the winners of each category at the end of half term, and we will also highlight the winners, along with some of the other entries, on our social media. 


There will be prizes… 

Important safety tips 

  • Children should never try to carve a pumpkin without help from an adult.
  • Work on a sturdy surface.
  • Work with dry hands and tools
  • Draw your design out on the pumpkin first, then work in small, controlled movements to carve the design.
  • Don’t rush – work slowly and carefully.
  • Never put your hands inside the pumpkin while carving.
  • If you do light your pumpkin up briefly at home, please remember  candles should never be left in a room unattended!


Q: Can I get my pumpkin back?

A: No, as all of the pumpkins will be displayed in the Garden until 31 October. Then afterwards they will have another life in our compost bin, to help keep our plants beautiful next year! Do take your own photos while you’re carving, and of your finished pumpkin, and if you post them on social media we would love you to use the hashtag #dalstonpumpkins so that we can see them all and tag us on Insta @dalstongarden or Twitter @easterncurve

Q: Can I come and see my pumpkin lantern in the Garden?

A: The Garden will be open between 2 – 7pm (last entry at 6) daily during half term week and any pumpkins that have been brought in will be on display, although not lit up. The current restrictions mean that our usual public light-up nights sadly cannot take place. 

Q: Are you lighting up the pumpkins each night for the general public to see?

A: We will be closing the garden at 7pm each evening (last entry at 6) so there will sadly not be any evening events open to the general public, as we cannot safely open the Garden to the numbers we have welcomed for the Pumpkin Lantern Festival in previous years.  

We are closely monitoring the situation with regard to Government guidance concerning events and we hope there might be a way for competition entrants to visit the garden to see the display lit up. At the current time we are unable to guarantee this, but if you enter your pumpkin into the competition, we will keep you informed and whatever happens, we will make a film of the pumpkins lit up, to share with everyone online.