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Ghostly greetings as Burnaby welcomes residents for a spooktacular Halloween

For the first-time in B.C., Halloween attraction Pumpkins After Dark features over 6,000 handcrafted pumpkins by Canadian artists to provide a family treat

Two truths and a lie: You can wear your goofiest pumpkin suit and make money out of carving pumpkins year-round. Halloween is incomplete without candy, scares and Pumpkins! Artists use pumpkins as a canvas for their art.

Would you believe me if I said they're all true?

Leading up to Halloween, Swangard Stadium in Burnaby has transformed into a pumpkin wonderland with lights, music and sound — a treat for all the senses (factoring in the delicious fall treats awaiting visitors.)

A family-friendly attraction, the Pumpkins after Dark event, has something for everyone, including over 6,000 handcrafted pumpkins used as a canvas to create magnificent art. 

Pumpkins after Dark was started in Milton, Ont., in 2019 to celebrate Halloween. After an overwhelmingly positive reception, the organizers expanded it to Calgary last year, where the event received a similarly enthusiastic reception.

For 2022 Halloween season, the organizers have expanded the attraction to two more locations — Edmonton and Burnaby. 

"We always wanted to bring the event to Vancouver area," said Mike Sheppard, co-owner of Pumpins after Dark. "When we saw the Burnaby park, we knew we had our location."

Sheppard said that Tourism Burnaby's hope to make Burnaby a "Halloween capital of Canada" was a big factor in bringing Pumpkins after Dark to the city.

Blown away by the passion for Halloween among residents while on a fall visit to Connecticut, the event's self-described "chief pumpkineer," James Fraser, set out to explore the Halloween spirit in Canada. He said that most Halloween events involved lights, but he wanted to focus on the heart of Halloween- pumpkins. Hence, the birth of Pumpkins after Dark. 

Putting together a show like this is no easy feat, Fraser said, noting that artists worked year-round carving pumpkins for the next season. 

"Pumpkin art is a specific kind of art," he said. "We have an entire team of artists that are working for 10 months to bring all these things to life. And, you know,  the process is actually quite interesting because they work in complete darkness. 

"Unlike other art ventures ... when you're working with pumpkins you have to work in the dark because you have to see how things glow. So it's a fun process, but it is a challenging one."

The attraction has numerous pumpkin displays, some of which take up to two weeks to craft. With shows in four locations, the team has a dedicated warehouse where pumpkin artists can show their skills. 

Although there are local artists who carve pumpkins live on site, the relatively short shelf-life of real pumpkins requires that foam pumpkins, or 'funkins' as Fraser calls them, must be used for most of the displays. They are put together in Ontario before they're transported to different locations, using a rigging system created by the team.

The displays, from classic Halloween witches and monsters to pop culture, are rotated between locations to allow visitors to get a unique experience each time they visit.

For tickets, visit their website.

Pumpkins after Dark

Where: Swangard Stadium, Burnaby, B.C.

When: Sept. 22 to Oct. 31

Cost: $21.95 for adults; $17.95 for youth under 17; discount available for families of four.