Keene Pumpkin Festival continues the tradition that began 28 years ago


It is less than three months until Keene Pumpkin Festival in the HeART of Downtown Keene on Sunday, October 28, 2018 1-7pm! Eighty days to be exact! While the pumpkins continue to plump up in farmers’ fields, organizers are pulling together the 2018 version of the world-renowned celebration of pumpkins in Downtown Keene. Condensed to the city’s Central Square area with its quintessential New England bandstand and exquisite church at the head of the square, the festival scale harkens back to 1993, the second year Keene won a Guinness World Record for the largest number of lighted jack-o’-lanterns in one place at one time.

Downtown establishments are prepared to add to the festivities. Lead festival sponsor, The Stage Restaurant and Bistro, will be offering October fare and their special cocktails. Delectable pumpkin soup can be found across the square at Luca’s Mediterranean Cafe. Life is Sweet Candy store will be chocker-block full of autumn treats from cupcakes to fudge. Around the corner on Washington Street, Kristin’s Bistro offers world-class pumpkin whoopee pies along with their menu of soups, quiches, sandwiches and brownies. Dozens of downtown Keene shops and restaurants, accustomed to hosting the world each October, will roll out the red carpet for diners and shoppers.

Dozens of area businesses pitch in to sponsor the festival, including the Price Chopper, Courtyard Marriott on Railroad Street and the Best Western Plus on Winchester Street in Keene.

5,000 Jack-o’-lanterns

The stars of the day are the jack-o’-lanterns, carved by school children, teachers, parents and professional artists and displayed on Central Square in a magnificent public art show. At dusk, the jacks will be lit by event attendees—all are invited to bring a taper candle and help light the pumpkins. Keene, NH, is famous for its pumpkins and 2018 continues the tradition with a cap of 5,000 jack-o’-lanterns on display.

Participating schools in the Keene area receive free pumpkins the week before the festival. For some children, this is their first chance to carve a pumpkin. Teachers work with students to plan their designs, carving strategy and materials. Many pumpkins are carved at family “carving parties” where kids, parents and even grandparents carve together. The festival organization, Let it Shine Inc., has emphasized the artistic expression opportunities of Keene Pumpkin Festival and the unique opportunity to showcase students’ work for an entire community’s enjoyment.


pf2010_1030901Activities & Entertainment

Programming for 2018 is in the works and will be announced as we get closer to October but the following activities are planned.

Children’s Costume Parade/Stroll from West Street around Central Square one and one-half times. Gather in front of the Parrish Shoe Sign on West Street at 1:15pm. Disperses in front of the free kids’ games near Roxbury Street.

Pumpkin Games including Corn Hole and many other innovative FREE games put the “active” in activities!

Face Painting is a Pumpkin Festival tradition and adds to the costumes and masquerading.

Live Entertainment on the Bandstand throughout the festival 1-7pm. Musicians and schedule TBA.

Pumpkin Bowling: In streets filled with traffic every other day of the year, you’ll find hay bales, sugar pumpkins, real bowling pins, and the fun of throwing a pumpkin and trying for a strike. Free prizes.
Programming details will be announced in September on

One Response to Keene Pumpkin Festival continues the tradition that began 28 years ago

  1. Shaundi Rider August 26, 2018 at 5:43 am #

    WHOHOOOO! Another year of shining on!! Love Keene Pumpkin Fest!!

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