The small town of Halikko, located near the Finnish city of Salo, typically doesn't receive many visitors. Unless, of course, it's the month of October when it hosts its annual "Kurpitsaaviikot," which translates to "Pumpkin Weeks." During these weeks, thousands of visitors gather to admire the pumpkin installations, which have slowly become a cherished annual tradition.
In Europe, and Finland in particular, events are often crowded during the warmer summer months. This results in a flurry of activity from June to September, including social gatherings, music festivals, and more. The months from October through May, which happen to be the colder part of the year, are much less eventful, with very little happening. So, when we heard about Pumpkin Weeks, we were eager to see for ourselves what it was all about.
We arrived at the location while there was still daylight, eager to see the pumpkin installations both in the daytime and at dusk. Carved pumpkins on display lined the route from the parking lot to the park area, heightening our anticipation. The festival clearly appealed to people of all age groups, as friends and families with children of all ages spent their Sunday walking, laughing, and admiring the pumpkins together.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of pumpkins, each distinct from the next, were used to create various structures. There were pumpkin gates, a pumpkin bride and groom, a pumpkin house, boats with skeletons and pumpkins, and pumpkins hanging from trees – the creative list goes on! While the installations looked impressive during the daylight, as the evening grew darker, the mood in this small field almost in the middle of nowhere became spookier.
While most visitors came to admire the creative pumpkin installations, some stayed to purchase pumpkins or carved ones that were available for sale. People warmed up with cups of coffee and glögi, a Finnish mulled wine, on the chilly evening. In a pumpkin-themed fashion, there were pumpkin snacks, including pumpkin sausages, waffles, and other tasty treats from food stands for hungry visitors.
Often, the only things brightening up the dull grey autumn days in Finland are the colorful leaves about to fall to the ground. So, we eagerly look forward to traditions that bring some joy and warmth during the cold months, from visiting a pumpkin field to sharing warm glögi with friends. That's the simple reason why hundreds of thousands of people from all over Finland visited this little field with pumpkins. If you haven't experienced it yet, make sure to add it to your bucket list for next year.