35 incredibly detailed pumpkin carvings that will inspire you to get creative this Halloween

Caroline Fox
·7 min read
pumpkin carvings
These frightening monsters took hours to carefully carve. Reuters
  • Every Halloween, carved jack-o'-lanterns illuminate neighborhoods with their spooky smiles.

  • People all over the world have begun carving incredibly intricate designs, transforming their pumpkins into works of art. 

  • Here are 35 of the most unbelievable pumpkin carvings you'll ever see.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Every October, pumpkins carved with grinning faces illuminate neighborhoods, but some people have taken the spooky tradition to the next level.

From intricately carved "Game of Thrones" characters to portraits of pop-culture figures, artists have turned these seasonal fruits into works of art.

Today, carving pumpkins may be a lighthearted activity, but jack-o'-lanterns are based on an old and eerie legend from Ireland.

According to the myth, a mysterious man named Stingy Jack played tricks on the devil. On one occasion, Jack trapped the devil in a tree and allowed him down only once he'd promised to leave Jack alone. Once Jack died, God would not allow him into heaven, and the devil would not allow him into hell, leaving Jack trapped in the darkness in between. As the legend goes, Jack put a coal in a hollowed-out turnip to light his way — and he still roams around with this makeshift lamp to this day.

On Hallows' Eve, to ward off evil spirits like Jack, the Irish used to carve scary faces into turnips and gourds before placing a light in them. Irish immigrants are believed to have brought the tradition to the US.

For some inspiration for this year's Halloween, here are some of the most unbelievable pumpkin carvings you'll ever see.

Some artists bring a modern-day twist to the centuries-old tradition, like this carver's Lady Gaga design.

lady gaga pumpkin
Lady Gaga pumpkin. Reuters

Pumpkin carver Hugh McMahon poses with his Lady Gaga pumpkin in New York.

Carvers have turned gourds into expressive works of art.

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Expressive pumpkins. Shawn Rocco/Raleigh News & Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

These carved pumpkins were in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Pumpkin carver Christian Russell posed with his world record-breaking jack-o'-lantern.

huge pumpkin carving
Giant pumpkin. Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images

This pumpkin, which was on show in England in 2017, weighed 2,013 pounds.

This angry Viking pumpkin would put fear in anyone.

angry pumpkin carving
Viking pumpkin. JAN WOITAS/DPA/AFP via Getty Images

This work of art by Czech vegetable carver Radek Vach was displayed during the first European vegetable carving competition in Leipzig, eastern Germany, where competitors had just four hours to create their designs. It took place in 2011.

It's hard to believe this sculpture started out as a piece of fruit.

pumpkin carving
Viking pumpkin. JAN WOITAS/DPA/AFP via Getty Images

Competitors at the event could carve their designs into fruits and vegetables including pumpkins, melons, papayas, cucumbers, and carrots.

Other designs are topical, like Suzy Mink's Dr. Anthony Fauci pumpkin.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci. Suzy Mink

Mink has been carving pumpkins for more than 10 years.

In an interview with Good Morning America, Mink said she chooses subjects for "their relevance today, historical significance or just plain fun."

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Biden and Trump. Suzy Mink

Biden and Trump face-off on a pumpkin.

Mink also carved a detailed image of COVID-19.

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A detailed pumpkin carving of COVID-19. Suzy Mink

When Mink is not carving detailed designs into pumpkins, she is the vice president of external relations at her alma mater, Hollins University.

She also depicted a sight we know all too well: a Zoom meeting.

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Mink carefully carved a classic Zoom call. Suzy Mink

Is there a more 2020 design?

According to Mink, one of her all-time favorites is the Lincoln Memorial.

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Lincoln Memorial. Suzy Mink

Her carvings balance candlelight just right.

In this carving from 2014, Grumpy Cat poses with her matching pumpkin.

grumpy cat pumpkin
Double trouble. Mike Moore/Getty Images

Sculptor Ray Villafane made this replica of the grumpy kitty in Arizona.

These carvings would give you a fright if you saw them in your neighborhood.

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Pumpkin carvings in Turkey in 2017. Omer Yasin Ergin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The incredible designs were displayed in a restaurant in Turkey.

An elegant pumpkin has layers of delicate flower petals.

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Culinary Olympics in Berlin. Jan Bauer/AP Photos

This design, by artist Wang Xiang, is a beautiful contrast to the usual spooky faces.

Mike Brown is a 3D pumpkin artist who creates outstanding pumpkins, like this one.

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The level of detail is scary. Mike Brown

Brown, who is from Missouri, won Food Network's "Halloween Wars Season 7" and holds a Guinness World Record for carving the largest pumpkin.

Sometimes he adds color to make his pumpkins even scarier.

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This clown pumpkin stares you down. Mike Brown

This pumpkin will 100% give you nightmares.

The carved faces even appear soft and squishy.

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A carving by Mike Brown. Mike Brown

They are incredibly realistic.

He sometimes adds stalks to create his masterpieces.

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Carved pumpkin. Mike Brown

This pumpkin by Mike Brown almost looks alive.

It feels as if this pumpkin is looking right at you.

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Carved pumpkin. Mike Brown

The wrinkled skin makes the pumpkin extremely realistic.

The hosts of the "Today" show made an appearance on this pumpkin.

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"Today" show pumpkin. Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

An artist carved this on set in 2018.

These four hand-carved "Wizard of Oz" pumpkins really took the tradition to the next level.

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"The Wizard of Oz" pumpkins. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

These pumpkins were part of a display at Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge, California, in 2014.

Hillary Clinton appeared on this pumpkin in California.

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Hillary Clinton pumpkin. Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic/Getty Images

The candidates were popular designs during the 2016 election.

President Donald Trump joined her for this display.

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Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump pumpkins. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

The Kardashians brought a touch of glamour to this display.

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Kardashian pumpkins in California in 2014. ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Khloe and Kris Kardashian pumpkins are pictured as part of a display in 2014.

A more whimsical design shows a jumping swordfish.

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Pumpkin at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The artist said it took about two hours to carve this creation, which was displayed at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

This detailed carving pays homage to "Star Wars."

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"Star Wars" pumpkin. Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

It was displayed outside the world's largest private collection of Star Wars memorabilia in California.

This Rob Zombie jack-o'-lantern is a masterpiece.

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Rob Zombie pumpkin in New York. Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

It looks just like the singer.

This pumpkin stays true to its frightening Halloween roots.

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A pumpkin from "Carvers." Syfy/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

It was designed as part of a TV show, "Carvers," in 2014.

A dinosaur skeleton carving is made out of dozens of full-size pumpkins.

dino pumpkin
Pumpkins on display in 2014. ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

It was on display at the Rise of the Jack-O'-Lanterns exhibit in California.

This growling pumpkin is preserved in vinegar while on display at the "Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns" exhibit in California.

pumpkin in vinegar
Growling pumpkin. ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

The pumpkins in the exhibit were created by professional artists and sculptors.

 

In New York City, the "Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns" show included this Disney-themed pumpkin.

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The pumpkins are displayed on Governors Island. Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The spectacle on Governors Island displays more than 5,000 hand-carved pumpkins created by professional artists.

Although the event is canceled this year, pumpkin-lovers can be inspired by photos from years past and get creative while carving at home.

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Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns. Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns hopes to resume in 2021.

The hyper-realistic carvings are works of art.

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An extremely detailed pumpkin carving. Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The ants look real.

This pumpkin honors John Singleton, who's best known for directing "Boyz N the Hood."

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This pumpkin was displayed in 2019. Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The American filmmaker passed away in 2019.

Rick Reiski, a pumpkin carver, is pictured working on a 1,124-pound pumpkin.

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This breed of pumpkin won 5th place in the category Atlantic Giant. oeren Stache/picture alliance via Getty Images

It was displayed at the 2019 Open Pumpkin Cradle Championships in Germany.

These carvers created their displays under water.

underwater carving
Underwater pumpkin carvers. BOB CARE/AFP/Getty Images

Their work might not be the most intricate, but these underwater pumpkin carvers managed a remarkable feat. The event is held off Florida's Key Largo every year.

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