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It was a dark, cold and frosty morning when the Sand In Your Eye team made their way to Bradford. Bradford BID had asked us to install the Bradford Pumpkin Trail for Halloween, 2020. Forty eight pumpkins were ready to explore the city centre this October half term and get up to all sorts of mischief whilst celebrating the cultural history of Bradford.

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There’s a lot to celebrate! Famously, the Bronte sisters wrote their books and poems in Haworth, a small town on the outskirts of Bradford. Waterstones (who were previously involved with our sand sculpture trail in Bradford in 2015) hosted the sisters, who sat in their parlour and scribbled away in their notebooks.

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A group of beautifully dressed Bollywood dancers wowed the shoppers at the Kirkgate Shopping Centre, people used to travel from all over the UK to Bradford to watch Bollywood films from the 1950s-1980s. These glamorous pumpkins were dressed by the Muslim Women’s Council.

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Whilst the boar is well known as the symbol of Bradford, a display (featuring the UK’s first ever pumpkin sculpture made up of multiple giant pumpkins!) told the tale of how it became the emblem of the city; legend has it that a wild boar terrorised the townsfolk in the 14th century and a competition was held to capture and kill the boar, here we imagine the boar turning the tables and chasing the tykes out of the forest, with their flat caps flying. 

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 In 2009 Bradford became the first ever UNESCO City of Film due to it’s heritage of film making and film festivals. In a nod to the classic film Singing in the Rain, a carved pumpkin swings – and sings – from a lamp post at the Wool Exchange. 

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But did you also know that free school meals were founded in Bradford in 1906 by local councillors Margaret McMillan and Fred Jowett? In the Broadway Shopping Centre a scene depicted dinnertime at school, with naughty pumpkins breaking all the school rules, running rings around their teacher. 

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Whilst Dracula is usually associated with Transylvania, it is a little known fact that the author Bram Stoker stayed overnight at the Midland Hotel in Bradford on his way to Whitby to research the novel. It was great fun making a pumpkin carving of Dracula for Halloween with his fangs and cape. 

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And as well as a Yorkshire shepherd and his dog watching over their flock at Bradford Interchange there were some silly pumpkins doing what pumpkins do best, getting up to all sorts of tricks! There were zen pumpkins levitating on Tyrrel St, a chef cooking up a feast outside the Cake ‘Ole café, and one lucky pumpkin spent each day being ferried around the city centre on a bike by our friend, and fellow artist and cycling enthusiast Tim Curtis. A particularly naughty pumpkin was caught trying to rob Santander bank, luckily they have a security guard on the door!

pumpkin festival bradford

Last year we were also in Bradford when the pumpkins showed the sporting side of the city with the Bantams scoring a winning goal in our pumpkin scene at the Broadway, outside there were pumpkin carving workshops for children and their families and a live pumpkin carve alongside.

Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, close contact activities and events that might draw a large crowd were off the table this year but Bradford BID bravely decided to go ahead with the Pumpkin Trail over the half term, the displays of carved pumpkins brought a smile to those who were visiting the city centre anyway and the event was closely monitored and planned to minimise risk and make sure that the trail was a covid safe event.

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Families and people attending could explore the city safely and keep moving whilst they searched for and spotted the pumpkins, following the map via the LoyalFree app, which also gives discounts for many businesses in Bradford and ran a competition to pick the best pumpkin and win shopping vouchers. 

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We had great fun in Bradford and the event was a big success, it ran smoothly and kept the onlookers safe – the pumpkins hope to return to Bradford next Halloween when hopefully things are better and we can all have a go at pumpkin carving.

Thanks to all our team of pumpkin carvers and installers for their hard work, the venues that hosted the pumpkins, Tim Curtis, Alex Cohen, the Muslim Women’s Council and Jonny, Nikki and June at Bradford BID.

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