Hudson Valley's Best Halloween Celebrations for Kids

The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze, Horseman’s Hollow, Irving's Legend, The Legend Behind the Legend

Hudson Valley is the setting for many a scary Halloween happening—parents be warned!

Every autumn, my family and I head to the Historic Hudson Valley to gaze at thousands of silly and scary jack-o'-lanterns displayed on the grounds of Van Cortlandt Manor. The Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze is an awesome experience and one of our favorite ways to usher in the Halloween season. Even if you don't live in the Hudson Valley, it's totally worth the schlep and blowing the kids' bedtime.

While the Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze is the premier Halloween event in the area, there are three other cool holiday happenings in the Hudson Valley: the haunted attraction Horseman’s Hollow, a live retelling of Irving's Legend and the little-kid-friendly Legend Behind the Legend.

We've got the scoop on these Halloween festivities, which take place throughout October and early November, but you better start planning now: All require advance tickets. Some nights for the Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze are already sold out!

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The Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze – Croton-on-Hudson
Van Cortlandt Manor, 525 S Riverside Avenue
Select evenings Friday, October 2-Sunday, November 15. Times vary. Visit the website for a complete schedule.
Saturdays: $25 for adults, $20 for children ages 3-17. Other nights: $20 for adults, $16 for children ages 3-17. Advance tickets are a must.
For 30 nights in October and November, families can marvel at more than 5,000 hand-carved, illuminated jack-o'-lanterns displayed all over the 18th-century grounds of Van Cortlandt Manor. In addition to traditional pumpkin heads, there are huge dinosaurs, snakes, giant spiderwebs, creatures from Greek and Roman mythology and a menagerie of life-size animals, all cleverly assembled from carved pumpkins (both organic and synthetic). Plus there are themed pumpkin patches like a beehive, an aquarium and a huge pumpkin cake. Eerie sound effects and mood lighting enhance the experience. Although the carvers spend months creating these sights, you only need about 45 minutes to take it all in. For more info, check out our slide show and in-depth review of the Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze.

The Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze Tips

Make sure you buy your timed tickets in advance. This cool attraction has quite a following and tickets go faster than Ichabod Crane fleeing from that Headless Horseman. Saturday time slots sell out particularly fast—a few are already booked!

While strollers are permitted, be aware that they may not fit through all of the aisles.

There's always a big traffic jam at the start of the tour. Feel free to pass the slowpokes and move at a brisker pace.

If you arrive early, you can hit the waiting area tent to buy seasonal food like hot cider, apple doughnuts and chili.

Make a day of your Hudson Valley visit. My family and I always pack a picnic and head out in the afternoon to nearby Croton Point County Park, a huge, grassy peninsula on the east shore of the Hudson River.

If you don't want to drive, you can take a one-hour train ride on Metro-North or Amtrak. Get off at the Croton-Harmon station and then it's about a five-minute cab ride away. (You could also walk but frankly it's not so nice. A taxi is your best bet.)

Horseman’s Hollow – Sleepy Hollow
Philipsburg Manor, 381 N Broadway
Select evenings Friday, October 2-Sunday, November 1. Times vary. Visit the website for a complete schedule.
$25 on Saturdays, $20 all other nights
This eerie attraction runs for 15 nights in 2015, but it's definitely not for preschoolers or scaredy-cats. Take a terrifying walk through the grounds of a haunted village full of vampires, rotting corpses and other creepy creatures driven mad by the Headless Horseman, and then try to survive the horrors of Ichabod’s Schoolhouse. Professional actors, high-tech special effects, elaborate costumes and gory makeup help create the spine-chilling experience. Horseman's Hollow isn't recommended for children under age 10, or people with claustrophobia, heart or respiratory issues. Timed tickets are only sold in advance.

Irving's Legend – Sleepy Hollow
Old Dutch Church, 430 N Broadway
Select evenings Friday, October 2-Sunday, November 1. Times vary. Visit the website for a complete schedule.
$25 for adults, $20 for children under age 18
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow comes to life in a dramatic 45-minute performance by master storyteller Jonathan Kruk. He portrays Ichabod Crane in the real-life church where the fictional school teacher served as choir master, as well as all of the other characters. Appropriate for children ages 10 and up. Tickets are sold in advance.

The Legend Behind the Legend – Irvington
Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, 3 W Sunnyside Lane
Weekends Saturday, October 3-Sunday, November 1 plus Columbus Day starting at 10am. Last admission is at 3pm
$14 for adults, $8 for children ages 3-17
After the Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze, this is the best Historic Hudson Valley Halloween event for younger children. Plus, it takes place during the day so it can even be a prelude to the Blaze. Tour Washington Irving's beautiful riverside home and examine artifacts related to the 19th-century author's famous tale. Families can also enjoy a shadow puppet performance and a not-too-spooky walk through the woods. Timed tickets are sold in advance.

For more seasonal fun, check out our Halloween Guide.

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This post was originally published in September 2010.

Photo by Anthony Quintano via Flickr.

Category: 
location: 
Washington Irving's Sunnyside
3 West Sunnyside Lane
10591 Irvington , NY 41° 2' 47.4252" N, 73° 51' 50.1408" W
New York
Phillipsburg Manor
381 North Broadway
10591 Sleepy Hollow , NY 41° 5' 23.4492" N, 73° 51' 43.2972" W
New York
Van Cortlandt Manor
525 South Riverside Avenue
10520 Croton-on-Hudson , NY 41° 12' 30.3408" N, 73° 53' 28.4928" W
New York
Old Dutch Church
430 North Broadway
10591 Sleepy Hollow , NY 41° 6' 28.944" N, 73° 51' 33.66" W
New York