The Haunted Pumpkin Garden at the New York Botanical Garden: Halloween Fun for NYC Kids
The New York Botanical Garden is famous for its art installations throughout the grounds, and its annual Halloween exhibit of pumpkin and jack-o'-lantern sculptures in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden is particularly awesome. Michael Natiello, the celebrated creative director for Historic Hudson Valley's Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze, designed the cool exhibit, which is great fun for families.
My son and I are frequent visitors to the New York Botanical Garden, and we decided to mark the changing season by checking out the Haunted Pumpkin Garden on its opening day back in 2011. He kept squealing, "Hey Mom, look over here!" and "Dad, you have to see this!" as he came across caterpillar, black widow and giant scorpion pumpkin statues, and grinning gourds perched on fence posts and the Discovery Center's roof. He loved it so much, visiting the Haunted Pumpkin Garden has now become an annual fall family tradition.
In addition to the display, which is on view Saturday, September 20-Friday, October 31, the NYBG has scheduled a slew of related programing, like a special pumpkin carving weekend and spooky nighttime tours for families. Children are encouraged to wear their costumes to the garden for the daily Halloween parades, romp in the pumpkin playhouse and hit the Discovery Center for seasonal nature explorations.
Check out our slide show for a peek at the pumpkin sights, and read on for additional details about the Haunted Pumpkin Garden.
The Haunted Pumpkin Garden is a peaceful and natural way to celebrate Halloween. As you stroll through the garden, you can marvel at the skillfully carved pumpkins featuring spooky, silly or slightly scary faces. But the big attractions are the sculptures. As soon as you walk through the decorated gates, you'll spot massive flies, bugs, caterpillars and a giant scorpion, all made from pumpkins and gourds. Over in the children's hedge maze, there's a giant cobweb guarded by a giant white spider, and several other insects fashioned from various squashes. The waterfall even has a bunch of pumpkins bobbing around.
Over by the Discovery Center, there's an adorable kid-size pumpkin playhouse—my son really enjoyed that one when he was younger—and a puppet theater designed from pumpkins. Inside the center, families can enjoy educational programing with garden educators. During our visit, my son got to dissect owl pellets (yucky as it sounds, it was kind of cool), examine pine cones and fall leaves under a microscope, chart the changing colors of the leaves and plant seasonal greenery to take home. Unfortunately, we forgot to put him in his costume, but he still had fun participating in the Halloween parade, which take place on the weekends, plus Columbus Day and Halloween. The kids marched from the Children’s Adventure Garden to the wetlands and other nearby spots, shaking bells and maracas, and making educational pit stops.
Although the Haunted Pumpkin Garden is open daily (except Mondays when NYBG is closed) through Thursday, October 31, it's best to stop by on a weekend, when special activities are planned.
Pumpkin Carving Weekend with Ray Villafane
Saturday, October 18-Sunday, October 19 10am-6pm
Watch Food Network Challenge winner Ray Villafane transform giant pumpkins into zombies and other creepy creatures.
Spooky Nighttime Adventure
Saturday, October 18, Friday, October 24, Saturday, October 25 and Friday, October 31 6:30–8:30pm
Grab a flashlight so you can explore the Haunted Pumpkin Garden in the evening. Listen for critters of the night, sit in on a spooky ghost story, and pose for a pic with skeletons and costumed characters. There will be plenty of edible treats, too. Advance tickets recommended. $20 per person.
Haunted Pumpkin Garden is on view Saturday, September 20-Friday, October 31 (closed Mondays except for Columbus Day) at the New York Botanical Garden. On weekends and Columbus Day: $25 for adults, $22 for students, $10 for children ages 2-12; on weekdays: $20 for adults, $18 for students, $8 for children ages 2-12.
This post is sponsored by the New York Botanical Garden's Haunted Pumpkin Garden and was originally published in September 2011.