Are your kids already preparing for Halloween, with visions of candy, costumes, and pumpkins dancing in their heads? Kick off the festive fall season at one of the many wonderful pumpkin-themed events happening around NJ, from elaborate pumpkin exhibits and carving competitions to good old-fashioned pumpkin picking and decorating fun.
Read on for our top picks, plus a bonus event that’s worth a drive across the state line. You can find even more even seasonal events in our Fall Fun Guide.
Great Pumpkin Festival – Vernon
September 16 – November 5 on select dates
The largest fall festival in Northern NJ is packed with fun activities for kids and families. Pumpkin picking, a petting zoo, hay maze, obstacle course, and monster sling shots are just some of the amazing things planned at Heaven Hill Farm. Take a break from the action to indulge in delicious baked goods, homemade ice cream, and wine tastings from Baltic Winery at the farm market.
The Giant Pumpkin Carve – Woodstown
This awesome annual event brings both amateur and professional artists together to transform giant pumpkins into works of art. Visitors can vote for their favorite pumpkins in multiple categories. Other attractions include a straw maze, crafts, hayrides, and music, plus a pumpkin pageant. Even better? All proceeds from the event benefit Meals on Wheels of Salem County.
Hop aboard the Pumpkinliner and enjoy crafts and a fall fair at the Whippany Pumpkin Festival.
Pumpkin Festival – Whippany
Take in the sights and sounds of fall aboard the “Pumpkinliner” for a fun family afternoon at the Whippany Railway Museum. Kids can pose for a picture in front of the Haunted House, frolic among the grinning scarecrows, and stroll through the pumpkin marketplace, where local merchants will be selling their handmade goods. Get your train tickets now, as this event is sure to sell out fast.
Blackwood Pumpkin Festival – Blackwood
Thousands of local families flock to this festival every year to celebrate fall's arrival with pumpkin painting, hayrides, scarecrow making, and face painting. The festival features four stages of live entertainment, plus bounce houses, hayrides, delicious food, and competitions including pumpkin carving, a costume contest, and youth talent show. FREE
Pumpkin Fest — Colt’s Neck
Spend Columbus Day at Delicious Orchards’ Pumpkin Fest, where you can enjoy the day off from work and school with pumpkin painting and decorating, games, an antique tractor display, and live music. Free food samples will be available, including the delicious pumpkin pies, cider, and apple cider donuts that earned this farm its name.
RELATED: Top Pumpkin Picking Farms for NJ Families
See enormous pumpkins at the South Jersey Pumpkin Show.
South Jersey Pumpkin Show — Woodstown
October 13, 14 and 15
This fall festival is truly all about the pumpkins. Kids can gawk at the pumpkin pyramid display, compete in a pumpkin pageant, gobble up pumpkin-infused foods, and guess how long it took to bake NJ’s biggest pumpkin pie (the winner receives a $100 gift card to Toys 'R' Us). There's also a haunted barn, hayrides, amusement park–style rides, seasonal crafts, music, trick-or-treating, and a baby stroller costume parade!
Pumpkin Festival — Robbinsville
If you’re looking for a way to celebrate the picturesque fall season, we can’t think of a better place than Oasis. You can easily spend a whole day at this agritainment farm, which is ripe with fun activities for kids of all ages. After picking pumpkins fresh off the vine, let your mini farmer loose in the Fun Zone to check out the zip line, giant tube slide, spider web crawl, pedal bikes, basketball hoops, tire swings, and more. There will also be free wagon rides and games, not to mention homemade pumpkin pies, bread, and donuts.
Gardens Aglow — Montclair
Well known for its springtime blooms, the Presby Memorial Iris Garden also puts on a fantastic seasonal display of pumpkins carved by local high school art departments. Enjoy a walk through the pumpkin-filled garden, along with refreshments and some family activities, all for FREE.
Historic Cold Spring Village Pumpkin Festival — Cape May
Start the countdown to Halloween at this 26th annual event at Historic Cold Spring Village. Paint pumpkins and play games all day, visit a haunted house at the Village Barn, and hop on a hayride through the farm, all for FREE. Vendors will also be on site selling hot dogs, funnel cake, and other treats. Kids will have a chance to give their costumes a dress rehearsal during the Children’s Halloween Parade at noon.
Pumpkin Creations — Morris Township
Families can pick a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch at Fosterfields Living Historical Farm and then decorate it with the natural materials provided. Afterward, have a last visit with the animals before this farm closes to visitors for the winter.
Pumpkin Patch Day – Union
There’s plenty of seasonal fun for the family at Liberty Hall Museum. This historic home, built in 1772 and once home to NJ’s first elected governor, hosts a special pumpkin patch event where kids can carve and paint their pick, while also enjoying hayrides and other crafts. Reservations are suggested, and kids under 3 are free.
RELATED: Halloween and Fall Foliage Train Rides for New Jersey Kids
Set your own family pumpkin afloat at the annual Great Pumpkin Sail.
The Great Pumpkin Sail – Mountainside
Watch as hundreds of carved pumpkins float along Echo Lake in an illuminated display. This annual tradition invites families to say farewell to Halloween by casting their jack-o-lanterns onto the water. The evening's festivities include hot chocolate, roasted marshmallows, and songs around the campfire. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Hurry—it often sells out fast.
And one bonus option in... New York
The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze is worth a trip across state lines.
The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze — Croton-On-Hudson, NY
September 29 – November 25 on select dates
The grand-daddy of Westchester Halloween events returns to Van Cortland Manor this year with nearly 7,000 glowing pumpkins. Located just over the NJ state line, this stunning event features carved pumpkins creatively displayed in the form of dinosaurs, a circus train, animals, local landmarks, and more. This event often sells out early in the season.
Top image: Brite Nights. All photos courtesy of the venues/events.