Are the kids already preparing for Halloween, with visions of candy, costumes, and pumpkins dancing in their heads? Well, kick off the season in New Jersey with one of the many wonderful pumpkin-themed events coming up, everything from elaborate pumpkin exhibits to carving competitions to good old-fashioned pumpkin picking and decorating.
Read on for our top picks, including a special newcomer to the scene, and find more seasonal events in the Mommy Poppins Fall Fun Guide for NJ Families and the Halloween Guide.
The Giant Pumpkin Carve – Woodstown
September 24, 2016
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 events include a straw maze, crafts, hayrides and music. Even better? All proceeds from the event benefit Meals on Wheels of Salem County.
Blackwood Pumpkin Festival – Blackwood
October 2, 2016
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, delicious, food and competitions including house decorating, pumpkin carving, costume contest and youth talent show. FREE
South Jersey Pumpkin Show — Woodstown
October 7-9, 2016
This fall festival is truly all about the pumpkins. Kids can gawk at the "pumpkin pyramid" display, compete in a pumpkin pageantry, gobble up pumpkin-infused foods, and watch the great pumpkin weigh-off. There's also a haunted barn, hayrides and amusement park style rides, seasonal crafts, music, trick or treating and a baby stroller costume parade!
Yes, that is a skeleton on a Harley - all made out of pumpkins at The Glow.
The Glow: A Jack O'Lantern Experience – Oceanport
October 7-8; 14-15; 21-22; 28, 29 and 30, 2016
Want to see how the professionals prepare their pumpkins or get some good ideas for your own gourd? Head over to Monmouth Park Racetrack for more than 5,000 illuminated jack o'lanterns set along a quarter mile pathway. Many visitors will recognizes New Jersey landmarks, celebrities and politicians carved into this Halloween display.
Brite Nites – Warren
October 14-15; 21-22; 28, 29 and 30, 2016
Take a stroll down Pumpkin Path at Wagner Farm Arboretum to marvel at over 1000 carved and lighted pumpkins including funny faces, scary faces, and various caricatures. This family-friendly pumpkin display is sure to please both young children and the big kids. (Note: No strollers on the trail.) Want something spookier? Head over to its Secret Haunted Garden filled with ghouls and goblins.
Gardens Aglow — Montclair
October 21, 2016
Better known for its springtime blooms, the Presby Iris Memorial Garden puts on a fantastic seasonal display of pumpkins carved by local high school art departments. Enjoy a walk through the pumpkin-filled garden, refreshments, and some family activities all for FREE.
Pumpkin Creations — Morris Township
October 22, 2016
Families can pick a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch at Fosterfields Living Historical Farm and decorate it with the supplies provided. Afterward, visit with the animals before this farm closes to visitors for the winter.
See the spooky dinosaur skeletons at Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns.
Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns – Secaucus
Head to the Meadowlands Exposition Center to walk this elaborate pumpkin trail filled with 5,000 pumpkins carved into all manner of creations, from dinosaurs and dragons to popular cultural icons and more spooky figures. The pros behind the Rise have been putting on this Halloween show in cities like Los Angeles for years, but it's the first time NJ has been treated to it. You'll see glowing tiers of jack-o-lanterns, fancy 3D sculpting at work, and a level of artistry you may not expect to be paired with your annual pumpkin tradition! The event is meant for all ages, so organizers keep the trail well-lit and not too scary for families. Bonus: Mommy Poppins' New Jersey readers can score a promo code while supplies last.
Pumpkin Patch Day – Union
October 29, 2016
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, is hosting a special pumpkin patch event where kids can carve and paint their pick, while also enjoying hayrides and other crafts.
Set your own family pumpkin afloat at the annual Great Pumpkin Sail.
The Great Pumpkin Sail – Mountainside
November 1, 2016
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 on to the water. The evening's festivities include refreshments and songs around the campfire. Tickets must be purchased in advance and it often sells out fast.
And one bonus option in...New York
The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze — Croton-On-Hudson, NY
September 30, 2016 through November 13, select dates
The grand-daddy of Westchester Halloween events returns to Van Cortland Manor this year with nearly 7,000 glowing pumpkins just over the NJ line. Carved pumpkins are 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: Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns is family affair. All photos are courtesy of the events.