Halloween might be my favorite holiday. No, I'm not one of those old folks who still loves to get dressed up - but I think it is so much fun seeing my kiddies get excited to pick out costumes, and run around like crazy persons in pursuit of free candy. As they get a bit older, it'll be cool to add some haunted houses to our Halloween rotation. Basically, I gotta take it all in before they learn that Halloween also means sexy costumes and keg stands.
On that note - here are some great Halloween celebrations happening in our area!
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
Croton-on-Hudson, NY, Select nights through November 29
Once again, Croton-on-Hudson’s Van Cortlandt Manor has been transformed into a stunning Jack O’Lantern wonderland called the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze. It’s all so pretty and magical - everyone from the youngest to the oldest in your group will be blown away. People come from all over the area (city folks even shockingly board trains to the suburbs for it!) to see this event each year.
Visitors walk along a path filled with thousands of hand-carved, lit up pumpkins in all kinds of gorgeous shapes and arrangements, while somewhat spooky music plays in the background. For those with babies, it’s best to leave your stroller at home and instead use a baby carrier, as the walking path can be narrow and crowded. At the end of the path, guests are lead into a large tented gift shop with all kinds of cute Halloween themed mementos and fall snack treats like popcorn and cider doughnuts for sale.
The event is very popular and early times (it’s a timed entry event) sell out first. Get on it ASAP if you haven't yet bought. Ticket prices vary but adults start at $23 and children aged 3-17 start at $17 per person.
VARIOUS spooky, haunted happenings
Halloween means scary, haunted houses and spooky ghost stories. If you have older kids, be sure to check out some of the area’s frightening Halloween adventures happening this month.
Horseman’s Hollow, Sleepy Hollow, NY, Weekends October 4 - November 3
In the Lower Hudson Valley, not far from the Blaze, Washington Irving’s the Legend of Sleepy Hollow comes alive at Philipsburg Manor with the ultra frightening Horseman’s Hollow, a haunted house where “the undead, the evil and the insane rule this terrifying landscape, all paying homage to the Hessian who forever hunts his head.” This scary event is recommended for ages 10 and up.
Scared by the Sound, Rye, NY, Weekends October 11 - 27
Perhaps even more frightening is Rye Playland’s Scared by the Sound - a 12,000 square foot enclosed haunted house and outdoor ceremony “loaded with a terrifying cast of characters.” The advisory warnings on this one are even scaring this wimpy adult! Note this is a nighttime attraction that happens after the park is otherwise closed for the day.
A Haunting at Mill Hill, Norwalk, CT, Weekends October 18-26
On select October weekend evenings, the Norwalk Historical Society puts on A Haunting at Mill Hill, a lantern lit tour around a graveyard, including scary stories and ghosts who share their “true stories of death, murder, insanity and destruction.” The suggested age for this one is 8 and up.
Fright Night, Wilton, CT, Weekends October 18-26
And little further up north in Wilton, CT, Ambler Farm will host a drop-off Fright Night of haunted activities and frightful storytelling aimed for kids in grades 3-5 on select weekend evenings. Scary good times!
Halloween Harvest at Luna Park
Coney Island, NY, Weekends through October 27
Coney Island is a hike from Westchester and Connecticut but it is oh so worth the trip. (Read about our recent summer visit here).
If you visit now, your day pass to Luna Park - the larger of the two amusement parks on the boardwalk - includes Halloween Harvest. Halloween Harvest features several adorable Halloween themed activities and treats, from pumpkin arts and crafts to Monster Mash interactive performances. And all month the amusement park is tricked out in adorable fall and Halloween themed decor. Plus who doesn’t love doing amusement park rides in crisp fall weather?
VARIOUS INTERACTIVE halloween THEATER events
The Sleepy Hollow Experience, Tarrytown, NY, Weekends October 4 - November 3
This October, Brian Clowdus brings his one hour interactive, immersive story of Ichabod Crane to where it all originally began, Washington Irving’s Sunnyside. The Sleepy Hollow Experience is sure to delight its audience, all of whom walk along with the performers as the story unfolds before their eyes. Shows are at 6:30pm and 8:30pm on select evenings in October and early November. Note most nights are already sold out!
Monster Mash, South Norwalk, CT, Friday, October 25
Or head to Norwalk for a night of tricks and treats, including a performance by mad scientist, Dr. Diabolical! “Along with his lab assistant Frau Inga and his “right hand man” Lefty, the Doctor makes hilarious and macabre mayhem.” Monster Mash will have a 5:30pm, 6:20pm and 7:10pm show on October 25th and tickets are available now at that link (scroll alllll the way down).
Spooky Tales, Katonah, NY, Wednesday, October 30
For those looking for something a bit less scary in Westchester, visit Katonah’s Caramoor on October 30th at 3:30pm for Spooky Tales. This storytelling is suitable for ages 3-8 and the admission price includes hot apple cider and cookies.
NYBG spooky pumpkin garden
Bronx, NY, Through October 31
Fall is a wonderful time to visit the New York Botanical Gardens as a family. The amazing Everett Children's Garden is transformed into “Spooky Pumpkin Garden” and filled with carved pumpkin statutes, scarecrows and record breaking large pumpkins from around the country! The weather is usually still warm and the children's programming at the Botanical Garden is always impressive. Each weekend through Halloween, there are pumpkin carving demonstrations and Halloween themed art projects and live shows.
Or instead stop by in the evening on October 18-19, 25-26 for Spooky Pumpkin Nights, where kids can come dressed in costume for some nighttime fun in the garden, including a trip down the Trick-or-Treat Trail.
The Amazing Maize Maze
Floral Park, NY, Weekends through October 26
Get lost in the city’s only corn maze at the Queens County Farm Museum - the Amazing Maize Maze. This 3-acre corn maze involves finding clues, solving puzzles and escaping an interactive maze. Tickets are $10 per person in advance and $15 at the door. Kids age 4-11 are $5 in advance and $8 at the door. The maze can be visited on Saturdays and Sundays (plus Columbus Day) from 11am to 4:30pm. While at the farm, you can also check out the pumpkin patch and harvest treats and activities.
Or save your visit for Sunday, October 27th when the Farm Museum hosts its annual Children’s Halloween Festival from 11am to 4pm. Tickets on that day are $20 per person (all ages) and include a day of live western music, hayrides, pony rides, a petting zoo, the Amazing Maize Maze and, if you dare, a visit to the Haunted Farmhouse.
boo at the zoo
Bronx Zoo, Bronx, NY, Weekends through November 3
Just around the corner from NYBG is the world famous Bronx Zoo. In the fall, the Zoo puts on Boo at the Zoo events each weekend. In addition to the usual zoo activities, Boo at the Zoo offers extra fun family friendly stuff like haunted pirate hayrides, magic shows, an extinct animal graveyard, arts and crafts and costume parades! Read all about our visit last year here!
Governors Island, New York, NY, Weekends October 19-27
Governors Island is an amazing blend of park-like serenity and activities coupled with beautiful art installations and tasty eats and drinks. You can read all about our recent visit here. And before Governors Island closes for the season, consider visiting one of the last two weekends in October when you can also catch the return of Pumpkin Point.
From 10am to 6pm on those weekends, Nolan Park will transform into a pumpkin patch of over 5,000 pumpkins. And the lovely Children’s Museum of the Arts will provide free, Halloween inspired arts and craft activities.
On Saturday, October 26, at 1:00pm there will also be free Trick-or-Treating in Nolan Park! Come in costume and “head house to house, porch to porch to receive free treats from the dozens of arts, culture and education organizations that call Governors Island home.”
AMNH Halloween Celebration
UWS, New York, NY, Saturday, October 26
Dress in your Halloween costume and head to the American Museum of Natural History at 1pm on Saturday October 26th for an afternoon of trick-or-treating, arts and crafts, roaming cartoon characters and live performances. The entire museum closes in celebration of the event. Tickets are available now and cost $16 per person ($13 for members).
halloween pumpkin flotilla
Central Park, New York, NY, Wednesday, October 30
There will be pumpkin carving, crafts, spooky stories, a parade and of course, a Pumpkin Flotilla, at the Halloween Pumpkin Flotilla 2019, which sets sail across the Harlem Meer at sunset on October 30th. The action takes place at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center on 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues from 4pm to 7pm. The event is free to all and the flotilla is expected to begin at 6:30pm.
Village Halloween Parade
West Village, New York, NY, Thursday, October 31
This one is for the adults without trick or treating duty on Halloween. The iconic Village Halloween Parade is, unlike the Times Square ball drop, something that every New Yorker should do at least once. I used to love going before I had kids - the incredible costumes and the incredible spirit on display are truly electrifying and tons of fun.
It is a very crowded event and it starts around nightfall at 7pm, so this is not something recommended for little ones. But if you are kid free on Halloween, there is no better way to celebrate the holiday than with thousands of other New Yorkers at the Village Halloween Parade. This year’s theme is “Wild Thing!” and the Grand Marshal is “Zohra, the Giant Spider."
Note: This post updates 2018’s Halloween post.