OK, we know how horrifying it is to see Halloween decorations in drugstores right now and we are against super-early hype for holidays. BUT! We want your family to get into the best stuff this fall and all year ’round, and tickets go on sale this week for a few similar, extremely popular (and quite spectacular) Halloween-season to-dos. So not only will you not get shut out, you’ll get your pick of the best times and dates. P.S.: tickets must be purchased in advance, so mark your calendar and then hop to it!

blaze 3

photo: via Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze Facebook page

The Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze
One of the highlights of the fall season in Westchester, Croton-on-Hudson’s Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze at Van Corlandt Manor sold out completely last year.

The event, which takes place at an historic 18th-century riverside property, features 7,000 illuminated jack-o-lanterns, all designed and individually carved on site.

Visitors stroll a meandering path and encounter visually stunning carved-pumpkin sculptures including  a giant sea serpent, a “Pumpkin Zee Bridge”, a color-changing “Pumpkin Planetarium,” dinosaurs of all sizes such as T-Rex, brontosaurus, triceratops, and flying pterodactyl and the region’s “superstar” the Headless Horseman.

The experience is further enhanced by produced sound effects, elaborate synchronized lighting and an original soundtrack by recording artist Richard Christy.

jack o lantern blaze

photo: Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze Facebook page

Tickets go on sale: September 1

Cost: Adults: $20; kids 3 – 17: $16; Saturdays adults: $25; kids: $20

Dates: Sept. 30; Oct. 1-2, 7-10, 13-16, 19-31; Nov. 3-6, 10-13

Van Cortlandt Manor
Online: hudsonvalley.org


photo: RISE of the Jack O’ Lanterns

RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns
RISE of the Jack O’ Lanterns is another illuminated pumpkin extravaganza, which has been wowing NYC-area residents for the past five years at Old Westbury Gardens in Old Westbury New York. For 2016, the event is also making a stop in New Jersey, at the Meadowlands Exposition Center.

What’s especially nice for prospective visitors about RISE is that one location (Old Westbury) takes place outside, while the other (The Meadowlands) is an indoor affair. (It takes place rain or shine, so that may be a consideration.)
carving pumpkins

photo: via Rise of the Jack-o-Lanterns Facebook page

The RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns features 5,000 hand-carved pumpkins displayed along a scenic walking path with a musical score accompaniment. Expect large-scale sculptures of creatures such as dinosaurs and dragons, safari animals and even some Star Wars icons, as well as jack-o-lantern art of characters from American pop culture. Also new this year, the event is doubling the number of 100-pound pumpkins on display; artists spend 10-15 hours on these giant glowing masterpieces, and visitors can see the carving in action during the show.

RISE of the Jack O’ Lanterns Old Westbury Gardens

Tickets go on sale: September 6

Cost: $26/adults; $22/kids & seniors

Dates: Fri., Oct. 7 – Sun., Oct. 9, 6:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.; Fri. Oct. 14 – Sun., Oct 16, 6:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.; Thurs., Oct. 20 – Sun. Oct. 23, 6 – 10:30 p.m.; Thurs., Oct 27 – Sun., Oct. 30, 6 – 1-:30 p.m.

Old Westbury Gardens
71 Old Westbury Rd.
Old Westbury, Ny
Online: therise.org

RISE of the Jack O’ Lanterns Meadowlands

Tickets go on sale: September 6

Cost: $26/adults; $22/kids & seniors

Dates: Thurs., Oct. 27- Sun., Oct. 30; 10 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

355 Plaza Dr.
Secaucus, Nj
Online: therise.org

Has your family checked out the Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze or RISE of the Jack O’ Lanterns? Let us know in the comments!

—Mimi O’Connor