This month is all about pumpkins – pumpkin picking, pumpkin spice lattes, and of course, carving Halloween jack-o-lanterns. But beyond carving your own spooky gourds with your kids, you can see some spectacular, professionally carved pumpkins, too. Read on for Red Tricycle’s round up of the best places in and around the city that take the classic carved pumpkin to the next level – we’re talking gourds of the 1,800 pound variety, blazes of more than 5,000 jack-o-lanterns and master carvers with serious skills! They’re all sure to get your family in the Halloween spirit.

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The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

This is the mother of all blazes. There are over 5,000 hand carved pumpkins on display, grouped together to create magical scenes. We’re talking underwater aquariums, dinosaurs, a field of “corn stalks” – the works. You’ll walk through a path, surrounded by these scenes, listening to creepy music that really creates the atmosphere. Beyond the shear number of lit up pumpkins, you’ll be astonished at the intricate carvings on each one! Be sure to check out their new “Art of the Pumpkin” exhibit while you’re there.

Know before you go: It gets pretty spooky, so it may not be great for younger kids. Plus, you may want to plan ahead for potty situations. Portable toilets are your only option, located at the entrance and exit.

Cost: $16 for adults, $12 for kids 3-17, (Saturdays $20, $16), free for children under 3

Address: Van Cortland Manor
525 S Riverside, Croton-on-Hudson

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When: Oct. 5-6, Oct. 11-14, Oct. 17-20, Oct. 24-31, Nov. 1-3, Nov. 8-11

Image courtesy of Matt Gillis

4th Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest

This annual competition gives artists from all over the city a chance to show their stuff, and boy, do they. You can even get in on the action – channel your inner Halloween spirit and carve your own entry. Keep in mind, all entries must be carved prior to the contest, so they’re all ready to be put on display when you get there. Candles will be provided. Even if you aren’t a master carver, you’ll still enjoy some quality jack-o-lantern viewing.

Know before you go: This event is good for all ages, but it’s super popular, so expect a crowd.

Cost: Free

Address: Crest Hardware
536 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg

When: Oct. 19, 6:30 pm -10:00 pm

Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze

Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Sail

Two birds, one stone. The kiddos can dress up in their costumes and participate in a parade, plus you can sit back and watch jack-o-lanterns actually float across the Harlem Meer at dusk. There will be live music and crafts, too, at this all-inclusive Halloween celebration.

Know before you go: If you’re bringing a pumpkin to sail, you may want to get there early. The number of floating pumpkins is limited to 50. Also, check out their pumpkin restrictions here before you start carving.

Cost: Free

Address: Charles A. Dana Discovery Center
Central Park at 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues

When: Oct. 27, 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Image courtesy of Tom Nycz

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The RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns

Old Westbury Gardens in Long Island will be transformed into a carved pumpkin mecca again this year as part of “The Rise.” Not to be outdone, they too will feature over 5,000 jack-o-lanterns on display. There are actually portraits on pumpkins of your favorite TV characters and other personalities. Amazing, right?

Know before you go: There are parts where the 1/3 mile walking path is uneven, so it may make navigating a stroller difficult. Also, the music can be eerie at times, and might scare young kids, even though it’s listed as an all-ages event. Tickets are advance sale, and even the kiddos who are free need a ticket, so be sure to add a free ticket to your order. Want to take public transport? Take the LIRR to Westbury Station, and then its just a quick cab ride away.

Cost: $20 for adults, $18 for kids 3-12, free for kids under 3

Address: Old Westbury Gardens
71 Old Westbury Road, Old Westbury

When: Oct. 4-6, Oct. 11-13, Oct. 17-20, Oct. 24-27, Nov. 1-3, 6:00 pm – 10:30 pm

Image courtesy of RISE

Giant Pumpkin Carving Weekend at the New York Botanical Garden

The Haunted Pumpkin Garden already boasts more than 500 carved pumpkins. And on this special weekend, master carver Ray Villafane, who you may have seen on the Food Network, and his team will be carving ginormous pumpkins into amazing creatures and jack-o-lanterns right before your eyes. Most likely, you’ve never seen anything like this before. These pumpkins are expected to weigh more than 1,800 pounds and last year, he created some incredible zombies!

Know before you go: Want to learn how to carve pumpkins like the pros with your kids? Sign up for a special Creepy Pumpkin Carving Workshop on Oct. 19.

Cost: Tickets start at $20 for adults and $8 for kids age 2 to 12.

Address: New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, Ny

When: Oct. 19 & 20, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Do you carve jack-o-lanterns with your kids? 

–Jesseca Stenson