The arrival of Halloween in Westchester means it’s time for the Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor. This year, in honor of the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial, find a pumpkin replica of the Half Moon among the ghosts, dinosaurs, and skeletons (500 S Riverside Ave, Croton-on-Hudson, 914-631-8200). If the Blaze inspires your family, they can try their hands at pumpkin painting—or, better yet, pumpkin bowling—at Mariani Gardens’ Spooktacular (45 Bedford Rd, Armonk, 914-273-3083). Pumpkins also mark the trail for the Greenburgh Nature Center’s Scarecrows and Pumpkins Parade on October 25—a trail that ends with apple-cider and treats (99 Dromore Rd, Scarsdale, 914-813-1831). Speaking of scarecrows, you can meet and walk among more than 500 scarecrows on the grounds of Lyndhurst during its month-long Scarecrow Invasion (635 S Broadway, Tarrytown, 914-631-4481).
A “thrilling” scene at the Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze
The best day to catch a glimpse of Lyndhurst’s scarecrows is October 30, when it holds its annual Boofest, at which families can enjoy barn dancing, fortune telling, mansion touring, and wicked-witch storytellers. Younger kids may be too frightened by the Headless Horseman’s ride at Historic Hudson Valley’s Legend Nights, but bring them to the Legend Daytime events—with spooky tales, magic tricks, phrenology, and more—and they can have fun and still sleep in their own beds at night (Philipsburg Manor, 381 N Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, and Washington Irving’s Sunnyside, 89 W Sunnyside La, Tarrytown, 914-631-8200, hudsonvalley.org). If they don’t like ghosts and horsemen, try wolves—no, not werewolves—at the Wolf Conservation Center’s Halloween Howl, featuring holiday goodies for both people and wolves (7 Buck Run, South Salem, 914-763-2373, nywolf.org). Kids with rhythm will want to boogie down to “Werewolves of London” and the “Monster Mash” at Groove Performing Arts’s Halloween Jam (157 Larchmont Ave, Larchmont, 914-834-3383).
Nothing puts you in a creepy mood faster than a scary movie. Brooklyn-based chamber ensemble the BQE Project heightens the tension by providing a live accompaniment to James Whale’s Frankenstein, starring Boris Karloff, on October 31 at the Paramount Center for the Arts (1008 Brown St, Peekskill, 914-739-233). For more modern chills, on October 29, you can choose between the quietly intense scares of Ridley Scott’s Alien or the higher-velocity thrills of James Cameron’s Aliens (Director’s Cut) at the Jacob Burns Film Center (364 Manville Rd., Pleasantville, 914-747-5555). Further south, the Picture House will be showing three John Carpenter films on the Saturdays leading up to Halloween: Halloween (on October 17), The Fog (October 24), and The Thing (October 31; The Picture House, 175 Wolfs La, Pelham, 914-738-3161). And, since what you dream up in your head is always more frightening than what they could put on screen, you have two chances to see Edgar Allen Poe impersonators read from the writer’s works. On October 24, actor/director John Astin—best known for playing Gomez Addams in The Addams Family, appropriately enough—will do poetry and conversation at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture to celebrate the Ten-Year Anniversary of Visible Theatre (630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills, 914-366-6200; tickets call 212-868-8444). The next day, the Rye Arts Center hosts its annual Evermore event, at which “Poe” will be joined by a panel of current mystery writers for readings and a Q&A (51 Milton Rd, Rye, 914-967-0700).
Celebrate the harvest down on the farm at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.
You may be too old to go trick-or-treating, but you still want to do more than hold your kid’s overflowing candy bucket. Don your best costume on October 31 and head to the (adults-only) Halloween Party at Le Château, where there will be a buffet dinner, drinks, and dancing to a DJ (1410 Rte 35, North Salem, 914-533-6631). Or put on your best Sherlock Holmes garb and board the Tahiti Queen River Boat, where the Killing Kompany will perform its interactive comedic murder mystery show, Haunting for Murder (Charles Point Marina, Peekskill, 845-597-7272).
Walk through these darkened corridors, where unspeakable horrors lie around every corner waiting to startle you. (Wait, is this supposed to be fun?) If you’re not faint of heart, check out Scared by the Sound on Playland’s grounds (1 Playland Parkway, Rye, 877-SCARY-FUN)
You love the changing seasons, but can’t get behind all the ghoulishness. Celebrate the bounty of autumn instead with Stone Barns Center’s October 3 Harvest Fest, which features live music, farming workshops, hayrides, and—best of all—a pie bake-off (630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills, 914-366-6200). The Jay Heritage Center also gets into the season with storytelling, music, refreshments, and heritage farm animals at its Jay Day celebration on October 3 (210 Boston Post Rd, Rye, 914-698-9275), and the Stamford Museum and Nature Center has its Harvest Festival on October 18 (39 Scofieldtown Rd, Stamford, CT, 203-322-1646). Or skip the hayrides and pumpkin picking to celebrate the season the right way—with beer—at the Westchester Broadway Theatre’s Oktoberfest celebration (1 Broadway Plz, Elmsford, 914-592-2222).