PHOTO BY Bryan Haeffele
These vampires are not the moony, romantic kind.
It used to be that, if you wanted to delight in the pleasures of the Halloween season, you got a ticket to the Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze. But, if you wanted to really be scared, you’d have to head somewhere else—the Forest of Fear in Tuxedo, perhaps?
Cancel the road trip. Now, all the jump-scares you need are right here in Sleepy Hollow. This year, Historic Hudson Valley unveils the Horseman’s Hollow at Philipsburg Manor. Brave visitors will walk an interactive trail around the Philipsburg Manor property, as madmen, ghosts, and other evil creatures—including Sleepy Hollow’s most famous beheaded resident—try to stop their hearts at every turn. State-of-the-art special effects add to the dizzying, frightful feeling.
“It’s not the generic haunted house experience,” says Rob Schweitzer, director of public relations for Historic Hudson Valley. “Everything is rooted in the history and the heritage of our area and fits in with what we talk about year-round.”
In other words, unlike at certain other haunted attractions, don’t expect to see a man with a Scream mask wielding a knife at an off-model Freddy Krueger here. Lance Hallowell, the man behind Norwalk’s Misery Mansion FestEvil and last year’s haunted hayride in Sleepy Hollow, is in charge of keeping all the haunts—including the 40 to 50 professional actors working in the event—in line with our local history. “Everything is steeped deep in Washington Irving and the different Legend elements,” he says. “Philipsburg Manor automatically holds the historical vision—you feel like it’s the 1750s. It makes the magic very easy.”
“Magic” doesn’t mean “quaint.” One of Hallowell’s favorite spots along the trail is a visit with the “skin spinsters,” what he calls a certain group of witches. “They’re making some wearables out of human skin with their looms,” he says. “That’s one of the pieces Historic Hudson Valley seems most pleased with, because it fits so thematically.”
Obviously, cannibals and centuries-old vampires are not fit for children. But kids and scaredy-cats who enjoyed the less terrifying aspects of Legend Celebrations past can still join in on the fun. Family-friendly daytime activities—including woodland walks, puppet shows, magicians, and ghost stories—have moved over to Washington Irving’s Sunnyside. Then, at night, beloved Hudson Valley storyteller Jonathan Kruk gives dramatic readings of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow at the Old Dutch church, accompanied by a live organist. For more information on these less-bone-rattling events, visit hudsonvalley.org.
October 15 and 16, 22 to 24, and 28 to 30
Timed-ticket admissions begin at 7pm. Last admission is at 9:30. Tickets are $20, or free for members of Historic Hudson Valley, and must be purchased in advance.
381 N Broadway (Route 9), Sleepy Hollow
(914) 631-8200, hudsonvalley.org