Halloween is still nearly a month away, but that doesn't mean you can't start celebrating. Get a head start on your autumnal merrymaking with the first crop of spine-tingling Halloween events in NYC, including the annual Boo at the Zoo blowout and pumpkin- and apple-themed festivals in Queens.
House of Ghostly Haunts
Join Cardone the Magician as he takes audience members for a thrill ride with a classic spook show. Drawing inspiration from favorite cult classics, Cardone induces chills with a magic show full of the strange and bizarre. Tue Oct 2 at 7pm. Canal Park Playhouse. $20. Ages 7 and up.
Hansel and Gretel's Halloween Adventure
In this spinoff of the classic fairy tale, the brother and sister duo find themselves in New York City on Halloween night, where they meet mermaids, monsters, and more as they explore Central Park and Belvedere Castle. The production features handmade marionettes by the master puppetmakers of Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre. Wed Oct 3 at 10:30am, noon, 2:30pm; Thu Oct 4, Fri Oct 5 at 10:30am, noon; Sat Oct 6, Sun Oct 7 at 1pm. Central Park Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre. $8, children under 13 free. Ages 3 to 9.
From Peter Stuyvesant to Edgar Allan Poe: The Ghosts of the East Village
On this family-friendly walking tour, little history buffs step back in time to meet the quirky cast of characters who once called the East Village home: writers Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain and O. Henry; journalist Nellie Bly; magician Harry Houdini; Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor; and New Amsterdam leader Peter Stuyvesant. The walk starts at the lion sculpture in front of St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery and is less than one mile in length. Fri Oct 5 7—8:30pm. St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery. $25, online in advance $20. All ages.
The Haunted Pumpkin Garden
Get a spooky fix in this scary patch, where frightening spirits lurk in between the gourds. Kids can play in the Pumpkin House, stage a show in the Pumpkin Puppet Theater, dissect owl pellets, collect fallen fruits and leaves, and get some extra mileage out of their costumes at a daily parade. Meanwhile, older kids learn the tricks of pumpkin carving from the masters and pot buckwheat seeds to grow at home. Sat Oct 6, Sun Oct 7 10am—6pm. New York Botanical Garden. Free with all-garden pass. All ages.
Can't make it to a real pumpkin patch? No worries: At this annual Brooklyn event, kids can pluck pumpkins from a man-made "patch," then decorate their gourds in spooky styles. Before helping your babe carry his find home, stick around to enjoy live music, sample yummy treats and help your darling make other kiddie crafts. Sat Oct 6 11am—1pm. McCarren Park. Free. All ages.
Pick Your Own Pumpkin
Get in the Halloween spirit by hunting down the gourd of your dreams in the farm's pumpkin patch. Sat Oct 6, Sun Oct 7 11am—4:30pm. Queens County Farm Museum. Pumpkin prices vary based on size. All ages.
Boo at the Zoo
This Halloween celebration takes over the Bronx wildlife spot every weekend in October. Kids can venture through the Haunted Habitat Mansion, hold on tight for a spooky hayride, catch a magic show or Boo Revue concert, and check out demonstrations by professional pumpkin carvers. While brave kids meet live spiders, bats and snakes, more timid guests can check out the extinct-animal graveyard, where they'll learn about endangered and extinct species. Bonus: Kids under 13 who show up in costume receive free admission and can rock their outfits in a Halloween parade. Sat Oct 6, Sun Oct 7 11am—5pm. Bronx Zoo Wildlife Conservation Society. Free with Total Experience pass, children under 13 and in costume free. All ages.
The Spooktacular Pumpkin Party
Dance with master puppeteer Ralph Lee's costumed creatures and meet the largest bat in the world, the gigantic flying fox of Malaysia, in the Haunted Pumpkin Garden. Spooky storytelling and live performances by Fisher Price's Little People Live! are also in the mix at this Halloween bash. Sat Oct 6, Sun Oct 7 noon—5:30pm. New York Botanical Garden. Free with all-garden pass. Ages 5 and up.
Pumpkin Patch and Oktoberfest
Step into the members-only green space; it's open to the public for one day only as a pumpkin patch. Once inside, your kids can make sand art, hang out in the storytime tent, participate in a sidewalk chalk-art contest, get their faces painted, nosh on German food, listen to live music by kids' performer Richard Younger and, of course, pick out the perfect pumpkin. Rain date is October 7. Sat Oct 6 noon—6pm. Sunnyside Gardens Park. Free.All ages.
Dr. Blood: Losing His Patients
David Kaye, who is perhaps better known as the clown Silly Billy, debuts a show dedicated to his alter ego, Dr. Blood, and it is as gory as it sounds! His show is not for the faint of heart—he performs scary experiments and magic tricks that will keep even the most gore-loving children at the edge of their seats, including arm chopping, eyeball poking and people sawing. At the end, audience members are invited to adorn themselves with fake blood and learn some of Dr. Blood's scariest tricks. Sat Oct 6, Sun Oct 7 1—2:30pm. Times Scare. $10, children under 13 $15. Ages 7 and up.
Your tweens will venture into the woods of 18th-century New York to meet Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman in this creepy new musical based on Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Sat Oct 6 at 5:30pm. Players Theatre. $35—$50. Ages 10 and up.
Queens County Farm Museum Apple Festival
Youngsters can munch on apples and sip freshly pressed cider, then go for a hayride and play games at this autumn extravaganza. Plus, after learning all about the fruit, kids can check out the nation's largest apple cobbler as it's baked on-site. Sun Oct 7 11am—4pm. Queens County Farm Museum. Free. All ages.