From old-fashioned pumpkin patches to jack-o'-lantern masterpieces and live carving demonstrations, these pumpkin-themed events will have you feeling like it's fall in no time.
You haven’t really seen a jack-o’-lantern exhibition until you’ve strolled through the grounds of Van Cortlandt Manor for the annual Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. The epic seasonal soiree features more than 7,000 glowing, meticulously carved pumpkins that form epic structures like a Pumpkin Promenade, a Pumpkin Zee Bridge (a play on the Tappan Zee Bridge, duh), a Pumpkin Carousel and a Pumpkin Planetarium (you get the idea). Best of all, the train ride up the river to the Westchester event offers sweet views of the Hudson Valley’s color-popping foliage.
525 S Riverside Ave, Croton-on-Hudson, NY (914-366-6900). Various dates and times; $20, Fri and Sat $25. Through Nov 25.
For swooning in the park
Watching a parade of jack-o’-lanterns magically float across a lake is probably the closest any of us will get to being Harry Potter. Central Park Conservancy’s Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla is a daylong bash with an all-ages-friendly lineup including live music, scary stories, carvings and tons of Halloween crafting. To cap it off, 50 glowing jack-o’-lanterns—one could be yours, if your creation is dropped off the afternoon before and chosen by judges—set sail across the Harlem Meer in a beautiful twilight flotilla.
Enter at Central Park North and Malcolm X Blvd (212-860-1370). Sun 29 4pm–7pm; free.
For tripping back in time
Historic Richmond Town, a “village” on Staten Island depicting 19th-century life in New York, throws a special Great American Harvest Festival this fall, complete with pumpkin picking and rollicking open-air hayrides. Make sure to wear your all-day bonnet because the event also manages to pack in old-time craft-making demonstrations and activities of yore like cider pressing, candle making and special pumpkin-themed face painting.
441 Clarke Ave, Staten Island (718-351-1611). Sun 22 10am–5pm; $6.
For picking like a pro
When it comes to pumpkins, most people want to head to a patch and nab the perfect one for themselves. Luckily, you don’t need to leave the city to have that iconic autumn experience. Queens County Farm Museum—which, at 47 acres, boasts the largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland in NYC—has a pumpkin patch where you can select your prize gourd through the month of October. While you’re there, don’t miss the farm’s three-acre corn maze, seasonal produce stand and even a haunted barn you can venture into (if you dare) during Halloween weekend.
73-50 Little Neck Pkwy, Queens (718-347-3276). Sat, Sun 11am–4:30pm; free. Through Sat 28.
The amount of pumpkin patches in New York City is pretty sparse, but thanks to The Trust for Governors Island, Halloween revelers are getting one more. For two weekends in October, the car-free oasis will debut "Pumpkin Point," an autumnal paradise. More than 2,000 plump pumpkins will dominate Picnic Point, which folks can pick and take home. Go and do some leaf peeping, hit up Little Eva's for hot or cold cider, ghoulash and pumpkin spice treats and then hitch a hayride back to the ferry before you head home to carve that gourd. Extra bonus for the little ones: Kids can go trick-or-treating at the historic houses in Nolan Park from 2–5pm on Saturday 28. Governors Island, Oct 21–22, Oct 28–29.
For hanging with the big boys
Sure, pumpkins are cool. But you know what’s really cool? A giant pumpkin. Once again, monstrous ’kins from all over the country are on display at New York Botanical Garden in all of their bulbous glory for Giant Pumpkin Weekend. And when we say big, we mean as heavy as a literal ton. Head to the garden to get a snapshot with one of the giant gourds (talk about a slimming accessory!) and meet the mad growers who created the Franken-pumps.
2900 Southern Blvd, Bronx (718-817-8700). Sat 21, Sun 22 10am–6pm. $23.
For carving like you're a kid again
Want to carve a pumpkin, but don't want to get gourd guts all over your apartment? A few spots in Manhattan are generously offering up their spaces so you can make your very own Jack O'lantern. Monarch Rooftop & Indoor Lounge is hosting its third annual carving contest on Oct 28, at which you can enjoy an autumnal themed bash equipped with signature cocktails such as the Ghost-Tini, Poisoned Apple Pie or the Trick or Treat. All you have to do to participate in the contest is purchase a $1 raffle ticket.
Then, on the eve of Halloween (Oct 30), Boulton & Watt's is hosting an Adult Pumpkin Carving Party with pre-seeded pumpkins and tool kits for making spooky or silly faces. Bonus: the bash ends with a spooky movie screening. Enjoy $6 wine and beer as well as $9 cocktails while you create a masterpiece. Tickets for the event are $10.