Pumpkins! Apple cider! Leaves! Fall is here, and so are its traditions. One of the most popular attractions in New York during the fall is the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze.
While I’ve been going crazy making costumes, I haven’t really been taking advantage of all the fall festivities. So when my friend Megan had an extra ticket for the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze and invited me, I had to take advantage.
First, a note. The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze is held at Van Cortlandt Manor, up in Croton-on-Hudson. It’s not in the five boroughs. But since it’s considered one of the must-see fall spots in New York, I decided to include it on my list.
Getting up to Croton-on-Hudson was easy for us since Megan’s friend had a car. Van Cortlandt Manor is near the Croton-Harmon train station, so there’s a few mass transit options also.
Your ticket includes a time when you can start your walk down the Blaze path. Keep in mind that you have to stick to your designated time. We got there about an hour early, so we had a lot of sitting around waiting. There’s a beer/hard cider tent, and some munchies for sale. I got a mac and cheese (meh) and a hot apple cider (pretty good) for about $8.
After waiting it out, we walked through a gift shop (holy overpriced pumpkin junk) and started our way down the path.
More than 7,000 pumpkins are transformed into illuminated jack o’lanterns. Now is the part where I mention I’ve never carved a pumpkin, and people react with similar exclamations of “what?!”
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze has many must-see attractions. We walked over “The PumpkinZee Bridge,” a jack o’lantern version of the Mario Cuomo (Tappan Zee) Bridge…
Saw many Celtic pumpkin knots…
A circus train…
And a carousel.
My favorite Jack O’Lantern Blaze spot was the Museum of Pumpkin Art!
See if you can guess which famous works have been given the pumpkin touch.
The most Instagrammable section is easily the Pumpkin Planetarium, where different lights and colors give you a pretty cool show.
And naturally, Pumpkin Lady Liberty.
Walking slowly and taking lots of photos, it took us about an hour to walk through the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. Towards the end, things did start to feel a little monotonous, but that could have just been us being tired.
So was the Blaze worth it? I had a good time, and there were a lot of “oh that’s really awesome!” moments. If you have an easy way to get to Van Cortlandt Manor, I think it’s worth checking out. It’s definitely something that kids would enjoy, and there’s no scary aspects or anything like that. But if it’s a struggle to get up there, you might want to skip the jack o’lanterns for something a bit more local.