A Night At The Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze

I’ve done the halloween parade, gone apple picking, visited the county farm, done a corn maze, gone wine tasting, carved pumpkins, and leaf peeped. In fact, I’ve done most of these things multiple times and they’re still fun – but what’s a semi-jaded New York City dweller to do to jazz up her fall and pretend like the inevitable god-awful winter is not upon us?

In my quest to try out new fall activities last year, I came upon The Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze – an elaborate display of jack-o-lanterns at the Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson. Tickets had sold out weeks in advance, so I made a mental note to buy tickets earlier this year. 6 weeks in advance, to be exact.

And so on the first Saturday in November, I found myself on a train with 2 of my favorites, heading upstate for some fall fun!

fall in new york

You’re allowed to drink alcohol on Metro-North trains

We weren’t 100% clear on the rules here: did we have to purchase alcohol on board, or sneak sips through a brown bag? Turns out, no one batted an eye as we poured drinks into plastic cups from an old water bottle. We came armed with a thermos and bottles of festive fall beverages to crack open on the train ride up. There was rum, there was bourbon, there was spice. It made the hour-long ride pass by fast.

You can walk from the train station to The Blaze

We knew that the walk from the train would take about 10 minutes on a “non pedestrian-friendly road” (whatever that meant). The road seemed friendly enough to us pedestrians – there was even a sidewalk for part of the way. It’s totally walkable.

To walk from the Croton-on-Hudson train station to The Blaze, walk north through the parking lot and onto the main road, take a right and walk to the end. Take a left if you’re in need of some food, otherwise turn right past a small shopping plaza that will lead you straight to the venue.

great jack-o-lantern blaze

great jack-o-lantern blaze

The Blaze is awesome and well worth it!

Our immediate thought upon entering this attraction: HOW? How is this even possible?! And as a follow-up question: How many pumpkins are there here?

One thing I really appreciated was that all of the staff at The Blaze were super friendly and knowledgeable. Through them, we learned that of the 5000(!) pumpkins, only 1000 are real – they are replaced each week and carved by a collection of volunteers. While we were somewhat bummed to hear that most of the impressive jack-o-lanterns before us were fake, it makes complete sense. Carving 5000 pumpkins per week for 6 weeks would be absurd (and costly!).

great jack-o-lantern blaze

great jack-o-lantern blaze

great jack-o-lantern blaze

fall in new york

The details on some of these pumpkins are just RIDICULOUS. They are so intricately carved that it’s understandable that only 1/5 of the pumpkins are real and replaced weekly.

great jack-o-lantern blaze

great jack-o-lantern blaze

great jack-o-lantern blaze

Some of my favorite pumpkin creations were the massive animals built from several jack-o-lanterns. Elephants, giraffes, and dragons, to name a few. There was even an aquarium filled with seaweed, fish, an octopus (whose creator we randomly met in the tent afterwards!), and other sea creatures.

great jack-o-lantern blaze

great jack-o-lantern blaze

great jack-o-lantern blaze

Be sure to check out The Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze next year! It’s well worth a day (er, evening) trip from NYC.

Note: I was not in any way compensated or requested to give The Blaze a favorable review. This right here is my honest and candid take on the experience, as per usual.

Frugal Facts

As of November 2013 —
A roundtrip train ticket from NYC to Croton-Harmon costs $19.50. Take the Metro-North Hudson line train from Grand Central, which departs 1-2x/hour.

The Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze runs from early October to early November. A ticket to the Blaze costs $16 ($20 on Saturdays) and must be purchased online in advance. Weekends sell out quickly, so be sure to order your tickets ASAP!

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