Living in New York it’s surprising we have never been to the Great Jack O Lantern Blaze before, one of Hudson Valley’s most popular attractions. The Great Jack O Lantern Blaze boasts thousands of elaborately carved pumpkins sprawled across a historic 18th century riverside landscape.
After missing out on tickets last year we decided to get tickets to the Blaze early, which is pretty much a requirement because they sell out so quickly (as of this writing there are only four dates still available this year!). It was pretty cold the night we went, so we bundled up well and arrived a few minutes early to allow for traffic near the Blaze (they warn on the website that the road can become congested). We were glad we did because it took a few minutes to get into the parking lot.
After parking you walk through the gift shop and cafe before arriving at the gate. We managed to resist the aroma of apple cider donuts and hot chocolate only by promising ourselves we would stop on the way out.
Once we handed over our tickets and walked through the main gate we were treated to rows of jack o lanterns accompanying us down the main path. They did not, however, prepare us for what was around them bend. Gigantic sunflowers crafted entirely out of pumpkins reached far above our heads. This was an impressive first sight that does not even begin to do the rest of the attraction justice. Moving along the path we were treated to bats, butterflies and a moving beehive. At the top of the hill we found a large pumpkin patch and an even larger Jack O Lantern birthday cake, celebrating the Blaze’s 10th year in operation!
Opposite the cake is the Van Cortlandt manor house, decked out in glowing pumpkins and spooky lighting. One of my favorite things about the Blaze is just how well the incorporate the history of the land into the exhibit. There are signs, like the one below, throughout the display that tells visitors about the property the area around it. Many of the Jack O lantern displays have historical stories to tell!
Moving on past graveyards and witches huddled around cauldrons we arrived at an area filled with fascinating carved spiders. The web itself is made of 206 carved pumpkins. A wonderful staff member named James was standing nearby and was happy to share all kinds of interesting facts like this about the Blaze with us!
Every week master carvers and volunteers carve 1500-2000 pumpkins and there are about 5000 pumpkins on the grounds at all times. I can’t even imagine the work that goes in to this, especially when seeing some of the more intricate carvings!
This path had to be one of my favorites, it seemed to go on forever. Shortly after we walked through a covered bridge where the ceiling was covered entirely in lit pumpkins, but not before watching the Headless Horseman throw his Jack O Lantern head!
The grandfather clock was another favorite, being modeled after a clock in the manor house. The brightly colored aliens were so much fun, then kids spent a while here snapping photos.
It’s hard to not be be more impressed at each passing exhibit. There were fish and sea monsters, elaborately designed pumpkins nestled in a hutch, zombies, monsters and spooky faces peering around every corner. The dinosaur display was unreal, these pumpkin sculptures were gigantic and so impressive, it was hard to walk away from them.
Leaving the exhibit itself we walked back through the cafe, purchasing hot chocolate and apple cider donuts – which were delicious. The smell fills the entire tent and really speaks for itself, you won’t be able to pass these up. Beyond the cafe is the gift shop which is a nice touch. Everything was reasonably prices and I loved the large selection of children’s books! It’s not often a gift shop focuses on quality, but we gladly shopped a bit and were really impressed by everything.
As we piled back into the car and drove away the backseat was filled with excited chatter – the kids had such a great time. It was a true family evening, out in the crisp fall air, fingers sticky from donuts and cookies, laughing and comparing favorite carvings. It is pretty much the perfect fall outing!
I understand now what the hype is all about. If they weren’t sold out I would probably go back again next week! It really is something you have never seen before and probably never will. Not just amazing pumpkin carvings, but carvings on a scale you can’t even imagine. The pictures are impressive, but standing next to a dinosaur that towers above you or watching a jack o lantern pop out of a pumpkin box is something photos simply can’t describe. This will be a fall tradition for us. If you’d like to check it out for yourself, here’s some info for you:
Tickets $20/Adults, $16/children, under 3 is free. Parking is free.
The exhibit takes about 45 minutes to an hour to walk through and is all outdoors, so dress warmly.
The cafe offers food, snack and drinks. There are outdoor restrooms available.
So, have you visited the Blaze this year? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments! You can check out the rest of our Pumpkin Blaze photos in the gallery below!
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