The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze is one of the happiest things you can do in the fall.

It’s truly a stunning spectacle- absolutely breathtaking – and it’s one of those events that simply should not be missed.

The grounds of Van Cortland Manor are transformed into a wonderland of fire and light, as thousands of jack-o-lanterns are carved into intricate works of art and lit for the month before Halloween. The twisting, winding paths have groupings of pumpkins carved and sculpted into just about anything IMG_5011you can think of. Of particular note: a field of giant pumpkin sunflowers; huge serpents snaking through the grass; aliens, seemingly just touched down from another world; graveyards, of course, filled with skeletons and ghosts; a tunnel of Jack 0’Lanterns; and a beautiful field of animals, past and present, large and small. There are intricate, geometric works of art that must have taken days to carve. And the final masterpiece this year: a giant, glorious sea monster, surrounded by blue (!) ocean waves.

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The haunting and beautiful background music provides just the right touch of atmosphere to the event, adding to the many sensory pleasures of the evening. Invite the grandparents and bring the kids, because it’s truly an all-ages event. My entire family loved it, from youngest to oldest.  Even the most cynical teenager was mesmerized.

Here’s what  you need to know:

IMG_5028 1) Get your tickets early! It’s easy to miss the small window between the day tickets go on sale and the day the tickets are sold out – and they WILL sell out –  weeks before Halloween.

2) Bring your camera. You will definitely want pictures.

3) When you arrive, you’ll walk through a large entrance tent filled with goodies for sale – hot chocolate, warm cider and fresh donuts from a local orchard, brownies, popcorn and treats galore. Have dinner before you come so you can buy some delicious treats on the way in.

3) Also in the tent, there will be a table with glowing and  flashing bracelets, skulls, wands, and all manner of thingamajigs- just like at the circus. Keep your wallet handy, or be prepared to steer your little ones away from this table.IMG_5106

4) It will be dark. Obviously that’s the best way to see this event – but it makes for a tricky evening keeping track of the kids. Plan ahead to make this easier- a small flashlight, light colored clothing, or maybe one of the light-up thingamajigs from the entrance tent- anything that will make your kids easier to spot.

5) If your children still fit in a stroller, this is a good time to use it. The event is fully stroller accessible and this will eliminate the stress of your children running ahead in the dark.

6) At the end of the winding path is crowded gift shop that you must walk through to exit. Plan accordingly!

Depending upon the crowds, and how many pictures you stop to take, your visit should last around an hour. This year you can also spend a little extra time at the Museum of Pumpkin Art – a smaller, second tent set up near the entrance, with a variety of pumpkin inspired art.

Historic Hudson Valley is the sponsor of this event. Visit the official web site of Historic Hudson Valley, and the Great Blaze, by following this link: http://www.hudsonvalley.org/events/blaze

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I hope you were able to see The Blaze this year for yourself. But if you missed it, be sure to mark your calendar for next year. Tickets will likely go on sale at the end of August or beginning of September- so when you’re planning for back-to-school, you should be planning for the Great Blaze, too!

So have you been to the Great Blaze? What did you think?

Are you planning to go in the future? Any questions?

Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

15 thoughts on “The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

  1. Thanks for sharing! I missed the Blaze this year and your beautiful descriptions and photography brought back many happy memories!

  2. i have been thinking about bringing the kids to the blaze for a couple of years but have not made it yet — i am definitely taking them next year. 2 things i loved about your write up: the thorough & HAP*PY description (!) and the really good advise, like buying tix when they go on sale around back-to-school time. Plus the “be forewarned” advise about the gift shops!

  3. Like Carol, we’ve never been. Your pictures and description made me realize I must get off my butt and go. Putting it in the calendar for next year. Is it a complete zoo?

    • Trina – no, it wasn’t a zoo at all. The tickets are sold on a timed entry basis, and the organizers do a great job of spacing these tickets out well. You line up to enter, only with others who have tickets within the same time slot as yours, and then you move slowly but steadily with the line through the whole event. So you never really feel crowded….EXCEPT in the gift shop!

  4. We’ve missed the last two years mainly because we failed to do what you advised–buy tickets early (love that you put that as the #1 Tip)–it is amazing how quickly the pre-Halloween Saturdays sell out! Thanks for the great description and tips!

  5. Awesome description,Amy! We love to go every year but for anyone who hasn’t been~your words brought it to life! 🙂 Thank you for this site!

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