What Is the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze?
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze is a production of Historic Hudson Valley, a not-for-profit educational organization, where tickets to the Blaze help support their charitable mission.
Since 2005, the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze has been assembling dazzling displays of carved pumpkins on the property of the Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, New York.
Historic Hudson Valley engages an army of over 1,000 volunteers to assemble the pumpkins on the grounds of Van Cortlandt Manor: a post-Revolutionary War estate.
There are more than 10,000 pumpkins each season for visitors to admire. That’s more than 200,000 pounds of pumpkin assembled into various works of art.
Crafting Jack O’Lantern displays is no simple undertaking. The Blaze recruits volunteers who craft Jack O’Lanterns inspired by a wide variety of attractions including the work of many local artists such as Michael Heizer, Donald Judd, Robert Smithson, and Andy Goldsworthy.
Table of Contents
What Is the Legend of Sleepy Hollow?
For many visitors, the highlight of visiting is the Blaze’s recreation of the The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: with the headless horseman, flying pumpkins, and the mysterious road that seemingly goes on forever.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow resurfaces every year around Halloween. It is based on Washington Irving’s tale from the 1820s about a headless horseman who terrorized a real-life village of Sleepy Hollow.
It is considered one of the America’s first (and scariest!) ghost stories.
My Review of the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze:
As a NY/NY local who has now personally visited The Blaze three times: I can think of no better Halloween-themed attraction than the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze in Hudson Valley.
My first visit to the Blaze was in 2005 (the same year it first opened). Ten years later, I returned to the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze in 2015 as well as a third time, another 7 years later, in 2022. So I’ve personally seen the Blaze grow and evolve over the last 20-or-so years and it’s been an incredible evolution!
Here is a photo I took of my favorite display at the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze in 2015:
In 2022, this was my favorite display:
(You can see just how much more intricate and sophisticated the displays have become.)
A key distinction I’ve noticed in recent years is how they Blaze has really leveled up their music and soundscapes to play along with the visuals of their Jack O’Lantern Displays. I’m including several videos in this post so you can hear the lovely sounds that accompany so many of the displays.
It’s not only I who adores this place, many other New Jersey and New York locals can be found sharing their love for the Blaze across the internet and on platforms like Reddit.
The Blaze is ideal for couples, dates, families with children, and adults who appreciate art. This attraction isn’t aimed at being scary: it’s more so aimed at creating a wholesome Halloween experience.
A Photo Story of the Blaze’s Jack O’Lantern Displays
There are too many fun and one-of-a-kind displays at the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze to cover each and every single one. Plus, what fun would it be if I ruined the surprise?
I recognize not everyone who reads this blog will have access to visit the Blaze in person, so for you, I will share a deeper look into what can be found there.
To avoid any spoilers for the rest of you who plan to visit, here’s a Table of Contents. Please feel free to skip to the next section: The History of the Jack O’Lantern!
After grabbing some red wine from the food and beverage concession stand, I got in line to enter the Blaze.
While waiting to enter the Jack O’Lantern Blaze, you’ll immediately be wowed by the large welcome sign lined with Pumpkins.
You can’t miss it. I have no data to back this claim up, but I’d venture to guess they’re probably some of the most photographed pumpkins from the place!
“The Pumpkin Carousel”
This one had a really mesmerizing light show last year, watch as the house comes to life:
“The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow”
“Headless Horseman Bridge”
“The Statue of Liberty”
“Museum of Pumpkin Art”
Reimagining famous paintings such as the Mona Lisa, Starry Night, and Banksy.
“Holland Tulips and Windmill”
“The Pumpkin Dinosaurs”
My father is a firefighter so I really enjoyed and respected the Blaze for their inclusion of this.
“The Hot Dog Stand”
Fun fact: My grandfather, who was a blind man, supported his family by opening a hot dog truck that became famous in northern New Jersey at the time.
“The Rainbow Welcome Flag”
It’s a rainbow pride welcome flag that says “hello” in 48 different languages!
“The Pumpkin Bridge”
The pumpkin bridge is modeled after the Tappan Zee Bridge, now officially known as the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
It was impressive see them try to replicate this massive bridge with pumpkins!
“The Pumpkin Unicorn”
“The Balloon Animal”
“The NYC Subway”
All of the astrological signs have their own display!
“The Dog Park”
“The Pumpkin Planetarium”
The History of the Jack O’Lantern
I wanted to share a brief piece of Irish folklore to tell you how the Jack O’Lantern originated.
It is said a long, long time ago, a drunkard named Jack encountered the devil himself. Jack was a master deceiver and when the devil asked him to give up his soul, Jack asked for a last wish.
The Legend of Stingy Jack
He asked the devil if he could have an apple before his death. The devil agreed and climbed a tree to fetch Jack an apple. Jack, meanwhile, carved a cross on the tree trapping the devil on it.
In return for his release, the devil promised not to take Jack’s soul to hell. When Jack died, Saint Peter (a hallow) denied him entry to heaven due his vile ways of life. The devil also denied him access to hell because of his promise. The devil gave Jack a glowing amber from hell’s fire, a light of which would warn everyone of Jack’s presence.
Stuck in between two worlds, Jack carved a turnip, placed the amber from hell within it, and set out to roam the Earth for eternity. With time, it became Celtic tradition to carve turnips and potatoes to ward off Jack’s evil spirit. When Europeans migrated to the United States, they discovered pumpkins and the modern day Jack O’Lantern came to be!
Jack O’Lantern Blaze: FAQ
Where Is the Jack O’Lantern Blaze Located?
The annual Blaze is held at Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, New York.
A second location has opened at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration Site in Long Island as of 2020.
Note: Be careful and make sure you drive to the right location shown on your ticket!
How Do You Get to the Blaze?
The Blaze offers tons of FREE parking.
Normally I drive to the Blaze but it’s also possible you may be able to take public transit. It’s a one-hour train ride away from Manhattan to the Croton-Harmon station. From there it is a 10-minute walk or 5-minute Uber ride away.
Which Dates Can You Visit?
The dates vary dependingon the location and the year. In 2023, the dates for the Hudon
Which Are the Best Dates to Go?
How Long Does It Take?
The Blaze is self-paced. You can walk through and spend as long as you would like admiring each attraction. On average, the Blaze will take 1-2 hours to complete.
How Much Does The Blaze Cost?
The Blaze used to cost around $24 per person. In recent years, while prices do depend on the day & demand, they hover closer to $50 per person.
How Do You Buy Tickets for the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze?
You can buy tickets on The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze’s official website.
What Happens If It Rains?
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze is held rain or shine!
Unfortunately, if the Blaze remains open and you choose not to attend for any reason, tickets are neither refundable nor exchangeable. If extreme weather poses a risk of danger to visitors, volunteers, and staff, the Blaze may elect to close and will issue refunds, exchanges, and vouchers to all ticket holders.
Note: In 2022, it rained the night of my visit. Thankfully, it was only a drizzle and it didn’t start to rain until I was three quarters of the way through. Oddly enough, the misty rain actually helped make the night feel a little more cozy and spooky. Don’t sweat it if there is a slight chance of rain, you will still enjoy it.
How Many People Attend the Pumpkin Blaze?
In recent years, the blaze has swelled in popularity attracting more than 160,000 visitors per season.
How Do They Carve So Many Pumpkins Every Year?
Some of the pumpkins are polyurethane so they can be reused year after year. Still, a great number of them are real.
The Blaze recruits tons of volunteers to carve pumpkins and there’s a real science to it! Just check out this story from Dawn Chan: a volunteer pumpkin carver from the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze.
She explains how they carve the pumpkins to allow varying amounts of light out.
Is Alcohol Allowed?
Yes, but it must be purchased there.
Which Part of the Blaze Do People Seem to Enjoy the Most?
An original attraction that has been around since the beginning of the Blaze is the Pumpkin Planetarium. People love it and for me, it’s one of the most recognizable attractions the Blaze features each year. Dazzling pumpkins twinkle overhead as you pass through.
It is a real treat for visitors of all ages.
Do You Recommend the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze?
Overall, I do! I am disappointed to see the price increasing as rapidly as it has over the years as it now approaches $200 for a family of four. That is double what it cost 10-20 years ago. However, there is no denying that the Blaze still offers a lot of value for the price with the incredible pumpkin art it offers.
The Blaze is consistently ranked one of the top outdoor pumpkin festivals in the country, drawing visitors from all 50 states.
There’s nowhere else I’ve ever been that even comes close to being as impressive as the Hudson Valley Blaze.