Autumn is always welcomed in the Hudson Valley.
Every year, as the landscape turns myriad shades of crimson and gold, the riparian towns stir with activity, celebrating the region’s majestic scenery and unique history, in light of All Hallow’s Eve.
The festivities begin with “Horseman’s Hollow” at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow and “The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze” at Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson. Presented by Historic Hudson Valley, a nonprofit dedicated to commemorating the region’s culture, these are among the area’s most popular fall attractions, drawing more than 150,000 visitors last year.
The family-friendly “Blaze,” as locals refer to it, features more than 7,000 illuminated, hand-carved Jack O’lanterns and pumpkin sculptures that adorn the grounds of the manor. A pumpkin promenade leads patrons to enchanting displays, including 8-foot-tall Jack O’lanterns-in-the-box, life-size dinosaurs, a color-changing star show and an 80-foot-long Pumpkin Zee bridge (think an orange Tappan Zee Bridge), with a sea serpent lurking nearby. “The Blaze” — a kind of Christo experience for kids — continues through Nov. 13 on 32 selected evenings.
The cinematic “Horseman’s Hollow,” dubbed the “spookiest” of the organization’s fall attractions, is an edgy experience that embodies Washington Irving’s classic short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Guests explore the grounds of Philipsburg Manor, which has stepped back in time to reproduce an eerie mid-1700s setting, with creatures — including the story’s Headless Horseman — bursting from the shadows. Irving’s characters are brought to life by a 40-member cast of professional actors in custom makeup and costumes. “Horseman’s Hollow” continues through Oct. 31 on 14 select dates and is recommended for ages 10 and up.
Those intrigued by “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” can explore it further in “Irving’s ‘Legend,’” a dramatic reading by storyteller Jonathan Kruk, held in Sleepy Hollows’ circa-1685 Old Dutch Church for 14 evenings through Oct. 31. It’s also recommended for ages 10 and up.
Lovers of the outdoors can appreciate the panoramic views, challenging trails and serenity of the Harriman-Bear Mountain State Parks, spanning 52,000 acres, as well as the breathtaking scenery of the 1.28-mile Walkway Over the Hudson between Poughkeepsie and Highland. Through Oct. 30, Bear Mountain is hosting its annual Oktoberfest (at Anthony Wayne Recreation Area), an outdoor event featuring live music, vendors and German and American cuisine and beer offered in a traditional German beer stein.
Foodies can check out the seasonal produce by visiting local farmers’ markets, including the Bronxville Farmers’ Market, open Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Nov. 19; the Dobbs Ferry Farmers’ Market, open Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., through Nov. 24; and the Peekskill Farmers’ Market, held Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., through Nov. 19. Or, for apple and pumpkin picking, visit Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard in North Salem, Stuart’s Fruit Farm in Granite Springs or Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm in Yorktown Heights.
But if you venture outside of the Hudson Valley, we suggest one hotspot that’s perfect for fans of Halloween, horror movies and director Tim Burton, whose films include a riff on “Sleepy Hollow” with Johnny Depp. Beetle House NYC in the East Village, is a bar and restaurant opened by super fans, featuring comfort food, such as wings, chili, burgers and potpie, and, of course, the most glamorously ghoulish décor.