Albany, N.Y. - No place does Halloween like New York. From zombie parades and haunted mansions to pick-your-own pumpkin patches with hayrides, petting zoos and mazes, the state offers seasonal events and attractions for revelers of all ages.
Headless Horseman Country
Some of the most frightful encounters are expected to occur in the Hudson Valley, where Washington Irving’s Headless Horseman is said to still prowl at night. One of his favorite haunts beginning in late September is the Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted House in Ulster Park. Here, the mile-long evening hayride through the woods, haunted houses and corn maze are so scary that children five and under are not allowed.
Legend Weekends at Sunnyside, Irving’s former home, frighten and delight fans of his chilling tales on October weekend days with ghost stories, magic and puppet shows, while evenings transform the grounds of nearby Philipsburg Manor into a terrifying Horseman’s Hollow, appropriate only for those ten and older. On this walking trail through a town driven mad by the Headless Horseman, creatures - human and otherwise - lurk in the shadows, ready to terrify the unsuspecting while incredible special effects disorient and unsettle. Legend Weekend attendees can also take in candlelight performances featuring spooky organ music of Washington Irving’s classic tale, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by master storyteller Jonathan Kruk at the Old Dutch Church in Tarrytown. Washington Irving himself now resides in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where tours by lantern-light visit his resting place.
More adrenalin-pumping excitement beckons alongside the Long Island Sound behind the gated walls of historic Playland Amusement Park in Rye, where October brings Scared by the Sound Haunted House to life with terrifying scenarios that should not be seen by children under eight, or anyone faint of heart.
For those looking for a less frightening experience, the Jack o’ Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, features an illuminated walk-through display of more than 4,000 hand-carved pumpkins where flying pumpkin ghosts that soar above the lantern-lit path and sound effects create the perfect Halloween atmosphere.
Zombies on the Move
October also attracts a cast of spooky characters to the Catskills. Zombies are expected to take over Saugerties, NY on October 22nd, during the annual zombie pub crawl. The undead are also among the 20 spooky sights that will greet participants in the 29th Annual Halloween at Howe Caverns on October 28th in a hair-raising fund-raiser for the Schoharie County Cancer Walk.
Every October weekend evening, visitors to the two-story Victorian Massacre Mansion at the Blackthorn Resort in East Durham can expect eerie encounters within and at its haunted graveyard and dark maze. Meanwhile, the Hell-O-Roma Hotel and Terror Resort Weekend at the Villa Roma in Callicoon, NY will feature family fun that includes a masquerade ball and costume contest, pumpkin carving, and horror film festival as well as a bonfire with ghost stories.
Zombies will invade the Finger Lakes this Halloween season as well during the 5K Zombie Trail Run on October 13 at the Tanglewood Nature Center in Elmira, NY. During the race, runners registered as “Survivors” are given a one-minute head start and must run for their lives as they are pursued by those registered as “Infected” zombies. The courageous can also face their phobias every weekend evening in October at Screamers Hollow on the grounds of the Sterling Renaissance Festival in Sterling, NY. There, ghosts and the living dead lurk in the haunted village and the “Terror Town” hayride crosses a landscape of monsters while renowned serial killers and savage patients skulk about the twisted maze of the “Slaughterhouse Asylum.”
The Greater Niagara region is plagued by a fearsome new terror this year. While by day, Becker Farms & Vizcarra Vineyards offers kid-friendly hayrides, mazes, pig races, pony rides and pumpkin picking, after sunset, ghastly attractions like the Castle Labyrinth can be hard to escape, hayrides through the forest get hairy, and there’s terrifying news at the Phlotec Bio-genetic Lab. Instead of improving the taste of fruits and vegetables, the lab’s genetic experiments have produced monsters with a taste for the human visitors who venture into the twisting passages of their lair.
Spooky Sightings for Kids of All Ages
In the Adirondacks, spooky characters will add Halloween spirit to October weekend fun at the Adirondack Fright Fest at Great Escape. Kids can dress up in costumes and trick or treat, decorate pumpkins and see “Fright Shows”, while at night, zombies, ghosts and other creatures take over at the park’s exhilarating haunted attractions, hair-raising shows, and scream-inducing street entertainment.
The Double M Haunted Hayride in Ballston Spa in the Capital - Saratoga region weaves through a haunted forest with uninvited guests and frightful scenes lurking around every corner. Once abandoned by the wagon, visitors must brave the Zombie Outbreak, the Psycho Path and the Scare House to get out alive! Curious ghost hunters in the region can join supernatural historian Mason Winfield, author of nine books including Supernatural Saratoga: Haunted Places and Famous Ghosts of the Spa City for a guided “Haunted History Ghost Walks of Saratoga Springs” tour on Saturdays in September and on Fridays and Saturdays in October.
Ghost sightings are also the subject of the Cooperstown Candlelight Ghost Tour in Central New York, which guides tour goers through haunting sites, many of which were featured on a 2010 Syfy television channel special.
The Thousand Islands - Seaway region is also getting in the Halloween spirit with two haunting September events at Mexico Point Park in Mexico, NY. On September 15th, at a Ghostly Evening with Anne Borick, ghost hunters will share tales of the supernatural while Haunted House at Casey’s Cottage on September 29th will feature a tour of a haunted cottage and a bonfire on the beach. For younger Halloween celebrants, “Boo at the Zoo” at the New York State Zoo in Watertown, NY invites trick-or-treaters to pick up goodies as they meet characters from nursery rhymes and children’s television shows while braver souls can follow the “Haunted Trail” as they seek their sweets.
Serious scare-seekers can head for Long Island, where Gateways’ Haunted Playhouse of Horrors in Bellport, NY is recommended only for those 13 and older. The park also offers a “Not So Scary Monster House for Kids” where creatures are more goofy than ghoulish. Another Long Island attraction, the Bayville Scream Park in Bayville Adventure Park recommends that no one under ten years of age visit its haunted houses, but offers a pumpkin bounce, haunted train and hay rides as well as the regular attractions of Bayville Adventure Park for the under-ten crowd.
For those who think one haunted house isn’t enough, Frightworld in Buffalo allows visitors to explore five haunted houses under one roof! Weave and wind your way through The Raven Hill Asylum, the Death Trap, Grind House, Wicked Woods and Phobiaz, all featuring different themes, new scares and amazing special effects, making for a frighteningly good time.
Few things say Halloween more than pumpkins and pick-your-own farms around the state welcome crowds with an array of fun family activities. In the Chautauqua-Allegheny region, Pumpkinville in Great Valley, NY is the go-to spot for all things pumpkin including pumpkin picking and sweet treats like fresh-baked pumpkin bread, pies, donuts, and muffins and even pumpkin ice cream. The farm also offers hayrides, pony rides, a corn cannon shoot, cow train, and six-acre cornfield maze.
Families can get a jump on Halloween in the Thousand Islands - Seaway region at the CNY Great Pumpkin Festival in Oswego, NY on October 6 when the area celebrates its role as one of twenty international weigh-in sites with music, scarecrow building and pumpkin carving lessons, ghost stories and other fearsome and farm-related fun.
More pumpkin fun awaits at the October Fall Fun Festival at Fort Rickey Zoo in Oneida County in Central New York with hands-on family activities, such as a hay bale maze, pumpkin painting, pedal tractors, an oat-filled activity station, and pony and wagon rides. The Pumpkin Train runs in the Adirondacks region on October 13, 14, 20 and 21 between Thendara, NY near Old Forge, NY and Wally’s Pumpkin Patch, where each child who arrives in costume can pick a complimentary pumpkin.
For more Halloween happenings and hauntings, please visit iloveny.com/Halloween.
About New York State
New York State features 11 beautiful vacation regions. New York’s attractions span from landmarks such as Niagara Falls, to the wine trails of Hudson Valley and treasures like the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Whether it’s wide-ranging outdoor activities for the whole family like fishing, hiking and boating, culinary wonders and farm-to-table fresh foods, or the rich history and culture of one of the 13 original colonies, New York State offers diverse activities for all travelers. For more information, visit http://cts.vresp.com/c/?ILoveNY/baa712642f/6ab8c97166/1212643b78. Media can find press releases and more at thebeat.iloveny.com.
Photo: Horseman’s Hollow at Philipsburg Manor