Halloween guide for the Hudson Valley

Tis the season for mischief, fear and plenty of treats. Halloween is right around the corner here at Marist and while some of you may be bummed that you didn’t get tickets for FrightFest there is good news.

Going to school in the Hudson Valley has many perks and one is that we are living in what can be considered a Halloween Mecca. The beauty of the Hudson Valley paired with the historical sights makes it the perfect area to experience hauntings, enjoy local legends and have fun this Halloween.

If you want to get off campus this Halloween there are a variety of attractions in the area ranging from typical family-approved events to cult movie showings and haunted houses guaranteed to scare.

If you don’t want to go too far from campus, some terrifying attractions include the Headless Horseman Hayrides and Kevin McCurdy’s Haunted Mansion within 30 minutes of campus.

Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses

One of the most well known attractions in the area is the Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses in Ulster Park, New York. This Halloween hot spot has been voted #1 by MTV, New York Daily News and USA Today as well as many others, and has been featured on CBS News, Good Morning America, The Today Show and more.

The company offers multiple attractions including six haunted houses, one-mile long hayride, one corn maze and a walk-through in a “side show” fashion all on a 250-year-old farm. It takes about 3 hours to experience everything for a fully immersive and enjoyable trip.

This year the Headless Horseman also welcomes back illusionist Ryan Dutcher to perform on the main stage for the third year in a row.

Reservations are strongly recommended and tickets can be purchased at the Headless Horseman website. If you’re looking for a terrifying and fun evening the Headless Horseman offers a close, top of the line attraction for any Halloween lover.

Kevin McCurdy’s Haunted Mansion

Another major Halloween attraction is located just down the road from Marist at Dutchess County’s Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls. The haunted mansion has been providing scares for 38 seasons and this season includes an interactive Haunted Mansion with full storyline, a terrifying Fright Trail and a special look at “London After Midnight” and killers including Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd.

Kevin McCurdy’s Haunted Mansion is open weekends in October as well as the Thursday night before Halloween and tickets can be purchased here.

Enjoy the chance to see the King of Halloween find his successor, walk the trail of terror and peruse London’s dangerous streets.

If you don’t mind exploring the area a little more, Beacon and New Paltz offer more Halloween fun that’s a little less scary within a short drive.

Beacon, NY

The weekend before Halloween in Beacon offers a chance for any fans of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” to attend a live showing. The showing will be at Neil Vaughn’s Auction House and will start at 10 pm Saturday Oct. 25. Even if you’re not a fan, the event offers a fun evening and a chance to cross “seeing ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show'” off your bucket list.

On Sunday Oct. 26, Main Street will be filled with costumes when the Hocus Pocus Parade kicks off at 1 pm. Like any family-approved event, the parade is sure to get anyone into the Halloween spirit.

More information can be found at the Beacon Chamber of Commerce’s website.

New Paltz, NY

New Paltz offers fun and treats on Halloween Night with the Night of 100 Pumpkins and Haunted Huguenot Street.

If you’re feeling creative you could enter in the Night of 100 Pumpkins. Paint or carve a pumpkin, include your name and age and it’s eligible to be entered October 30 at The Bakery in New Paltz. The pumpkin carving competition is entering its 23rd year and all entries will be displayed from 6 to 8 pm on Halloween Night.

If you don’t feel like carving a pumpkin, the event is open for all to come and enjoy fresh baked treats and see all the entries light up the night.

In the mood for a little historical scare? New Paltz also offers Haunted Huguenot Street the weekend before and the weekend of Halloween. While the event costs $20 for students with pre-registration (which is strongly recommended) it’s worth the money spent. Attendees get the chance to explore one of the most historic streets in the Hudson Valley and enjoy legends of local hauntings.

And for those of you willing to take a little time to travel the villages of Sleepy Hollow and Croton-on-Hudson offer a wide variety of Halloween treats within 1 hour and 15 minutes of Marist.

Sleepy Hollow, NY

Before it was the title of a blockbuster Johnny Depp movie and a hit television show on Fox, the village of Sleepy Hollow gained fame as the setting for Washington Irving’s 1820 short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” The village has become a mecca for all die-hard fans of the Headless Horseman, Halloween enthusiasts and tourists in general with popular and crowded Halloween attractions for all ages.

Located about an hour from Marist Sleepy Hollow and the surrounding area offer a wide variety of attractions including Guided Cemetery Tours until November, live story tellings of Irving’s “Legend” weekends during October, Sleepy Hollow Haunted Hayrides for two nights only and the feature Sleepy Hollow Halloween attraction Horseman’s Hollow located at the Philipsburg Mansion.

More information on Sleepy Hollow events can be found at the Visit Sleepy Hollow website.

Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor

Located North of Sleepy Hollow the Van Cortlandt Manor at Croton-on-Hudson offers the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze for twenty-five nights. Sponsored by the members of the Historic Hudson Valley, the Blaze not only offers an opportunity to enjoy Halloween but to view true art in the over 5,000 Jack-o-lanterns, each of which is hand-carved.

Strongly recommended by Marist Senior Nikki Kalafut attendees will get the chance to walk through a covered bridge completely surrounded by jack o’lanterns and a chance to view the doomsday grandfather clock.

“The pumpkin blaze was one of my favorite fall activities that I did during my time at Marist,” Kalafut said, “The event itself is incredible; it’s basically a self-guided tour along a path around the Van Cortlandt Manor and on either side of you there are hundreds of pumpkins that are so beautifully carved. Some of them are funny, some are extremely intricate, and there are even sculptures created out of some of the jack o’lanterns. It really is incredible.”

Some favorites include pumpkins with images of the Headless Horseman, multiple jack o’lanterns that make up a sea serpent and fields of pumpkin “sunflowers.” Tickets can be ordered online.

Not into Hauntings?

Then you might want to Pick Your Own Pumpkin to carve, paint or use as festive fall decoration outside of your residence. The Hudson Valley is filled with farms selling fresh produce and it offers a chance to get off campus for a while.

Some locally listed farms include:

  • Fishkill Farms: 9 Fishkill Farm Rd., Hopewell Junction, NY 12533; (845-) 897-4377
  • Barton Orchards: 63 Apple Tree Ln, Poughquag, NY 12570; (845) 227-2306
  • Greig Farm: 223 Pitcher Ln, Red Hook, NY 12571; (845) 758-1234
  • Mead Orchards: 15 Scism Rd, Tivoli, NY 12583

If an afternoon exploring a local farm to find the perfect pumpkin doesn’t sound appealing there is always Stop & Shop, where you can get some treats to enjoy as you watch your favorite scary movie this Halloween.

And if your interested in more Halloween haunts, you could check out the Haunted History Trail of New York State to find places you can even explore after Halloween is over.

Happy Halloween!

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