Between the colorful foliage, comfortable weather and delicious seasonal treats, autumn is a uniquely beautiful and eagerly anticipated season.
As we move into the cooler months, take a road trip to Westchester, N.Y., to celebrate this short-lived but wonderful time of year. The county features a variety of Halloween attractions; book, film and food festivals; and farms and orchards offering all things (pumpkins! apples! corn mazes!) ideal fall days are made of.
Westchester knows how to deliver chills and thrills with Halloween-themed events ranging from frightful to fun.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of Washington Irving’s classic, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” and Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown will be holding several events to celebrate. Both villages are home to sites related to the tale, including the Old Dutch Church, Philipsburg Manor, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and Irving’s Sunnyside estate.
Tarrytown Music Hall will hold the Sleepy Hollow International Film Festival from Oct. 10 to 13. It will show a 20th anniversary presentation of Tim Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow,” along with other entertainment, to showcase Irving’s lasting influence.
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor is a spectacle for all ages. September 20 through November 30, you can explore this pumpkin wonderland of over 7,000 glowing jack-o’-lanterns. This event celebrates the seasonal gourd with attractions including a museum of pumpkin art, pumpkin carousel and walk-in pumpkin planetarium. All pumpkins are hand carved by volunteers, and proceeds support Historic Hudson Valley.
Haunted houses are synonymous with Halloween, and Playland offers two haunted attractions sure to scare. Scared by the Sound, a haunted house playground, is open for nine nights in October at the Rye amusement park. Featuring a 12,000-square-foot haunted house and outdoor cemetery, it’s not recommended for children under 10. Hudson Horrors, held on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays through October, is a horror-filled event recommended for ages 16 and up. Its three haunt experiences use live theater, a spine-tingling music score, special effects and more to deliver the scare.
If horror isn’t for you, Jay Ghoul’s House of Curiosities at Lyndhurst could be the perfect fit. During the last weekends of October, Tarrytown’s iconic Gothic mansion transforms into a haunted house that’s more funny than frightening. At this theatrical performance, “the scariest thing may just be the bad puns!”
Whatever your interest—films, food, books or brews—Westchester has a festival for you.
Pound Ridge Harvest Festival returns Oct. 5 with Oktoberfest-style food, craft brews on pour, wine tastings, award-winning live bands and an annual scarecrow competition. Children get their own kids’ pavilion complete with root beer garden, games, contests and more.
Also on Oct. 5, kids can meet the people behind the stories they love at Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival. More than 145 authors and illustrators will gather for a day of storytelling, art demos and panels, while the Family Fun Zone keeps young ones entertained with sports and crafts.
Movie buffs won’t want to miss the 7th annual Yonkers Film Festival. From Nov. 2 to 11, YoFiFest will screen more than 150 independent films—features, shorts, comedies, dramas, documentaries, animation, music videos and student work—with something for every taste. Most screenings will include Q&A sessions and workshops taught by award-winning professionals.
Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, Nov. 4-17, is the ideal time to explore Westchester’s flourishing dining scene. Foodies will find a rich diversity of offerings, from regional favorites to global fusion to farm-to-table dining experiences, that showcase the best of the local fall harvest.
Arts and Culture
To get your arts and culture fix, you can attend exhibits at a wide array of galleries and museums throughout Westchester County.
In Katonah, Caramoor’s Rosen House has completed a renovation and is once again open for concerts, tours and afternoon teas. Neuberger Museum of Art at Purchase College reopens Sept. 25 after a digital upgrade, with two exhibits: “Yto Barrada: The Dye Garden” and “Cleve Gray: Threnody.” The planetarium at Hudson River Museum in Yonkers will be featuring a “Starry Night Frights” show on Oct. 26 and 27.
Starting on Oct. 6, the Katonah Museum of Art will be showcasing “Sparkling Amazons: Abstract Expressionist Women of the 9th St. Show,” as well as “Rotem Reshef: Arcadia.” Both exhibits mirror some of the color-rich aspects of autumn. Later, on Oct. 12, Peekskill’s Hudson Valley MOCA will have an opening reception for “How We Live: Selections from the Marc and Livia Straus Family Collection, Part II,” an exhibition that combines sculpture and video.
You can also view live or on-screen performances at any one of Westchester’s theaters. Many performing arts venues, including The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, White Plains Performing Arts Center, Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford and Tarrytown Music Hall will be holding shows throughout the fall. Some will have special, seasonal showings like The Capitol Theatre’s Phil-o-ween (ages 18+ only), Phil Lesh & Friends show, and the kid-friendly Halloween Spooktacular.
Fun on the Farm
Getting back to nature and enjoying some of the most down-to-earth fall activities is an easy task in Westchester, home to a surplus of orchards and farms.
You can pick apples and pumpkins – and sample fresh cider (cider donuts, too!) – at places like Stuart’s Fruit Farm, Harvest Moon Farm and Orchards, Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm and Outhouse Orchards, to name a few.
On Oct. 3, Hilltop Hanover Farm will host Hang Out at Hilltop, where visitors can attend an auction while savoring craft beer, cider and farm-fresh pizza. At Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, you’ll find sustainable farming demonstrations and hands-on experiences as well as guided tours, workshops and a Harvest Feast on Oct. 5.
For additional farms and orchards perfect for apple or pumpkin picking, hayrides, corn mazes and other fall activities, check out Westchester’s official Farm Trail.
Westchester’s natural beauty peaks in autumn. You can enjoy this splendor by exploring the county’s extensive hiking and biking trails as well as its numerous parks. Kingsland Point Park, Croton Gorge Park and Bronx River Reservation are just a few of many amazing spots.
To experience fall foliage at a new and exciting angle, consider going to Boundless Adventures, a nine-course aerial park in the hamlet of Purchase. With four different levels of difficulty, participants of all ages can enjoy climbing, swinging and zip lining through the course. It’s sure to be an even more exhilarating experience when surrounded by fiery autumn colors.
How do you celebrate autumn? Which of Westchester’s fall festivals or events would you like to attend?