It’s just not Halloween season without Jack O’ Lanterns, although I prefer to go see them over having to make my own. There’s been a boom in all things Halloween, especially haunted attractions and related events. For young kids, a Jack O’ Lantern festival is a less scary alternative. These are some of the largest we’ve found in the northeast. Bundle up and go see hundreds — or even thousands — of glowing gourds at these outdoor events this year.
Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular 2014
Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, R.I.
Oct. 2–Nov. 2, 2014
Every October, the zoo transforms its wetlands trail by lining it with 5,000 glowing pumpkins. This year’s theme is “Jack-O-Lanterns from A to Z.” Scenes filled with intricate pumpkin art will be arrayed in alphabetical order, with highlights from history and popular culture. For example, D is for dinosaur, F is for fantasy, H is for horoscope and J is for jungle. Giant carved pumpkins — some more the 1,000 pounds — are positioned at the Laughing Tree at the end of the trail with spooky fog and music.
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
Van Cortlandt Manor, Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.
Oct. 4-Nov. 16, 2014
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the Blaze features more than 5,000 illuminated Jack O’ Lanterns covering the grounds of an 18th-century historic site. The elaborate outdoor walk-through experience includes atmospheric music, sound effects, and professional lighting. You’ll find pumpkins hanging from tree limbs, perched on rooftops, and staged as a giant spider web, a dinosaur “Jurassic Park,” and characters from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Keene Pumpkin Festival
Main Street, Keene, N.H.
After reclaiming the world record in 2013 for the most Jack O’ Lanterns (30,581 in one location!), this celebration isn’t resting on its laurels. They will attempt to set a new record this year, too. What’s nice about this event, which is now more than 20 years old, is that many of the pumpkins are carved by local children. The day’s schedule includes the Great Pumpkin Mile Race, a craft court, costume parade and live entertainment.
Great Pumpkin Fest 2014
The EcoTarium, Worcester, Mass.
Oct. 25. 2014
Held on the grounds of a children’s science and nature museum in central Massachusetts, about one hour from Boston, and featuring 1,000 Jack O’ Lanterns, this event is geared towards children 10 and under. There is a new “Fallout Zone” attraction this year for older kids. The day includes games, animal encounters, carving demonstrations and crafts. Guests can also have full access to the museum and the shows in the Alden Digital Planetarium.
– Traci L. Suppa
Traci L. Suppa drags her small-town family to see a quirky array of the world’s largest, longest, or tallest things, and blogs about it at Go BIG or Go Home.