Every October since we moved to New York, my husband and I have visited the village of Sleepy Hollow. This town is famous for being the place where Washington Irving lived and wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow–a.k.a. the story of the “Headless Horseman.” It’s a beautiful New England town that’s only 25 miles north of Manhattan but feels much farther away (both in style and in time).
Sleepy Hollow fully embraces its identity as the haunted Dutch settlement depicted in the story. The famous bridge where Ichabod Crane went missing is labeled with an official city sign. The town logo includes a silhouette of the Headless Horseman riding his steed, cape flailing. And around Halloween season, the historic preservation organization puts on lots of great events.
Last weekend when we visited the town, author Lesley Bannetyne gave a lecture at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (where Irving himself is buried). She talked about the major topics covered in her recent book Halloween Nation, including the popularity and tenacity of the holiday, the creative ways people celebrate, etc. It was great to see her speak–she comes across as very knowledgeable and likable.
To give you a feel for the area we were in, here are a couple of photos I took of the Sleepy Hollow cemetery.
After the lecture, we visited the town’s haunted attraction, Horseman’s Hollow. This event is new, and it’s absolutely one of my favorite haunts. It is held at the historic Philispburg Manor and has an elegant, old-fashioned creep factor. In keeping with the identity of the town, Horseman’s Hollow offers Revolutionary War soldiers, bonfires, stone graveyard figures that come to life, a “corn maze” with carved jack-o-lanterns, and, in the final barn scene, an encounter with the Headless Horseman himself.
Previously Philipsburg Manor held a family-friendly attraction that was charming yet mild. The introduction of the much scarier, adult-oriented Horseman’s Hollow is a welcome surprise, and we were delighted to see how well-crafted it was. Here are a few shots that I (shakily) took during our walkthrough.
And finally, though we didn’t attend it this year, I have to mention another awesome Halloween event called Blaze (also put on by Historic Hudson Valley). Blaze is a breathtaking display of over 4000 carved jack-o-lanterns on the property of Van Cortlandt Manor. This event is very popular and sells out every year. Here are some shots I took when we went there last October.