Haunted houses are a dime a dozen. I prefer an artistic Jack O’Lantern display which shows some talent and ingenuity, and won’t give me nightmares! Lucky for me, Jack O’Lantern Festivals have sprung up all over the northeast. Jack O’Lanterns weren’t even associated with Halloween until the mid 1800’s. The practice of carving lanterns from gourds and other vegetables had a long history in the United Kingdom before that. Now of course, it has elevated to craft, limited only by the carver’s imagination. Take a road trip this October to bask in the glow at these six fright-free Halloween events throughout the northeast, listed chronologically: The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze Van Cortlandt Manor, Croton-on-Hudson, NY October 2-November 7 More than 4,000 individually hand-carved Jack O’Lanterns cover the grounds of an 18th-century riverside historic site. An elaborate outdoor walk-through experience, complete with original, atmospheric music, sound effects, and professional lighting, connects a series of themed vignettes. 2010 Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, RI October 7–31 The zoo transforms its wetlands trail by lining it with 5,000 glowing pumpkins. Over 30 professional carvers spend six weeks creating the Jack O’Lanterns to fit themed groupings, all brought to life with special lighting and music. Keene Pumpkin Festival Main Street, Keene, NH October 16 Celebrating its 20th anniversary, and held throughout downtown Keene, this is the largest Jack O’Lantern event in the U.S. The world record–for the number of Jack O’Lanterns lit at one event–was broken here eight times, and may be broken again this year! Great Pumpkin Fest 2010 The EcoTarium, Worcester, MA October 23 Geared toward young children, and held on the grounds of a popular children’s science and nature museum, this is the largest family Halloween celebration in central MA. Local youth groups carve about 1,500 pumpkins for a friendly competition. Pumpkin Glow Nights Great Country Farms, Bluemont, VA October 29 and 30 Nearly 2,000 Jack O’Lanterns are created locally, competing for “Scariest,” “Funniest,” and “Best in Glow” awards. They’re lit with the flip of a switch after dark. The farms’ attractions include the barnyard, giant pumpkin jumping pillow, corn maze, and a train ride. Camp Sunshine Pumpkin Festival L.L. Bean, Freeport, ME October 30 Over 10,000 Jack O’ Lanterns will line walkways and used to create an aquarium, house, tower, and even a moose. Since 2003, the event has raised over $1 million for Camp Sunshine, a retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. For more information on Halloween events, try the EscapeMaker events database, with hundreds of listings!