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The best fall festivals for New Yorkers

Cider doughnuts, a corn maze and a larger-than-life pumpkin patch — must be festival season.

It’s finally fall and the temperature is dropping, enough for pulling on a chunky sweater and heading to the nearest fall festival — and you don’t have to travel very far. Seasonal festivals abound in Manhattan and within an hour’s drive from the city.

Scarecrows & Pumpkins

From garden protector to cultural icon, scarecrows have had a fascinating evolution in American pop culture. Explore it through 30 new artworks by Ray Villafane, along with pumpkins rare and unusual — and some that are monstrously big! — at the New York Botanical Garden. During Scarecrow Nights (Oct. 21, 22, 28, 29, after 3 p.m.), the display “comes to life” as a theater group takes visitors on a narrated walk. Giant Pumpkin Weekend (Oct. 22-23) is when the oversized pumpkins from around the country — some weighing in at more than a ton — arrive at the garden, with Q&A sessions with the growers. Through Oct. 30, $20-$25, nybg.org

Harvest Festival at 21 West End

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The Upper West Side gets a not-so-spooky block party on Freedom Place (60-61st streets), courtesy of the new 21 West End building. The festival is free and open to all, not just residents, with pumpkin carving, cider doughnuts, food trucks and a beer garden, live music from the Frankie Moreno band, vendors and a bounce house. Oct. 8, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., free, 21 West End Ave., facebook.com/21WestEnd

Queens County Fair

Take a drive to Queens County Farm Museum this weekend for its 34th annual Queens County Fair, which includes everything you want in an old-fashioned fall carnival on the farm: carnival rides and games, blue ribbon competitions, pie eating and corn husking contests, and children's entertainment by magicians, jugglers and acrobats. Though the festival is only for one weekend, you can go on a hayride in a wagon, take a selfie with a llama in the petting zoo, pick a pumpkin, enjoy live music and make time to get lost in the farm’s Amazing Maize Maze, the largest in the region, weekends through Oct. 30. Sept. 24-25, adults $10, kids 12&under $5, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park, Long Island

Harvest Moon’s Fall Festival

It’s apple-picking time — and pumpkin season is not far behind — so get both done atHarvest Moon Farm & Orchardin Westchester County. Every weekend through Oct. 30, this charming eco-conscious farm holds its fall festival with hayrides, live music, apple cannons, a Cider Garden with five varieties of its own farm-made Hardscrabble Cider (and cider doughnuts), and a barbecue.$5, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., 130 Hardscrabble Road, North Salem

Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

This isn’t your usual pumpkin patch. For the most spectacular pumpkin display, head toVan Cortlandt Manorin Croton-on-Hudson, where some 7,000 gourds have been carved with great artistry and illuminated throughout the 18th century estate. The walk-through experience along wooded pathways, orchards and gardens takes you past Jack O’Lanterns, pumpkin sculptures and, new this year, an 8-foot-tall working Jack-O’Lantern-in-the-box and life-size dinosaurs. New additions also include a giant color-changing star show at the Pumpkin Planetarium, a Pumpkin Promenade and an 80-foot-long Pumpkin Zee Bridge (get it?) complete with a sea serpent swimming in the Croton River. This event sells out quickly, so hustle.Sept. 30-Oct. 2, Oct. 7-10, Oct. 13-16, Oct. 19-31, Nov. 3-6, Nov. 10-13; $20-$25

 
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