Lightscapes: A Springtime Light Show in the Hudson Valley
Spring’s warm light makes the leaves return, flowers unfold, birds sunbathe, seeds sprout. This light is also the inspiration for the nocturnal art exhibition called Lightscapes, created by the Historic Hudson Valley organiziation.
Presented each spring in New York State’s Hudson Valley, Lightscapes is a collection of sculptures, designs and other original artwork ingeniously illuminated to create fantastical, dream-like surroundings. It is less than one hour north of New York City.
Look closely and you’ll notice much of the artwork is made from recycled and/or simple materials. Although it is a multi-sensory experience, Lightscapes is in its essence a visual ode to the imagination.
This year’s show featured a spring-garden theme, including a walk-through centipede, gargantuan butterflies, glowing ladybugs and kaleidoscopic mushrooms.
Lightscapes: An American Light Show on a Dutch Estate
Lightscapes takes place on the grounds of Van Cortlandt Manor, in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. The Van Cortlandts were a 17th-century Dutch family with vast landholdings.
Today, the Van Cortlandt house and a portion of its original grounds are a historical site administered by Historic Hudson Valley.
For those unfamiliar with the area’s history, the Dutch (not the English) were the region’s first European colonists. You may remember that the Big Apple was called New Amsterdam before it was called New York.
In a nod to Van Cortlandt Manor’s Dutch roots, the largest exhibition at this year’s Lightscapes was titled Tulip Mania.
A sea of illuminated tulips recalled Holland’s Tulip Mania episode during the 1600s, when Holland went mad for tulips. Frenetic speculation led to the stratospheric rise and thundering fall of tulip bulb prices.
Lightscapes isn’t about history, though. It’s about lights, colors, the imagination and celebrating spring’s arrival.
- Van Cortlandt Manor
- 525 South Riverside Ave.
- Croton, New York 10520
- Free parking
- Don’t have wheels? Consider renting a car.
- You can see this location on a map here. (Click #3)
May/June each year
See Historic Hudson Valley’s website for specifics, including ticket prices.
Public Transport From New York City
- Take a Metro-North Hudson Line train from Grand Central Terminal to Croton-Harmon station
- Metro-North= name of train company
- Hudson Line= the specific train line
Grand Central to Croton-Harmon=
- 45 minutes on express train
- 1 hour on local train
For Metro-North schedules, fares and maps, consult Section 2A on our New York City Public Transit Resources page.
Croton is also known as Croton-on-Hudson. Croton’s train station is called Croton-Harmon.
On maps/monitors, the Hudson Line is the green line.
Note: Don’t confuse Croton-Harmon with Croton Falls, they are different stations in different towns.
Summary: You will be taking a Metro-North Hudson Line train from Grand Central Terminal to the Croton-Harmon station.
Although Van Cortlandt Manor is within walking distance of the Croton-Harmon train station, consider taking a 3-minute taxi ride there because:
- It will be nighttime
- Sidewalks are either narrow or non-existent along route
- Lots of traffic into/out of train station
- Part of route is uphill
Taxis are always present at the station in a designated area.
Can’t come in the spring?
During the fall, Van Cortlandt Manor hosts another bedazzling light show called The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze.
It is a Halloween-themed event, with several thousand hand-carved Jack O’Lanterns used to create the exhibits and art objects.
Jack O’Lanterns are carved pumpkins that are illuminated, either electrically or with candlelight.
You may also be interested in the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, which is also run by Historic Hudson Valley.