Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown Launch Bicentennial Celebration of Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow

18-Month Celebration Marks Publication of The Sketch Book, Including ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’

Logo created by local Sleepy Hollow artist Tim Grajek

200 years ago, Washington Irving’s The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., was published serially over the course of 13 months, between 1819 and 1820 – and changed the course of American culture. The Sketch Book, as it became popularly known, was a collection of tales that included “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle,” among others, and its publication established Irving as America’s first internationally recognized author. Today, visitors travel from around the world to visit “Sleepy Hollow Country” to see the landmarks and landscapes that inspired Irving. The Hudson Valley villages of Irvington, Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown, in conjunction with the Westchester Office of Tourism and Film and a coalition of local non-profit organizations, have announced the launch of an 18-month Legend Bicentennial celebration starting in May of 2019 and featuring a remarkable range of special events, academic conferences, and more.

Officials including Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who serves as honorary chair of the bicentennial committee, Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray and representatives from Irvington, Tarrytown, and a broad range of local organizations, gathered at the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow on April 3 on the occasion of Washington Irving’s birthday, to kick-off the bicentennial. Joined by the headless horseman himself, they unveiled a commemorative poster designed by a local illustrator, a new website at, and highlighted upcoming bicentennial events scheduled over the course of 18 months, starting on May 18, 2019 with the Sleepy Hollow Lit Fest.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer commented, “Westchester County has been home to an extraordinary range of historic figures – with perhaps none more influential than Washington Irving himself. His tales established a sense of history and mythology for Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown and the entire Hudson Valley region that lives on to this day. It’s important to recognize that investments in our own history, whether to revitalize historic properties or celebrate historic figures and their works, provide an economic boost to the county by attracting new visitors – and reinforce a sense of place and community spirit for our own residents.”

Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray commented, “I want to extend my personal thanks, as well official thanks from the Village of Sleepy Hollow, to the artists and cultural organizations who have chosen to come together to create the Legend Bicentennial celebration. You are working together to provide a greater understanding of America’s heritage. This is a clear sign of the cooperative and creative spirit so often found in today’s Hudson Valley.”

The Legend Bicentennial: May 2019 – December 2020

  • The bicentennial celebration kicks-off with the Sleepy Hollow Lit Fest on May 18, 2019, featuring more than 100 author readings, performances and activities at venues including Warner Library, Patriots Park, Tarrytown Music Hall, Jazz Forum Arts, Old Dutch Church, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Philipsburg Manor, and the Hudson Valley Writers Center. “No Ordinary Lit Fest,” this one-day festival celebrates Washington Irving’s legacy of lively literary-arts-for-all
  • Ongoing 2019 events include walking tours at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery titled, The Original Knickerbocker: Washington Irving and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” describing the fascinating life and enduring influence of the famous author. In addition, The Historical Society’s Colonial Tour of the Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground highlights local revolutionary war heroes who were the inspiration for many of Irving’s characters.  During the bicentennial celebration, both tours are offered May – November.
  • Summer 2019 events include“Everybody’s Reading the Legend,” a Westchester County-wide “book club” designed for reading and discussing “The Legend.” The program has the support of the Westchester County Library system and will launch at Warner Library in Tarrytown and the Historical Society serving Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown. Additional venues will include locations connected to Irving such as the Old Dutch Church, Christ Episcopal Church, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and Sunnyside
  • In fall of 2019, the bicentennial kicks into high gear with a series of special events including the Sleepy Hollow International Film Festival at the Tarrytown Music Hall, October 10-13. The festival features special screenings of the Disney version of “The Legend,” the Paramount Pictures version directed by Tim Burton, special guests and a range of genre films
  • Fall of 2019includes expanded dates for nearby local favorites such as “The Blaze,” and enhanced offerings at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, including Horseman’s Hollow and The Unsilent Picture
  • In April of 2020, an academic conference will be led by the Historical Society, Historic Hudson Valley, and Irving biographer Andrew Burstein,author of The Original Knickerbocker: The Life of Washington Irving.

Information on Legend Bicentennial Events is available at

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Bicentennial Committee

Honorary Chair, George Latimer, Westchester County Executive; Ken Wray, Mayor of Sleepy Hollow, Drew Fixell, Mayor of Tarrytown, Brian Smith, Mayor of Irvington, Christ Episcopal Church, Folklore Urbano, Friends of the Old Dutch Church, Greenburgh Public Library, Historic Hudson Valley, The Historical Society Serving Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown, Hudson Valley Writers Center, Irvington Public Library, Louisiana State University, Pros(e) of Pie, Reformed Church of the Tarrytowns, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown Chamber of Commerce, Village of Sleepy Hollow, Sleepy Hollow Lit Fest, Village of Tarrytown, Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow Farmer’s Market (TaSH); Warner Library; Westchester County Tourism & Film Office.

Information is available at

For organizations wishing to participate or for volunteer opportunities, contact

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recommended For You

About the Author: River Journal