Embrace fall and all its thrills with these local ideas to celebrate the spookiest season.
by Addie Ladner
From crafting your own City of Oaks-inspired costumes to braving thrilling shows, there are no shortage of ways to have a spooktacular October. Take a field trip to the intriguing town of Littleton, North Carolina or fill your schedule here in Raleigh with corn maze adventures, thrilling performing arts shows, haunted spots and culture.
Check Out a Haunted Spot Around Town
Haunted mansions, graveyards, and trails — oh my! Some of these so-called haunted spots around Raleigh might not surprise you, but did you know that even frequently visited government buildings like the North Carolina State Capitol and the Executive Mansion are rumored to be cursed? Learn why.
Get Spooky Thrills in a Haunted Forest
For 13 years, the Haunted Forest at Panic Point has been a favorite thriller, especially for the teen set. With six different trails to choose from — including the original Haunted Forest, Killers in the Corn, Howling Hayride and Carny Crypt — guests will be spooked by costumed actors and spooky scenes. Organizers warn that the trail is too scary for most kids under 12, and children 8 and under are not permitted at all. Open all October through the first week of November, it’s about 20 minutes outside of town in Youngsville.
From $30, advance tickets recommended; Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 6:45-10 p.m.; 2808 Cedar Creek Road, Youngsville; raleighhauntedhouse.com
Stock Up on Pumpkins at Shepherd’s Way Farm
Whether you like a classic orange carving pumpkin, subtly colored heirloom gourds or flat-topped pumpkins for stacking, Shepherd’s Way Farm has a pumpkin for you. Based in Laurel Springs, this seventh-generation farm has been providing pumpkins to the Triangle since 2008, a longtime fixture in North Hills and, in recent years, The Village District. “We bring the farm to Raleigh,” says farmer Tim Moses. Shepherd’s Way now grows more than 80 different varieties of the gourd. “Growing pumpkins started as a rotational crop on our Christmas tree farm, but has grown into a labor of love for us. We have made many memo- ries over the years providing pumpkins and seasonal decorations to our friends, family and customers,” says Moses.
All month | 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.; free to visit; 1010 St. Albans Drive or 13044 Norwood Road; shepherdswayfarmsnc.com
Make a Raleigh-inspired Costume
Visit a Corn Maze… or a Haunted Farm
Get all the fall photo opps with the little kids picking pumpkins, taking hay rides, navigating a corn maze or nuzzling goats in the petting zoo at Phillips Farm in Cary, a family farm that’s been in operation for more than 100 years.. But one your kids have gotten older and are ready for some truly frightening thrills, bring them at night, when it transforms into a Haunted Farm with a Field of Lost Souls, Gore House, Rebellion Trail and Big Top Terror (recommended for ages 12 and up). Want more ideas for fall-farm fun? Check out this list from our archives of pumpkin patches, corn mazes and hay rides.
All month, Thursdays through Sundays (Haunted Farm Friday and Saturday nights only) | various times; from $25; 6270 Good Hope Church Road, cary; phillipsfarmsofcary.com
Experience Carolina Ballet’s Frankentsein
Catch Carolina Ballet’s production of Frankenstein this month, choreographed by Artistic Director Zalman Raffael and with live music. The hauntingly beautiful interpretation of Mary Shelley’s story is true to the original novel in that the Creature longs to be loved by his creator, Victor Frankenstein. Instead, he is found repulsive by those who see his shocking appearance. What unfolds next is for the audience to find out. Experience it at Fletcher Opera Theater
Oct. 12 -29 | various times; from 45; 2 E. South Street; carolinaballet.com
Take a Field Trip to the Cryptozoology Museum
An hour outside of Raleigh, the Cryptozoology Museum explores unproven stories, ghosts and other phenomena. Littleton is a tiny town in Halifax County, with a population of only 674. In our October issue, photographer Joshua Steadman discovered the Cryptozoology & Paranormal Museum, by accident. “It was an interesting building; unassuming and odd,” he says. The cinder-block building was rectangular, with “stuff painted on the outside: A UFO. Bigfoot. And a Mars Attacks! sign, just like the movie poster,” Steadman remembers. Learn more about the experience here before taking your own field trip.
Brave Raleigh Little Theatre’s Misery
Reality becomes alarming when romance novelist Paul Sheldon wakes up in an unfamiliar home. Diehard fan Annie Wilkes has rescued him from a car accident — but things take a frightening turn when Sheldon realizes he’s being held captive. Based on the gripping novel by Stephen King, this production by Raleigh Little Theatre will have you at the edge of your seat.
Oct. 20 – 29 | various times; from $29; 301 Pogue Street; raleighlittletheatre.org
Watch Floating Jack-O-Lanterns at the Pumpkin Flotilla in Cary
Each October in Cary’s Bond Lake Park, jack-o-lanterns set sail across at dark, creating a whimsical, water-borne display. Come to view the spectacle or bring your own carved pumpkin to float. (Pumpkins must weigh around 8 pounds and be about the size of a basketball; bases are provided.) Before the flotilla, enjoy live music and food trucks while you wait for the sun to set. Then find a spot on the edge of the lake to watch the evening’s big show.
Oct. 27 | 4 – 7 p.m.; free; 801 High House Road, Cary; carync.gov.org
Listen to the North Carolina Symphony’s Halloween Spooktacular
Enjoy suspenseful and fun music from iconic films like E.T., Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, and a costume contest at his spooky night of instrumentals from the North Carolina Symphony for the entire tamily.
Oct. 28 | 1 & 4 p.m.; from $32; 2 E. South Street; ncsymphony.org
Craft an Upcycled Costume with Artspace
Create your very own costume using second hand items and upcycled materials. Get assistance from seasoned Artspace instructors who will guide you in creating a costume come alive! Artspace will provide materials to support your ideas, but participants are welcome to bring along any old garments or unique items that can be modified and altered for the purposes of your costume. Participants may arrive with a few ideas in mind or take the time to brainstorm during class. No prior experience is needed, all skill levels are welcome. This workshop is ages +14. Attendees under the age of 16 must register and attend with a parent/guardian.
Oct. 28 | 1 – 5 p.m.; $40; 201 East Davie Street; artspacenc.org
Honor the Dead at DÍa De Oakwood
In 2012, restaurateur Angela Salamanca started the Day of the Dead 5k, a race that honors the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos and benefits the Brentwood Boy & Girls Club. The race will take place on Oct. 28, with costumed runners heading up Wilmington Street, through the Historic Oakwood Cemetery (visit wakebgc.org/dod for more info). This year, Salamanca will expand one element of the event, the ofrenda, an altar to honor lost loved ones, in Oakwood Cemetery. Artist Peter Marin will create an installation that expands the ofrenda to mimic the layout of the pyramids of Teotihuacán in Mexico, with two main ofrendas and five small ofrendas in the field near the entrance of the cemetery. It will be accessible all week to make offerings, with programming including an inaugural ceremony on Oct 27th, a screening of Coco on Oct. 29 and a Catrina parade on Día de Muertos, Nov. 2., each with music and food trucks. “We’re creating a place for the community to celebrate, grieve and come together to remember our loved ones,” says Salamanca.”
Oct. 28 – Nov. 4 | various times; free; 701 Oakwood Avenue; historicoakwoodcemetery.org
Take the Kids to Spellbound Square at Mordecai
Magic, mischief, and mayhem abound at Spellbound at Mordecai. Encounter mysterious creatures and amazing magicians, have your fortune told, create spooky crafts, and decorate a pumpkin to take home for All Hallow’s Eve. Wear your best Halloween finery to enter the costume contest and parade. Shop for enchanting handmade items and treats from our vendors, enjoy family-friendly stage performances, and experience Mordecai Park under the spell of Halloween.
Oct. 28 | 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.; free; 1 Mimosa Street; paperandstarsstudio.com
Take a Walk in the Dark
Just beyond the reaches of city lights, certain local natural areas offer great views of the moon and stars — and stay open late through the fall, which make them great spots to wander while you tell a spooky story or two.. “The night is an enchanting time to be out, and the Triangle has some surprisingly good spots for savoring the night sky. Some require a short hike (headlamp required) and some you can enjoy from the hood of your car,” writers Joe Miller. Here are five of his favorites.
This article was originally published on October 13, 2023 on waltermagazine.com