Salem’s Best Halloween Events 2015
This is our 2015 roundup. Check out the 2016 list.
Salem is one New England’s best-known haunted hot spots, infamous for their witch trials held in the 1690s. This mass hysteria led to more than 200 accusations, 20 executions, and as many as 13 people who died in prison. While some Salemites prefer to keep their distance from the horrific events—The Scarlet Letter author Nathaniel Hawthorne is said to have changed his name to distance himself from his great-great-grandfather, who was a witch trial judge—plenty of residents enthusiastically embrace the Witch City spirit. More than 250,000 visitors flock to our favorite town center every October, starting with a Grand Parade on October 1 and culminating in the Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball. Explore this town with a haunted past this Halloween. Here are some highlights from this month’s Salem Haunted Happenings.
The Haunted Happenings Grand Parade
Salem’s annual Haunted Happenings Grand Parade kicks off their Halloween season, attracting Salem residents and far-flung visitors alike for this spectacle of color, lights, and music, heavily repped by local students and business owners. This year’s parade theme, “World Peace,” adds a sunny note to Salem’s oft-grisly event lineup.
Free, Thursday, October 1, 6:30 p.m, starts at Shetland Park on Congress St., Salem, 978-744-3663, hauntedhappenings.org
Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo
It’s said that your hand can tell your future, all you need is someone to read it. At Salem’s annual Psychic Fair, have your future told, connect with past lives, and communicate with lost love ones. Just meet with one of the fair’s many licensed psychics—or even a practicing witch. Looking for more of a home remedy? Shop the fair’s enchanted alley, where you can buy an assortment of crystals, spell kits, enchanted candles, wands, voodoo dolls, and divination tools, along with many other mystical items.
Free, October 1-November 1, Museum Place Mall, 176 Essex St., Salem, festivalofthedead.com.
Bewitched After Dark Walking Tours
The “Bewitched Historical Tour” is a walking tour that reveals all sorts of information about Salem: the city’s colonial history, the facts surrounding the 1692 witch trials, notable hauntings, and present-day witchcraft. If you’re looking for something a little more spooky, join the “Scary Stories Tour,” which runs seasonally through September and October. You will follow a real witch around town, who will tell stories of the spirits plaguing Salem.
$20 general admission (free for children 7 and under). Runs through October. See site for dates and times. Tours depart from Pedestrian Walkway, 180 Essex St., Salem, 978-498-4061, bewitchedafterdark.com.
Haunted Happenings Carnival
Operating October 16 through Halloween, Salem’s Haunted Happenings Carnival offers rides, games, and other classic midway offerings. So, what’s so spooky about that? Well, have you ever seen Harry Potter riding a Ferris wheel with a zombie? Or Cinderella sharing fried dough with Dracula? This carnival is crawling with all types of creatures and characters—so don’t miss out on the fun.
Carnival runs October 16-31, Monday-Friday 3-10 p.m., Saturdays-Sundays 12-10 p.m., Derby St., Salem, 978-744-3663, hauntedhappenings.org.
Salem Sound Cruises
Mahi Mahi Cruises offers multiple Salem Sound cruises specifically tailored to fall and the Halloween season. If you’re looking to sightsee, hop aboard the Lighthouse & Foliage Cruise. This narrated tour will feature five historic lighthouses and heads all the way out to the Misery Islands. Plus, you can witness the changing of the seasons, as you take in the bright fall foliage.
If you’re looking for something a little more bewitching, try the Haunted Harbor Cruise. This ninety-minute tour includes face painting, fortune telling, frightening photo opportunities, and a storyteller who will enchante with tales of pirates, haunted islands, and monsters.
The Halloween Boo!s Cruise offers more of a party atmosphere, with a DJ, dancing, and costume contests. All cruises offer a full bar with specialty drinks such as Grandma’s Spiked Hot Apple Cider and food such as soup and grub off the grill.
$25 for adult ticket, seasonal cruises offered October 1-November 1 (see site for full schedule), Pickering Wharf, 23 Congress St., Salem, 888-959-2324, mahicruises.com.
Chambers of Terror
The Chambers of Terror follows the standard walk-through haunted house format, with demons, ghouls, ghosts, and “one very evil clown” lurking around every corner. Be prepared for a fright—but a short one, as the walk-through on average lasts only seven to eight minutes.
$12 regular admission ($7 children), $15 for VIP Priority Pass, open daily through November 1, 59 Wharf St. Salem, 978-741-0002, chambersofterror.net.
Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery
Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery is Salem’s only monster museum. Here, you won’t find monsters jumping out from behind every wall—Count Orlok’s is a “cinematic wax museum” featuring more than 60 life-sized creatures from your favorite horror and sci-fi movies and TV shows.
$7 regular admission ($5 for children), open daily through November 29, 285 Derby St., Salem, 978-740-0500, nightmaregallery.com.
4-D Haunted House at Salem Time Machine
This 4-D—yes, that’s right, 4-D—haunted house will confuse your senses and provide freakishly real frights. Don a pair of 3-D glasses and wander through a maze of special effects. The creators of this haunted house want to make sure you won’t be able to what’s real and what’s an illusion: Floors recede beneath you, ghosts float around, and animatronics and actors alike pop out from every corner.
$13 general admission ($7 children), open daily through October 31, 131 Essex St., Salem, 978-744-0013, salems13ghosts.com.
The Texas Chainsaw Musical
Nothing says horror like a musical number. This show isn’t based on Tobe Hooper’s 1974 grindhouse flick, but rather on Ed Gein, the infamous Wisconsin serial killer who originally inspired the film. In this LynnArts production, the musical’s main character, Eddy Gee, goes on a murderous rampage—starting with his mother. The twist? He falls in love with one of his intended victims. It’s not all gore, though: Expect absurd characters and humor, along with catchy tunes.
$15-$30, runs October 9-31, LynnArts BlackBox Theatre, 25 Exchange St., Lynn, 781-205-4010, artsafterhours.com.
Golden Girls Live On Stage: The Lost Halloween Episode
The award-winning sitcom Golden Girls is brought back to life this Halloween season, in this all-male drag parody. The cast pays homage to the girls in this “lost Halloween episode,” in which Dorothy heads to Salem to teach a course on The Crucible. Serious laughs and plenty of wigs are guaranteed.
$50-$62.50, runs through November 2, Museum Place Mall, 1 Church St., Salem (inside nAGLY), goldengirlsliveonstage.com.
Haunted Dinner Theatre presents Shipwrecked!
Walk the plank and plunder the all-you-can-eat buffet at this dinner-and-a-show combo. Get your meal, then sit back and watch the show. Legendary pirate captains—including Anne Bonny, Ned Lowe, Calico Jack Rackham—will take the stage as they try to uncover who’s behind the sinking of the treasure ship the Dolphin. See if you can figure out the mystery first as you solve clues and interrogate suspects.
Tickets for dinner and show $59.95 ($39.95 children), select Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m, Hawthorne Hotel, 18 Washington Square W, Salem, 978-744-4080, or Finz Restaurant, 76 Wharf St, Salem, 978-744-8485, haunteddinnertheater.com.
“Cry Innocent: The People vs. Bridget Bishop”
Bridget Bishop was Salem’s first convicted witch, her sentence later leading to mass hysteria, hearings, and executions. Ask yourself: Would you convict her? You’ll be the jury in this recreation of Bishop’s 1692 witch trial. Hear historical testimonies, cross-examine witnesses, and decide for yourself if Bridget Bishop truly is a witch. The choice might be harder than you thought.
$12 ($11 for seniors and students, $8 for children 6-12), runs October 2-November 1, Old Town Hall, 32 Derby Sq., Salem, cryinnocentsalem.com.
2015 Hawthorne Hotel Halloween Party: A Night to Dismember
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Hawthorne’s annual Halloween bashes. To celebrate, they’re hosting “A Night to Dismember,” an evening that fêtes classic horror. Head to this 90-year-old hotel on October 30, and you’ll find three floors of food, live music, psychics, and a killer costume party. Bring your best outfit—winners will be awarded cash prizes.
$89.99 for general admission, Friday, October 30, 2015, 8 p.m, Hawthorne Hotel, 18 Washington Square W, Salem, 978-744-4080, hawthornehotel.com.
Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball
Ever wonder how a witch celebrates Halloween? This Halloween, find out by joining the spellcasters at Salem’s annual Witches’ Ball. Join the Dragon Ritual Drummers in a drum circle paying homage to the holiday, as well as a magic circle led by Salem witches. Pick your potion at the ball’s cash bar, and look into your future with a psychic reading. If you’re not one for hocus pocus, DJ Addam—goth-club DJ extraordinaire—will be spinning all night. This year’s theme is “The Dance of The Tarot”—and there’s a costume contest, with prizes for the outfits that best portrays a card from the deck.
$150 for general admission, 7:30 p.m October 31 to 12:30 a.m November 1, Hawthorne Hotel, 18 Washington Square W, Salem, 978-744-4080, festivalofthedead.com.
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