Wilmington, NC: Have you ever wondered what makes a place haunted? We asked local ghost lore expert and Ghost Walk/Haunted Pub Crawl tour owner John Hirchak why Wilmington, North Carolina is legendary as a haunted city. Hirchak, the author of Ghosts of Old Wilmington, cites our port city’s storied past, along with some chilling tales of local ghosts. Read his Halloween guest blog.
Wilmington’s haunted past is retold year-round via guided ghost walks and haunted tours. And during the month of October, nearly two dozen Halloween-theme events take place from Wilmington’s historic river district to the colorful seaside towns of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach. Thrill-seekers can get into the ‘spirit’ with spine-tingling tours, haunted attractions, spooky theatrical productions, scary movies, zombie parties, cemetery tours and other ghoulish events. For younger goblins and families who prefer non-scary fun, there are fall festivals, carriage rides to a haunted barn and costume trick-or-treat events at the Battleship North Carolina and the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.
Here’s a sampling of Halloween Happenings:
Ongoing (year-round)—Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington. 6:30pm & 8:30pm nightly through Oct. 31; then 6:30pm in Nov. (nightly) & Dec. through March (Thurs., Fri., Sat.). Costumed guides lead visitors through alleyways with tales of haunted Wilmington. Admission charged. Meets at Water & Market streets. Reservations required: 910-794-1866
Ongoing (year-round)—Haunted Pub Crawl. Wed.-Sat. 7:30 pm. Ages 21+. Admission charge. Reservations required. Call for starting location: 910-794-1866
Ongoing (year-round)—Haunted Cotton Exchange Tours. Daily; call for hours. Admission charged. Cotton Exchange (parking lot street entrance, 300 N. Water Street), Wilmington. 910-409-4300
Each Friday & Saturday & Oct. 31 (Oct. 20-21, 27-28 & 31)—TheaTerror: Dinner Theatre. Doors open at 6 pm; show starts at 7 pm. TheaTerror is a throwback to the classic slasher flicks of the '80s. A masked killer is loose on a doomed production of Macbeth, staged by the ragtag cast and crew of the Penny Theater Company. Mature audiences. Advance tickets required. TheatreNow, 19 S. 10th St, Wilmington. 910-399-3669
Each Friday & Saturday (Oct. 20-21, 27-28)—Macabaret: Theatre. 10 pm. An evening of gallows humor, song, and dance. Mature audiences. Advance tickets required. TheatreNow, 19 S. 10th St, Wilmington. 910-399-3669
Oct. 20-22, 27-29, 31—CarnEvil In The Woods: Phobia Haunted Trail. 8pm-midnight (13+); 12pm-4pm (recommended for kids 5-12) Get your scare on! Face your deepest, darkest fears while on this unique haunted trail. Admission charged. Cardinal Lanes, 3907 Shipyard Blvd, Wilmington. 910-805-7552
Oct. 20, 26, 27 —Paranormal Ghost Tours. 7pm, 8pm & 9pm. Guided paranormal ghost tours of Poplar Grove Plantation’s Manor House offered on Friday nights. Tales include spirits (a.k.a. haints, circa 1850 to 1950) that continue to hover. Admission charged; advance reservations. Poplar Grove Plantation, 10200 US Hwy. 17 N., Wilmington. 910-686-9518
Oct. 20-22, 26-29 & 31—NHHS Lyceum Haunted House “SoundStage 13”. Thurs. & Sun. 7pm-10pm; Fri. & Sat. 7pm-12am. This year’s Lyceum haunted adventure "Soundstage 13" is an immersion into the scariest stories ever seen onscreen. See if you can survive where the most horrifying movies of all time were filmed, movies so terrifying that their spirits still linger where they were created, and within the props that were used to bring them to life. Rated PG-13. Admission charge. 921 Princess Street, Wilmington. facebook.com/hauntedlyceum/
Oct. 27-31—Halloween Ghost Trolley & Barn. 6pm-9pm. Kid-friendly 30-minute horse-drawn trolley ride and a fun spoof in the “haunted barn.” Horses and tour guides are dressed in costume. Halloween-theme stories, songs & treats. Admission charged. Departs at Market & Water streets. 910-251-8889
Oct. 21—Family Fall Festival. 9am-12pm. The Family Fall Festival features pumpkin crafts, outdoor games, and fall treats. Admission charged. Children’s Museum of Wilmington, 116 Orange St. 910-254-3534
Oct. 21—Monster Dash 2k & 7k Trail Run. Registration 7am; race at 8:30am. Dress in costume and join the Cape Fear Youth Flyers Running Club for a run through Carolina Beach State Park.
Oct. 24—Batty Battleship’s Halloween Bash. 5:30pm-8pm. A family event with fun games, activities and storytelling. Enjoy a petting zoo and treats, and remember to wear your costume. Admission charged. Battleship North Carolina, 1 Battleship Rd, Wilmington. 910-251-5797
Oct. 25—UNCW Halloween Carnival for Kids. UNCW student volunteers create and staff a safe Halloween carnival with fun and games for children. Free. UNCW Campus, 601 S. College Rd, Wilmington. 910-962-3000
Oct. 26-28—Trick-or-Treat Under the Sea. 4:30pm-8:00pm.This family-friendly event features thrills and gills and includes indoor trick-or-treating, face painting, storytelling, and haunted gardens. Admission charged. NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, 900 Loggerhead Rd., Kure Beach. 910-458-8257
Oct. 26 & 28—In Memoriam: A Victorian Mourning.7pm-9pm. Get into the Halloween spirit as you discover the customs and rituals of death in Victorian Era America. Costumed docents will guide you through this authentic house tour examining the decorations, clothing, burial practices, and foods that were customary for Victorians when death visited their family. Tickets required. Latimer House Museum, 126 S. 3rd St, Wilmington. 910-762-0492
Oct. 27—Victorian All Hallow's Eve Wake. 6 pm-9 pm. Enjoy hors d'oeuvres, live music, costumed living historians, tarot card readings, mock amputations, and more! Beer, wine, and specialty cocktails will be available for purchase. Tickets required. Latimer House Museum, 126 S. 3rd St, Wilmington. 910-762-0492
Oct. 26-28, 31—Wilmington Horror Story: Mansions of Madness. 7 pm. For four eerie nights, the historic Bellamy Mansion and Burgwin-Wright House will be transformed into interactive theatrical experiences designed to deliver Halloween thrills, Enjoy beer and local food truck offerings as you get in the spirit. Admission charged. Bellamy Mansion Museum, 503 Market St, Wilmington. 910-251-3700
Oct. 28—ZombieFest 2017. 7 pm. Indoor/outdoor block party for ages 21 +. Costume contest, live music, horror movies, food. Advance tickets required. Satellite Bar & Lounge, 120 Greenfield St., Wilmington. facebook.com/theyrecomingtogetyou
Oct. 28—Trick or Trot. 8:30 am. This family-fun costumed 5k race and 1-mile walk is sure to get you into the Halloween spirit. Pre-registration required. Admission charge. Greenfield Lake Park, Wilmington. 910-762-2511
Oct. 28—Haunted Basement. 6pm-8pm. Tour the library’s scary haunted basement. Parental guidance; not for younger kids. Free. New Hanover Co. Library, 201 Chestnut St., Wilmington. libguides.nhcgov.com/newse/haunted
Oct. 28—Kids’ Halloween Super Saturday Fun Time. 3 pm. The Dock Street Kids present a Halloween theatrical show featuring local history, mystery and guest stars. Admission charged. TheatreNOW, 19 S. 10th St, Wilmington. 910-399-3669
Stray off course and see where the water takes you. Discover what makes Wilmington and its island beaches such a ‘spirited’ Halloween destination. For a complete event calendar, click here and for seasonal highlights and specials, click here.