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Get into the “spirit” of the season

Victorian Cape May is a hotbed for paranormal activity any time of the year, but aren’t the spirits usually more active during the Halloween season? They must be, for there is a bevy of activities during Happenings, sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC), from Friday, Oct. 14 through Monday, Oct. 31. Seaside spirits take up residence in their favorite historic haunts, spooky sights and sounds surround the town, and things go bump in the night for more than two weeks. Embrace the “other side” of Cape May and get in the “spirit” of the season with Halloween-themed tours and events including ghost trolley tours, spooky tours of Cape May’s original haunted house — the1879 Emlen Physick Estate — psychic teas, murder mystery dinners and much more.

The grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate will be taken over by dozens of spooky, scary and just plain silly characters for Scarecrow Alley. These age-old signs of Halloween are especially appropriate as a welcoming committee to the haunted Physick House. Starting Oct. 14, you can walk the grounds and vote for your favorite scarecrow creations contributed by members of the community, local organizations and MAC staff. Voting ballots are available in the Carriage House Gallery on the grounds of the Estate. Free admission to the grounds.

The popular Murder at the Physick Estate returns with “Doorway to Darkness,” a new play by John K. Alvarez. Is there life after death? Do spirits wander on an ethereal plane? Are there ghosts roaming Cape May? During these performances, with the Physick Estate as a backdrop, a psychic and a scientist plan to address these questions once and for all. Afterwards, meet your evening’s performers over coffee and dessert in the Carriage House Tearoom & Café. View performance schedule

Tour Cape May’s original haunted house during a Phantoms of the Physick Estate Tour. For young children, there is a special kid-friendly, self-guided version of the tour during the daytime featuring spooky sounds, special effects and scary stuff. An evening self-guided tour of terror that gets a little spookier is geared toward adults and older children, with special effects, ghosts and ghouls, scary characters and sounds. Schedule and more information

  • Cape May’s Victorian gems display the “spirit” of the season on the Phantoms of Cape May tours on Saturdays
  • Psychic medium, ghost investigator and author, Craig McManus comes to the Emlen Physick Estatefor Midnight at the Physick Estate
  • Join Craig McManus, psychic medium and ghost writer for A Lighthouse Ride with the Ghost Writer on Saturday, Oct. 22
  • Board the MAC trolley for a spooky ride through the flickering gas-lit streets of Cape May during A Ride with The Ghost Writer
Many more spooky events are in store during Halloween Happenings in Cape May. Halloween Happenings in Victorian Cape May is sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC), a multifaceted not-for-profit organization committed to promoting the preservation, interpretation, and cultural enrichment of the Cape May region for its residents and visitors. MAC membership is open to all.


For information about MAC’s year-round schedule of tours, festivals, and special events or to purchase tickets to Halloween Happenings events call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278, or visit MAC’s Web site at www.capemaymac.org.

PumpKeyAs the autumn months approach, we are reminded of an array of fall traditions. The leaves turning colors and collecting on the ground, wearing warmer and cozier clothes, carving pumpkins into intricate displays, and of course, Halloween. These cooler months not only offer a change of pace for your everyday life, they also offer a change of pace for your vacations. Instead of heading to the beach, going camping, or hitting the national parks as per typical family vacay, a different time of year offers up entirely new ways to enjoy yourself. Why not start by embracing the eeriest time of year?

Whether or not you’re a believer in all that is macabre, a haunted Halloween vacation is a spooky and alternative way to spend the holiday or at least get geared up for mask-donning children knocking on your door. Take a leap into the fall spirit by going on one of these thrill-producing trips this October.

Research your favorite scary movies

Are any of your beloved scary hits based on a true story? Where did they take place? Oftentimes former movie locations will offer tours of the grounds, including any inside info to the place’s past or its ghosts’ histories. One of the most celebrated horror stories, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, is still recognized every year in its namesake’s town. Visitors can take tours of both the church from the story, and the cemetery in which many historical figures are buried. Or they can go on the town’s haunted hayride, a frightening trek that is sure to make Washington Irving himself cringe.

Amusement parks are more than rides

Although a strong summer staple, amusement parks are no stranger when it comes to celebrating Halloween. In fact, many of them make it a yearly event, bringing in costumed employees, themed concessions, and elaborate haunted houses. Disney‘s parks have a kid-friendly Halloween celebration every year called Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. But for those looking for more of a thrill, there are plenty of vexing options as well. Kansas City’s Worlds of Fun opens its doors to a Halloween-loving crowd every fall. Six Flags holds an annual Fright Fest each year, Seaworld holds a Halloween Spooktacular, and Universal Studios hosts Halloween Horror Nights, starting in late September. These destinations offer up holiday fun that will thrill even without the rides!

Town histories remembered

While some events may be remembered as a cruel or misunderstood part of American history, many have taken advantage of their haunted histories, creating parades and annual get togethers. After all, Halloween is the perfect time of year to celebrate the unknown. For example, each October in Salem, MA, Citizens and travelers gather to partake in a town festival including witch trial reenactments, tours of the Haunted Witch Village and Frankenstein’s laboratory, and psychic readings. New York City hosts the world’s largest All Hallow’s Eve celebration with their annual parade in the village. Philadelphia opens up its penitentiary for the fall where guests can encounter former prisoners first-hand. And Tombstone, AZ Provides spooky activities to its guests year-round. Home to famous shootouts, the town is home to several haunted historical buildings. You can even learn about the spirits who haunt them in the town’s museum.

Can’t get enough of your Halloween vacation? Visit your local museum or historical society to learn about hauntings that may be nearer than you think.

This fall, consider taking a haunted Halloween trip to get you in the ghouling spirit. Give the bewitching season the attention it deserves with this Halloween treat.