date published: October 25, 2004

Who says tricks, or treats for that matter, are just for kids? Halloween in Boston is serious business and local attractions offer a wealth of ghoulish fun for all ages. The following is a selection of things going on in and around the Hub. Be sure to check out Currently and Museum listings for more spine-tingling ideas.

Salem Haunted Happenings
Sites throughout Salem, 1-877-SALEM-MA. Events run until Halloween, times vary. It may come as no surprise, but Salem is one of the area’s most popular October destinations. The Witch Trials for which the town is most famous have no historical association with Halloween, but it’s a perfect day to learn more about the Witch Hysteria of 1692 at the Salem Witch Museum, open until midnight on October 31.

The hoards of horror-seekers can also find themselves entertained thanks to the Haunted Happenings festival. Events ranges from the grown-up friendly Harvest Brew Fest at the Hawthorne Hotel on October 29 & 31, where $10 gains you access to the macabre party and includes two beer samples. On Halloween, Derby Street becomes a giant festival of fright with activities for the whole family, including live music and street performers. For a complete event schedule, visit

Jack-o-lantern spectacular
Roger Williams Park Zoo, 1000 Elmwood Ave., Providence, R.I., 401-785-3510. Through October 31, 6–11 p.m. If the Great Pumpkin does exist, this is his temple. More than 30 professional pumpkin carvers flex their skills, creating over 5,000 jack-o-lanterns elegantly displayed over a three-acre woodland trail. The centerpiece is the “Tree of Light,” decorated to its highest branches with dozens of glowing pumpkins. Loads of new things are in store for this year’s spectators, including a global makeover with tributes to far-off countries and landmarks from around the world. And as per usual, depictions of a host of notable celebrities and movies are represented. This popular event often sells out, so arrive early and check out the animals.

Ghosts & Gravestones tour
Departing across from the New England Aquarium on Old Atlantic Avenue, 617-269-3626. Nightly through November at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. Reservations required. This two-hour tour led by a grave-digging chaperon brings you into Boston’s dark past through tales and legends of what lies beneath two of the city’s oldest burying grounds—Copp’s Hill and the Old Granary. Some kitschy fun gets the tour started as participants board an Old Town Trolley painted black and dressed up with cobwebs and headstones (don’t be surprised if you hear the theme from Ghostbusters). The second half of the tour is on foot, so be sure to wear some comfy shoes and dress appropriately. Throughout the tour, your guide tells ghost stories—some true, some folklore—covering everything from death by the Boston Strangler to death by molasses. It’s as much fun as it is a history lesson.

spooky flicks
Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard Ave., Brookline, 617-734-2500; Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge 617-876-6837; Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., 617-267-9300. If you’re a film geek who prefers dark corners to garish masquerading, you may want to check out the Halloween Horror Marathon featuring screenings of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (a new print of the original), Blood Feast, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, April Fools Day, Peeping Tom and more at the Coolidge Corner Theatre beginning at midnight on October 30. Or head to the Brattle Theatre’s annual screening of the horror classic Evil Dead 2 on October 31 at 9:30 p.m., with prizes awarded to the best movie-inspired costume. If you fancy yourself more of a high-minded horror fan than a gore connoisseur, head to the Museum of Fine Arts for a screening of Eerie Stories by Richard Oswald. This recently re-discovered German silent film has been dubbed the first-ever horror film, and is considered a cult classic. See it for yourself on October 28 at 7:45 p.m.

lizzie borden’s house
92 Second St., Fall River, 508-675-7333. Tours: Sat & Sun every half hour from 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Lizzie Borden took an axe and not only allegedly gave her parents 40 whacks, she became known as one of Massachusetts’ most notorious criminals—even though she was never even convicted. You can take a tour of her Fall River house (50 minutes south of Boston) where the murders took place, or even spend the night. The home functions as a bed and breakfast, offering visitors with a penchant for the macabre a choice of crime scenes to sleep in. In the morning, dine just as the Bordens did their last day on earth.

costume shopping spree
Garment District, 200 Broadway St., Cambridge, 617-876-5230; Jack’s Joke Shop, 226 Tremont St., 617-426-9640; Boston Costume, 69 Kneeland St., 617-482-1632. Call for shop hours. The best way to have a good Halloween is with a great costume. You can rent one at Jack’s Joke Shop or Boston Costume (how about a giant bunny suit?) while picking up a few gags to add a little mischief to your night. Or get creative on a budget with a recycled outfit from the Garment District. Don some polyester duds and a wig and you’ve got yourself a look even John Travolta would envy.

80 Hesperus Ave., Gloucester, 978-283-2080. Oct 29 & 30 from 6:30–10:30 p.m. This medieval-style castle 30 miles north of Boston was built between the years 1926 and 1929 for John Hays Hammond, Jr. Every year the curators and the local theater group Pastimes transform the place into a house of nightmares. Walk the halls and experience the Masque of the Damned, giant spiders, ancient demons and every other phobia-inducing creature imaginable. And if that’s not scary enough, those who work at the castle year-round claim it’s really haunted by Hammond’s wife, the couple’s cats and various other straggling spirits. This attraction is rather intense, so young kids might be happier left at home.

New England Aquarium, Central Wharf, 617-973-5200; Franklin Park Zoo, One Franklin Park Rd., 617-541-LION.

It seems wherever you find critters in town, you’ll find some spooky Halloween action. The New England Aquarium gets things started with its Witches, Fishes and Fun event on October 30 from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. This kid-oriented event features treats, creatures from the deep and a Halloween party, including a light meal and soft drink as part of the ticket price. Costumed kids under 12 can even get in for free. For land-bound animal fun head to the Franklin Park Zoo’s Zoo Howl October 30 & 31 from 11 a.m–3 p.m. The haunted happenings include creature encounters, creepy crafts, ghoulish games and a petrifying trick-or-treat trail. Radio Disney spins some spine-tingling tunes and hosts the howling and costume contests.

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