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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Halloween ’23: Ways to enjoy the spookiest season in the Cape Fear

From Chapel of Horrors, a haunted attraction in the Soda Pop District of downtown Wilmington. (Courtesy photo)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — October is arguably the best month of the year. Why? Because of the number of events hosted across the Cape Fear, many of which ensure the region lives up to its name during Halloween.

Festivals, horror movie nights, haunted houses, corn mazes, and more will keep October packed with fun. Here are a few suggestions to make the most out of the spookiest season…

Burlesque Halloween Nights

Bourgie Nights, 127 Princess St. • Tickets: $20-$25

Ready for a bit of risque haunts and horrors? 

Puppie Buffé teases, tantalizes and tickles all the fancies of audience members for a special Halloween Burlesque show at Bourgie Nights on Saturday, Oct. 21. It will be hosted by Magnolia Jackson Pickett Burnside and feature Lextacy, Rusty Dawn, Honey Glaze and Sweet D. 

The audience is encouraged to join in costumes and “romp and run amok” with the performers who are promising to “unwrap adult tricks and treats.”

Doors are at 7:30 p.m. with the show at 8 p.m. It’s for ages 21 and up only.

Cargo East Halloween Pop-Up and Movie Night

Ruff Draft, 2144 Wrightsville Ave. • Free

Wilmington’s only dog bar, Ruff Draft, and nearby home goods store, The Refillery Co., are welcoming the public to Cargo East’s Pop-up Fall Vendor Market and Halloween Movie Night on Sunday, Oct. 22.

The market will feature local artisans and crafters from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. There also will be a mini pumpkin patch onsite and a pumpkin-painting station for kids. A food truck, Tasty Tee’s Snack Shack, will be parked from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

Around 6 p.m., a family-friendly movie, “Frankenweenie,” will screen in the dog park at Ruff Draft. Chairs, blankets and movie snacks are welcome.

Cape Fear Museum’s After Dark: Halloween

814 Market St. • Tickets: $12-$18

An evening event where adults 18 and up can enjoy all of the spookiness of the season, Cape Fear Museum is hosting its After Dark program, the Halloween edition, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 26. There will be food trucks parked on site, and beer, wine and mocktails for purchase. The interactive event includes stations set up to see spooky artifacts on display, partake in creepy crafts, watch an owl pellet dissection and see ghost bubbles. There is also a costume contest.

On Halloween night — Tuesday, Oct. 31 — the museum will open to the public at large and welcome through trick-or-treaters, who can also participate in creepy crafts and explore eerie artifacts. The museum staff will dress up to give away some candy. It’s free.

Eggstra Spooky Flashlight Egg Hunt

4446 Fish Factory Road, Oak Island • Free

The Town of Oak Island is combining two holidays in one for a special nighttime event for the kiddos.

It’s an egg hunt — featuring orange- and black-filled eggs — that kids find using flashlights and dressing up in honor of Halloween. The free event, dubbed Eggstra-Spooky Flashlight Egg Hunt, takes place Friday, Oct. 27 at Bill Smith Park  with different times for various age groups:

  • 6:30 p.m. — ages 1-3
  • 6:45 p.m. — ages 4-6
  • 7 p.m. — ages 7-10 

Galloway Farm Maze 

3245 Pine Level Church Road, Nakina • Tickets: $30 and up

A 13-acre sorghum maze in Brunswick County is open for the season, plus there is a 3-acre kid’s maze. Galloway opens every weekend, 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday (reservations can be made Tuesday through Thursday).The community can enjoy the mazes, as well as farm games, an augmented reality scavenger hunt, tractor and barrel train rides, live animals and more. Tickets are $12 online or $14.50 in person.

Ghost Trolley

Market and Water Streets, downtown • $8-$16

Every Halloween, Springbrook Farm’s Ghost Trolley takes riders through historic downtown Wilmington to listen to ghost stories. The tales are tailored for youngsters, as the horses and riders are decked out in costumes. There are free treats for children and reservations are not required. Tickets are $8 to $16, and the Halloween stroll takes place Oct. 27-31; treats will be available for children.

Goosebumps in the Grove

Poplar Grove Plantation, 10200 U.S. Highway 17 N. • Tickets: $5

Annually, Poplar Grove Plantation turns its historic grounds into a festival for kids and adults alike. The fun is scheduled to take place Saturday, Oct. 28, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 29, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There will be 75 artisan vendors on the grounds, with food trucks, trick-or-treating, carnival games and prizes. Plus, there will be a “Monster Mash” sing- and dance-a-long, vintage carnival games, Halloween photo ops and balloon creations by Mr. Twister.  

It’s a $5 entry for ages 2 and up; an additional $5 is required to take a manor house tour, open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Grissettown Haunted Trail

758 Longwood Road, Ocean Isle Beach • Tickets: $15

Hosted by the Grissettown Longwood Fire and Rescue in Ocean Isle Beach, the annual haunted trail is packed with the grisliest of characters and scenes, strobe lights, chainsaws, funhouse-like vibes and plenty of screams. 

The actors on the 30-minute trail comprise local firefighters and community volunteers. Though not high up on super scares, it’s advised that parents use caution on whether to allow their children through.

Tickets are $15 a person and the trail is open every Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., and on Tuesday, Halloween night.

Halloween Drag Brunch

Sauce’d, 224 Water St.  • Tickets: $15 and up

Sauce’d is hosting a drag brunch Oct. 14 that will include show-stopping performances by local iconic drag artists: Tara Nicole Brooks, Prwincezz Malaysia Kay and Ebony Addams.

The brunch also includes an audience Halloween-inspired costume contest. The theme: Sweet and Saucey. Doors are at 1 p.m. and tickets are available for 21 years and older only, with VIP available as well. 

Halloween Movie Nights

Multiple locations • Free – $5

Belville is hosting a movie night Oct. 21, 7 p.m., at the Riverwalk Park (580 River Road.). It’s free and blankets and chairs, as well as picnics, are welcome (no alcohol) as folks cozy up to watch Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” There will be food vendors, prizes and trivia ahead of the screening.

The Eagle’s Dare is hosting movie night every Thursday in October with free screenings. On Oct. 12, “Hocus Pocus,” will be featured, with the film starting at 8 p.m., and on Oct. 19, “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Bellamy Mansion is hosting Monster Movie Madness on Oct. 27, 6:30 p.m. It will have a double feature, showing “Little Shop of Horrors” and then “Night of the Living Dead.” It’s a $5 suggested donation, and blankets and chairs are welcome. Concessions are sold onsite. Costumes are also encouraged.

Halloween Story Time by the Sea

Ocean Front Park and Pavilion, 105 Atlantic Ave. • Free

The Town of Kure Beach hosts story time for kids at its Ocean Front Park and Pavilion Oct 28., from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The event welcomes favorite characters — such as the Little Mermaid — to read books aloud to the crowd. The event is free and Halloween costumes are encouraged. There will be crafts available for kids to partake in and photo opportunities.

Halloween Silent Disco

Hi-Wire Brewing, 1020 Princess St. • Tickets: $10-$15

It’s time to put on your dancing shoes and be prepared to dance (and sing) the night away at Hi-Wire Brewing (1020 Princess St.). A silent disco is on the agenda for Friday, Oct. 27. So what does that mean, exactly? 

Welp, headphones are handed out to ticketholders who then have three channels to choose from to inspire the best moves. DJs are spinning tunes for each channel and listeners can essentially choose their own music adventure.

A requests line is also open and there will be Halloween, scary mixes thrown in for good measure.

The Haunted Manor

507 McCrae St. • Tickets: $10-$15

Can’t get enough thrills? Let the Haunted Manor on McCrae Street tempt you.

It’s open one Saturday only, Oct. 28, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., and promises spine-chilling frights.

The manor houses a world of darkness that includes ghosts, ghouls and supernatural beings for heart-pounding scares and hair-raising encounters. Attendees are encouraged to dress up in their most scary costumes.

Howl-O-Ween Costume Contest

Wilmington Brewing Company, 800 S. Kerr Ave. • Free

Can’t get enough of dressing up your dog in wacky ways this Halloween? Wilmington Brewing Company is hosting its costume contest on Oct. 29, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. There will be the Wheelz Pizza food truck on site and $1 from select beers will be donated to the New Hanover Humane Society from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Costume contest participants must be present to win and will be sent a text regarding their prize. There also will be a raffle, but one’s presence is not required to win.

Maides Park Halloween Fest

1101 Manly Ave. • Free

A community festival will get underway Friday, Oct. 20, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Maides Park’s Davis Center. Activities include trick-or-treating, games, a costume contest, plus food and music. A limited number of Wilmington Parks and Recreation bags will be available for kids, though the city encourages families to bring their own. If it rains, the event will take place Friday, Oct. 27.

Panic Attack

3245 Pine Level Church Road, Nakina • Tickets: $30 and up

An hour west in a swampy, desolate area, a haunted attraction created by film industry professionals is officially open. Panic Attack is not for the faint of heart; it brings extreme scares to all who dare enter. 

The attraction is brought to life by set designers, mechanized props, and actors who take on demonic clowns, threatening queens, dragons, zombies, and … Captain Hook? The 2023 event centers on the theme “Neverland,” so expect a dark take on beloved children’s fairy tales — such as the “horrid-filled mine shaft” of Snow White’s seven dwarfs or Alice in Wonderland strapped to the guillotine and “twisted turns” taken by Little Red Riding Hood.Panic Attack is open 7:30 p.m. to midnight every Friday and Saturday through Halloween, plus Tuesday, Oct. 31. Tickets are $30 to $70; the attraction tends to pack in audiences every season, so reservations are recommended. Food vendors are on site and there are plenty of photo opportunities to capture the fun of the season. Plus, DJs Slim McGraw, Dayz and Dank Williams alternate nights to bring live tunes.

Phobia Haunted Trail

2859 Maco Road NE, Leland • Tickets: $20

Across the bridge in Leland, on Maco Road, a haunted trail is returning for its sixth season. 

The 30-minute walk will take those who dare through CarnEvil featuring live actors — so, yes, that likely means evil clowns will test the boundaries of extreme phobias. Two trails are featured: one that is a fully immersive clown trail and one that will test every participants’ biggest phobias. 

The trail opens Friday through Sunday, 8 p.m. to midnight. General admission is $20. Learn more here.

Chapel of Horrors

Bottleworks Facility, 921 Princess St. • Tickets: $25 and up

Goosebumps and gore are on the rise across the Cape Fear, especially with Wilmington’s newest haunted attraction from Port City Fear Factory: “Chapel of Horrors.”

Lines have been wrapping around the building at Ninth and Princess streets over the last few weekends as those who dare enter a chapel whose congregation has turned dark. The backstory revolves around a church built in the 1920s with every person that helped construct the sanctuary falling ill and dying. When the church eventually opened, it already had a graveyard in place. 

Port City Fear Factory — made up of players in the film and theater communities — is presenting “Chapel of Horrors” in the Soda Pop District’s Bottleworks facility. It will continue to take place Fridays and Saturdays, through October. The final weekend the haunt will be open Friday through Monday, Oct. 30, in celebration of Halloween. 

However, Saturday, Oct. 14, is “Black Phone” Day — in honor of the horror film that rolled in town featuring Ethan Hawke and that Bearded Skulls — part of Port City Fear Factory — worked on. There will be actors from the film on site and a “Black Phone” mask created by Jason Baker at Tom Savini studios and signed will be raffled off ($10 a ticket here).

The following weekend, Chapel of Horrors will have a family-friendly day, featuring trick-or-treating at the haunt from noon to 4 p.m. and $12 tickets to the toned-down attraction (kids under 4 get in free). Plus, there will be pumpkin-painting and photo opportunities.

Learn more about tickets and reservations here and catch up on previous PCD coverage here.

Pup-O-Ween Wilmington

Hi-Wire Brewing, 1020 Princess St. • Tickets: $5

On Oct. 24, 6:30 p.m., grab the pooches and their best garb for a party at Hi-Wire Brewing. It’s the third annual Pup-O-Ween, with a doggy costume contest on deck in four categories: Best Overall. Waggiest. Scariest and Bartenders’ Choice. Prizes given to each winner.

It’s a $5 entry, however, all proceeds are donated to Canines for Service. The local nonprofit trains canines to work at no cost with veterans who suffer from PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI,) military sexual trauma (MST,) or mobility limitations.

Spooktacular Halloween Bash

Seawitch Cafe, 227 Carolina Beach Ave. N. • Tickets: $5

Carolina Beach’s favorite bar and restaurant is welcoming ghouls and goblins to dance the night away with live music from The Cut on Oct. 28. 

It’s a $5 cover and cash will be paid out for the costume contest. The top 20 are announced at 11 p.m. to be narrowed down to a winner. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.


The Eagle’s Dare, 420 N. Third St. • Tickets: $15-$20 

Annually, Zombiefest has been the hot ticket for Halloween, welcoming rock-n-rollers and rockabilly performers alike for a romp of live music and thrills, with lots of costumed shenanigans. 

However, since the Covid-19 pandemic, it has yet to return to its falls lineup … until this year.

2023 will see the return of Zombiefest at a downtown venue, The Eagle’s Dare, at the corner of Red Cross and Third streets on Oct. 28. Three bands will perform, including Los Straitjackets, The Phantom Playboys and The Dew Drops. Food trucks will be parked and there will be a costume contest.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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