Connecticut owns Halloween. We've got haunted attractions to scare the life out of you; historical explorations of our storied natural and supernatural history; spooky movies, theater and entertainment of all kinds; and family-friendly events where the kids can have fun, too. Here's our round-up of tricks and treats throughout October and beyond.
Haunted Houses, Trails and Rides
If you love a good scare, these haunted attractions will get you into the spirit(s) of the season. Note: These attractions are not for the faint of heart, and nearly all recommend that the young ones, as well as those with heart or other medical conditions, stay at home. (We have a separate section for kid- and family-friendly fun.) Many recommend purchasing tickets in advance, especially to reserve a particular date, and may offer express tickets to avoid the lines. Check with the venues for specific policies and admission fees.
The Haunted Graveyard, Lake Compounce, Bristol
Fri.-Sun. Sept. 28-Oct. 28: The largest haunted attraction in New England is a mile-long trail that takes victims through several haunted houses, each with a different spooky theme. If that’s too much adrenaline for you, more than a dozen rides and attractions will still be open, such as the, um, Phobia Phear Coaster. Early Halloween revelers can attend the second annual Boo Brew Fest Sept. 29-30; and if you want to peek at how that Graveyard comes to life, consider taking the new “Behind the Screams” tour on Sept. 29.
Halloweeen Hayride, Flamig Farm, Simsbury
Oct. 19, 20, 26, 27: Strange creatures haunt the woods and fields around the farm during this half-hour hayride. The third e is for extra spooky. (OK, not really, but it should be.)
Evidence of Evil, Crystal Bees, Southington
Fri.-Sat. Sept. 28-Oct. 27; also Oct. 14, 21, 28: Robert Besaw and David Belas, two veterans of the haunted house industry, will turn an unassuming bowling alley into a nexus of pure terror.
The Dark Manor, 25 Main St., Baltic
Thu.-Sun. Oct. 5-28; also Oct. 8, 24, 29, 30, 31: This haunted house actually consists of three blood-curdling attractions: The Manor itself, plus The Graveyard and The Catacombs.
Haunted Theater Connecticut, Wall Street Theater, Norwalk
Oct. 26: This one-night haunted house event will also offer Haunted Karaoke and a Big Jenga Party in the lobby.
Trail of Terror, 60 North Plains Highway, Wallingford
Fri.-Sun. in October: There may be no scarier walk through the woods than this, one of the state’s most popular haunted attractions. Each year about 200 volunteers populate the trail, terrifying the dickens out of some 20,000 visitors. General tickets will be available, but buying in advance for your preferred time and date is strongly recommended.
Harrybrooke Park Haunted Trail, Harrybrooke Park, New Milford
Oct. 12, 13, 19, 20: For the fifth straight year, the normally serene park will be taken over by terrifying creatures of the night once darkness settles in.
Fright Haven, Stratford Square Plaza, Stratford
Fri.-Sat. Sept. 22-Nov. 10; Thu.-Sun. Oct. 5-28; also Oct. 29-31: Fright Haven led a short but memorable life in West Haven a decade ago before being resurrected in Stratford a few years back. This year the enormous indoor facility has three all-new attractions: Lose your mind in the INSANEitariam, face backwoods cannibals in Redneck Rampage and journey through a freaky neon mindscape in Spaz’s Nightmare 3D.
Legends of Fear, Fairview Tree Farm, Shelton
Fri.-Sun. Sept. 28-Nov. 3: On the Haunted Hayride you’ll be accosted by sinister clowns and killers, while The Hallow will lead visitors through five terrifying attractions, including the Melon Head Revenge Trail, Hemlock Manor Mortuary and the new Funhouse of Fear.
Nautical Nightmares: Madness on the Mystic River, Mystic Seaport Museum
Oct. 12, 13, 19, 20, 26-28: Visitors will roam the grounds of the museum as they investigate a haunted whaleship and the Lovecraftian madness it has unleashed upon Mystic.
Haunted Hale Corn Maze, Nathan Hale Homestead, Coventry
Sept. 28, 29, Oct. 5, 6: For four evenings the corn maze at the Nathan Hale Homestead will be taken over by ghouls and ghosts, courtesy of the Young Friends of Hale. Aimed to appeal to kids as young as 10, this one is a little less scary than most haunted houses (but still not recommended for the very little ones.)
Haunted Isle, Shore Line Trolley Museum, East Haven
Fri.-Sat. Sept. 28-Oct. 27: A trolley takes visitors to a building in the nearby woods where nightmarish creatures await.
Rails to the Darkside, Connecticut Trolley Museum, East Windsor
Fri.-Sat. in October: Take a harrowing journey through a cursed cemetery.
Spooky Movies, Theater, Music and More
The Witch’s Dungeon Classic Movie Museum, Bristol Historical Society, Bristol
Fri.-Sun. Sept. 28-Oct. 28; Oct. 31, 7-10 p.m.: No fan of classic horror movies should pass up a chance to visit the Witch’s Dungeon. Founded in 1966, it’s one of the longest-running Halloween attractions in the country, and a move to the Bristol Historical Society a few years back has allowed it to expand gloriously in size. On the 20-minute tour you’ll encounter life-size wax replicas of icons such as Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney and Vincent Price and hear recordings by Price, Mark Hamill and more. Included in the tour are rare props and original makeup appliances from award-winning effects artists. After the tour, enjoy vintage thriller flicks (on film!) in the auditorium.
The Addams Family Musical, Lyman Center, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven
Oct. 5-7, 11-13: The award-winning musical about the lovably creepy and kooky family. General admission tickets are $15. 203-392-7278
Little Witches, Downtown Cabaret Theater, Bridgeport
Sat.-Sun. Oct. 6-28: The Cabaret’s Children’s Theater program is presenting this new musical about three teenage witch sisters. Will they grow up to be good witches or bad witches? Tickets are $24. 203-576-1636
MST3K Live: The Brain!, College Street Music Hall, New Haven
Oct. 13, 7 p.m.: The cult classic Mystery Science Theater 3000 performs a live takedown of an obscure, schlocky ’80s horror film. Tickets are $40-$60.
Ballet Spooktacular, Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Old Saybrook
Oct. 13, 14, 1 and 4 p.m. each day: The Eastern Connecticut Ballet will conduct four family-friendly, weekend performances, each featuring three ballets: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Dancing Bones and Halloween Waltz. Kids are encouraged to wear their costumes and go trick-or-treating throughout the decorated theater.
The Rat Pack — Undead!, Bijou Theatre, Bridgeport
Oct. 21, 3 p.m.: Frank, Dean and Sammy are back — as zombies — and crooning new versions of their hits to reflect their updated life status, like “Come Die With Me” and “Lie Me in the Tomb.” Tickets: $20-$50.
Frankenstein Radio Play, The Mark Twain House & Museum, Hartford
Oct. 26, 27, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 28, 2 p.m.: For the 200th anniversary year of Mary Shelley’s classic story, The Capital Classics Theatre company brings the classic tale of Frankenstein to life in the style of a live radio play, enhanced by live music and sound effects. 860-280-3130
The National Theatre Live’s Frankenstein, Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Old Saybrook
Oct. 30: A rebroadcast of the 2011 live production, with Benedict Cumberbatch as the monster. Tickets are $20.
Halloween Movie Festival, Southington Drive-In
Oct. 27: The community-owned drive-in wraps up its 2018 season with a night of Halloween-themed entertainment. Details had not yet been announced at press time.
Hocus Pocus, Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Old Saybrook
Oct. 28: The Kate will hold a 25th-anniversary screening of the classic family film. Tickets are $8 for adults or $3 for children 12 and under.
Scary Tales, Naugatuck Valley Community College Fine Arts Center, Waterbury
Oct. 28, 3 p.m.: The Waterbury Symphony Orchestra performs a diverse lineup of horror-inspired music, from Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” to the theme from Jaws. Tickets are $5-$50. 203-574-4283
Nov. 2, 8 p.m.: A couple of days after Halloween, Tony Spera, son-in-law of Ed and Lorraine Warren, will discuss some of the couple’s famous supernatural investigations.
Connecticut has a reputation as the most haunted state in the nation. These tours explore the ghostly legends lurking in some of its darker corners. (Some tours run beyond October; see websites for schedules.)
Thu.-Mon. in October, also Oct. 31: Does the ghost of Benedict Arnold haunt the New Haven Green? Maybe you’ll find out first-hand.
Fri.-Sun. in October, also Oct. 30 & 31: Learn about Captain Kidd’s curse and the Revolutionary War doctor who is believed to still reside in his old house.
Mystic Ghost Strolls, Various dates: Explore the paranormal legends surrounding Mystic, focusing on either the downtown area (Thu., Sat., Sun. in October; also Oct. 29, 31) or Whitehall Burial Ground (Fri.-Sun. in October; also Oct. 30, 31).
Cemetery Spirit Tours
Who says dead men tell no tales? History comes alive among the gravestones as actors recreate notable men and women of the past, telling the stories of their lives and sometimes tragic deaths.
A Haunting at Mill Hill, Graveyard at Mill Hill Historic Park, Norwalk
Oct. 12, 13, 19, 20: After the tour you’ll find more spirits in the Historic Haunted Maze.
West Hartford Hauntings, North Cemetery, West Hartford
Oct. 19, 20, 26, 27, 6-8:45 p.m.: Connect with West Hartford history in a scary setting.
Spirits Alive Cemetery Tour, Hillside Cemetery, Cheshire
Oct. 19, 20: Meet past residents of Cheshire along a tea light-illuminated path through the cemetery. Hosted by the Cheshire Historical Society.
Hallowed History Lantern Tour, Cedar Hill Cemetery, Hartford
Oct. 26, 6-9 p.m.: Reservations are required for this lantern-led tour.
Explore the history surrounding some supernatural legends.
Nightmare on Main: Unexplained Tales From Connecticut’s Past, Windham Textile and History Museum
Sept. 29, 30, Oct. 5, 6: Each year for Halloween, the museum’s Nightmare on Main exhibits offer an educational and spookily entertaining recreation of an aspect of Connecticut’s past. This year visitors will take a trip through some of the state’s most famous supernatural legends, such as the abandoned Dudleytown.
Things that Go Bump in the Night, Nathan Hale Homestead, Coventry
Oct. 11, 12, 18, 19: During a room-by-room, candlelit tour of one of Connecticut’s most historic houses, guides will share tales of supernatural encounters that are said to have taken place over the years.
Ghosts from the Civil War, Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, Norwalk
Oct. 19-21, 26-28: In this 90-minute guided tour, visitors will learn how LeGrand Lockwood, the first owner of the museum, and Elias Howe of Bridgeport funded the Connecticut 17th Regiment, and hear about the supernatural events which are said to have occurred at the sites of many Civil War battles. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
Halloween Hysterics at Henry’s, Henry Whitfield State Museum, Guilford
Oct. 27, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.: Visitors will learn to sculpt gargoyles out of clay and uncover some delightfully ghoulish exhibits about the state’s past and the origins of Halloween traditions. The museum will be appropriately dark, so bring a flashlight if you dare go exploring.
Witches and Tombstone Tours, Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, Wethersfield
Oct. 27, 28: Go back in time to witness how early Connecticut residents dealt with death, from a look at a 19th-century funeral to a visit to the historic Wethersfield Ancient Burying Ground and tales of the Wethersfield Witch Trials, which preceded the more famous Salem events by decades.
Monsters and ghouls can be too much to handle for the younger ones (and for some of the adults — don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone). Here are some kid- and family-oriented events that focus on fun instead of fright.
Pumpkin Patch Train Rides, Railroad Museum of New England, Thomaston
Sat.-Sun. in October: This 80-minute ride through the upper Naugatuck Valley lets you take in some spectacular fall views of the river and makes a stop at the museum’s own pumpkin patch, where kids can get out and select a pumpkin to take home.
Pumpkin Patch, Shore Line Trolley Museum, East Haven
Sat.-Sun. Oct. 13-28: Kids can ride the trolley to the pumpkin patch to pick out their own pumpkin. There will also be toy trains, coloring stations and face painting.
Jack-O-Lantern Festival, Enfield Town Green
Oct. 13, 4-8 p.m.: Hundreds of jack-o’-lanterns (the town is hoping to break its current record of 1,142) will light up the green as festival-goers take part in dance contests, raffles, games, hayrides and more. There will also be a costume contest and trick-or-treating for the kids.
Fright Night, Ambler Farm, Wilton
Oct. 19, 20, 26, 27, 6-8 p.m.: Kids in grades 3-5 can take part in gently spooky games, storytelling and a moonlit hayride. Advance registration required.
The Great Pumpkin Festival, Downtown Putnam
Oct. 20, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Putnam loves pumpkin season! Events will include a scarecrow contest, train rides, live music, kids’ activities and, of course, pumpkin-themed food.
Zion Scarecrow Festival, Zion Lutheran Church, Wallingford
Oct. 20: Families will build their own scarecrows to take home, plus there are food trucks and lots of other kids’ activities.
All Hallows Weekend, Connecticut Renaissance Faire, Lebanon
Oct. 13-14: Costumed revelers are invited to the Faire for its final weekend of the season for trick-or-treating, a kids’ costume contest and a family-friendly presentation of the stage musical Hocus Pocus Live. General admission to the Faire is $15.
Educational Events For Kids
Spooktacular Science Weekend, Connecticut Science Center, Hartford
Oct. 22, 23, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.: Kids visiting the center this weekend can dress in costume and take part in trick-or-treating, pumpkin decorating and Halloween crafts. PBS’ Nature Cat will be stopping by as well.
Aqua-Scarium, The Maritime Aquarium, Norwalk
Oct. 27, 28: Don’t mind the name — it’s all fun and learning, with activity stations specially decorated for the occasion. Kids ages 3-12 in costume are admitted free with a paying adult.
Spooktacular, The Discovery Museum, Bridgeport
Oct. 27, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: The museum will host a day of silly, spooky STEM activities the entire family can enjoy. 203-372-3521
Parties For Grown-Ups
All Hallows Weekend 18-and-over party, Connecticut Renaissance Faire, Lebanon
Oct. 13: Daylight hours are for the whole family, but the evening of Oct. 13 the adults will have their own costume contest and can see the uncensored, innuendo-heavy version of Hocus Pocus Live. Admission to the party is $25.
Vintage Halloween Masquerade Ball, Steampunk Library at The Storyteller’s Cottage, Simsbury
Oct. 27, 8-11 p.m.: A costume ball that combines elegance with a touch of the supernatural, with themed hors d’oeuvres and drinks, and ghost stories told by candlelight. 21 and over; admission is $40, or $50 with a Tarot reading.
Spooky Swing Dance Party, Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Old Saybrook
Oct. 27, 8 p.m.: Attend in costume as you dance the night away to The Shiny Lapel Trio (or if you prefer, watch the activities from the balcony). Tickets are $25.