Halloween is still happening in the Shenandoah Valley. While larger events are cancelled, there are small town celebrations, family-friendly ghost tours, and other fun ways to enjoy all things spooky. Here are some events to put on your calendar, along with some helpful advice from Valley Health.
Halloween is Still Happening in the Valley
Admit it – there’s nothing cuter than seeing kids in Halloween costumes. And even though Halloween 2020 will be different because of COVID-19, families can still enjoy the spooky season. Local medical provider Valley Health recently posted recommended guidelines for this year’s festivities. Here are a few of their tips for safely celebrating:
Do not use a costume mask as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose.
Do not wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. This can become dangerous if both masks make it difficult to breathe. Instead, try a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
Host outdoor gatherings rather than indoor activities as much as possible and limit the number of attendees.
Maintain at least six feet of distance between yourself and others who do not live in your household at all times when trick/trunk or treating. And be sure to carry hand sanitizer.
If you hand out candy, consider setting up an area outside, like a folding table or chairs, to set out candy. Space out the placement of treats so that multiple people do not have to reach into the same bowl or find contactless ways to deliver treats. One fun idea is to make a candy chute. (We LOVE this!)
As always, check social media and websites when making plans that day as things can change. Now that you know, let’s go!
Small Town Halloween Celebrations
You’ll find some changes in this year’s small town celebrations, but for these communities the show still goes on. The Town of Luray has moved its traditional “Trick or Treat on Main Street” to Ralph H. Dean Park at 625 Six Street. From 2-4pm, children can Trunk or Treat in the parking lot by the soccer field.
And just a few minutes south on Route 340, the Town of Stanley is hosting a Halloween Block Party that evening, 6-8pm. Partygoers 12 and under should stop by the Town Office to register to win a Wal-Mart gift card.
At the time this was written, the Town of Woodstock was in the final planning process and awaiting health department approval for the October 31 Halloween on the Court Square, 11am-1:30pm. Find them on Facebook for more details.
Winchester Halloween Happenings
Plan your Winchester Halloween with a combination of some of these events. Movies, arts & crafts, museum mischief, moonlight hayrides and Halloween handouts await!
Get an early start on your Halloween celebration at Haunted Nightmares at High Hill Farm. While the haunted house can be daunting for younger kids, the attraction is open during daylight hours on the weekends with a show that is geared more for children. There are also escape rooms for family fun. Be sure to take a moonlight hayride (weather permitting) and pick a small souvenir pumpkin. Or bring your flashlight and try your nighttime navigation skills in the corn maze.
Clearbrook Park is hosting Halloween Happenings October 29 and 30, 6-8pm. Attendance is limited, registration is required and right now there’s a waitlist. Little ghouls and goblins are encouraged to dress in their costumes, bring a flashlight, and get ready for Halloween handouts from community partners. Find more details on the Frederick County Parks & Rec Facebook page.
Clarke County Parks & Rec is hosting a FREE movie night October 30, 6:30-9pm, at Chet Hobart Park Playground. Bring a blanket and enjoy an evening under the stars with “The Addams Family (2019).” Feel free to dress in your Halloween best. In the event of rain, the movie will be shown inside the recreation center.
More Halloween Fun in Winchester
Speaking of Halloween movies, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is a Trick or Treat Cinema this month. Each weekend in October, Alamo is presenting “kid-friendly at wallet-friendly prices” movies for children 12 and under. Bring your pumpkin bucket for treats and feel free to dress up. Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” is currently playing and “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” is playing Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.
If you like your movies under the stars, get your tickets online for the October 30 double feature at the Family Drive-In. “Hocus Pocus” and “Goosebumps” will be playing on the big screen. That night Family Drive-In will be donating a portion of the ticket and concession sales to CCAP Winchester, a non-profit supporting people in need.
Have an artistic spookster in the family? Then head over to Winchester’s walking mall and the Polka Dot Pot Halloween Paint Party, 11am – 5pm, on October 31. Owner Emily Rhodes will be giving out treats and the studio will have some great deals on Halloween themed arts & crafts projects you can work on in the studio. And while you’re on the north end of the mall, be on the lookout for other merchants handing out goodies, starting at 7 North Loudoun Street from 4pm to 6pm.
Round out your Downtown Winchester Halloween with a visit to the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum. COVID-19 has hit this town jewel hard, so come out and show your support at this museum fundraiser. There will be three play sessions (9:30am, 1:30pm and 4:30pm) with lots of arts & crafts to take home.
What’s Halloween Without a Ghost Tour?
Just across the state line, the historic towns of Harpers Ferry, Charles Town, and Shepherdstown WV form something of a “Bermuda Triangle” of ghost tours. Check out these so you can determine the right one for your family.
If you have a history lover in the family, you’ll want to take a tour with Rick Garland, owner of Ghost Tours of Harpers Ferry. Good for ages 8 and up, Rick will give you a full dose of area history on the tour, along with family-friendly spooky stories. And feel free to bring your pooch! You’ll need to make advance reservations (check the website for details) with payment made at the meeting spot (cash or check).
Another tour that works well for families is the daytime grave art tour, led by Ann Khiel Fern of Charles Town Ghost Tours. “The tour is like a scavenger hunt,” says Ann. “Every symbol on a marker tells a story.” Guests are given a list of symbols to find while on the tour and a prize is awarded at the end.
“There are so many famous people buried in Charles Town,” says the guide. “This tour is a way to enjoy the beauty of a cemetery in a respectful way and take the fear out of visiting.” This is just one of the tours offered so be sure to get more details on Facebook.
“Beautiful Sites and Strange Mysteries”
To complete the triangle, take a ghost tour of historic Shepherdstown. Meredith Moore, owner of Shepherdstown Ghost Tours will take you on a stroll around town and Shepherd University and share her personal haunted experiences. While attending college at Shepherd, says Meredith, she had her first ghostly encounter.
Meredith has also met other benign apparitions in nearby Sharpsburg, MD where she runs another ghost tour. “After graduating, I married a local man and we lived in an old farm house that belonged to his family for over a 100 years,” she says. “I later lived in town and in that house had similar experiences.” Meredith suggests that her tours are good for children 7 and up. And her tours are dog-friendly too.
Looking for more Shepherdstown haunts? Then join Janet Hughes from Shepherdstown Mystery Walks and meet the neighborhood ghosts – along with the tour’s “Mascat” Cecil. Shepherdstown is the oldest town in West Virginia. Not only is the town rich in history, “There was a lot of good karma in the early days,” says Janet.
But the area also saw its share of war, especially bloody Civil War action. So while all are welcome on the tour, Janet suggests that it’s best for older kids. Book your tour online, pack your flashlight and get ready to stroll the streets with a costumed guide on this candlelight tour. And be sure to say hi to Cecil!
Halloween Goes Virtual with Air & Space
Keeping it virtual this Halloween? Then check out the Smithsonian Institute Air and Space Museum’s Air & Scare at Home. There are costume and pumpkin contests, Halloween activities, story times, live chats and more. And be sure to download one of their terrific pumpkin stencils for carving your orange beauty.