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With the arrival of sweater weather and all things pumpkin spice, you’ll see displays of corn stalks, mums, and pumpkins adorning porches and doorsteps at every turn. But for every home showcasing a classically autumnal look you’ll find another whose décor of giant spider webs, make-shift graveyards, and a gaggle of ghoulish figures say one thing: Bring on Halloween!

So grab a steaming hot mug of cider and let’s break down the best ways to immerse yourself in the spooky spirit this holiday season:

1. Salem kicked off its spooky celebrations last weekend with the Haunted Happenings Grand Parade, which offered just a glimpse into the scares they have in store this season, including magic shows, museum exhibitions, ghost hunts and so very much more. For all the details, visit or download the app.

Photograph by Kate Fox | Courtesy of Destination Salem

2. Taking your fur baby out trick-or-treating can be paws-itively overwhelming for some pets, so skip it and bring them out to the Howl-o-ween Pet Parade on October 14 instead. Just the right place to show off their best costume, the pet parade supports community revitalization efforts in Salem and is sponsored by local businesses. 

3. Need a night out that doesn’t include the whole family? Take advantage of the North Shore Swing Dance’s Annual Masquerade Ball on October 14. Two bands will be on hand to help you dance the night away and a spectacle that’s not to be missed will be the North of Boston Swing Dance Society performing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” line dance!

4. Trick-or-Treat Hayrides on October 14 and 15 at Ipswich’s Marini Farm are the best way to experience their incredible seven-acre corn maze. Stops are made throughout the maze for riders to collect both tricks and treats. Costumes are encouraged for hayriders of all ages. Or, if you’re looking to challenge yourself, head over for the Flashlight Maze tours in the evening. But be sure to BYO flashlight or you’ll need to rely on the light of the moon to guide you safely out!

5. No Halloween season could be complete without a little Poe, now could it? Theater in the Open is meeting this need with their musical, movement-filled, macabre presentation of your favorite Edgar Allen Poe poems and stories on October 15. Not too spooky, this is an all-ages performance that just happens to take place in a graveyard – the Oak Hill Cemetery in Newburyport.

Halloween on the Hill | Photograph courtesy of The Trustees of Reservations

6. Halloween on the Hill returns to the Trustees’ Long Hill property in Beverly this year. Transforming the outdoor space into a true celebration of all things autumn, there will be surprises waiting on the trail including over 1,000 jack o’lanterns, music, light displays and more. Book your tickets in advance at

7. Classic horror films will always stand the test of time, and the crowds pouring into The Screening Room in Newburyport to take in The Wolfman on October 14 and Frankenstein on October 19 will be proof of this.  Come on out for a show, a laugh, and maybe a little bit of a scare. More information available at

Hammond Castle | Photograph by kendb3 with Creative Commons license

8. Photo ops abound in the fog-filled nooks and crannies of Hammond Castle during their Costumes and Candlelight Self-Guided Tours on October 20 and 21. Lit by candles, the long, eerie shadows will leave you wondering what is going bump in the night; are you brave enough to go around the next corner? Tickets available online.

9. The early birds ghouls in your house will want to make an appearance at the Rise n Shine Halloween Pancake Breakfast starting at 8:30 a.m. on October 22. Held at the Cove Community Center in Beverly, the breakfast will feature a pancake buffet, raffles, an on-stage costume parade and much more. 

10. The Marblehead Pumpkin Illumination on October 27 doubles up family-friendly fun with community support. Proceeds from this event benefit the Marblehead Family Fund, a non-profit organization community-based organization created to improve Marblehead’s playgrounds, parks, and open spaces. With entries that are carved, painted, or crafted the 14th annual display promises to be nothing less than dazzling.

Maudslay is Haunted

11. The Newburyport Arts Collective is putting on an action-packed month of seasonally themed events ranging from a “Witches Night Out” shopping event on October 13 to Maudslay is Haunted, a spine-tingling walk through the woods on October 21 and 22, to Tarot Talk readings and too many more to mention. The impressively full schedule lends credence to the collective’s claim of being “October’s Best Halloween Destination.” Watch out Salem, Newburyport is throwing down the gauntlet this spooky season!

12. If you’re really looking to send shivers down your spine, don’t miss the chance to experience Salem’s Witch City Walking Tours for a deep-dive into the mystery and secrets of the region’s residents from over 300 years ago. Choose from four award-winning tours and become spellbound as your licensed professional tour guide explores the social, political and environmental influences that resulted in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

13. For an elevated Halloween outing, book your tickets before they’re gone for Salem’s Haunted Speakeasy party, scheduled from October 31 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Hamilton Hall. Sip on Prohibition-era cocktails while New England’s best burlesque and drag entertainers try their best to bewitch you. 

The assortment of pumpkin carving opportunities, fall festival, and fun seem to be near endless in the vibrant villages of the North Shore. Take advantage of these community connections and chances to support your local businesses this spooky season. Happy haunting!