Your Guide To The Spooky Spots And Creepy Adventures Of Durham
Halloween is right around the corner, and Durham does the holiday as only the Bull City can.
Posted By Ashley Strahm
It's time for you to hunt zombies, watch throwback horror films, and shop for Halloween-worthy novelties! Celebrate the spooky and mystical with these Durham activities and autumn events, as well as the lesser known corners of the city that are sure to make your hair stand on end.
Retro Film Series at The Carolina Theatre | September 13– December 6
Embrace retro Halloween vibes at this film extravaganza at the Carolina Theatre. Tickets vary in price from $8–$10 (with an $8 matinee for those of you who can't bear to emerge from a haunted flick into the darkness!) There are also Retro Film passes to get you in for less if viewing multiple films. Films in the series in October include a "Hocus Pocus" Halloween, Hammer Films’ "Vampire Circus," Fred Dekker's "The Monster Squad" and Jim Henson's "The Witches."
Rocky Horror Picture Show: Halloween Ball | October 30, 31
Folks have been asking for this for two decades — and now, The Carolina Theatre and Retro Film Series will present a fully-interactive, theatrical FX-driven, light show-blazing, fog-blowing, call-backing, costume-wearing, motion picture extravaganza you won't want to miss. Head there for door prizes, grab bags, and concessions specials.
Zombie Haunt at Xtreme Park Adventures | October 18–November 1
For an intensely spooky experience, make your way to the zombie-infested woods of East Durham. You’ll be equipped with a paintball gun with the goal of shooting any zombies who approach your military truck … we hope you make it out alive. Get your tickets before the zombies are all gone.
Little Shop of Horrors | Horror fans will dig Little Shop of Horror’s selection of movies, gifts, and oddities. Stock up on your festive wares right in time for Halloween.
Magic & Mystery
Halloween provides an opportunity to discover scintillating new gifts and experiences. Make plans to sip on herbal cocktails during a tarot reading or embrace your mysterious side at these Durham boutiques.
Everyday Magic | For crystals, tarot decks, herbal tinctures, candles, and other goodies, check out Everyday Magic. The boutique also hosts tarot readings, reiki workshops, and other classes for New Age devotees.
MagikCraft | This Ninth Street shop specializes in metaphysical products, including incense, candles, tarot decks, and alternative healing supplies. Stop in for tarot or palm readings and medium work.
Arcana | This hidden bar features tarot readings and specialty cocktails, plus live performances and dance parties. Arcana’s herbal cocktails and intimate interior complement brisk fall nights filled with mysticism.
Spooky City Spots
Perhaps the must-see spooky spots of Durham are right under your nose.
It's said that the ground Arcana is on is filled with paranormal experiences waiting to be discovered. Erin Karcher, the creative force behind Durham's Arcana Bar and Lounge says, "According to at least one customer, Arcana has a ghost cockatiel that flies around above the sofas." They host occult tarot practitioners, as well as quite a few dark, spooky, and fun events, like Goth Prom, and a Séance: Gothic Halloween Dance Party.
If you're into seeing the supernatural in its natural environment, take a stroll by the sinking grave and gravestone of Catharine Dunnagan while hiking the Dunnagan Trail in Eno River State Park. The adventure will be replete with the sounds of the season – try not to be spooked by the crunchy leaves, canopies, and fallen timber. Additionally, the rich history of the Old Maplewood Cemetery is alive and well with the pasts of many Durham luminaries.
Now we wouldn't tell you to walk down just any alley – but Alley 26 is just barely off the beaten path and weaves cobblestone and brick beside the bar of the same name. Take a moment to stand in the narrow pathway and take in the moon above; you'll probably shiver ... and not due to the fall breeze.
Also, you don't need to venture far from City Center to howl at the moon this year. In honor of Durham’s 150th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, Bull Moon Rising is giving Durhamites and visitors alike a chance to get the closest possible look at the moon. The free, family-friendly four-day event will include moon-centric activities like a reading of popular children’s book “Goodnight Moon” by Mayor Steve Schewel, a Paperhand Puppets Halloween-themed performance, a formal “Moon Ball” gala at Unscripted Hotel, a community dinner with local food truck vendors and tables stretching down Orange Street and much more.
For the Family
Pumpkins, candy, and family fun await at these kid-friendly Durham events.
Pumpkin Patch Express at the Museum of Life + Science | October 5-6; 12-13; 19-20; 26-27
Jump aboard the Ellerbe Creek Railway at the Museum of Life + Science for a pumpkin picking expedition. Enjoy arts and crafts, then return home with your perfect Jack O’ Lantern. Tickets are $12 per person, in addition to general admission to the museum.
Duke Homestead’s Halloween Phantasmagoria | October 25
Appropriate for all ages, the educational event takes place at the 19th-century homestead of the Duke family. Tickets are $10 plus tax per adult in advance, $15 plus tax at the door; $5 plus tax for kids 12 and under.
Barktoberfest | October 26
Join Durham Parks and Rec for an afternoon of doggone good times at Durham Central Park. Local celebrity judges will determine the winner of the costume contests, and you can enjoy treats from local food trucks and brewers while watching canine attendees show off their wooftastic tricks.
Hallow-Eno | October 31
Campfire stories + hayrides + crafts + face painting + treats = one amazing Halloween celebration! Bring the kids out for this free event at West Point on the Eno. No guarantees you won’t return home without a sugar high!
Looking for more autumn activities?