Chills and Thrills
Cool nights bring Halloween heat & haunted pasts
In the early dark, people walk up the main street, kicking up drifts of leaves. The night holds hints of the holiday to come—candlelit pumpkins and masks, hot cider and chocolate. Halloween has grown into a monthlong holiday of events as varied as a masquerade or a nightmare on a mountaintop. As the leaf season wanes, the ghost season waxes.
Family Fall Days
Anticipation builds in October, as young people take wagon rides to choose a pumpkin at Ioka Valley Farm in Hancock (iokavalleyfarm.com), or walk the field at Whitney’s in Cheshire (whitneysfarm.com), or go apple picking at Lakeview (lakevieworchard.com) or Bartlett’s Orchards (bartlettsorchard.com).
Costumed figures, floats and monsters line the Halloween Parade on Tyler Street in Pittsfield (cityofpittsfield.org) on October 26, and Hancock Shaker Village (hancockshakervillage.org) welcomes young trick-or-treaters on October 27 for masks and doughnuts, stories and art.
Jack-o’-lanterns flare at the John F X Keator Pumpkin Walk in Washington on October 26, and on that same Friday in the gardens of the Stockbridge Library, as costumed families march in the annual Stockbridge Halloween Parade (stockbridgechamber.org), up Main Street from Pine to the town offices for cider and doughnuts.
At Naumkeag (naumkeag.thetrustees.org), a lightening bug, wild turkeys, and black bears walk the gardens after dark, telling stories by candlelight. The Gilded Age mansion in Stockbridge will open its pumpkin trail on October 5-6 and 12-13, from 5-7:30 p.m. Luminaries and jack-o-lanterns line the pathways—Berkshire Bank carves more than 300 pumpkins—and this year, electric lighting and sound throughout the garden enhance the nocturnal creatures who come to tell their stories.
As Halloween approaches, walk softly from the night garden to the cellars of Naumkeag’s haunted mansion. What moves in these rooms where no one has lived since the Choate family left in 1959? Limelight in Lee and stage and set-design students from Bard College at Simon’s Rock help to set the scene, and local actors people it with spirits. This haunted house can be visited October 19-20 and 26-27, from 6:30-9 p.m. (and, like the haunted fields and mountain that follow, it is not recommended for children under 12).
In Dalton, Grimm’s fairy tales take on new and twisted life at Purgatory Road (facebook.com/purgatory.rd.haunted). Mary and her lamb, Red Riding Hood and more lurk in the corn, says Betsy Nichols, whose family hosts the two-acre haunted maze at their farm at 190 Cleveland Road, October 12-13 and 19-20, from 7 to 10 p.m. This is her family’s seventh year of haunted nights. High school students and others who have moved on to college and beyond return to act in the event, and all proceeds to benefit the Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention.
Farther north, the mountains’ past reawakens in a haunted wedding in Jericho Valley. Guests can ride through the night woods to the summit or try the Giant Swing or the Soaring Eagle zipline in the dark, as Jiminy Peak in Hancock opens for 13 Nights, September 28 and October 31 (13nightsatjiminy.com).
Adults wanting a night out can relax on the dance floor, in disguise or not. GreylockWorks in North Adams (greylockworks.com) will host a Halloween masquerade on October 27. They offer prizes for themed costumes, local beers from Bright Ideas Brewery, and cocktails. DJ BFG mixes, and lighting artist McZawa (Brian McCreary) collaborates with him to make the room pulse.
For aspiring sorcerers, Blantyre in Lenox (blantyre.com) hosts an adult Harry Potter soirée on October 27, a roaming house party with brews and wine, themed cocktails and live music. (Tickets are $100.) Chef Jeremy Berlin and pastry chef Tumi prepare Hogwartian fare and pastries, and costumes are welcome.
And the Lion’s Den in Stockbridge has a Halloween party brewing at 7 p.m. on October 31, with a raffle open to anyone in costume (redlioninn.com).
For a full-course dinner with homicide, Ventfort Hall presents Murder Mystery Dinner theater in Haunted by Murder on October 21 (gildedage.org). And the Egremont Barn (theegremontbarn.com) brings northwestern Connecticut guitar, bass, and a beat to the nice ones Halloween Party show, October 27, with comfort food at the pub.
Ghosts and Fears
In ghost tours on Fridays in October, the Mount (edithwharton.org) explores a century and a half of the souls who have lived here. And this year, Hancock Shaker Village (hancockshakervillage.org) opens its paths by lantern light with stories of ghost sightings and the spiritualist movement, October 18-20 and 25-27.
On October 25 at 5 pm, after cider and doughnuts, Norman Rockwell Museum’s curator of education, Tom Daly, will lead a tour of the graves of Rockwell, Elizabeth Freeman, the Sedgwick family, Chief Konkapot, and more (nrm.org).
Crossing over Halloween, Ventfort Hall will lead a haunted evening with a different flavor on November 3, as David Raby leads a paranormal investigation of the mansion’s rooms and the people who lived here long ago.
Head for the Hill
Rural areas do not make for efficient trick-or-treating. So it’s no wonder that in south county, one of the most popular destinations for families who are eager to collect the most candy per footstep is the Hill neighborhood in Great Barrington. Densely packed streets full of Victorian houses provide the perfect venue. If you come this year, be sure to drive slowly and be on the lookout for pedestrians, especially all of those pint-sized Elsas and superheroes. And for anyone considering buying a house on the Hill, know that homeownership there comes with the duty of stocking up on enough candy every year to pass out to hundreds of visitors. — Rebecca Gold