March 3, 2024

Halloween Rising

Because you're never too old to scare the bejesus out of yourself
By Ross Boissoneau | Oct. 24, 2020

While the pandemic continues to impact lives and prevent mass gatherings, some Halloween events Up North, much like your average zombie, are proving unstoppable. Here are our picks from around region — some virtual, some not, but all ready to raise some chills up your spine:

The Flying Dutchman doesn’t have anything on Manistee’s Ghost Ship. While the former is a ghostly frigate that appears to doomed sailors, the latter appears yearly onboard the historic SS City of Milwaukee. As part of the giant ship's ongoing preservation efforts, it’s once again been taken over by ghosts, goblins, and ghouls galore. From 7:30pm to 10:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays, guests can explore five decks — provided they're not afraid of running into spooks around every corner.

While those brave enough to explore the ship’s nooks and crannies don’t have to be in costume, they do have to be masked, COVID-style, and all guests and employees will have to pass a temperature check to enter. Social distancing is required, and group sizes will be limited. The ship will be sanitized after each visit, and there will be hand sanitizer available at various points around the ship. Tickets are $10. For more information, go to

Live music will be part of the fun at the first annual Tilted Halloween at Cadillac's Wexford Civic Center Oct. 31. Two bands — Once Upon a Bison and $alemWitchTrial — will perform, and numerous booths will feature the wares of local artists.

Rumor has it Captain Brown Beard will be on hand as well, and patrons can even grab a pistol and a sword and get a photo with the Cap’n and his first mate. Want to get in on the costume fun? There will also be a costume contest, with proceeds going toward supporting local artists and the opening of an art lounge in downtown Cadillac in the summer of 2021. The entrance to the booth area is free, though expect a $15 cover charge for the live entertainment and costume contest. All ages are welcome.

If you don’t mind being stranded on a ghostly island, then the Halloween Weekend at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island is just the thing for you. It starts off innocently enough with a quiet Friday evening dinner in the Main Dining Room, but after that … things get dicey. Those who dare can traverse the Hollowing Halls to the Haunted Trail and Maze. It winds some 3,000 feet through the front lawn's cedar grove and will be populated by any number of scarifying entities, with supernatural specters all along the way. 

On Saturday — assuming you have made it through the maze and trail and still have all your faculties — activities include a pumpkin carving contest, haunted afternoon tea, and tarot card reading. After Saturday night dinner comes the Grand Halloween Ball and Costume Party, with music by Delilah and the Lost Boys. The spookiest, silliest, or craziest costume will win the costume contest and earn a stay at Grand Hotel in 2021, including breakfast and dinner. Go to

If a trip to an island isn’t your cup of tea, then maybe visiting a farm in the community of Kingsley would better suit you: petting pretty lambs, scratching the ears of some baby goats, looking into the big brown eyes of Holsteins … or the glowing red eyes of the TERRIFYING APPARITIONS THAT HAUNT THE FARM.

Ahem. The ghostly farmer has a special reward for those unfortunate enough to cross his path on the Feast or Famine Haunted Trail. You’ll know who they are by the screams — unless you’re the one doing the screaming.

Those who hear their name being called by an unseen sprite in the woods should survive the fright, as long as they don’t stray from the path. Warning: The Colonial might put in a surprise appearance while a sighting of the Dark Lady through the graveyard fog could mean your doom.

Bonus: The Ghost Farm serves as a fundraiser, and the entry fee of patrons like you (a.k.a. the nearly departed) go to support various worthy local organizations. This haunt is open 7pm to 11pm every Friday and Saturday in October, except Halloween Night, which offers only 9pm to 11pm. The dusk walks (one out of fives skulls on the terror level) start at 7pm, while the scare-intensive (five out of five skulls) begin when darkness falls across the Ghost Farm.

Note: Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the farm this year has closed its haunted houses, including the Ghost Story Pavilion, Gravely Greenhouse, and the Cursed Barn. Tickets are $15 (cash only) at the gate. You may also purchase tickets online at before heading out, and they'll be scanned off your cellphone when you pull up at the farm gate. The Ghost Farm is located at 5010 Pierce Road.

One of the most popular events each year is the Traverse City Zombie Run. Bowing to the real fear of COVID-19, the 12th annual run has become a solo event. Simply run or walk a 5K anywhere and at any time (preferably in costume but, sadly, not required).

You can run or walk the official Zombie Run course or any 5K route you like. If you do run the official course, stop at Right Brain Brewery and take a selfie to share. All registered participants will receive a ZR gaiter and a commemorative 2020 race bib.  

Gaiters and race bibs will be available for pick up at Right Brain Brewery throughout October. Prizes will be awarded for best costumes. For more information, go to

If you're doing Halloween in traditional Up North style, no doubt you'll be heading to the Upper Peninsula for some good old fashioned tracking of the fabled Dogman. If so, we recommend you do some scouting out by Curtis and plan an evening at the Erickson Center for the Arts. It's presenting a Halloween mask-a-rade on Friday, Oct. 30. It will include contests for Best Masks, Best Costumes, a 50/50 Raffle, and live music by the T.C. Knuckleheads.

Tickets are $10 with limited reserved table seating, per state mandates, and cloth face masks will be required for entry. It runs 8pm-11pm. Call the ECA office for more information at (906) 586-9974. 


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