Wilmington is one of the older cities in North Carolina – 1723 vintage – and has a well-preserved downtown. Needless to say, that makes it prime for the run-up to Halloween. Heck, it’s even on the Cape Fear River!
Wilmington is about 200 miles east of Charlotte, via U.S. 74, about a 3 1/2-hour drive.
To see and do
The Wilmington area has a wide array of Halloween-themed events for locals and visitors. Here are some great choices to consider:
Oct. 12-14; 19-21 (2-11 p.m.): Halloween Festival at Poplar Grove Plantation (north of Wilmington on U.S. 17). The all-ages event has “haunted” hayrides, carnival rides & games, a “haunted” barn, non-scary Fun House with fortune tellers, stories, pony rides, food, costume contests, etc. Free admission; activities/attractions individually priced. Details: 910-686-9518; www.poplargrove.com
Oct. 19-20; 26-27 (7-10 p.m.): The venerable Battleship North Carolina becomes a spooky “Ghost Ship” attraction these nights. It’s a popular attraction: the line forms at 6:30 p.m. and you must be in the ticket line by 9:30. Not recommended for young children. Cost: $10. Details: 910-251-5797; www.battleshipnc.com.
Oct. 26-31 (6-9 p.m.): The kid-friendly Halloween Ghost Trolley offers 30-minute horse-drawn rides through Wilmington’s historic district and includes a gentle spoof in the “ghost barn.” Horses and tour guides are dressed in costume. The ride includes Halloween-theme stories, songs and treats. The trolley departs from Market and Water streets. Cost: Details: 910-251-8889; www.horsedrawntours.com.
Oct. 26 (6-9 p.m.): The Latimer House Museum, a Victorian Italianate house built in 1852, will be decked out “In Memoriam: Victorian Mourning” so visitors can learn about customs and rituals of death in Victorian America. The house at 126 S. Third St. will have five rooms filled with authentic Victorian funerary objects. Tour guides will be in period costume, and you can samples foods served at Victorian funerals. Oh, there are also ghost stories. Cost: $7: 910-762-0492; www.hslcf.org.
Oct. 26 (5-9 p.m.): The Halloween Spooktacular at Halyburton Park, 4099 S. 17th St., has a Trick or Treat Trail with booths from local businesses. Activities at the free-admission event include inflatables, games, costume contests, hayrides and a “Creatures of the Night” program. Details: 910-341-0075.
Oct. 27 (10 a.m.-5 p.m.): Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, at Kure Beach, offers a full day of spooky programs, Halloween games, candy for trick-or-treaters, and other activities at its festival. The event is free. Details: 910-458-5798; www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/fofi/main.php
Oct. 28 (6:30-7 p.m.): Enjoy a 15-minute stroll under the moonlight – amid gravestones, of course – at The Luminary Tour of Oakdale Cemetery. About 600 luminaries light the way to five grave sites in the cemetery. At each stop a speaker will tell a story about the person buried there. The tour also features refreshments and light snacks. Admission ($10) limited to 100 tickets. Details: 910-762-5682; www.oakdalecemetery.org.
Oct. 30 (5:30-8 p.m.): The Batty Battleship Halloween Bash is a family-oriented event at Battleship North Carolina that features games, activities, food, storytelling, and trick-or-treating. Admission: $5; 2 and younger, free. Details: 910-251-5797; www.battleshipnc.com