In less than a week, I’ll spend Tuesday evening traipsing the streets of Waynesville watching two little boys knock on doors and end the night with bags full of sugary candy and gum. I’m a bit of a health nut and try to keep yucky ingredients and coloring out of my children’s diets, but on Halloween, I push my additive/preservative paranoia aside to be a spirited parent and embrace the evening’s wicked vibe.
I am old enough and comfortable enough with my shortcomings to just admit it: I am not very good at Halloween. I never really have been. In my youth, other kids my age would imagine and then design — or have their crafty soccer mothers design — elaborate costumes with imaginative accessories. Little Evel Knievels and their little red-white-and-blue outfits with the stars and stripes and big collars, or little Calamity Janes with their cowboy hats, flannel shirts, boots and spurs, threatening the residents of our neighborhoods with their cap pistols until the neighbors turned over their caramel apples or at least a cupful of miniature Snickers.
As the leaves change and the air becomes crisp, the mountains of Western North Carolina transform into a landscape of mystery and mischief. In the spirit of ghouls, ghosts and everything creepy and crawling, communities around Southern Appalachia will celebrate Halloween with an array of local and regional events, for kids and parents alike.
• Haunted Halls of Havoc and Corn Maze will be from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Oct. 24-27 at Darnell Farms in Bryson City. Haunted house, hayrides and corn maze. $5 per person, with children under age 3 admitted free. 828.488.3167 or 828.488.2376 or www.greatsmokies.com.
• The Peanuts Pumpkin Patch Express will ride from Oct. 25-27 at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad depot. Guests will hear narrations of “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” Characters will be on-site at pumpkin patch. Tickets are $55 per person, $31 for children ages 2-12 and free for children under age 2. 800.872.4681 or www.gsmr.com.
• Plow Day Festival will be an all-day event Saturday, Oct. 26, at Darnell Farms. Hayrides, corn maze, plowing demonstrations and live bluegrass music. There will also be a pumpkin patch, ice cream and fresh produce. 828.488.2376 or www.greatsmokies.com.
• A spooky comedy will be screened at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, at the Marianna Black Library in Bryson City. The film stars Adam Sandler as the Hotel Transylvania owner Dracula. Free. Popcorn provided. 828.488.3030.
• Octoberbest will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, at The Storytelling Center in Bryson City. Celebrate the season with mountain stories, live music by the Dulcimer Duo, cowboy coffee and glazed almonds. $5 for adults, $3 for students. 828.488.5705 or www.greatsmokies.com.
• “Downtown Trick or Treat” will be from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31. With the streets closed, children can go trick or treating around to downtown merchants. There will also be a costume contest, with the winner receiving a gift certificate to Soda Pops. Free. 800.867.9246 or www.greatsmokies.com.
• The third annual Haunted Cherokee Halloween celebration will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 25-27, 30-31 and Nov. 1-2 at the Mountainside Theater and the Oconolafutee Indian Village. The 5 Little Pumpkins Scare-Free Kids Zone will showcase a magician, obstacle course/maze, hayride and other activities, with tickets at $5 per person. The Haunted Theatre will offer a frightening performance, $10. The Little Dorm of Horrors building presents a “worst nightmare” as creatures try to catch you in their habitat, $8. The Myths and Legends Ghost Walk offers storytelling and characters, $10. The Cherokee Zombie Run fundraiser for the Mountain Discovery Charter School will be from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2. The celebration is sponsored by the Cherokee Historical Association. Tickets available in advance online or day of at Mountainside Theater Box Office. 828.497.2111 or www.hauntedcherokee.com.
• The “Pumpkin Patch Trail” will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, at the Jackson County Recreation Complex. Trick or treating will be offered throughout the park. Free. www.mountainlovers.com.
• Halloween activities will run from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, in Dillsboro. Children can trick or treat around downtown, with games at Dogwood Crafters and hayrides provided by Jarrett Memorial Church. Free. www.visitdillsboro.org.
• Fall Hayrides and Haunted Hayrides will be from 4 to 6 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at Parker Meadows. www.franklin-chamber.com.
• Halloween in the Park will be Thursday, Oct. 31 at the Macon County Recreation Park. 828.349.2090.
• The Fall Festival and Trunk or Treat will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the First Christian Church. Cars will be lined up in the parking lot ready to fill candy buckets and bags. There will also be face painting, marshmellow roasting and a hot dog meal. Free. 828.524.6840 or www.firstchristianfranklin.com.
• The “Hauntober Weekend & Haunted Trail” will be Oct. 25-27 at Fontana Village Resort. The celebration features a variety of activities, crafts, hayrides, campfires and live entertainment. The “Kid’s Hauntober Fun Time” will be from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 26, with a pumpkin carving, face painting and corn hole. The “Haunted Trails” tour will be from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and is $3 per person. www.fontanavillage.com.
• The inaugural “Fall Festival” will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28, in the Eckerd Living Center at the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital. Activities include a cakewalk, hayrides, trick or treating, pumpkin decorating contest, face painting, llama petting zoo and other games. Lunch is available for $5.
• The Halloween “Enchanted Forest” Nature Trail will run every 15 minutes from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the Highlands Nature Center. Encounter friendly forest creatures and learn interesting nature facts about each one. Bring a flashlight. $1 per person. 828.526.2623.
• “NOCtobefest” kicks off at noon Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Events include pumpkin decorating, noon; egg race, 1 p.m.; corn hole tournament, 3 p.m.; with live music from Bear Down Easy, 3:30 p.m. and Playing on the Planet, 7 p.m. The key event will be the “Great Pumpkin Pursuit” at 2:15 p.m., where costumed competitors try to get as many of the 400 pumpkins placed in the river as possible into their kayak. www.noc.com.
• “Treat Street” will be from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26 in downtown. Children can go around trick or treating to local merchants. Free. www.mountainlovers.com.
• A “Halloween Egg Haunt” will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, at Mark Watson Park. Costume contest begins at 7 p.m. Free. www.mountainlovers.com.
• “Treats on the Street” will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31. Children can go around downtown and trick or treat at participating merchants. Free. www.downtownwaynesville.com.
• The “Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Pumpkin Patch” will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, in Whittier. Pumpkin carving, bouncy houses, marshmellow roasting, costume contest, trick or treating, with character appearances by Mickey and Minnie Mouse. $7 per person. 800.872.4681 or www.gsmr.com.