Salem Haunted Happenings, the annual month-long festival of all things Halloween, typically draws over 250,000 visitors to Salem during October. The 2016 schedule has something for everyone, from artsy street fairs to an a cappella competition to free family Saturday night films.
“Salem’s Haunted Happenings festival is a fun and unique celebration of fall and Halloween. Our city always has a lot going on, but in October Salem takes the fun-filled festivities to even greater heights,” said Mayor Kim Driscoll. “From our historic waterfront, to our remarkable museums and cultural attractions, to our diverse and delicious restaurants, Salem is a vibrant city with much to deliver year-round, of course.”
Bring in the food trucks
There is plenty this weekend to entertain and titillate all ages of revelers, as Salem Haunted Happenings kicks off its 36th year with the city’s first Food Truck Festival on Saturday, Oct. 1 and Sunday, Oct. 2, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Salem Common. More than 25 food trucks from across New England will serve up food, fun and live music.
“We’re excited about this addition,” said Kate Fox, executive director of Destination Salem, the city’s Office of Tourism & Cultural Affairs. “There has been a consistent desire over recent years for food trucks in Salem, a hard thing for us to balance with our robust restaurant scene.”
The City of Salem partnered with New England Open Markets to bring treats ranging from grilled cheese to poutine, from whoopee pies to cookies. Founded by Chis Masci in 2003, New England Open Markets operates Salem Open Market and Salem Holiday Market, and specializes in outdoor markets that feature family fun for all ages.
Little Pumpkin Duathlon
Also on Oct. 1, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the second annual Little Pumpkin Duathlon at Salem Willows invites children 11 years and under to compete in a unique Run/Bike/Run in historic Salem. This event will include a kids fun zone, pumpkin painting, and relay races. To register and for more information, visit bnseventmanagement.com .
Here come the zombies
The Salem Zombiewalk is a not-to-be-missed event as dozens of zombies shuffle their way through Salem on Saturday, Oct. 1. Prior to the Zombiewalk, participants gather at Collins Cove Park on East Collins Street for some field day activities, last-minute costume tweaks and alterations, and to indulge in mutual admiration, zombie-style. Pets are welcome, so long as they are crowd friendly and well behaved. Zombie Kickball begins at 3:30 p.m. and the Zombie Walk starts at 4:30 p.m. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit salemzombiewalk.com .
Live music on the Mall
The Purgatorium Music Festival, presented by BlacKat Productions, kicks off the popular live music series for the Salem Halloween Fountain Stage on Museum Place Mall on Saturday, Oct. 1 and Sunday, Oct. 2 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The performance lineup features live music from some of the region’s best solo acts and bands. For the complete schedule throughout October, visitsalemhalloweenmusic.wordpress.com.
Especially for pets
Salem Main Streets has partnered with Salem Pet Photo, the New England Dog Biscuit Company, Creative Salem, It’s Reigning Cats-n-Dogs, and a number of other community partners to present another first this year, the Howl-o-ween Parade, on Sunday, Oct. 2 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Held on Artists’ Row, the event will include a pet photo booth, some games, an area with information about local rescues and pet-focused downtown businesses, and most importantly, a parade and costume contest with prizes.
This is a free event, though attendees wishing to participate in the parade will be asked to register at the event to make note of their pet’s name for judging and verify that they are up to date on all required vaccinations. Pets of all species are welcome, but should be well behaved and comfortable at a busy event where there are likely to be many dogs. Visit salemmainstreets.org/howl-o-ween/ for more details.
Grand Parade Oct. 6
Although Salem will definitely feel like Halloween Central starting Oct. 1, Haunted Happenings 2016 officially starts on Thursday, Oct. 6 with the Salem Chamber of Commerce Haunted Happenings Grand Parade.
“The Grand Parade is always a favorite, featuring the creative enthusiasm of hundreds and hundreds of Salem students, and many other revelers. It’s a fun celebration early in the month, before the crowds really begin to show up, that definitely feels like a special event for locals,” said Driscoll.
This year’s time-honored event will feature the theme “100 Years of Parks and Play,” celebrating the National Park Centennial. Grand Marshall Paul DePrey, Superintendent of the Salem Maritime and Saugus National Historic Sites, will lead the parade.
Full of color, pageantry, music and the enthusiasm of thousands of Salem’s students, the parade will start at Shetland properties on Congress Street and finish in the Salem Common, where Salem’s favorite DJ Doug will entertain the crowd. For more information, including a detailed route, visitsalem-chamber.org/haunted-happenings-grand-parade.
Haunted Happenings guide
Destination Salem has published “The Guide to Salem Haunted Happenings,” the zombie-themed essential handbook for getting the most out of Haunted Happenings. It includes calendars, articles, Haunted Happenings “Dos and Don’ts” and information about Salem’s tours, attractions, entertainment, parking and transportation. The guide is available at the National Park Service Salem Visitors Center at 2 New Liberty St. or at hauntedhappenings.org/.