I wouldn’t call myself a terribly festive kind of guy, but I do have a soft spot for Halloween. Wandering around, begging your neighbors for candy. Wearing costumes. Bursting out of the undergrowth to yell “Boo” at unsuspecting passers-by. I’ve tried this sort of stuff out at other times of year and I got to say, it just isn’t the same as when you do it on Halloween.
Yes, it’s a special time of year. And if you happen to find yourself in Asheville for these phantasmagoric festivities, you’re in for a real treat. It is my pleasure to highlight some of this year’s most frightening and delightful amusements, so that you can enjoy Halloween in Asheville in all its ghoulish glory.
Now there’s a tongue twister. In late October, Asheville’s omnipresent touring-trolleys—always a good way to see the city—offer nighttime lessons in the city’s historic horrors. Tours run an hour and fifteen minutes, perusing through downtown’s major features, recast in a tenebrous light via loathsome tails of mayhem.
Reserve tickets in advance for $29 a head. Trolleys depart from Pack’s Tavern at 7pm and the more popular (harder to reserve) 830pm. Monday through Saturday.
Parking: Here, the true nightmare begins. I suggest my beloved Pack Square parking garage. It’s a bit of a walk from there to Pack’s Tavern, but a nice one.
If you’re looking for a tour with a little more spunk in its step, LaZoom is the place for you. Their purple busses are an icon of Asheville’s funky side, and so as you may expect, their Halloween ghost tours are not only educational, but sensational. Also, seventeen-plus. Like a horror film.
Tours depart from the LaZoom Room after dark nightly. As the aforementioned Room lies on the banks of the South Slope brewing district, they are legally obligated to sell beer there, which you can take with you on your tours.
Parking: The Room is attached to a lot of hourly paid parking. If they’re full, venture north in search of a rare parallel spot, or garage parking.
Now if you seek the truly supernatural this Halloween in Asheville, I'm afraid you’re going to have to explore by foot. I know, it's terrifying. But, Ghost Hunters of Asheville, in my estimation, offers a downright bespoke experience. All tours are ninety minutes and private, with parties capped at nine people, which adds that personal touch.
Take the Downtown Spirits Tour to brave the darkest reaches of Asheville’s downtown, while learning how to handle such ghostbusting paraphernalia as dousing rods, EVP recorders, and ambient temperature thermometers. Meanwhile, their Haunted Montford Stroll is an excellent way to see one of Asheville’s most beautiful and haunted neighborhoods.
The former sets out from the lobby of the Aloft Hotel, while the latter meets at an unassuming bench at the intersection of Montford and East Waneta. If that isn’t an ominous place to start a ghost tour, I don’t know what is. Plus, it lies just five houses north of Nine Mile, a local paragon of Caribbean cuisine.
Parking: The Ghost Hunters suggest parking at the Aloft for their downtown tour, and finding curbside parking for the Montford.
On brisk October weekends the Adventure Center of Asheville—known for their ziplines and treetop adventure park—shrouds itself in the spirit of the season, putting on one of the most jubilant and family friendly Halloween events in Asheville.
Their Haunted Trail takes you past thirteen scenes of classic spookiness, gore-free and engineered so as not to scar younger minds. Other amusements include a life-size pirate ship escape room, concessions, Mellow Mushroom pizza, local beer, and walks through their Aerial Glow Trial (harness and helmet supplied).
The event runs from 7pm to 9pm officially, although you can arrive at 630pm for a “Sweet Peak Tour” of the Haunted Trail, free of actors, for those of fainter heart.
Did I mention it’s a fundraiser for Manna Food Bank? Good fun for a good cause.
Parking: Be not afraid: the Adventure Center has a parking lot.
Since the advent of cinema, scary movies have been an integral part of the Halloween experience, not to mention one of my favorite parts. And if you’re looking to see a scary movie this Halloween in Asheville—or any movie for that matter—Asheville Pizza and Brewing’s northern location is my prime recommendation.
This year’s showings are Pan’s Labyrinth and Beetlejuice, playing from the 29th to the 31st, both matinees ($7) and evenings ($10.50). Here, you can enjoy your filmographic grotesqueries alongside a slice of pizza, a juicy burger, or any number of theatrical aperitifs (bread sticks, truffle fries, cheese curds, etc.). That’s not to mention the local craft brews. And kombucha. Talk about a treat.
Parking: Again, they’ve got a parking lot. It's not all doom and despair this Halloween in Asheville.
Horror History Murder Mystery Greyline Trolley Tour
20 S Spruce St, Asheville, NC 28801 (Pack's Tavern)
76 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Ghost Hunters of Asheville
51 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801 (Aloft Hotel)
233 Montford Ave, Asheville, NC 28801 (Nine Mile)
Adventure Center of Asheville
85 Expo Dr, Asheville, NC 28806
Asheville Pizza and Brewing (North)
675 Merrimon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804