As with everything in 2020, Halloween looks a lot different from any other year in recent memory. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still lots of stuff to do — outside and inside, scary and not. Though some marquee events have been canceled, others remain, and some new stuff has cropped up as well. Here’s a list of some of the spooky events in eastern Maine that you and your family can enjoy this month.
Most haunted houses across the state have been canceled this year, since it’s so difficult to keep throngs of people safely distanced as they pass through lines, and screaming is shown to be one of the most powerful ways to send virus-laden particles shooting from your mouth and into the paths of others.
There are more intimate events that are still safe and are equally frightening, however, like the Bangor Historical Society’s annual Ghostly Bangor walking tours of downtown Bangor, set for 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through the end of October, except for the last week, when there’s no Thursday tour, but there is a Friday tour on Oct. 30. Tickets are $10, and the tour starts at the Thomas A. Hill House on Union Street.
In Searsport, the Penobscot Marine Museum also hosts a history-themed experience, with its annual Last Night at the Museum event. This year’s event, set for 5 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 16 and 17, is slightly retooled to be more virus-safe, with an all-outdoors flashlight walking tour of the museum campus, with “ghosts” telling spooky stories of seafarers. Tickets are $20 for groups of up to 10.
One of the only indoor haunted experiences in Maine is happening at the Grand Theatre in Ellsworth. The first-ever Terror Theater event is set from 7 p.m. to midnight, Oct. 23 and 24 and Oct. 30 and 31, with each group being issued a timed entrance ticket, so they’re the only ones in the theater for their frightful experience. Masks are mandatory, and it’s geared toward older kids and adults. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for 17 and under.
Live — or undead — theater
There’s a surprising wealth of both live and virtual theater to be seen this Halloween season in eastern Maine. In Brewer, Ten Bucks Theatre Company and True North Theatre Company have joined forces to present an adaptation of “Spoon River Anthology,” a series of poems and stories published in 1914 and 1915, told from the perspective of ghostly residents of a small town. Outdoor performances are at 1 and 4 p.m. on Oct. 17, 18, 24 and 25 at Indian Trail Park in Brewer, and tickets are $15.
Across the river in Bangor, Penobscot Theatre’s virtual performances of “Ghost Postcards From Maine,” an all-original audio drama about ghost towns in Maine, runs online from Oct. 15 through Nov. 8; a $40 ticket is good for unlimited streams for an entire household. Also in Bangor, Some Theatre Company will present one long weekend of the classic two-person horror play “The Woman in Black,” Oct. 29 through Nov. 1 at Some Theatre’s Bangor Mall theater space. Tickets ($20 per person) are for group seating, meaning you’ll be seated with your group, safely distant from other groups.
Finally, the Belfast Maskers also offer an original Halloween show, with “Tales From the Muck,” featuring five short horror plays introduced by the Muck Witch, named after a local pond known colloquially as “The Muck.” Performances are at 7 p.m. Oct. 23-24 and Oct. 29-31, as well as a special kids’ show at 5 p.m. on Halloween. All shows are outside on the lawn of the Maskers’ theater space on Court Street in Belfast. Tickets are $10 at belfastmaskers.com.
For those looking for a less spooky experience, there are also corn mazes, pumpkin patches and other fall-themed events. Treworgy Family Orchards in Levant has long had a highly popular corn maze, this year themed to Maine’s Bicentennial. It’s open Tuesdays through Sundays until 6:30 p.m., and there are evening sessions between 6 and 8 p.m., Oct. 16-17 and Oct. 23-24. In Corinna, Thunder Road Farm also has a corn maze — themed to Stephen King’s “It” — and it’s open Fridays noon to 6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Hirundo Wildlife Refuge in Old Town will still hold its annual Fall Fest this year — albeit slightly smaller and with masks — on Saturday, Oct. 24. There’s trick-or-treating, a jack o’lantern and scarecrow trail, and nature presentations on bats, owls and spiders. Hirundo will also host some “spooky” guided nighttime canoe and kayak paddles, set for 4 and 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 30.
All aboard the Halloween express
How lucky are we in eastern Maine that we have two heritage railroad lines right in our backyard? Both the Downeast Scenic Railroad between Hancock and Ellsworth and the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad between Belfast and Unity offer train rides all October, with several Halloween-themed rides for all ages. With open-air rail cars, these rides are safe for groups, though social distancing and mask-wearing are still required.
The Downeast Scenic Railroad’s “Pumpkin Train” leaves at 3 p.m. Oct. 17 and at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Oct. 18. The Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad has both fall foliage rides and rides to a pumpkin patch, set for Oct. 14, 17, 18, 21, 24, and 25. On the actual day of Halloween, there’s a Halloween pizza train for families at 11:30 a.m., a magic show ride at 3 p.m., and an adults-only ride featuring live comedy and magic at 5:30 p.m. For tickets, visit downeastscenicrail.org or belfastandmooseheadlakerail.org.