Salem gears up for month of ‘haunted’ festivities

The month of October may bring chilly weather and leaves changing color, but for Salem, October brings the annual celebration of “Haunted Happenings” to residents and visitors of the historic city.

The city expects more than 250,000 visitors over the course of the month for daily events beginning with a parade on Thursday and ending with fireworks on Halloween night.

About 150 events are planned, including haunted houses, ghost tours, séances, and harbor cruises. “It’s such a collaborative effort,” Kate Fox, executive director of Destination Salem, said of the work that local businesses put in.

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Many new events have been included this year in the monthlong festivities, such as more free events for families with children and an ’80s rock show for adults on Saturday nights. Also new to the festival is Witch Hunter, a 17th-century immersion experience in the woods of Pioneer Village which Fox said will be as “equally scary and haunting” as the previous immersion performance, Spiritways.

“We encourage visitors to take the T or the Salem ferry,” Fox said, as traffic and parking are challenging in the city. There will also be a direct ferry to Salem from Hingham shipyard during the last two weekends of October.

For the first time, the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism has recognized Haunted Happenings as a premier tourism attraction and for the third time, it has been recognized as a “Top 100 Event in North America” by the American Bus Association, Fox said.