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By Willow August Miller
Salem – The “Witch City” — has plenty of interesting things to do this October, even if some of the traditional Haunted Happenings events have been curtailed. Many fascinating tours – from those heavy on history to others designed to provoke chills and thrills — are welcoming visitors. Expert guides take visitors to places where the occult may arise, and where real witch fever captured the community more than 300 years ago. Secure your tickets early, because the tours are mostly limited to small groups. Note that masks and social distancing are expected in all public places. Info on travel to Salem during COVID-19.
Presented by Gallows Hill, this trolley tour is designed to be both creepy and comical. Prepare to rumble along on a trolley through night-dimmed Salem byways as you listen to ghost stories and other macabre tales. You will pass the House of the Seven Gables, Winter Island, and other spooky spots. Jack and the Black Widow host the adventure. This tour is not recommended for kids under age 10. The 50-minute tours depart from Gallows Hill, 7 Lynde Street. Admission: $30.
Learn about the factual and the mythical parts of the actual Salem Witch Trials, which happened in Salem in 1692-93. The tour rambles past various places where the events of the 1692 trials took place – like the location of a 17th-century jail — along with the Witch Trials Memorial. This historical tour is presented by the Essex National Heritage Area and is suitable for all ages. Tickets are booked privately for nine or fewer people. Tours, which are one hour long, depart from 2 New Liberty Street.
This two-hour walking tour is packed with interesting historical information about this old and celebrated community. Expect to learn lots of the Colonial history of the town, the hysteria that drove the 1692 witch trials, and the role of witchcraft (wicca) in present-day Salem. This tour is suitable for all ages, and it provides a good blend of true history and shivery stories. Departs from 180 Essex Street.
You can choose from daylight or candlelit nighttime walks around the city’s historic district with this tour company. Explore haunted houses and graveyards, and see locations like the Howard Street Cemetery and Old Salem Prison and the Lyceum. Guides also discuss ghost photography and spectral evidence that appears on people’s home photography. You can learn the best tricks to capture ghosts on camera. This tour is family-friendly. Tours depart from 288 Derby Street; every 30 minutes from noon to 10 p.m.
Looking ahead to the next season, you and your family might enjoy this unique trolley tour that provides a new angle on the classic Charles Dickens Tale, “A Christmas Carol.” This humorous and interactive performance happens during a ride on the Salem Trolley. Scrooge is onboard, bringing the familiar story to life in a fresh setting. Salem, of course, will be lighted and gorgeous at Christmastime. Shows sell out quickly and seats are limited. Tours depart from 86 Wharf Street (Pickering Wharf)