Eureka Springs: The Halloween City
Jill Rohrbach, travel writer
Arkansas Dept. of Parks and Tourism
Eureka Springs is ground zero for Halloween fun. During the entire month of October, this Victorian-era town claims to “deliver more thrills and chills per square mile than any other town in America.” The not-for-the-faint-of-heart fun includes ghost tours, haunted theatrical shows, zombie parade, cemetery tours, séances, haunted hotels, and more.
“It’s a little more on the sophisticated side,” says Sean-Paul. “It’s ghost tours and haunted shows, not just a bunch of dark rooms with people jumping out at you.”
llusionist Sean-Paul and Medium Juliane Fay, through their show Intrigue Theater, take guests back in time for a Victorian, turn-of-the-century experience in traditional mentalist performances like seen in the movies The Illusionist and The Prestige. “We always strive to portray that era,” Sean-Paul explains.
Eureka Springs naturally represents it too with the finest Victorian architecture and haunted history, making it a backdrop hailed straight from the Victorian/Edwardian golden era of ghost stories and spiritualism.
So this October, start with a stay or visit to America’s Most Haunted Hotel, the Crescent Hotel, built in 1886 and perched on a hilltop overlooking the town. Here you’ll find the popular Crescent ghost tour, which starts at the top floor of the building and works its way down to the basement and former morgue of the notorious Dr. Baker. The autopsy table is still there. Famous spirits at the Crescent include Michael, the Irish stonemason who fell to his death while building the hotel in 1885; Theodora, the cancer patient of the Dr. Baker hospital days who seems to need help finding her room key; and a mystery patient in a white nightgown who appears at the foot of your bed in the luxury suites. These tours are scheduled nightly in October from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and until 11 p.m. on Oct. 31.
Visitors to The Halloween City can also enjoy Basin Spirit Tours at Basin Park Hotel. These tours are given at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday with an additional 6 p.m. tour on Fridays and Saturdays throughout October. This guided ghost hunt starts on the roof of the eight-story hotel and proceeds in stages to an underground cave. It ends with a chilling ghost story told by candlelight, plus a sample of spirits of a different kind for those 21 years of age and older.
Leaning away from ghosts and floating orbs that are sometimes purported to be seen on the haunted hotel tours are the historical experiences of Voices of the Silent City and Haunted Eureka Springs Ghost Tours. In the former, costumed Eureka Springs residents play the roles of some of the citizens of the town now buried in the cemetery, where the living history presentations take place. Voices of the Silent City takes place from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 19, 20, 21, 27 and 28. The Haunted Eureka tours involve both a shuttle bus and some walking to explore more of the town’s haunted locations. It takes place every night of October. Sign up for the 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. tour.
Three shows are offered that will give you goosebumps. ANNA: a haunting theatrical experience, set at Crowe Manor in the 1940s, takes place at Melonlight Theater. Buy tickets at Melonlight.com. Not Really a Door, a two-woman play performed at the Crescent Hotel, is a supernatural comedy-thriller. Intrigue Theater, features The Illusionist Sean-Paul and the Ghost Talker Juliane Fay with a series of thrilling paranormal experiments. Tickets available at Intriguetheater.com.
“Our Intrigue Theatre show will be the regular show through the month of October but using some Halloween segments within it,” Sean-Paul explains. A special Intrigue Theatre show on Oct. 28 will include a witch trial hanging for Juliane. But Sean-Paul says he will have a noose around his neck too. After all, the duo is in it “til death do us part.”
Since Halloween is on a Tuesday this year, The Halloween City has designated Saturday, Oct. 28 for the big night of fun. In addition to the annual Intrigue Theatre Halloween show at the Eureka Springs Auditorium, there will be a Zombie crawl (parade) at 6 p.m. followed by a Thriller Flash Mob Dance and a costume party at Upstairs at the Grotto.
But actual Halloween night on the 31st still has a special feature. Sean-Paul and Juliane will hold a séance during a three-course dinner at The Crescent Hotel. Sean-Paul says there will be paranormal experiments between entrees and a final one after dinner. Seating is for about 75 people.
Details and ticket information for all of the events can be found at The Halloween City
“We’re also going to have a house decorating contest for the month of October so that will make the city come alive even more so,” adds Sean-Paul.
Organizers of this Halloween fun intend to grow the month-long event in future years. “We have a zombie parade this year. Next year, we may have a witch weekend and parade,” says Sean-Paul. “It’s our goal that people don’t think about us just that one weekend in October. They can come and have a great Halloween experience all month. We have so much inherent Halloween stuff.”
Additionally, he says it’s a beautiful time to be in Eureka Springs and the Ozarks Mountains because of the great weather and fall foliage. For more information on things to do and places to stay, visit Eurekasprings.org