5 can’t-miss family-friendly Upstate Halloween events
Halloween is a great time to create new traditions or reinforce the ones that become lasting memories of childhood. Mark your calendar — or send the invitations — for some October fun. Here are five activities worth considering. Want more? Check out Upstate Parent’s ultimate guide to family-friendly Halloween events, which has lists of events and activities grouped into categories. We are sure you’ll find the perfect activity!
Dress up for Boo in the Zoo
If Boo in the Zoo at the Greenville Zoo is not already a part of your family’s tradition, this 30th anniversary year is the time to start. Beth Rusch, the zoo’s business administrator, said 25,000 – 30,000 people are expected over the course of the event’s six-night run. This year, children who enter with a ticket will receive a drawstring bag, courtesy of Harvest Hope Food Bank, that will serve for trick-or-treating and be useful throughout the year.
Parents who attended Boo in the Zoo and are now bringing their own children can make a special memory by submitting a childhood photo for a memory wall. Find your photo at the event and take a new family photo that includes it.
Boo in the Zoo includes candy, toys, crafts, inflatables, a unique educational opportunity through the extinct species graveyard, a princess castle with characters and a time-honored Greenville Zoo tradition of an unhaunted house.
Good to know: Buy your tickets in advance online for faster entry. Take advantage of a free park and ride service offered from County Square. Order a commemorative T-shirt online.
The details: Boo in the Zoo is Oct. 21 – 23 and 28 – 30 at Greenville Zoo. Admission is free for member adults, $6 each for member children, $6 each for nonmember adults and $7 each for nonmember children. Children ages 2 and younger are admitted free but will not receive a trick-or-treat bag without a purchased ticket. Visit http://www.greenvillezoo.com/boo.
Get a little scared (or not)
Greenville and Spartanburg libraries offer a wide variety of events to celebrate Halloween on every reading and age level. Events are scheduled throughout October and offer chills and thrills or not-so-scary adventures. Mark your calendar for some seasonal, free fun.
In Spartanburg, the Cyrill-Westside Branch will bring out the spells and butterbeer for its first character day, a celebration of all things Harry Potter, Oct. 3. Also at Cyrill-Westside, tweens will decorate their own pillowcase trick-or-treat bags on Oct. 18. Celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with skull masks and sugar skulls on Oct. 21. Children in grades one – four can take the stage and act out spooky stories at Halloween Readers’ Theater Oct. 26 at the Spartanburg Main Library. All ages can celebrate in a very kid-friendly way with two puppet shows, “Froggy's Halloween” and “The Perky Little Pumpkin,” Oct. 31 at Cyrill-Westside. Come in costume and stay for a Halloween craft.
In Greenville, Spooktacular Stories will be read at branch libraries during Halloween week. Preschool children are invited to wear costumes and hear stories and songs to celebrate the season. For toddlers, the Bouncing Babies Boo Bash includes stories, songs and finger plays at branch libraries, also during Halloween week. Combine culture and fun with a Day of the Dead Celebration Oct. 28 at the Hughes Main Library. The party will include sugar skull cookies, costumes, music and more.
Good to know: Some events require registration. Sign up in advance and note the branch location and age range for the event.
All Hallows Eve Family Day
At Historic Latta Plantation in Huntersville, North Carolina, history and fright combine for family fun, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Oct. 29.
Heather Lineberger, the site’s marketing and education manager, said the celebration encourages families to get outside and to enjoy the historic site while celebrating Halloween.
“Families enjoy the event because there is something for everyone, all ages,” she said. “Of course the farm animals, historical exhibits, historical demonstrations and house tours are available for adults, while children enjoy seasonal games like witch golf, pumpkin sack toss, zombie bowling and crafts including pumpkin painting. The costume contests are always a hit.”
Awards are given for the best costumes reflecting a historical character, a classical book character and for the most creative costume.
“The leaves are expected to be in full color and will offer a beautiful background to the event,” Lineberger said “As always, the park offers miles of water front hiking trails and covered picnic shelters for spectators to enjoy.”
Good to know: Historic Latta Plantation is located 12 miles northwest of Charlotte, North Carolina, inside the Latta Nature Preserve.
The details: Admission for this event is $8 each for adults, $7 each for seniors and students and free for ages 5 and younger. For details, visit http://www.lattaplantation.org.
See the Pavilion Recreation Complex in a new light at Enchanted Forest, 6 – 9 p.m. Oct. 27 – 28 and 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Oct. 29.
Make believe is at the heart of this event for ages 10 and younger. It steers clear of fright and instead lets children trick or treat in a fairytale experience. Children are encouraged to dress up for a nightly costume contest. In addition to story book characters, the night includes carnival games, bounce houses, face painting, balloon animals and more.
Good to know: Save money by purchasing tickets in advance.
The details: Admission is $7 per child on the day of the event or $5 per child in advance. There are no refunds on ticket purchases. Parents are admitted free. Advance Tickets Sales are available at
http://greenvillerec.com/event/enchantedforest. In-person ticket purchase options are detailed online. Advance sales end at 4 p.m. each day for that evening’s event.
DIY and make a special memory
The Upstate has no shortage of Halloween events, but sometimes the very best happen at home. Maria Scotto and her family are from Malta. They moved to Simpsonville, after time in Shanghai and Charlotte, two years ago. Scotto and her husband, Roderick, are parents of Matteo, 5, and Gabriel, 2.
“In Malta, we don’t celebrate Halloween,” Scotto said. “For us, we are experimenting and learning. We celebrated in Charlotte and it was great. You see what you see on TV. This was new.”
Last year, Scotto brought this new-to-her holiday to a new level by hosting a Halloween party for eight moms and 20 children.
“I love organizing parties,” she said. “Friends are our new family wherever we go.”
The children came in costume, the moms donned witches’ hats and the fun began. Scotto decorated and assisted with crafts and science experiments – dry ice witch’s brew and inflating “ghost” balloons with vinegar and baking soda – and the crew enjoyed themed foods and decorated juice boxes.
For Scotto and her children, it was a wonderful memory and a fun time with new friends.
“They consider themselves American because we do every American tradition,” she said. “It’s nice to have them understand what Halloween is.”
Good to know: Make the homemade fun as elaborate or as simple as you want. Search Pinterest for a wealth of themed food ideas, games and more. Make it a group effort by dividing the responsibilities for crafts, food, drinks, sugar-burning games and more. And most of all, have fun.
Find more at www.upstateparent.com
Looking for things to do with kids in Greenville-Spartanburg? More stories relevant to families? Visit www.upstateparent.com.