It’s that time of year again! Ghosts, ghouls and goblins are lurking around every corner as we gear up for another Halloween. This year, though, this time-honoured tradition beloved by young and old is going to look quite a bit different. We may be eager for some good, old-fashioned haunted fun, but we still need to be vigilant with health and safety measures and social distancing. Limiting contact with one another to limit the spread of COVID-19 means we have to find alternative ways to enjoy the fun and the frights.
It is, regretfully, an unfortunate reality that some of our most beloved Halloween traditions are considered high-risk activities. Traditions such as trick-or-treating from door to door in your neighbourhood, attending crowded costume parties, screaming your way through indoor haunted house events, or travelling outside of your community or region to attend rural festivals are all activities which should not only be seriously considered, but avoided altogether.
Now, don’t get us wrong—we’re not saying we should shut down Halloween completely this year. It just means we have to be a little creative to keep it going. Our festivals and attractions here in York Durham Headwaters have certainly risen to the challenge. They have been hard at work developing safe alternatives that are just as fun and “spooktacular.” If you are looking for Halloween thrills in Durham Region that you can do safely within your social bubble, here are some events that are still being held, and which have been modified to adhere to health guidelines for COVID-19.
Pickering Museum Village’s Haunted Ghost Drive-Thru Tour
2365 6th Concession Road, Greenwood, ON L0H 1H0
Every Thursday night to October 30th, you and a vehicle-load of your friends and family in your social bubble are invited to take a nighttime driving tour of this historic, 27-acre village. With the assistance of an audio guide, you will hear real stories that are based on the spooky experiences and encounters of staff, visitors and volunteers that have occurred on the premises. They are also based on the findings of a paranormal investigator team that came to investigate the premises. So, keep your eyes peeled—you never know where or when the next encounter will be.
Tour times start every 5 minutes beginning at 7 p.m. This 30-minute experience is $20 per vehicle, and registration is required in advance. For more information, visit the Pickering Museum Village website events page here.
Harvest Festival at Pingle’s Farm Market
1805 Taunton Rd. E., Hampton, ON L0B 1J0
You can’t have Halloween without pumpkins… and all of the wonderful things that come with a good fall harvest. Spend the day navigating though Pingle’s Pirate Ship Corn Maze, have some farm-tastic fun in the Pingle’s Playland, and take in the farm views and fresh country air on a wagon ride. Other features include pick-your-own apples, pick the biggest pumpkin in the patch, and the farm market which offers delicious food, drinks and baked goods.
To keep guests safe and healthy, Pingle’s has enacted capacity restrictions. Tickets to the Harvest Festival are $14, and must be purchased in advance. For more information, visit Pingle’s Farm Market website here.
Corn Maze at Buzzing Bees Adventure Farm
1070 Concession Rd. 5, Sunderland, ON L0C 1H0
The beloved Buzzing Bees Adventure Farm corn maze is back this Halloween, and bigger than ever, with 9 whole acres of wide rows and lots of paths to ensure that guests can observe social distancing. The traditional “find your way out” adventure will take you and your friends and family in your social bubble around 30 minutes to complete. For another way to experience the Buzzing Bees corn maze, try to solve the mystery of who stole Farmer Rick’s candy. This adventure will take you approximately an hour and 30 minutes to complete. Will you and your family be able to figure out which friend—the Jack-o-Lantern, the witch, the ghost or the alien—took what candy? And, more importantly, where did they put it?
Pre-purchase your tickets to the corn maze and other farm activities at Buzzing Bees’ website here.
WindReach Farm Halloween Drive-Thru
312 Townline Rd., Ashburn, ON L0B 1A0
On October 30th and 31st, the folks at WindReach invite you and your social bubble to dress up in your spookiest costume, pile into your car and head to Ashburn for a Halloween themed adventure! Drive through the farm to see your favourite animals and check out Halloween-themed stations. Maybe, just maybe, there will be some COVID-19-safe trick-or-treating, too. Tickets are $20 each, and must be purchased in advance. To purchase your tickets and for more information, visit WindReach Farm’s website here.
Story by Katherine Ryalen