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5 Halloween Activities in the Smokies

Calling ghouls and goblins of all ages:

With its famous fall foliage, cool temps, and warm welcomes, the Great Smoky Mountains and its surroundings are the perfect spot to get spooky this Halloween.

From hilarity and horror at Shocktober to old-fashioned candy-gathering at the local Trick-or-Treat Kickoff Karnival, there’s something for every kid (and kid-at-heart).

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Ripley’s Fright Nights

During the month of October, nightmares come to life at Ripley’s Haunted Adventure plays host to the Carnival of Curiosities, with oddities and horrors galore as the monsters from the Haunted Adventure gather for an extended show. This year’s theme? Experiment in Terror. Shows begin at 6:13 p.m. and run every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night in October.


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Shocktober at the Iris Theater

Call it a horror-magic show with a generous dollop of comedy. From October 1 to 31, magician Keith Fields delivers a haunting performance at Shocktober at the Iris Theater in an act that incorporates tributes to Alfred Hitchcock and to Harry Houdini, who died on Halloween in 1926.

Surprise twists abound – but don’t ask us to give them away! The Iris Theater is located at the top of the Gatlinburg Space Needle.

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Gatlinburg’s Mysterious Mansion

Do you enjoy getting the daylights scared out of you? Look no further: Gatlinburg’s Mysterious Mansion is a perfectly eerie delight for those who love being spooked.

Dark corridors, pulsing strobe lights, and turn-of-the-century décor come to life to surprise and terrify you at every turn.

This is an excellent haunted house: Get ready to scream!

Cades Cove on an Overcast Day

Hayrides at Cades Cove Loop

You won’t see any werewolves or vampires (we hope), but taking a hayride at Cades Cove Riding Stables is a terrific way to absorb the gorgeous fall views during the autumn season.

During the 1.5-to-2-hour ride, you’ll sit on a bed of hay in an open-air truckbed, soaking in nostalgia and beautiful scenery. You may spot animals like black bears, deer, and turkeys, and tour guides will keep you entertained with stories about the area’s early settlers. Windy days can get rather chilly – bring a blanket! Hayrides run until October 31 and are popular; call to inquire about available spots.

Gatlinburg Aquarium Entrance

Trick-or-Treat at Kickoff Karnival

In the mood for some good old-fashioned trick-or-treating?

From 1 to 5 p.m. on October 31, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Plaza invites little ones and their families in to enjoy the Trick-or-Treat Kickoff Karnival, an event with costumed characters, games, food vendors, and (wait for it) tons of candy! The Gatlinburg Police Department will be on hand to provide trick-or-treat safety tips during this festive event.

Bonus: Proceeds from some of the activities benefit the United Way of Sevier County.

Need a place to turn in once your own little monsters are ready to hit the hay? Browse our extensive list of properties near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!