Family Tradition Time! Awesome annual Halloween activities on the Seacoast!

My kids are as old as dirt.

Being 10 and almost 12, they are starting to age out of all the classic little kid holiday activities. Some I miss, and some I don’t miss (visiting Santa—Bye, Felicia).  With the trifecta of Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas approaching, I’m feeling panicked that I need to cram in some more seasonal memories before they are totally off the grid.

Here are some great activities to celebrate the Halloween season and they’re perfect for kids of all ages (mostly). Incorporating one of these activities as your family’s yearly tradition will surely create lasting memories. scarecrows_of-the-port

#1 Ghosts on the Banke

Come to Strawbery Banke’s famous Halloween celebration and meet costumed role-players as you trick-or-treat at each of the historic houses. This event is intended for children 12 and under (i.e. this is not a flashlight maze with a bunch of screaming teenagers) but of course everyone is welcome. Event runs Friday and Saturday, October 28 & 29 at 5:30pm – 8:00pm. Cost is $8 per person (under 1, free).

On a side note, on Sunday 10/30, Strawbery Banke is hosting Masques on the Banke, an equestrian ballet performed by the black Fresian horses of Runnymede Farm. Ticket holders will be able to meet the horses, enjoy a mask-making craft for Halloween and additional special guests, Wick’d Fire. Cost is $8 per person (under 1, free). For more information on both events, visit strawberybanke.org.

#2 Scarecrows of the Port

Ready for a fun scavenger hunt that involves stopping for coffee and sugary pastries (that’s how all my scavenger hunts go)? Throughout downtown Portsmouth, you’ll find 60+ full-size, pumpkin-headed figures dressed in various costumes and décor. From the website, you can print out a map for scarecrow locations and make an afternoon of tracking them down. Selfies encouraged. Visit scarecrowsoftheport.com for more info.

#3 The Haunted Barn

Did you know that a local Portsmouth resident has been hosting a stunning Halloween display on her property for over twenty years? The “Haunted Barn” and accompanying grounds are a treasure trove of spooky delights, which sounds corny, but seriously, it’s delightful. Every year has a different theme and although I wouldn’t say it’s “scary”, there are some mechanical props that move unexpectedly and could be considered a lil’ bit creepy. I would say it’s fine for kids ages 6 and up, but you know your child best. I’ve seen people walk in with babies and toddlers. That being said, it’s so impeccably done and beautiful at night with the leaves and the lights. You won’t want to miss out on this one.

The Haunted Barn is located at 292 Middle Road in Portsmouth. Open every night through Halloween, except when it’s raining. If the fence is open, you’re welcome to come on in! Completely free to attend however there is a collection box tucked away amongst the props and donations are gladly accepted.

#4 Corn Maze

What’s not to love about a corn maze? It challenges kids’ cognitive thinking and completely tuckers them out (so much running when mom sends us the wrong way!). There are several great farms pretty close by with corn mazes including Coppal House Farm in Lee, Emery Farm in Durham, Scamman Farm in Stratham and Zach’s Farm in York. Some are short, some are long, some are great for little ones and some have nighttime flashlight mazes—but all are a blast and super memorable. For a full list of area mazes with descriptions, hours and pricing, visit seacoastkidscalendar.com.

#5 Exeter Hospital’s Trick or Treat Trot 5K Run/Walk and Creepy Crawler Fun Run

Get your metabolism fired up before eating all that Halloween candy with a morning of family exercise! The Beyond the Rainbow Fund at Exeter Hospital, a fund providing financial assistance and support to patients in need at Exeter Hospital’s Center for Cancer Care, hosts its annual event on Sunday, October 30 at 9:30am with a flat 5K course great for all skill levels. Prizes for best costume and top individual fundraisers, post-race snacks, face painting, gift bags and more. Halloween costumes encouraged. Visit unitedinwellness.org and click on Events for additional event information.

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