Nashville has a healthy respect for all things Halloween. You can’t turn around in October without bumping into a pumpkin stand.
And no matter what neighborhood you live in, I’ll give you a dollar if you don’t find at least one strand of orange lights or a skeleton on every block.
Music City knows how to get macabre, so get out there while the gettin’s good.
1. El Día de los Muertos (and a bunch of other stuff)
Cheekwood — Last weekend of October
Flowers and art. That’s Cheekwood to most people. But those people are seriously missing out on the incredible Halloween prowess these folks are throwing down.
They’ve got kids’ classes; they’ve got pumpkin carving; they’ve got scarecrows (made of meerkats, no less).
But the biggest thing they’ve got is El Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. Cheekwood’s celebration of this traditional Mexican holiday is the largest Latin American event in town (4,000 people attended last year).
You can hit up food trucks, live music, and open air markets. You can make memory trees, Calavera masks and decorate sugar skulls.
2. Phantom of the Opera
Nashville Symphony — Halloween night
If you’re looking to class up your Halloween proceedings, there’s no better place to do that than the Schermerhorn.
Seeing movies while the Symphony plays the soundtrack live is pretty amazing, and since this movie is silent, the Symphony will be doing all the work — specifically organist Peter Krasinksi — which should be a spooky yet sophisticated Halloween treat.
Pro tip: The movie screen is high in the front, so this is one event where a front row seat is not best — you could get a nasty crick in your neck from leaning back to look up for two hours. Aim for middle row, center seat for the best movie-watching experience.
3. Rocky Horror Picture Show
Belcourt Theatre — Various showtimes, always Halloween and surrounding weekend
The midnight screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show is a Belcourt tradition.
Shown every night of Halloween weekend, it’s 18 and over, so it’s a very adult way to spend All Hallow’s Eve.
If you’ve never seen Rocky Horror, the description on the Belcourt’s website pretty much can’t be beat:
This notorious horror parody… tracks the exploits of naïve couple Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) after they stumble upon the lair of transvestite Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry). The film — a bizarre musical co-starring Meat Loaf and Richard O’Brien — bombed in its initial release but later gained a cult following at midnight showings.
Meat Loaf is a part of this. I think we’ve made our case.
4. Nashville Ghost Tours
If you want to celebrate but keep your kitchen free of candy wrappers and Solo cups, it’s tour time.
No matter what you’re in the mood for, these folks have you covered: you can tour all the haunted spots in downtown Nashville; for the boozehounds, you can tour haunted taverns; and for the truly lazy (yes, please), you can sit in the back of a hearse and be driven around to the spookiest haunts in Music City.
They also incorporate historical facts, local legends and ghost stories into their tours, so you can be sure you’ll get a good mix of the fun, the false and the fantastic.
5. Drive Around
East Nashville, Sylvan Park et al.
This is definitely from the Not Sanctioned category of Halloween events, but the insanity of Nashville’s decorating has gone up exponentially in the past few years.
While the fancy folks stop at a tasteful pumpkin display, a few neighborhoods in town would rather skip the Southern Living effect and go much more Night of the Living Dead.
The photo above is not that much of an anomaly in East Nashville — this is just How. They. Do.
So take a drive around and see what you can find. We recommend going at dusk so you can witness the unique and peculiar glory of both the lit up displays and the more thematic – Rotten Realty gravestone anyone?
Never change, Nashville.