Howling Hootenanny Halloween at Toronto’s Black Creek Pioneer Village

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It’s that time of year again. Days grow shorter, temperatures drop and children are preoccupied with thoughts of pumpkins, costumes and pillowcases full of candy. Anticipation of trick-or-treating bubbles over like a witch’s cauldron and families like ours head out on weekends looking for some seasonal fun. If your travels ever find you in my hometown of Toronto during October, you’ll find Halloween fun everywhere. Pumpkin farms and major attractions like the Toronto Zoo, Canada’s Wonderland, and Casa Loma schedule Halloween-themed activities. Toronto area’s Black Creek Pioneer Village puts on a family-friendly Halloween celebration to die for.

Howling Hootenanny Halloween at Toronto's Black Creek Pioneer Village

Howling Hootenanny Halloween at Toronto’s Black Creek Pioneer Village

Black Creek Pioneer Village – 19th Century Ontario

Black Creek Pioneer Village is a living history museum spread over more than 30 acres of country property. It recreates a rural 19th century Ontario village where visitors get a glimpse into the past. As they tour heritage buildings furnished with period furniture and artifacts, visitors interact with historical interpreters and trades people in period costumes, These trades people conduct demonstrations and answer questions about how people lived 150 years ago.

Geese at Black Creek Pioneer Village Toronto

Farmyard geese in the village

Halloween Hootenanny at Black Creek Pioneer Village

Over the two weekends preceding Halloween, the village hosts a Howling Hootenanny Halloween celebration. Scarecrows and pumpkins that reflect the time period are scattered around the village, and special activities take place over the course of the afternoon. Kids trick-or-treat around the village with personalized bags of their own creations. In addition, they’ll make their way through a spooky Haunted Maze, decorate a pumpkin to take home and use a slingshot to hurl apples at a target. In addition, they can take part in “spooktacular” games like a witch’s gunny sack race. Entertainment is provided by Dracula the Magician, who amazes everyone with his illusions, and The Fire Guy, who eats fire and juggles pumpkins. These special Halloween activities are interspersed with the regular programming in the village so that they don’t detract at all from learning about pioneer life.

Weaving at Irvine's Weaver's Shop at Black Creek Pioneer Village

Learning how to weave at Charles Irvine’s Weaver’s Shop

Halloween Fun and More

During our visit this year, my 9-year-old daughter, Emma, chose not to dress up. However, we saw many kids happily traipsing along the pathways enjoying the festivities in their Halloween costumes. While we were in the village, Emma tried her hand at both weaving and carding wool. She also attended a class in a one-room schoolhouse and chatted with the village doctor’s daughter about her favorite pastimes. Emma has never been able to walk past a shoe store without having a look around so we had to poke our heads into the cobbler’s shop. However, she was a little disappointed to see nothing but brown leather.

The dark Haunted Maze was a bit too spooky for her. The pumpkin decorating, however, was a huge hit. We saved it for the last (so we wouldn’t have to carry a pumpkin around all afternoon) and Emma was thrilled to head home after a fun afternoon with a souvenir that now has place of pride on our front hall table.

Fall leaves at Toronto's Black Creek Pioneer Village

Playing in fall leaves

A Good Time and Great Food at Black Creek Pioneer Village

This spectacular setting is also a wonderful place to enjoy nature, especially with the trees showing off their colorful fall leaves. The fresh air and exercise is will fuel appetites, thus warranting a visit to the on-site Half Way House Inn for delicious homemade comfort food. My family enjoyed a seasonal snack of hot apple cider, apple cake and fresh out of the oven bread with butter that made me nostalgic for simple country living.

A few hours at Black Creek Pioneer Village is a fun way to get in the spirit of Halloween while learning more about Toronto’s history. A visit during the Howling Hootenanny festival provides a pleasing combination of good old-fashioned Halloween fun and education. The kids will enjoy themselves so much they won’t even realize they are learning! Brave older kids and adults may also participate in the the much scarier All Hallows Eve the Saturday evening before Halloween to learn about the spirits lurking in the deep dark corners of this 19th century village but it would be much too scary for me—I prefer my Halloween G-rated.

Will your family attend any special Halloween activities this year? Tell us about your spooky plans in the comments!

About Lisa Goodmurphy, The Spunky Travel Mama

Lisa Goodmurphy is a lawyer turned family travel writer and a mom of two daughters. She grew up in small town Northern Ontario and now resides near Toronto, Canada. Badly bitten by the travel bug years ago, she considers herself fortunate that her family is equally enthusiastic about her mission to explore the world—one trip at a time. Lisa shares her travel adventures on the blog that she founded in 2011 and now contributes to many online media publications as well. You can read about her family’s travels on her blog, Gone with the Family, on Google+ or on Twitter as @GoneWithFamily.

  1. Sounds fun!!! And I am a huge fan of historical aspects woven into family activities. Kids get a real experience that way- looks like you had fun 🙂

  2. Lisa, the Spunky Travel Mama says

    Thanks, Farrah – it was a lot of fun! I’m a fan of this type of learning as well. Seeing and doing make a far greater impression on kids that reading about what life was like in a history book!

  3. Gayle Labuz at Sometimes Eventful says

    Thanks for sharing this! It’s been years since I’ve been to Black Creek Pioneer Village. Just recently I was telling my 8 year-old daughter about the village and we started to plan a visit for next year. After reading this post, I think our visit will happen in October! It’s great to see a place that offers family Halloween fun that isn’t too scary.

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