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Three performers in front of a concrete wall with a spiral design.
Photograph: Courtesy of Edith Ann Claudio | Concert in the Catacombs with Gelsey Bell.

Halloween at Green-Wood Cemetery will be a delightfully eerie one

Concerts in the catacombs and moonlight tours, plus tales of murder, mayhem, spirits and the utterly bizarre.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan
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Thousands of stories lie beneath the grounds at the historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, and this season, those tales are coming back to life through a variety of tours. 

Green-Wood Cemetery’s 478 acres of hills, valleys, glacial ponds, and paths make up the permanent residence of more than 570,000 in its 478 acres. The cemetery, established in 1838, is a National Historic Landmark and is recognized as one of the world’s most beautiful cemeteries. More than half a million visitors explore the cemetery’s grounds, architecture, and history every year.

Dozens of events are on the calendar at Green-Wood this fall; here are a few highlights to get you into the Halloween spirits—er, spirit.

RECOMMENDED: Green-Wood Cemetery is home to a flock of feral parrots

A performer with a violin in the catacombs at Green-Wood Cemetery.
Photograph: By Steven Pisano / Courtesy of Green-Wood Cemetery | Concerts in the Catacombs bring music to a rarely seen space.

Concerts in the Catacombs

Wednesday, September 21 and Thursday, September 22 

A cavernous underground space rarely open to the public sits in the middle of Green-Wood Cemetery. The cemetery's catacombs offer a place of rest for the departed—and the setting for New York’s most distinctive and atmospheric musical experiences.

This fall, iconic jazz bassist William Parker will curate two sets each night with collaborators inside Green-Wood’s catacombs. 

Open Doors

Sunday, September 25

Explore more than a dozen of the cemetery’s nineteenth-century mausoleums. This self-guided walking tour invites explorers to peek inside the elaborate structures, often adorned with resplendent stained-glass. Docents offer a glimpse into the lives of those who now rest in these opulent edifices. 

The Remains of Winter

Saturday, October 1 to Friday, December 23

This highly anticipated installation from artist Athena LaTocha will transform part of the cemetery’s landscape. Massive sculptures will be installed inside Green-Wood’s Historic Chapel and outdoors at the foot of Battle Hill, made from assemblages of items sourced at the cemetery, including soil, rock, branches, trunks, roots, and lead impressions of tree bark. 

Nightfall: Eternal Returns

Thursday, October 20 and Friday, October 21

Nightfall, Green-Wood’s evenings of ethereal beauty, offer unparalleled, immersive experiences that inspire visitors to walk the cemetery’s illuminated winding paths and discover a variety of entertainers—including musicians, performance artists, and storytellers.

A girl in a festive mask uses watercolor paints at a Dia de los Muertos event.
Photograph: By Roy Baizan / Courtesy of Green-Wood Cemetery | Commemorating Dia de los Muertos through art.

Día de los Muertos: Family Day

Tuesday, November 1

Local families and friends are invited to honor departed loved ones through prayer, altars, music and dance in commemoration of the Mexican tradition. Crafts, activities and food will be available for families with children of all ages. 

A green trolley with people walking next to it.
Photograph: Courtesy of Green-Wood Cemetery | Trolley tours go back in time to explore history.

Trolley tours

These popular tours explore the cemetery’s history. Here’s what’s on deck this season:

  • Spiritualists and Suffragettes on Saturday, October 22 explores the relationship between spiritualism and women’s rights.
  • Crime and Catastrophe on Saturday, October 29 highlights tales of murder, shipwrecks, plane crashes and gangsters borne of Green-Wood’s permanent residents.
  • Tiffany at Green-Wood on Saturday, November 12 focuses on the cemetery’s extraordinary collection of stained-glass windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany and his contemporaries.
  • Egyptomania on Saturday, November 19 showcases the obelisks, pyramids, sphinxes and other Egypt-inspired flourishes at Green-Wood.
  • Discover Green-Wood, a weekly tour on Saturdays, takes visitors through the cemetery’s most notable spots.
A group of people walks past grave markers.
Photograph: By Steven Pisano / Courtesy of Green-Wood Cemetery | Secrets and spirits are on the docket this fall.

Walking tours

Walking tours offer a little something for all ages. Here are a few on the calendar this year:

  • Secrets in Stone on four dates in October (Saturday, October 15; Sunday, October 23; Saturday, October 29; and Sunday, October 30) will bring to light the etchings, symbols and other cryptic depictions in Green-Wood’s century-old monuments.
  • Gay Green-Wood on Sunday, October 16 commemorates LGBT+ history month.
  • Spirited Stroll on Saturday, October 29 and Sunday, October 30, a perennial favorite, showcases both Green-Wood’s beautiful fall foliage and tales of murder, mayhem, spirits, and the utterly bizarre.
  • Moonlight and After-Hours tours on various dates, offer a chance to explore after the cemetery gates have closed to the public, if you dare.

Green-Wood’s death education series 

This series encourages honest discussion about an uncomfortable but universal subject: death itself. 

  • Lost in the Woods: Grief and the “Ennuipocalypse,” on Monday, September 19 will examine the signs of climate collapse and how we can respond.
  • Climate Week Death Cafe, on Tuesday, September 20 will explore how grief is contemplated from an ecological perspective.
  • Mortality and Me Book Club meeting on Monday, October 17 helps make death, dying, and end-of-life matters easier to talk about through compelling books that tackle these topics head-on.

To register for Green-Wood’s events, check out the full calendar here.

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