New York City has certain beloved, Halloween traditions that, if you happen to be visiting as October draws to a close, you’re invited to be a part of. Perhaps the most famous and riotous of these is The Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. I’ve marched in the parade once and attended it numerous other times and it’s a total F-ing BLAST! But let’s say you’ve done the parade before and you’re looking for something different. Something a bit more low-key. Something old school.
Does the city have any other spooky tricks up its sizable sleeves?
Boy, do we! Enter the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine’s annual Procession of Ghouls.
First, a brief word about the cathedral itself:
The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine is an Episcopal Cathedral in the Morningside Heights section of Harlem. Built in the Gothic Revival style, and famously under near continuous construction from the time the cornerstone was laid in 1892 through to the present day, the cathedral features one of the largest free-standing domes in the world, some incredible sculptures designed by school children in the Peace Garden outside and a life-sized statue of the Risen Christ perched high above the main entrance. This place is a must see even without its epic All Hallows Eve Festivities. Guests can join one of the daily Highlights Tours and explore the incredible art and architecture of the cathedral or take the famous Vertical Tour and climb more than 124 feet up the dazzling spiral stairwell to the roof of the cathedral itself. (Links below!)
Now for the Creepy Goodness!
The Procession of Ghouls is an annual event held at the end of October on or around Halloween which features performers from the Mettawee River Theatre Company and their “Infernal Puppets”. The evening opens with a silent horror movie. Something just bone-chilling enough to put you in the right frame of mind and disturb the little kids in the audience. (Think Nosferatu or Phantom of the Opera). Music is provided by the cathedral’s organist to dramatic, eerie effect. As the film ends, the Procession begins. Incredible puppets and costumed creatures emerge from the hell mouth in front of the main altar and make their way down the nave. It’s something that has to been seen to be believed. You can watch video from one of the past processions below.
Tickets cover both the film and the revelry that follows and are typically about $20 per person. While tickets for 2017 aren’t available yet, check the cathedral calendar or contact their tours and events coordinator as next year’s Witching Hour approaches.
If you make it there, send me your pictures from the Procession and I’ll post the best ones to our social media!