All Hallows' Eve at the Cathedral
Throughout the course of a normal year, the Cathedral looks forward to daily and weekly gatherings, both spiritual and secular. Thousands come each year to observe Christmas and Easter and celebrate the fullness of each season. St. Francis Day, honoring the Earth and all of creation, is another glorious service that brings people together from throughout the world. Though possibly lesser-known of our signature events, the Cathedral’s annual celebration of All Hallows Eve, also known as Halloween, is a spirited extravaganza drawing costumed revelers to partake in the screening of a horror motion picture masterpiece (accompanied by a live organ accompaniment, of course) and tours of our rarely-seen underground crypt.
This year, of course, so much is different. As with many of our eagerly-anticipated annual events, our Halloween traditions cannot be scheduled as normal. However, we are not ones to let our spirits be dampened by tough circumstances. The Cathedral’s staff, volunteers, friends and local community have been hard at work putting together a calendar of fun, spooky, and safe events to enjoy with you this Halloween weekend. We hope you will join us!
But first, a look back at some of our favorite Halloween gatherings from recent years. Since 1990, the Cathedral has hosted an annual Halloween Extravaganza and Procession of the Ghouls every year in our great Nave. Visitors are greeted by ghoulish performers, courtesy of the Mettawee River Theater Company, and the sight of the Cathedral’s fittingly Gothic interior is transformed into a haunted setting, perfect for spirits and specters.
Following the presentation of a classic horror film, a parade of charming goblins and ghouls process down the length of the Nave, to the delight of the audience. All of the costumes and puppets featured in the procession were created by our artist-in-residence, Ralph M. Lee -- many of them for the first-ever Greenwich Village Halloween Parade in 1974, making some of them over 40 years old!
This year, our Cathedral educators and volunteers are crafting a number of online programs sure to get us all in the Halloween spirit. Ever wanted to explore the depths of the Cathedral’s underground sepulchres? Register now for one of four available time slots this weekend and be treated to a virtual tour of one of the Cathedral’s most exclusive spaces in our virtual Crypt Crawl! The Crypt Crawl is a classic Cathedral tour, perfect for the more daring visitors, and our Halloween season would not be complete without it. Hear the stories of the entombed, learn the origins of Halloween as a Celtic New Year celebration that later transformed into All Hallows Eve, and creep into the Cathedral’s underbelly in this educator-led, online exploration.
We’re also thrilled to welcome our friends at the New York Philharmonic to our great space. All Hallows’ Eve: NY Phil at The Cathedral will be the Philharmonic’s first presentation of a themed Halloween repertoire since its founding in 1842. The Cathedral, which partners with the Philharmonic for the free annual Memorial Day concert—a tradition interrupted by the pandemic this year—is thrilled to once again join forces with this musical powerhouse. We are so grateful to share the organ talents of our Music Director, Kent Tritle, with the Phil. Keep an eye out on our website for more details on how to watch this concert of eerie tunes and classical compositions.
Also, on Saturday the 31st, in partnership with the West 111th Street Block Association, the Cathedral’s Peace Fountain will be transformed into a haunted backdrop for an evening of outdoor costume contests, trick-or-treating, live music, and more. We invite children of all ages and their families onto the pulpit green for photos and safety briefs, before making their way to the Peace Fountain for photos. Join us for this extra-special, family-friendly Halloween event and enjoy a full evening of free attractions brought to you by our neighboring businesses and friends! More info and registration can be found here.
This Halloween season may be unlike any other, and we’re already looking forward to the next time we can all gather in costume and song. But here at the Cathedral, there’s always something to delight the curious explorer, uplift the aesthete, or comfort those in search of a welcoming space. Join us this weekend for tricks and treats--there’ll be much more excitement to come from the Cathedral in the weeks, months, and years ahead.