It’s also the time of year when a lot of preservation, heritage, and municipal groups hold annual cemetery fundraising events in the form of living history tours. Events like these connect the public with historic cemeteries in a unique way – visitors walk through the cemetery, often at night or twilight, and meet the “residents” of the cemetery. Through drama (and sometimes music), visitors can connect with the importance of the cemetery to local history and culture. Living history tours are also a whole lot of fun!
Wherever you are in the South this year, there is a living history event in a cemetery near you. It might be Natchez City Cemetery’s annual “Angels on the Bluff” tour, a large-scale event that sells out every year, as does Oakland Cemetery’s “Spirits of Oakland” program in Atlanta. But it also might be a smaller event hosted by a local historical society. Check out the listings below to plan your cemetery visit – it makes a great date night or family outing.
OCT. 1 – NOV. 3 (weekends) – Vacherie, LA. St. Joseph Plantation “Creole Mourning Tour” Plantation decorated in Victorian mourning, costumed actors explaining mourning customs. (Tickets)
OCT. 11 – Natchitoches, LA. American Cemetery. Annual living history cemetery tour organized by and benefitting Natchitoches Historic Foundation. In addition to costumed interpreters, tour will also include hors-d'oeuvres, wine, and funeral cookies. (Tickets)
OCT. 12, 13, 19, & 20 – Opelousas, LA. St. Landry Catholic Church will hold their 16th annual living history tour of the St. Landry Catholic Church Cemetery. The first weekend of tours coincides with the 3rd Annual Festival de la Grande Église. Proceeds benefit the St. Landry Church Cemetery Historical Restoration Project. (Info here, call for tickets and scheduling)
OCT. 25 – Lake Charles, LA. The Arts Council of Southwest Louisiana returns with their annual cemetery tour. This year the living history tour will take place in four Lake Charles cemeteries in the late evening. Proceeds benefit the Arts Council of SWLA. Click here to see video of last year’s cemetery program. (Tickets) (Facebook Event)
OCT. 30 – Covington, LA. Covington Cemetery No. 1, “Field Trip to Cemetery No. 1.” In a change of pace from Covington Heritage Foundation’s past living history programs, this year will be an interactive adventure in which participants must find information and historic resources in the cemetery, scavenger hunt-style. The program will end with the group sharing their findings. The event is FREE! But registration is required. (Register here!)
NOV. 8 – Abbeville, LA. Old Catholic Cemetery “If Headstones Could Talk…” Living History Cemetery Tour. Tickets available at The Depot or Abbeville City Hall.
** The Gretna Historical Society in Gretna, Louisiana, usually does a historic program in Hook and Ladder Cemetery in October as well. As of this writing, the 2019 date for this program has not been announced yet.
SEPT. 28: Meridian, MS. Rose Hill Cemetery “Annual Costumed Tour.” Tour conducted by costumed performers from the Rose Hill Company of Players. Program funded in part by Mississippi Humanities Council, Meridian Council for the Arts, and Mississippi Arts Commission. (Facebook Event)
OCT. 5: Tylertown, MS. Founders Cemetery, “Phantoms of Founders: Historical Cemetery Twilight Tour.” Costumed living history tour hosted by the Daughters of the American Revolution and benefitting the Founders Cemetery Historical Preservation Committee. Tickets available by phone.
OCT. 19: Moss Point, MS. Griffin Cemetery annual historic tour. Unlike other tours, Griffin Cemetery’s tour is in the morning from 9am to 11:30am, each half hour. Admission is FREE! (but donations are appreciated) (Info here)
OCT. 20-22: Biloxi, MS. Old Biloxi Cemetery, “Annual Old Biloxi Cemetery Tour: Biloxi’s Colorful Past.” This annual event will include 15 costumed actors interpreting stories of Biloxi before alcohol and gambling were legalized. This is an Gulf Coast favorite in its 14th year, organized by city, state, and university offices, and best of all it is FREE! (but donations are appreciated).
OCT. 26-27: Corinth, MS. Corinth City Cemetery, “Fourth Annual Historic Corinth Cemetery Tour.” Ticket proceeds benefit the Corinth Crossroads Museum. Tickets will be sold at the cemetery gate only. (Info here)
OCT. 31: Bay St. Louis, MS. Cedar Rest Cemetery annual tour. This is the 25th annual costumed living history tour held by the Hancock County Historical Society. The event also includes hot dogs, chili dogs, cookies and punch. And it’s FREE! (Info here)
NOV. 7-9: Natchez, MS. Natchez City Cemetery “Angels on the Bluff.” The program is a much-beloved and celebrated annual event with costumed actors, elaborate sets, and lively performances. Angels on the Bluff usually sells out quickly, so buy your tickets soon. (Tickets)
Although not directly cemetery-related, check out Alabama’s other haunted October events, including the Tale Tellin’ Festival and many ghost haunts in the Black Belt including Demopolis, Selma, and the real-life ghost town of Cahawba. Find an expanded schedule here.
Oct. 1, 3, 8, 10, 15, 17, 22, 24, 29 & 31: Athens, AL “Athens Haunts Walk” Walking tour of 13 houses in Athens, Alabama. Tickets available pre-sale only at the Athens-Limestone Visitors Center. (Info here and here)
OCT. 17-18: Auburn, AL. Pine Hill Cemetery Lantern Tour. Costumed performers interpreting historic figures buried in Pine Hill Cemetery, illuminated with 1,500 candles. Ticket sales benefit Auburn Heritage Association. Golf carts available for those with mobility concerns. Tickets available at the gate (Info here)
OCT. 20: Maple Hill Cemetery, Huntsville, AL “Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll” One of the largest living history strolls in America, with more than 75 costumed characters, musical performances, antique auto show and scavenger hunt – and it’s FREE! (Donations are welcome, benefitting the Huntsville Pilgramage Association) (Link)
OCT. 5, 19, 26 & NOV. 2: Marietta, GA. Marietta City Cemetery, “Touchstones to the Past: City Cemetery Tours.” Hosted by the Marietta Museum of History, each weekend tour has a different theme, including “Life After Loss,” “Mayors,” “Law & Order,” and “Symbols and Meanings.” (Tickets here)
OCT. 17: Columbus, GA. Linwood Cemetery, “Historic Linwood Cemetery Foundation Fall Ramble.” This year’s theme is “Murder Most Foul.” Refreshments after tour. (Info here)
OCT. 17-27: Atlanta, GA. Oakland Cemetery “Capturing the Spirit of Oakland Halloween Tours,” a much-beloved annual event at one of Georgia’s most beautiful historic cemeteries. Spirit of Oakland tours included costumed actors, musical performances, and even guests are encouraged to arrive in costume. Due to its popularity, Spirit of Oakland 2018 tours are already sold out! But be sure to check out Oakland Cemeteries MANY other programs in October and November on their calendar.
OCT. 17-20, 25-27: Macon, GA. Riverside Cemetery, “Spirits in October” living history program operated by not-for-profit Riverside Cemetery and Conservancy. (Info here) (Tickets here)
OCT. 26: Midway, GA. Midway Cemetery, annual tour of the cemetery benefiting the Midway Museum. (Info and Tickets)
OCT. 27: Americus, GA. The Sumter Historic Trust will be including a cemetery tour in their 2019 history tour series. (Facebook Event Page)
NOV. 10: Dunwoody, GA. Stephen-Martin Cemetery. A twilight tour of a cemetery tucked behind a retail development. The event is FREE! and is hosted by the Dunwoody Preservation Trust. (Info Here)
NOV. 10: Athens, GA. Oconee Hill Cemetery. Part of the Historic Athens Heritage Walks series. Guided by the author of a definitive book on the cemetery’s history. This tour is already sold out! (Info Here)
NOV. 21: Hinesville, GA. Fort Stewart Historic Communities Council Meeting and Fall Cemetery Tour. Community tour begins in the morning and will visit Strickland Pond, Sand Hill, Congregational, Smith Chapel, and Smith Cemeteries. Lunch will be provided by Bojangles. Contact Dina McKain via this link for more information.
OCT. 12: Nashville, TN. Nashville City Cemetery, “If Tombstone’s Could Talk: Triumph and Tragedy.” Nashville City Cemetery Association’s 20th annual living history tour highlighting historic tales of singers, masons, politicians, and a Battle of New Orleans hero. Two tours on the evening of Oct. 12. (Info Here) (Tickets) There are also YouTube videos available of past tours!
OCT. 24, 25 & 26: Memphis, TN. Elmwood Cemetery presents “Soul of the City: Elmwood Rises.” Elmwood Cemetery was founded in 1852 and is one of Tennessee’s oldest non-profits. This year’s performance, with costumed characters representing historical figures, celebrates Memphis’ bicentennial. (Info here) (Tickets here)
OCT. 18-19: New Braunfels, TX. Comal Cemetery’s “Soul Searching Night Ramblings.” Costumed guides show visitors through the cemetery. Golf carts available for those who need assistance. Offered through New Braunfels Parks and Recreation. (Info here)
OCT. 20: Oakwood Cemetery, Austin, TX, “13th Annual Murder, Mayhem, & Misadventure Walking Tour.” Hosted by Save Austin Cemeteries (Info here)
OCT. 26: Bonham, TX. Sam Rayburn State Historic Site’s Willow Wild Cemetery for a FREE tour of this historic family cemetery. (Info here)
OCT. 25-27: Fort Worth, TX. Oakwood Cemetery, “Oakwood Cemetery Saints and Sinners Tour” Daytime and twilight tours (twilight tours are sold out), costumed actors, hosted by the Fort Worth Stockyard Museum. (Facebook Event Page)
OCT. 5: Pilgrims Rest Cemetery, Ormond Beach, FL “Pilgrims Rest Cemetery Tour,” an evening tour hosted by the Ormond Beach Historical Society (Info here).
OCT. 11 & 25, NOV. 15 & 29, DEC. 13 & 27: Orlando, FL. Greenwood Cemetery Moonlight Walking Tours. This historic municipally-owned cemetery holds several tours through the winter. The tours are FREE! But do require RSVP on EventBrite. Often, each tour will collect voluntary donations to benefit a selected charity. (Info Here, with links to RSVP pages)
OCT. 15 & 19: Brooksville, FL. Historic Brooksville Cemetery Tour, hosted by Brooksville Parks and Recreation and part of the city’s Founder’s Week events. This daytime tour starts at 10am and is FREE! (Info via Facebook)
OCT. 26: Apalachicola, FL. Old Chestnut Street Cemetery, Apalachicola Area Historical Society’s annual “Fall Ghost Walk.” Local history enthusiasts “don the garb and take on the persona of the cemetery’s notable inhabitants.” Proceeds of the annual event are put toward preservation purposes. (Info here) (Facebook Event Page)
Wherever you are in the South, get out there and enjoy some live, local, and charitable cemetery performances and educational programs!