It’s also the time of year when a lot of preservation, heritage, and city commerce 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. 6 – St. Landry Church Cemetery, Opelousas, LA. “Annual Festival de la Grande Église” Festival celebrating St. Landry Church, including cemetery tours all day, as well as tours of the church and a jambalaya cook-off. (Link) (Link)
OCT. 6 & 7, OCT. 20 & 21 – St. Joseph Plantation, Vacherie, LA “Creole Mourning Tour” Plantation decorated in deep Victorian mourning, costumed actors explaining mourning customs. (Link)
OCT. 11 – Traditional African Spirituality and All Saints Day Lecture, hosted by NOACC, at New Orleans Jazz Museum (the Mint) (Link)
OCT. 12-14, OCT 20 – American Cemetery, Natchitoches, LA “History Among Tombstones: Stories From the American Cemetery” Living history with costumed guides. (Link) (Link) (Facebook)
OCT. 13 – St. Landry Catholic Church Cemetery, Opelousas, LA “Voices from Our Past: St. Landry Catholic Church Cemetery Tour,” (Facebook)
OCT. 17 – Historic Rapides Cemetery, Pineville, LA. “Historic Rapides Cemetery Tour” Costumed actors, book sales, proceeds benefit Historic Rapides Cemetery Preservation Society. (Link)
OCT. 20 – Hook and Ladder Cemetery, Gretna, LA. Guided tour through Hook and Ladder, actors in period costumes, refreshments from Red Maple Restaurant. (Link) (Facebook)
OCT. 26 – Five cemeteries, including Bilbo Cemetery, Goos Cemetery, Orange Grove Cemetery, Graceland Cemetery, and Catholic Cemetery, Lake Charles, LA. “Lake Charles Cemetery Tour” Costumed actors in each cemetery, folks can drive at their own pace between cemeteries, to benefit the Arts Council of SWLA. (Link) (Facebook)
NOV. 3 – St. Ann Cemetery, St. Ann Catholic Church, Bourg, LA “Blessing of St. Ann Cemetery” (Facebook)
NOV. 9 – Old Catholic Cemetery, Abbeville, LA “If Headstones Could Talk…” (Living history program) (Link)
OCT. 20: Glenwood Cemetery, Yazoo City, MS, “Free Tour of Yazoo City’s Famous Glenwood Cemetery,” to correspond with Yazoo County Fair and annual Ag Days event (Free) (Link)
OCT. 20: Griffin Cemetery, Moss Point, MS “6th Annual Historic Griffin Cemetery Tour,” free. (Facebook)
OCT. 24: Old Biloxi Cemetery, Biloxi, MS “Biloxi Praise: Annual Old Biloxi Cemetery Tour.” Living history, self guided, and free! One day only. Theme is local religious leaders. (Link) (Facebook) (Sneak peek at the Biloxi Public Library on October 11)
OCT. 25: Krebs Cemetery, Pascagoula, MS “Boats, Trains and Planes” Sponsored by Jackson County Historical and Genealogical Society and others, free. (Facebook)
OCT. 26: Cedar Rest Cemetery, Bay St. Louis, MS “Annual Cedar Rest Cemetery Tour” Period dress actors, cookies and chili dogs, FREE!, hosted by the Hancock County Historical Society (Link)
OCT. 27: Corinth Cemetery, Corinth, MS “Historic Cemetery Tour,” to benefit the Crossroads Museum. (Link)
NOV. 8-10: Natchez City Cemetery, Natchez, MS “Angels on the Bluff” much-beloved annual living history tour, frequently sells out (Link) (Facebook)
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. 5, 12 & 14: Athens, AL “Athens Haunts Walk” Walking tour of 13 houses in Athens, Alabama (Link) (Link)
OCT. 6: Columbiana City Cemetery, Shelby County, AL “Historical Cemetery Walking Tour” (Link)
OCT. 18: 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! (Link)
OCT. 21: Jacksonville City Cemetery, Jacksonville, AL “Jacksonville Historic Cemetery Stroll,” costumed actors (many of whom are descendants of the folks they’re portraying) interpreting the history of the cemetery and its residents (Facebook)
NOV. 4: Athens City Cemetery, Athens, AL “Athens Cemetery Stroll,” (Facebook)
NOV. 10: Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, AL “Second Saturday Tour,” hosted by the Mobile Creole Cultural and Historical Preservation Society. Two-hour walking tour with a cemetery expert. This tour is already sold out.
OCT. 18 – 28: Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, GA “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 Cemetery's MANY other programs in October and November including a fall colors photography event, a World War I memorial, and tours covering fascinating topics like African American women in Atlanta and the tragic true-crime story of Mary Phagan and Leo Frank.
OCT. 19 & 20: Rose Hill Cemetery, Winder, GA “Spirits of the Century,” living history tour hosted by the Barrow Preservation Society (Facebook)
OCT. 20: Eastview Cemetery, Adairsville, GA “An Evening in Eastview Cemetery” Walking tour at twilight hosted by the Bartow History Museum and sponsored by the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (Link)
OCT. 20: Midway Cemetery, Midway, GA “Midway Museum Cemetery Tour,” tour through Midway Cemetery after dark, to benefit the Midway Museum (Facebook)
OCT. 20: Oakwood Cemetery, Austin, TX, “12th Annual Murder, Mayhem, & Misadventure Walking Tour.” Hosted by Save Austin’s Cemeteries (Link)
OCT. 26-28: Oakwood Cemetery, Fort Worth, TX “Oakwood Cemetery Saints and Sinners Tour” Daytime and twilight tours, costumed actors, hosted by the Fort Worth Stockyard Museum. (Facebook)
OCT. 13: Pilgrims Rest Cemetery, Ormond Beach, FL “Pilgrims Rest Cemetery Tour,” an evening tour hosted by the Ormond Beach Historical Society (Facebook)
OCT. 16 & 20: Brooksville Cemetery, Brooksville, FL “Brooksville Cemetery Tour,” a morning (10am) cemetery tour hosted by the City of Brooksville Parks and Recreation Department (Facebook)
OCT. 20: Old City Cemetery, Jacksonville, FL “Cemetery Work Day.” Not so much a tour so much as a neighborhood cleanup day at Old City Cemetery in Jacksonville. Check out the Facebook event page and maybe lend a hand!