Skeleton Festival

Saturday, October 7, 2023, from 2 – 5 PM

Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance is thrilled to be bringing back an in-person Skeleton Festival for 2023! This family-friendly festival will feature trick-or-treating, costume contests, Sip & Stroll, and more! Check back soon for a list of activities as we welcome spooky season with our community.

Presented By

Featured Activities

  • Trick-or-Treating at 40+ downtown businesses
  • Costume Contest (begins at 3:30 PM)
  • Sip & Stroll
  • Edgar Allan POE-try Contest


Give your family plenty of time to pick up candy before the costume contest and pumpkin showdown begin on Court Square by starting your trick-or-treat adventure on Liberty & Mason Street businesses during this pre-festival promotion.

Participating Liberty and Mason Street businesses will be giving out treat bags to the first 30 visitors at each location starting at 1 PM! Treat bags will be filled with toys, candy and possibly $10 Downtown Dollars inside! First come, first served while supplies last!

Trick-or-treating will continue until 5 PM with other participating businesses giving out candy starting at 2 PM. There are over 40 businesses handing out candy this year, check back soon for the official candy map and grab a print copy from HDR info booth on Court Square Saturday, October 7.


Come to Skeleton Festival dressed your best and sign up for the in-person costume contest on the Court Square lawn! This competition is open to all ages (and species!). A judging committee will select the winners of the following categories.



Pre-K (under 5)

Elementary School (5 – 11 years old)

Middle/High School (11 – 18  years old)

Adult (18+ years old)

Duo/ Group

Learn more about this year’s HUGE prizes on our Instagram here.

How to Enter

To enter, sign up at Court Square on the day of the event. The costume contest will be taking place from ~3:30 – 4:30 PM.

HDR reserves the right to disqualify contestants. Fraudulent activities and inappropriate submissions will be monitored and lead to disqualification.

Skeleton Fest Sip & Stroll


Sip & Stroll is an element of our events that replaces the usual beer garden. Adults aged 21+ can purchase a beer, wine, or cocktails at a participating brewery, cidery, or restaurant and enjoy it while strolling downtown.

Click on the button below to learn more about how Sip & Stroll works, view participating locations, and preview seasonal drink specials that will be available during the event.


Bust out those writing quills and get ready to join us for a new contest open to all ages! The public is invited to submit short-form poems inspired by the American poet Edgar Allan Poe or otherwise have a Halloween or fall theme. Submissons are due via the online form below by Sunday, October 1 at 11:59 PM.


Check out these activities and promotions happening across downtown during Skeleton Fest!

Community Ofrenda

Come take part and learn about this Dia De Los Muertos tradition at this interactive community display with accompanying kids craft in collaboration with Virginia Organizing.

Weird Science Lab

Join JMU Chemistry for interactive science demos and creepy experiments.

Spooky Surprise

Make sure you are at Court Square at 3:35 PM for a spooky (but not scary) surprise!

Fall Photo Ops

Take a photo at our seasonal display! Don’t forget to tag us @downtownharrisonburg!

Downtown Vendors

Stroll around Court Square to visit food and craft vendors.

Tunes on Court Square

Listen to your favorite tunes and join us for a dance party on Court Square from 2 – 3:20 PM as we kick off our contests!

Face Painting Ga-GORE at LDDBlueline

Get your face painted and wear a scary wound at LDDBlueline’s trick-or-treat stop from noon – 3 PM at 126 W Bruce Street, Suite 102! Don’t forget to pick up your candy and water bottle.

Tea Party Pop-Up in the Shops at Agora

Rocktown Pantry inside the Shops at Agora will be doing a pop-up in collaboration with the Downtown Rabbit Hole. Enjoy a tea party, face painting, and dress up! Take Polaroid pictures for fun with a princess or other character.

Free Admission at the Virginia Quilt Museum

Celebrate the spooky season at the Virginia Quilt Museum. Make and take bookmarks with members of the Shenandoah Valley Chapter of the American Needlepoint Guild.

Oktoberfest at Brothers Craft Brewing

Join Brothers for its 6th annual Oktoberfest event from noon – 10 PM. Featuring German-style beers, food, games, and music. Don’t forget – official BCB Oktoberfest glassware can be used for discounted pours of Fest Bier WHENEVER it is pouring year after year!

Succulent Pumpkin Workshop with Leslie Geer Design

Build a beautiful succulent bouquet on the top of an 8-inch pumpkin while enjoying a drink at Sage Bird Ciderworks! Finish your Sip-and-Stroll at Sage Bird and start right into crafting your pumpkin at 5 PM.

Live Music at OASIS Fine Art & Craft

Come check out live music at OASIS Fine Art & Craft by Cousin Jimmy’s Stringband.

Costume Party Fun at Massanutten Regional Library

Central Library invites all children in costume to come to the Children’s Department from 2 – 4 PM to get a treat, and make a craft! Make sure to check out the available seasonal book too!

Guess the Weight Game & Photos at GCM Express

Guess the weight of the pumpkin at Grilled Cheese Mania Express, without going over, and win 1 grilled cheese every month in 2024. Have your picture taken in costume and take home a free Polaroid!

Pumpkin “Painting” at The Friendly Fermenter

With the purchase by their adult(s), aids can “paint” their own mini pumpkin, with markers for FREE (while supplies last).

Hands-On Halloween Fun

Have a spooktacular fun time designing & building Halloween-themed mosaics and jack-o-lantern pumpkins out of LEGO® bricks with Snapology of Harrisonburg. Snapology brings STEAM learning to life through play-based, hands-on fun programs.

Photo Booth and Blessing of the Pets

Save a memento at the Halloween photo booth. Plus, bless your pets at Saint Stephen’s United Church of Christ at 358 South Main Street

Make a Candygram for a Teacher

Show your favorite teacher some love. Make a Candygram for your HCPS or RCPS teacher at the Harrisonburg City Schools building on Court Square.

Prize Wheel & Downtown Merch

Stop by the HDR Info Booth for some spooktacular treats! Grad an event map and spin the prize wheel. HDR will also be selling downtown shirts and Sip & Stroll wristbands!

Skeleton Fest would not be possible without the support of our generous sponsors!

Harrisonburg Radio Group Logo

Are You Interested in Being a Sponsor for this Event Next Year?

We are no longer accepting sponsorship and vendor requests for this year’s Skeleton Festival, but we are happy to talk about sponsorships for next fall! Interested? Send us an email at