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Saint Charles Legends & Lanterns®

Ghost Stories at the First State Capitol

Join us as the First Missouri State Capitol provides the eerie setting as two ghostly residents of Saint Charles’ past materialize to share a treasury of spooky short stories and ghost tales that will send a shiver down your spine (and occasionally put a smile on your face).

Morbid Curiosity: Mourning Traditions of the Victorian Age

Macabre, eerie, and bizarre...the Victorians turned grief into an art form in the 19th century through their curious (and sometimes just plain weird) reactions to the loss of a loved one. Journey just steps off of Main Street to Frontier Park as the historic KATY Train Depot comes to “life” with an informative and family-friendly exhibit that features dozens of peculiar authentic artifacts (including mourning gowns, tear vials, and memorial wreaths made of human hair) that seek to illustrate how Victorians revolutionized the bereavement process. Learn why it’s customary to wear black to funerals. Discover why homes have “living” rooms. Decipher what the symbols on old tombstones mean. Explore what customs can still be recognized today, and which fads have “died out.”

Tinseltown Terror: A Salute to the Golden Age of Monster Movies

It’s thrilling! It’s shocking! And it’s coming to a screen near you! Transport yourself back to the by-gone era of drive-in theatres as the historic Katy Train Depot in Frontier Park is transformed into an old-fashioned movie house. Relive the nostalgia with clips from your favorite monster classics and SciFi B-movies of the 1930s-1950s. Enjoy some complimentary popcorn (while supplies last) as these vintage monsters, mutants, and maniacs make their return to the big screen.

Scarecrow Glen

Things in Saint Charles have gone “hay”-wire! Head over to Kister Park to experience Scarecrow Glen. Get into the autumn spirit as you stroll the meandering path around the iconic Main Street Gazebo to get a view of the dozens of clever displays. Whether traditional or imaginative, whimsical or cutting edge, the scarecrows you see here have all come from the creative minds of merchants, organizations, and entities from throughout the Saint Charles area and beyond. Be sure to vote for your favorite in our digital “straw” poll!

Gargoyles: History’s Stone Guardians

Responsible for driving away evil forces, gargoyle lore can be traced back all the way to ancient Egypt and Greece. New this season, this educational exhibit seeks to shed light on these stone monsters by answering questions (for instance, what is the difference between a “gargoyle” and a “grotesque?”) while exploring international variations, depictions in popular culture, and the artistry behind these ghastly characters that have captured the imagination for centuries.

Botanical Rascals: A Study of Poisonous & Carnivorous Plants

Calling all green thumbs! Enter into the wicked world of gardening with this study of poisonous & carnivorous plants. Gaze upon an eclectic collection of bell jars and terrariums, each containing an assortment of sinister specimens (including Venus Fly Traps, Poison Hemlock, Mandrakes, and a bizarre man-eating plant from outer space named “Audrey II”). Learn the fascinating history and stories behind Mother Nature’s deadliest flora. 

Old-Fashioned Horse-Drawn Hayride

​Hop aboard an old-fashioned horse-drawn hay wagon and enjoy a leisurely jaunt as the Missouri River and quaint architecture of Main Street provide a picturesque backdrop for a relaxing autumn ride through the historic district. This one-way trip offers the perfect vantage point to take in all of the sights and sounds of the Legends & Lanterns® festival along the way. But beware—you never know when one of your favorite characters may decide to unexpectedly hitch a ride!

Plaza Del Dia De Los Muertos

Let the skeletal grand dame La Catrina be your guide as you explore the heritage and vibrant customs of the Mexican Day of the Dead. Far from being a somber occasion, the joyous annual commemoration of Dia de los Muertos (which has origins going back over 2,500 years) honors the souls of departed loved ones through music, stories, food (such as the baking of pan de muerto, a bone-shaped sweet roll), and the decorating of gravesites and memorial altars (known as ofrenda) with colorful cempazuchitl (marigolds—orange like the sun, representing hope and life). Get involved in the celebration while visiting La Plaza del Dia de los Muertos, where you can remember a departed loved one by contributing a memorial marigold to the ofrenda, or get a festive calavera (sugar skull) make-over from one of our professional face painters.

Writers Block

Celebrate the legacy of gothic literature and the creative authors behind history’s most spine-tingling tales with a visit to Writers’ Block. It is here that you will be able to brainstorm story ideas with the biggest superstars of the horror genre: Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and the Brothers Grimm. Perhaps you will be inspired enough to try your hand at writing your own suspenseful poem or short story. If you so choose, you can even post your masterpiece on our “POE”tree, where you can enjoy reading the clever musings left behind by other aspiring authors.

Finally, every festival day at 2:00 pm, take a crash course through the history of horror literature as Poe, Shelley, and the Grimm Brothers irreverently skewer the classics in a zany, fast-paced show that takes you through an abbreviated journey of your favorite frightful books and fairy tales. From Frankenstein to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, no monster myth or ghost story is safe!

Macabre Mementos

Looking for a unique souvenir to commemorate your visit to Legends & Lanterns®? Stop by the Tourism Center (230 South Main) for a wide array of official festival t-shirts and keepsakes that will help you showcase your Legends & Lanterns® pride in style, and help you keep the spirit of Halloween going all year long.

Scaredy Cat Scavenger Hunt

Meet Jekyll (the festival’s unofficial feline mascot). Jekyll likes to “hyde” throughout the historic district during Legends & Lanterns®. A clue will be posted each festival day on the official Legends & Lanterns® Facebook page, to help you locate the whereabouts of Jekyll’s “hyding” spot. Take a picture with our frightened feline and show it to one of the volunteers at the Tourism Center (230 South Main Street) in exchange for a small prize.

Pumpkin Glow

October 22 & 23 from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm join the merchants of Main Street for an enchanting evening of shopping by pumpkin glow. Participating shops along Main Street will decorate their sidewalks and windows with Jack-O-Lanterns of all shapes and sizes and invite you in for a Fall Open House. Get a group together and stroll the sidewalks, take photos of your favorite creations, and discover something new at participating locations. From antiques and curiosities, to dog cookies and discounts, you’re sure to find just the right item. Get a jump start on your Holiday shopping during an enchanted weekend on Main Street.

No matter if you materialize every year for Legends & Lanterns® or whether you are “unearthing” us for the first time, we invite you to discover your new favorite Halloween tradition and prepare yourself for the most memorable expEERIEnce of your life (or afterlife).