Groveland Twp. — Shortly before the first group tour of “Haunted Hollygrove” Thursday night, Oct. 15, their guide Belladonna Witch let out a bloodcurdling witch’s cackle.
Following a chilling introduction from the “Ghostly Host,” the group of 40 set out to explore the Renaissance Festival grounds which through the power of multiple lights, spooky music and fog became something quite different from
the normal cheery lively grounds they’re used to.
This will be an experience for thousands of visitors to “A Haunting in Hollygrove — Phantasm of Lights” running weekends at the grounds of the Michigan Renaissance Festival until Oct. 31.
This is a 3/4-mile haunted walk through the familiar festival grounds. The buildings and landscapes are transformed by the immersive lighting, spooky sounds and actors in costume.
While the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the canceling of the regular Renaissance Festival, spokesperson Kim Heidger said it’s provided an opportunity to explore new options and uses for the festival grounds.
Heidger believes that other such festival groups are just trying to pull together what they can with main events being canceled. This is the first time such an event has been held at the festival grounds, but she compared it to Glenlore Trails in Commerce Township.
National chain Fantasee Lighting from Belleville is handling the immersive lighting design. “The lighting is what changes this event,” Heidger said. The company describes it as a “visual, enchanted haunting walk-thru experience.”
Children should enjoy the lights, while adults can go for the jump scares and creepy scenes. “We want to give people a different kind of Halloween experience,” Heidger said.
Previously events like “Halloween at Hollygrove” provided a more festive atmosphere with games, dancing and costumes and a haunted trail. Instead, this event focuses entirely on the haunted trail.
There are actors that provide some jump scares, but it’s not like a haunted house. “This is more like immersing yourself in an actual haunted village,” Heidger said.
Overall it takes 35 to 40 minutes with a guide providing pacing between groups, which start every 10 minutes.
Adult Tickets are $25 each and children’s tickets (ages 5-12) are $17.95 each.
Tours run from 7 to 11 p.m., Thursday through Sunday until Halloween night. Go to halloweeninholly.com for more information and to reserve tickets.
Jeremy and Elizabeth Rosencrantz of Flushing took their children Hunter, 6, and Gunner 3, through the haunted village, and they both seemed to like it. “There was some really good lighting in there,” Elizabeth said.