For me the excitement of Halloween significantly declined once I no longer qualified to go trick or treating and come home with a big bag of candy (that was better than Christmas to me). But the Winchester Mystery House Halloween Candlelight Tour gives adults and children alike a new reason to celebrate the arrival of Halloween.
The Winchester Mystery House – A Maze of Curiosity
In case you haven’t been to the Winchester Mystery House, it’s a 132-year-old, 24,000 square foot home in San Jose, California on Winchester Boulevard built by Sarah Winchester, heir to her husband’s Winchester Repeating Rifle fortune. The house is probably best known for its architectural interest, featuring a maze of rooms that don’t necessarily make sense in context with one another. Apparently, construction never ended for Sarah once she started building on the small farm house in 1884. Now registered as a historical landmark, there are 160 rooms, 2,000 doors and 10,000 windows in the home. Interestingly, there are also 9 kitchens, 13 bathrooms, 47 stairways and fireplaces and 1 shower. This maze of design confusion makes a perfect backdrop for what Time magazine dubbed one of “The Most Haunted Places in the World.”
The Movie “Winchester”
The famous Queen-Anne-Revival mansion was celebrated by Hollywood with the February, 2018 release of “Winchester,” a movie starring Helen Mirren. After the movie’s release, the house received a surge of new visitors. However, thanks to their sizable parking lot and frequent tours, the Winchester Mystery House Halloween Candlelight Tour is accessible to everyone.
You Will be Frightened … In a Good Way
There’s a sweet Americana flavor to the tasty confection of fact-and-fiction storytelling by the hosts of the candlelight tours. Illuminated by only a candle, each guide brings a group of 10-12 people through a tour of the creaky corridors of the grand mansion while canting spooky stories to spark your imagination. Even if you don’t know your tour mates when you start the tour, odds are you will have bonded at least a little with them by the end. With frightening ghouls and possible paranormal phenomena hidden around each corner, some members of your group will most definitely let out a shriek. If you don’t think it will be you, beware. I was a skeptic and they managed to evoke a loud scream from me.
Makes a Great Date or Family Outing
The Winchester Mystery House Halloween Candlelight Tour takes a little less than an hour. This San Jose attraction is a great activity for a family, date or a group outing (corporate off-sites would be fun here). After the tour you can stop at the snack bar or café and grab a whiskey or tequila concoction along with a burger. And if you have a chance to order the nachos with pulled pork, by all means seize the day. It’s far tastier and more satisfying than any of the Halloween candy that prevails at this time of year.
To get the most from the Halloween Candlelight Tour, go with the flow – suspend disbelief. Rather than trying to figure out how the living shadow of an old woman in a rocking chair is projected on the wall, what if it really were the shadow of the grieving widow who built the mansion and held seances to decide what room to build next?
Need to know: Ticket prices range from $20.00 to $49.00. If you are interested in discount tickets, check the website for value nights and you’ll save 20% off the price of admission. Advance ticket purchases are highly recommended.
If you go:
Winchester Mystery House (408) 247-2000
525 South Winchester Blvd.
San Jose, California 95128
My ticket to the Winchester Mystery House Halloween Candlelight Tour was comped in exchange for this review of the tour. All opinions are my own. Photos and review by Leslie Drate