CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Halloween's not until Wednesday, but there is no shortage of events this weekend to get you into the spirit. You can scare yourself silly, have some spooky storytime fun, indulge in any number of family-friendly events and even take in a belly dance spooktacular. Here's a look at some of what's happening:
Charleston Town Center and Capitol Market have free trick-or-treat events for children Thursday. The Capitol Market trick-or-treat runs 4 to 6 p.m. and also has complimentary photos for costumed children. Call 304-344-1905.
The Charleston Town Center Wee Trick-or-Treat runs 6 to 7 p.m. throughout the mall and is followed by a costume contest at 7:15 p.m. in Macy's Court. (Registration for it begins at 5:30 p.m.) Mall gift cards will be awarded to winners in seven categories.
The categories are best baby (baby must be carried) and best family theme (must include parents) as well as best princess or fairy, best superhero and most original for ages 7 and under and favorite movie, music or TV character and most original for ages 8-13. Call 304-345-9526.
If you are looking for a scare, there are plenty to be found, from outdoor trails to indoor haunts. Enter if you dare.
Of course, the two biggies are The Asylum in Weston and the West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville. For details on these, including tickets and tour times, visit www.theasylumwv.com and www.wvpentours.com.
In Charleston, there's the Haunted Barn at 426 Beauregard St. It's open 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday and Nov. 3. General tickets are $10, or for $20, get the VIP package that includes limited wait time, a coffin ride and a monster maze. Call 304-389-1203 or visit www.thehauntedbarn.us.
Down the street, the Kanawha Players have Beauregard Nightmare Factory at the KP Theater, 309 Beauregard St. It's open 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday and 7 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $6, with a $1 discount if you donate a non-perishable food item. Visit www.kanawhaplayers.org.
Also indoors are Huntington's House of Morbid Minds and the Haunted Schoolhouse at the New Era One Room School Museum in Mineral Wells.
Morbid Minds is open 8 to 11 p.m. Thursday and Sunday through Wednesday and 8 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday at 1500 Monroe Ave. (behind Big Lots on the West End). Admission is $10. Call 304-638-6078.
The schoolhouse is open 6:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Mineral Wells Elementary School, 1776 Elizabeth Pike. The family-friendly event features animated characters, a talking vampire, singing outhouse ghost, graveyard, Frankenstein's Lab, ghost stories around the campfire and more. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for students. Email maxbarker...@yahoo.com.
Trails can be found in Raleigh, Jackson and Boone counties.
Little Beaver State Park near Beckley has goblins and ghosts lurking on an all-ages trail, plus mazes in some of the shelters and Halloween activity areas. Hours are 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday and Sunday through Wednesday and 7 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for ages 12 and under. Call 304-763-2494.
Also suitable for all ages is the Haunted Trail and Not So Spooky Wagon Rides from 8 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Jackson County fairgrounds in Cottageville. Trail admission is $5, and wagon rides are $3. Visit www.jcjfhauntedtrail.com.
NOT recommended for children (or pregnant women and people with serious health problems like epilepsy or a heart condition) is the Madison-Danville Jaycees' Haunted Trail of Horror at Water Ways off Corridor G in Boone County. Hours are 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Tuesday. Admission is $5 with a $1 discount to those who donate a new or gently used coat. Visit www.facebook.com/hauntedtrailofhorror.
The Milton corn maize turns into the Field of Screams from dark until close Friday and Saturday with a $10 admission, and the Nightmare at Dreamland Haunted Trail, part of the C-K AutumnFest, is open 8 to midnight Friday and Saturday. Located off U.S. 60 at the foot of Catlettsburg Bridge, the trail is suitable for all ages and has a $5 adult and $3 student admission. See more on the maze and the festival in "Family Fun" below.
The Kanawha County Public Library has two free storytelling programs to put adults and teens in the Halloween mood. At 6 p.m. Thursday at the Clendenin branch and 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Cross Lanes, Mack Samples will share ghost stories from his youth and read from two of his ghostly books.
Also at 6 p.m. Thursday, Carol Weakland performs "The Turn of the Screw: A One-Woman Play" at the main library in Charleston. Drawn from Henry James' novella, it's the story of a governess who finds herself face-to-face with evil phantoms who seek to control the children in her charge.