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The Seeker: Oktoberfest and Spooky Season Coincide in Uptown

A spirited staycation

Katie Grant looks over her shoulder and smiles
Katie Grant, The Seeker. (Photo by Moving Mountains Studios)

While traditional bachelorette party plans may revolve around wine tastings, spa weekends, and bar-hopping escapades, why not take a unique twist on this epic pre-wedding period? Picture a bewitching staycation in Charlotte, set against the backdrop of cooling weather and wind-swept streets.

Recently, I joined a bride-to-be and her bridesmaids for a girls’ weekend group accented with brewery explorations and ghost tours — the perfect adventures for an upcoming gothic Friday the 13th wedding.

Our first stop was Oktoberfest at Gilde Brewery for the perfect combination of German cuisine, beer, and weekend hangs, which brings to mind the current craft beer climate in Charlotte.

According to Charlotte Magazine’s 2023 Brewery Directory, the city currently boasts over 100 breweries, lending a double entendre to the nickname “Buzz City.” This thriving craft beer scene has given rise to an annual celebration called Charlotte Craft Beer Week, coming up later this month, Oct. 20-29.

Charlotte Craft Beer Week is an eagerly awaited annual event that highlights the diverse craft beer culture of Charlotte. Though specific details may change from year to year, here’s a general overview of what you can expect based on past celebrations: brewery tours, tap takeovers and collaborations, beer dinners, seasonal releases, beer festivals, and community giveback opportunities.

And yes, I don’t mind if I do take this opportunity to plug a community give-back opportunity hosted by the nonprofit I work for, Smart Start of Mecklenburg County. This is your invitation to join us at Free Range Brewing on Friday, Oct. 20, to learn more about our mission and how you can get involved!

Traditionally, Oktoberfest in Munich stretches across 16-18 days during September and October. But if you missed some of the festivities throughout the city last month, fear not, fellow beer lovers; Oktoberfest carries well into October.

This year, Charlotte is adding a new event to its fall calendar: Mecklenburg Oktoberfest. The festivities will take place on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, at Truist Field with free admission. Mecklenburg Oktoberfest combines two already-existing events: taking the popular Pink Cupcake Walk and throwing in a pumpkin patch.

If you are unfamiliar, The Pink Cupcake Walk supports local “survivors, thrivers, and fighters” who have faced off with breast cancer with a one-mile walk around the field and mini cupcakes from four bakeries. Along with the pumpkin patch, already a fall staple from the Charlotte Knights, the celebration will include a mix of entertainment, local craft beer, shopping, live music, family activities, food and more.

The spirit of the Halloween season also lives in the walls of recognizable Charlotte buildings you may pass during your daily commute.

It’s often said that you never get to tour the city you live in, so a bachelorette party is an ideal situation to book a Haunted Booze and Boos Tour. Our first stop was the Dunhill Hotel, a historic building between art galleries and museums, replete with ghostly encounters.

The supernatural presence known as Dusty the Ghost is said to inhabit the hotel’s halls and is known to shake the elevators from time to time. This creepy tale came to life during the 1980s when renovations unveiled a human skeleton at the bottom of an elevator shaft.

We learned the skeletal remains were later identified as Oliver Doc Mundy, a World War II veteran from Mooresville who lived on the streets of Charlotte at the time of his passing. We also learned that during its first year of operation, The Dunhill Hotel proudly held a place among the city’s “largest and finest buildings,” as noted by the Charlotte Observer. Unfortunately, as one of the tallest structures in Charlotte at that time, and seeing as how the hotel opened the same year as the stock market crash of 1929, the hotel roof became a jumping-off point for suicidal locals seeking an escape from their financial woes.

Learn More: Jason Tapp of Spooky CLT Talks Latta Arcade, Headstones and Haunted Hotels

Another point of interest along the tour path was Connolly’s on Fifth, where we learned staff have the occasional encounter with their resident ghost, fondly called Nelly.

Looking for a way to bring the energy back up after a tour dedicated to death, we trekked the short distance to Crave for a nightcap of hookah, fall-themed cocktails, and, of course, the delectable bourbon pecan cheesecake.

Regrettably, our whiskey cocktails titled “The Full Monty” were the only sexual encounters of that ilk we would experience during our bachelorette extravaganza. Hunk-O-Mania at Scorpio’s fell off the itinerary due to poor planning and unexpectedly sold-out shows. Who could have guessed a male revue was in such high demand? But fret not, for we had an unforgettable journey nonetheless.

Whether you’re immersed in the dynamic craft beer culture or exploring the shadowy side of the city you didn’t know existed, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the season with spirits – those you imbibe and those that spook.

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