At Shocktober, Scaring Is Caring

Paxton Manor’s Shocktober haunted house isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a scream-out-loud scary evening for a great cause.

For the past eight seasons, the staff and volunteers have transformed Paxton Campus’ 140-year-old manor house into a terrifyingly fun scene of madness and mayhem.

This 40-something mama took her tween on opening night and had a blast. The Paxton crew’s outstanding attention to detail in the sounds, sights and even (yes) smells of terror makes for a chillingly realistic scene. And a cast of enthusiastic volunteer actors, who clearly relish throwing themselves into their roles, get up close and personal for some serious scares.

Some of our faves were the haunted hospital (full of deranged docs and nurses) and the fascinatingly disturbing creepy doll room. But the basement was the best part. Playing on the current scary clown zeitgeist, the Paxton team has transformed the manor’s basement into a haunted carnival—complete with evil clowns, a head-spinning funhouse tunnel and a super-cool psychedelic swamp.

New this year is Shocktober’s Haunted Carnival of Souls featuring evil clowns and other funhouse scares. [Paxton Campus]
           But Shocktober isn’t just for thrills—it’s for a great cause. The haunted house is a fundraiser for The Arc of Loudoun at Paxton Campus, a nonprofit providing services to people with disabilities and their families living in Loudoun.

While the crowd trends young—Shocktober is big with teens and young adults—it’s also a great date night plan or group outing for GenX parents and professionals. The event features food vendors and non-alcoholic beverages for the teen set and Old Ox Brewery’s Oxorcist beer and wines from Tarara Winery’s tasty Boneyard line on sale for the over-21 crowd. (I recommend eating after your tour just in case).

It’s also a fun family outing for folks with older kids—I’d give it a solid PG-13 rating. My seventh grader thought it was awesome and is ready to come back again next year, but another middle schooler in our group had to bail early after getting one scare too many—so parents should use their judgment. Because of the scare factor, everyone needs to sign a waiver before going in.

Shocktober runs every Friday and Saturday evening from 7-10 p.m. and Sundays from 7-9 p.m. through Oct. 29 at Paxton Campus, 601 Catoctin Circle NE in Leesburg (just look for the hearse parked out front.) Tickets are $35 online and $40 at the on-site ticket office.

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