Nightmare Hollow Scream Park returns to Running Aces beginning Friday, Oct. 5

Prepare to be scared by the ghouls on the grounds at Nightmare Hollow Scream Park. Held at Running Aces Harness Park, the event runs every weekend in October, with additional nights closer to Halloween.


For the 21st year, Nightmare Hollow Scream Park will entertain Halloween lovers from the Twin Cities metro area on October evenings.

Formerly held at Trout Air, Nightmare Hollow is now headquartered at Running Aces.

The haunted house is in the barns, where Running Aces will sell food, ghoulish cocktails and beer.

Haunted hayrides go up the hill to the adjacent Trout Air property, meandering around a corn field and a green pond called “Trout Lake Cemetery.”

More than 20 scenes appear on the haunted trail, including old favorite Hillbilly Hut, and new this year, a 35-feet-long plane crash scene.

Dates & times 

Nightmare Hollow will be open 17 days this month: Oct. 5 and 6, Oct. 12 and 13, Oct. 17 through 21 (Wednesday through Sunday), and Oct. 24 through 31 (Wednesday through Wednesday).

On Fridays and Saturdays, the park is open from 7 p.m. until the last hayride, which begins at 11 p.m. On other days the park opens at  7 p.m. and the last hayride begins at 9 p.m.

All month long, guests can enjoy Minnesota’s first Halloween light show. Located in the graveyard area, the light show has music and a face called “The Beast.” Guests can watch while at the bonfire, or while waiting for a hay ride.

The haunted hay ride, haunted house, music, bar, concessions, dancing, games, and bonfires will be offered every night.

Hay rides occur rain or shine.

Weekend themes 

This year special events are planned for each weekend.

On Super Hero weekend, Oct. 5 and 6, the first 20 people to arrive will receive super hero make-up jobs, starting at 6:15. Fire performers will show their skills.

Pirate weekend, Oct. 12 and 13, will feature Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Morgan. Captain Jack Sparrow “never goes out of character,” said Jean Sockness, Scream Park organizer.

Also that weekend will be the Creepy Feature Show, with Riddick the raven and snake dancing.

For Zombie weekend, Oct. 19 and 20, zombie make-up jobs will be given to the first 20 guests, starting at 6:15, and a zombie band will perform.

Vampire weekend, Oct. 26 and 27, will feature a DJ, party barn, fire performers, and the Creepy Feature show.

Haunted hay run

On Saturday, Oct. 13, the 5K (3.1 miles) haunted hay run will be started by a headless horseman.  The runners will be sent out in waves starting at 4 p.m.

“Run fast, run scared” is the theme.  Mike Cofrin of Podium Sports Marketing, organizer of the event, said the run will be scary but not too scary, as it happens in daylight.

The 5K includes obstacles such as tires, a giant spider web with bungee cords on trees, and a hay wall to climb. He said the event is mainly for young adults, ages 20 to 40, and is open to ages 13 and up.

The course starts in the parking lot at Running Aces, goes around the horse track, heads to Trout Air for rugged terrain and obstacles, and then comes back toward the racetrack.

After the 5K, live bands will perform.

The $50 price ($55 on event day) includes the hay ride and haunted house at Nightmare Hollow.

To register visit

Bring the family?

Preschoolers are welcome, but parents need to use common sense. Families with young children should arrive early and get in line for a hayride.  “If your child is scared, put him in the middle of the hayride so he’s not so close to the ghouls,” Sockness said.

Kids love to sit by the bonfire, she added, and they also like the Creepy Feature show, with a raven, boa constrictor, and snakes. The Creepy Feature show will be held  Oct. 12, 13, 26 and 27.

The fire jugglers, with fire tricks and fire swallowing, will perform Oct. 5, 6, 12, 13, 26 and 27.

Games will be offered for both kids and adults, including Nail in the Coffin, Pumpkin Plinko and Pumpkin Smash.  There will also be pumpkins for sale.

Another family-friendly event will be on Saturday nights, when New Day Rescue will offer dogs for adoption.

A person can apply at the event to adopt a dog; actually taking a dog home happens after a background check.

Last year 81 dogs were placed in homes during Nightmare Hollow.

“There’s a place for everybody,” Sockness concluded. “Halloween is not just scary–it’s supposed to also be fun.”

How to get there

Running Aces is located at 15201 Zurich St. in Columbus.

Take I-35 to the MN 129 ramp and go west. Turn south on Zurich St. and continue past the casino and restaurant to park at the barns.