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Spooky Things to Do in Lily Dale, New York—Spiritualism's Enchanting Birthplace

Lily Dale is THE destination for curious supernatural seekers.

Lily Dale Assembly, old spiritualism photo
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  • photo of the Lily Dale AssemblyPhoto Credit: Lily Dale Assembly, Inc

No One Dies in Lily Dale. That’s the title of the HBO documentary exploring the small town of Lily Dale, a small hamlet located in upstate New York, roughly an hour outside of Buffalo. 

How did a tiny town with a population of roughly 275 garner the attention of HBO? That’s thanks largely to the 25,000 tourists that flood the area every year with hopes of connecting with the other side.

Lily Dale has a long history with the supernatural. Founded in 1879, the area became an escape for burgeoning Spiritualists in the summer months. Those who chose to make the town their permanent residence were all advocates of the movement. In 1883, they built a permanent auditorium to house their Spiritualist practices. Some of these practices included mediums who could transcribe messages from the beyond onto chalkboards, mediums who could “trumpet” the words of the dead through megaphones, and one practice that still exists today, mediums who are able to voice communications from the spirits around them in the presence of Inspiration Stump. The name of the town changed until they formally adopted Lily Dale in 1906.

At the height of the Spiritualist movement, there were over eight million followers spread across the US and the UK. As the largest town embracing Spiritualism, as many as 5,000 people a day would take the train to Lily Dale in the hopes of communing with deceased loved ones.

Today, the town has a little over fifty registered mediums offering services ranging from tarot readings to scenic walks, and plenty of otherworldly experiences in between. It’s a quiet town, tourists aside, but is it haunted? It might be. After all, even the most skeptical visitors admit to feeling a certain kind of energy in Lily Dale. But with that many people directing your attention to the unseen, perhaps it’s not unusual to heighten your awareness of what could be.

If you’re looking for a spooky place to commune with Spirits on All Hallow’s Eve, Lily Dale is a fantastic choice. Here are some of the spookiest things to do while you’re there.

Inspiration Stump 

service at the inspiration stump in lily dale, ny
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  • colorized photo of a service at the Inspiration Stump in Lily Dale. via Lily Dale Assembly, Inc.

    Photo Credit: Lily Dale Assembly, Inc

If you’re hoping to connect with Spirits and see some ghosts, your first stop should be Inspiration Stump. Locals claim that visiting the spot, a ten-minute walk from town, will open your ability to be receptive to those energies. This is also where for $15 a person, you can participate in one of the original Spiritualist practices and get a reading from a trained medium. If the Spirit of a deceased loved one is present, the medium will let you know—and whatever messages they may have carried from the beyond.

Dictionary of Spiritualism

Dictionary of Spiritualism

By Harry E. Wedeck, Wade Baskin

Ghost Walks 

Lily Dale Ghost Walk
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  • photo of Lily Dale Assembly

    Photo Credit: Buffalo Rising

There’s no one better to guide you through a possibly haunted town than a medium. It’s even spookier because this walk takes place at night. They’ll walk you through how Lily Dale was started, give you an introductory glimpse into Spiritualism and the unseen, and how it became so popular while pointing out the history of the town itself. There’s no guarantee that you’ll see any ghosts or Spirits, but you’ll walk away with a deep understanding of the town and how it connects to the otherworldly. It’s $20 per person and takes around an hour.

Visit a Registered Medium 

medium in lily dale
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  • A registered medium giving a reading in the HBO documentary No One Dies in Lily Dale.

    Photo Credit: HBO / YouTube

With over fifty registered mediums in the hamlet, you are all but guaranteed to find someone willing to do a reading with you. The prices range anywhere from $60-$100 a person, and results will range as well. Depending on what time of year you go, be sure to make an appointment in advance. Medium demand fills up quickly at the height of the tourist season, and you may not find any openings last minutes. But if you have specific questions or want to call the spirit of someone special, this is your best bet.

The History of Spiritualism

The History of Spiritualism

By Arthur Conan Doyle

Pet Cemetery 

Pet Cemetery in Lily Dale
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  • the beautiful Pet Cemetery in Lily Dale

    Photo Credit: Lily Dale Pet Cemetery Facebook Page

As far as we know, no pets buried here have come back to life with murder on their mind. And as sweet as the idea may be, it’s still a graveyard for dead pets. If you go during the day, you might tear up at the heartfelt inscriptions on the gravestones. But like all graveyards, visiting at night might conjure a slightly different experience. If you visit a haunted hamlet, a graveyard at night is one of the spookiest places to be—no matter how charming it might be in the sunlight.

Fairy Trail 

Fairy Trail Lily Dale
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  • people walking through Lily Dale's Fairy Trail

    Photo Credit: Kris Z/Google Local

Admittedly, a fairy trail isn’t the spookiest activity. The trail is a lovely and easy scenic walk through the forest, and there are myriad fairy houses to peek into. But the forest is said to have spirits roaming through it, and fairies can get up to plenty of other mischief, so you never know what kind of haunting or otherworldly experience you might encounter while on the path.

Investigating the Supernatural

Investigating the Supernatural

By Sofie Lachapelle

Healing Temple 

the Lily Dale Healing Temple
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  • the Lily Dale Healing Temple

    Photo Credit: The Lily Dale Healing Temple Facebook Page

Perhaps the idea of getting healed isn’t spooky. But having a complete stranger ask you if you injured your knee out of the blue can be a bit alarming. As with most things, the line between uplifting and uncanny is in the eye of the beholder. They hold services daily, where you can allow the healing energy to flow through you or request a “laying on of hands”, where a medium channels the spiritual power directly through their hands. They also have a healing area for pets. Is it spooky? We’ll leave that up to you.

Psychics, Healers, & Mediums

Psychics, Healers, & Mediums

By Jenniffer Weigel

Assembly Hall 

Lily Dale Assembly Hall
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  • Lily Dale Assembly Hall

    Photo Credit: Exploring Upstate

The Assembly Hall itself isn’t exactly spooky. But it is said to be haunted. If you’re one of the lucky seers, you might spot a man in Victorian clothing and spectacles walking around the Hall’s podium. It’s unclear when he appears, or if he follows a pattern. But it is one of the few ghosts rumored to be consistently present.