Abbey Gardens will play host to a night of fear, fire and magic as ‘The Witches’ descend upon the outdoor area for a socially-distanced show on Halloween.

Entertainment companies NorthFIRE Circus and the Bass Witch Coven are collaborating on a new performance. In socially distanced bubbles with limited numbers, the performers will invite guests on hourly tours through the forest for a storytelling experience, capped off with a fiery display.

“Typically, we always do really big fire shows,” NorthFIRE Circus owner Isabelle Hoops said. “There definitely is a theatrical sense to this one and much more of a story. Walk through the backwoods of Abbey Gardens, might stumble across some witches. There will definitely be some theatrical acting moments. Some scary things can happen.”

The show will feature COVID19 protocols, with staggered entry, mandatory masks and social distancing enforced. The one-hour experience will also invite people to enjoy food, music and drinks at Haliburton Highlands Brewing afterwards. All four performances of the show, running from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., have already sold out.

“We are so grateful to the community,” Bass Witch Coven owner Jessica Clayton said. “We feel very supported.”


Based in Toronto, Clayton said she loves Haliburton. The show came about when she and Hoops approached Abbey Gardens about a performance. The local organization was receptive.

“That’s what we’ve been doing during COVID. Every performance we’ve been able to do this entire time is because we’ve asked,” Clayton said. “Normally, during the summer, we don’t have time to catch our breath. This summer was obviously quite quiet for us.”

The two entertainment companies also described themselves as having feminist undertones, which reflects in their work.

“It’s been a really strong thing for us as women working together,” Hoops said. “When I started fire spinning, there wasn’t a lot of women, it was mostly men … When I first started my own company and bringing other people in, I just kept on veering toward more and more women and we both just kept pulling more women into the circle.”

Although their Halloween show is full, the performers said they expect to return to Haliburton in the future.

“We look forward to doing more things like that in the area,” Clayton said. “Filled with more artistic people who really understand what we’re doing. This won’t be the last time.”

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