Murder mystery dinners in the Lancaster area have something for every armchair gumshoe.
Solve a crime over dinner or for an entire weekend, participate or watch a performance in a theater in the round. There's something for every taste.
During a mystery dinner, a murder scene is acted out. Sometimes, the actors work from scripts; other times players improvise their lines. The characters generally start the dinner by describing their backgrounds, their past, and how they feel about the other characters. At some point during the dinner, a character is "murdered." Then the fun begins, with guests putting their sleuthing skills to work to deduce who the criminal is.
At Bube's Brewery, in Mount Joy, murder mystery dinners take patrons back to the 19th century. A Victorian house adjacent to the restaurant provides an elegant background for these captivating dinners, which take place the brewery's dining rooms, ballroom and barroom. Owner Steve Allen said, "I'm a history buff, so we do a lot of historical periods."
Bube's has hosted 12 different themed mystery dinners. Most months, guests can sign up for one of four different dinners. For instance, in September, Bube's is putting on these dinners set in a grand hotel, in a speakeasy, during the Civil War, and at a hunting lodge.
The cast of characters are regular players with RoundTable Productions. Unlike many murder mystery dinners, guests are not required to actively participate. "Ours is more like a theater event," Allen explained. If they spot an outgoing person, Bube's will "assign guest characters, for special occasions," Allen said. "We'll pick out a few personalities."
Most guests who join a murder mystery dinner at Bube's Brewery aren't interested in working for their dinner, ticking clues off a piece of paper, or interviewing would-be criminals, he said, "they just want to have fun."
However, businesses have booked murder mystery dinners for team building as well. For those, he said, the teams are given the task of solving the crime.
Murder mystery dinner guests at Bube's are welcome to dress for the time period, but it's not a requirement. The Bootlegger's Revenge Murder Mystery sees lots of diners dressed "as gangsters and flappers," Allen said.
I attended the speakeasy murder mystery dinner, and the action took place all around us, with dapper characters weaving in and out of every room and chatting up the guests. The Victorian décor, with its crystal chandeliers and rosy accents, lends an authentic air to the party.
Bube's notches up the crazy factor during the month of October. Every Friday and Saturday, the restaurant presents its Murder at Bedlam Insanitorium dinner. The Bedlam mystery puts patrons in the midst of lunatics and freaks, just in time for Halloween.
After every dinner, guests are given the option of taking a tour of Bube's Brewery's famous catacombs.
Visit bubesbrewery.com for dates, times and ticket information.
Several venues in the Lancaster area host murder mystery dinners. Here's a round-up of whodunnits happening in the coming months.
Strasburg Rail Road
All aboard the Murder Mystery Dinner Train at Strasburg Rail Road. Act 1 Productions puts riders right in the middle of a murder and its investigation. Strasburg Rail Road, just outside Strasburg, hosts different themed dinners in which guests are tasked with gathering clues and solving the puzzle. The Redhead Speakeasy Murder Mystery is set during the roaring 1920s, when a murder takes place; in The Monster Mashed, the Musical?, one of the five suspects - Dr. Dementia, Sister Ghoul, Drackie, Elvira and Thing - mashed the monster; and Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer is set at Christmas time, when a mysterious character in a red suit knocks over Grandma.
Steampunk unLimited has partnered with Strasburg Rail Road to offer two more murder mystery dinners. In The Cry of the Conductor, the train takes its last ride, and guests have to discover what brought about the train's derailment. Then, in The Chameleon, Inspector Wilhelm William, in service to Her Royal Highness Queen Victoria, searches for a brazen burglar/killer.
Visit strasburgrailroad.com for dates, times and ticket information.
Murder Mystery at Historic Mount Hope Mansion
In February and March, the Mount Hope Estate & Winery in Manheim will host its eighth annual murder mystery dinner. Guests are invited not only to enjoy a four-course meal, but also to become the detective. Visitors can interrogate the suspects and put together clues to uncover the truth behind the murder.
Visit parenfaire.com for dates, times and ticket information.
Pride of the Susquehanna
Take the felony fun to the river in Harrisburg. The Pride of the Susquehanna hosts a murder mystery dinner cruise where the actors of Otter Productions pull select audience members into the action, while the rest of the audience is left to watch and wonder which one is the culprit.
In "Curse of the Scroll" archaeologist Cleo Patrick has to survive an Egyptian curse to uncover a scroll's meaning. In "There’s Something About Swen," Swen Swartling claims that his ancestor beat Columbus to the New World, but what will that mean for history as we know it?
Visit harrisburgriverboat.com for dates, times and ticket information.
Harvest Moon Bed and Breakfast
This bed and breakfast in New Holland combines a lot of fun elements to create a murder mystery. Harvest Moon's murder mystery party is set in the '80s, and takes place during New Year's Eve. Guests are well taken care of with dinner, brunch the next day, and a massage to finish off their two-night stay. Big hair, neon colors and parachute pants are welcome.
Visit harvestmoonbandb.com for dates and further details.
Set in historic Churchtown in November, this Murder Mystery Weekend invites guests to be part of the story. At Churchtown Inn, there are no lines and no set scripts. Each guest will take on a new persona for the weekend, all while working out clues to solve the mystery.
Visit churchtowninn.com for dates and further details.