It is little wonder that Halloween, which was once a children’s holiday, has become a popular celebration for both kids and adults alike. No matter what your age, it’s hard to resist the appeal of free candy, playing tricks on people, telling scary stories, and dressing up in costumes.
What is surprising is the fact that Halloween tourism has become popular on a worldwide scale. Each fall, destinations around the world host Halloween events to entice travellers to visit and people come in droves.
Whether you go all out and visit a far-flung destination or you just get out and explore some of the events happening in your own backyard, there are plenty of opportunities to scare yourself silly this fall. Here are just a few ideas.
When you think of Hawaii, you’re more likely to picture white sandy beaches and warm tranquil waters than ghosts and ghouls. But for the past couple of years, the Haunted Lagoon at the Polynesian Cultural Center on the island of Oahu has been Hawaii’s premiere fall attraction. The event brought in more than 44,000 guests in just 20 days last year.
The Haunted Lagoon is a canoe ride that features a cast of over 100 ghostly figures including the restless spirit of the Laie Lady who wanders the lagoon seeking vengeance for the murder of her husband and searching for her long lost son. There is a family-friendly version and spookier version for braver souls.
Details: The Haunted Lagoon takes place during the month of October with canoe rides starting at 6:30 p.m. on specified event nights. Tickets cost $15 per guest on Mondays and Wednesdays and $25 per guest on Fridays and Saturdays. Fast passes to avoid the lineups are available for $45 per adult and $40 per child.
More info: www.hauntedlagoon.com
Day of the Dead
Although this multiday event begins at the end of October, Mexico’s Day of the Dead Celebration has nothing to do with Halloween. It is actually a holiday meant to honour the lives of deceased loved ones and its origins date back to the time of the Aztecs.
From Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, you can learn about this holiday and enjoy some of the festivities associated with it at the Xcaret Natural Park in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera. A highlight of the event is the Dia de Los Muertos en Tabasco theatre and dance show, which features the National Folkloric Ballet of Mexico recreating the Day of the Dead customs of the state of Tabasco.
Details: Basic admission to the Xcaret Natural Park will cost US$69 per adult and US$34.50 per child.
More info: www.xcaret.com/lifeanddeathtraditionsfestival/tabasco_en.html
Halloween Horror Nights
Universal Studios Orlando knows a thing or two about horror. One of the most popular annual events at the park is its Halloween Horror Nights, which is celebrating its 20th year this season. This year’s event features eight new haunted houses, new scare zones and live shows and might just be the most intense Halloween experience around.
As part of the anniversary event, the park is now offering Halloween Horror Nights themed wedding packages with the first couple experiencing their “unholy matrimony” on Oct. 15.
Details: Halloween Horror Nights run nightly from 6:30 p.m. to midnight or later during the month of October. Advance tickets are available online and cost US$74.99 plus tax.
More info: www.halloweenhorrornights.com.
dEdmonton’s newest festival, dEdmonton is a celebration of all things Halloween that is billed as Canada’s Halloween festival. The festival brings existing events together under one umbrella creating a fun event for people of all ages.
The festival takes place during the month of October and features family events like haunted hikes, zombie walks, ghost tours, a scarecrow festival, a pumpkin festival and tours of spooky decorated homes.
There is also a Miss dEdmonton Contest that pokes fun at beauty pageants with a talent competition that includes dancing, sword fighting and screaming.
Goul’s Night Out
Calgary’s Heritage Park Historical Village is getting in on the Halloween fun this year with a brand new Halloween event. Ghoul’s Night Out will run nightly, Oct. 27 to 30 from 6 to 9 p.m. The event includes monster movies and spooky stories, Halloween crafts, a Gruesome Ghoul’s Feast and other activities. Children can cast a spell at the witches’ cauldron, visit a fortune teller, play tea party with the Mad Hatter, and cross a toll bridge (if they dare).
Details: The event is designed for families with children aged three to nine and guests are asked to come in costume. Tickets must be purchased in advance and will cost $10 plus tax for Big Ghouls age 13 and over and $6 for ages two to 12.
More info: www.HeritagePark.ca
Canadian Blood Services — Halloween Howl Party
Canadian Blood Services will require more than 900,000 blood donations this year to meet the needs of patients across the Canada. On Oct. 29, you are invited to join Zed 99 and KG Country for their annual Halloween Howl Party! There will be free food and giveaways and a great door prize courtesy of Zed 99 and KG Country. The event is for adults only and takes place on Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 5020 68th St. in Red Deer.
Zed Haunted House
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Zed Haunted House, a charity fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Red Deer and District. This year’s theme is The Twilight Zone. The house is located at 6603 67th St. and is open from Oct. 20 to 31, from 6 to 10 p.m. daily with weekend matinees from 1 to 4 p.m. Regular tickets cost $10, Fastpass tickets cost $12 and unlimited admissions cost $50.
More info: www.zedhauntedhouse.com
Family Drop-In Halloween — Kerry Wood Nature Centre
Kerry Wood Nature Centre is giving families a chance to explore the spookier side of nature on Oct. 30 from 7 to 9 p.m. There will be games and activities and a haunted walk through the nature centre loop for the truly brave. Admission is by suggested donation of $3 per person or $10 per family.
More info: www.waskasoopark.ca
Halloween! — Red Deer Symphony Orchestra
The Red Deer Symphony Orchestra with special guest artists Mandy McKee and Sharon Braun will be performing music from fairy tales, Hitchcock thrillers and tales of witchcraft. The performance will feature performances by the two gifted local singers and will take place on Oct. 30 at 8 p.m. at the Red Deer College Arts Centre. For tickets and information, visit: www.rdso.ca.
Halloween at the Museum
Families and children will enjoy the Halloween at the Museum event that will be held on Oct. 31 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery. In addition to games, arts and crafts, and treats, visitors will be able to solve a mystery at the museum.
More info: www.reddeermuseum.com
Debbie Olsen is a Lacombe-based freelance writer. If you have a travel story you would like to share or know someone with an interesting travel story who we might interview, please email: DOGO@telusplanet.net or write to: Debbie Olsen, c/o Red Deer Advocate, 2950 Bremner Ave., Red Deer, Alta., T4R 1M9.