2020 has undoubtedly been one of the spookiest years on record. After months of dealing with real-life frights like murder hornets, catastrophic wildfires in parts of the world, and, not to mention, a deadly virus and a global pandemic, it's no surprise that Vancouverites are clamouring to distract themselves with more traditional terrors like ghosts, ghouls and zombies as the extra-long Halloween night approaches.
But thanks to that aforementioned virus, Halloween celebrations this year will look different than ever before, with many longstanding Lower Mainland traditions postponed until 2021. But from socially-distant trick-or-treating to incorporating a mask into your costume, there are many ways to get into the spooky spirit while keeping safety top of mind. That said, Halloween is still "on" in B.C., with plenty of fun events set to take place across Metro Vancouver, both virtually and in-person, in celebration of the holiday.
We've rounded up a few of them below:
Pacific Arts Market presents: Bart the Masked Troubadour
Are you missing live music and stand-up comedy these days? Well, Bart sure is.
The Pacific Arts Market is inviting Vancouverites to this spooky, fun and safe Halloween special, taking place Halloween night in a gallery setting. Bart will play guitar and tell jokes during this "amusing and interactive event."
Audience members are encouraged to dress up for the occasion, while Halloween treats and a cash bar will be available.
When: Saturday, Oct. 31, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Pacific Arts Market, 1448 West Broadway, Vancouver
Cost: $8.45. Tickets are available for purchase online.
The Empty Chest Haunted Adventure
The Empty Chest Haunted Adventure takes place on three bone-chilling nights this Halloween season and offers the chance to navigate your way through an interactive fantasy world.
After you leave the "humble Village of Vancouver," you'll journey to the town of Beggars Hole to defeat a cast of evildoers who have been wreaking havoc on the townspeople. Participants will enter the haunted forest, where they'll follow a path of solar lights on the ground. During the course of the adventure, they'll run into a variety of "creatures" played by live actors. These creatures are the enemy, and guests will need to fire their arrows at them in order to defeat them. If they fail to do so, the creatures will attack them and steal their "life-force."
After all the action, you can gulp down a refreshing brew at the tavern - supplied by Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks, of course. The total experience takes about an hour, but there is also a special VIP experience. The VIP experience includes a bow-making class, where you'll get to engrave a bow and keep it, as well as lunch "reminiscent of olden day Viking days."
Due to the pandemic, all tickets will be purchased in groups of six (6). You come with your bubble and leave with your bubble.
When: Oct. 30 - Nov. 1. VIP: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. | Regular: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: 31515 Harris Road, Abbotsford
Cost: $240 for a group of 6 regulars ($40 per person) or $250 per person for VIP
For more information, visit here.
Maan Farms Haunted Corn Maze
Maan Farms' terrifying haunted corn maze returns with a different theme every year. While last year’s haunted experience featured a pitch-black attraction, this year’s offering at "The Scariest Corn Maze in Canada" focuses on "an abandoned testing facility" and the horrors within - yikes.
Each visitor will be taking the role of Thomas: "After coming across a video about an abandoned testing facility beneath Maan Farms, Thomas decides to see if there is any truth to the myth about the farm in his hometown," reads the attraction's description. "With a broken flashlight and a partially charged cell phone, Thomas rides his ten-speed to a seemingly harmless old barn, but then soon realizes he went too far. Thomas, now trapped with no service, slowly scavenges from one room to another and begins to grasp the bits of reality that face him. This is not just a myth, and that simple farm is guarded by terrifying creatures and some of the most frightening monsters imaginable."
Visitors will be tasked with navigating the corn maze’s "deepest depths" as they make their way from one scene to another, "uncovering the remains of Thomas" as they go. "But let it be known, this year is like no other, with reduced capacity each customer will have a more intense experience than ever before. Each scene will have its own challenges that you must conquer in order to make it out alive."
That said, Maan Farms says it has a strong Covid-19 protocol in place ensuring staff and guests remain safe. All staff and customers are required to sanitize upon arrival, wear a mask at all times and stay physically distanced in the maze and throughout the farm. Participants will not be touched in the corn maze.
When: Nightly until Sunday, Nov. 1. Closed Monday, Oct. 26 and Tuesday, Oct. 27
Where: Maan Farms, 790 McKenzie Road, Abbotsford
Cost: $35–$49 per person. All tickets must be purchased online, as there will be no door ticket sales. Tickets must be bought in multiples of four, five or six.
The Flame: Scary Stories Edition
British Columbians are invited to tune in for a night of scary and fall-themed stories from BC’s "storytelling powerhouse," The Flame. Presented by Surrey Civic Theatres, this free online event will showcase a variety of storytellers from across the Lower Mainland and beyond. Hosted by Deborah Williams, this event will "feature stories exploring a diverse array of themes and cultural traditions from around the world."
This Flame event will feature six storytellers: Sarvin Esmaeili, Mike Funergy, Alison Moore, Michelle Poirier Brown, Munish Sharma, and Marylee Stephenson. In a release, Williams says it is an event for everybody and will be a family-friendly performance. “I brought my kids up going to The Flame, and they got to learn a lot about what it is to be an adult by listening to grown-ups tell stories about themselves. You can really learn through other people’s mistakes and lived challenges," she said.
When: This show premieres Friday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m., and will be available to view online until Dec. 11
Slayland: Night of a Thousand Screams
Playland has transformed into Slayland over the month of October, until Halloween night. Running from 6 p.m. until late, ‘A Night of a Thousand Screams’ will be putting a chilling twist on the usual thrills of Fright Nights past.
In lieu of haunted houses, the park grounds will be possessed by terrifying décor and a horror-themed outdoor walk-thru experience that pays its respects to your favourite haunts. Slayland is also inviting guests to ride twenty rousing ride attractions in the dark, including the Atmosfear, Wooden Roller Coaster, and the Beast, along with the Scary-Go Round, Murder Hornet Express, and the Skeleton Swinger.
For a trick or treat fix, guests can pick up Halloween-themed candy apples and popcorn and also try the Pumpkin Spice Mini Donuts at Fundunkers.
For the first time in Playland history, guests will be allowed to wear costumes in the park, meaning you can show off your disguise as you roam around Slayland, though guests are prohibited from wearing costume face coverings — including face paint — on the grounds, and eyes must remain visible at all times. However, in following COVID-19 health and safety protocols, masks will continue to be required in all line queues and while on attractions. 2020 also marks the first time that children under 13 will be allowed, based on parental discretion. However, it is still not recommended for children under the age of eight.
When: Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights until Oct. 31, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Where: Playland | 2901 E Hastings St, Vancouver
Cost: $39.50, including rides. Tickets are available for purchase online.
A Taste of the PNE Drive-Thru experience: Tricks and Treats Edition
Does Slayland sound just a little too scary for this year? This event is intended for the kids and families who are not quite ready for a Night of a Thousand Screams.
The family-oriented experience will include "live spooky characters, Halloween décor, and safe trick-or-treating for the little princesses and goblins," all from the comfort of your vehicle.
Admission includes the drive-thru experience as well as a trick-or-treat bag filled with a variety of mini PNE goodies including a Halloween-themed candy apple, treat-sized popcorn, mini cotton candy, mini donuts and packaged candy.
When: Oct. 29, 4-8 p.m., Oct. 30, 4-9 p.m., Oct. 31, 11 a.m.- 9 p.m.
Where: Playland - 2901 E Hastings St, Vancouver (entrance through Gate 9 – east of Playland, off Bridgeview Street.)
Cost: $25 per carload, including 1 treat-filled bag; additional treat-filled bags can be purchased for $15 each. Tickets are available for purchase online.
Flyover Canada is offering a spellbound journey across the great white north this Halloween season that includes a spooktacular pre-show.
HowlOver Canada is suitable for ages four and up, and costumes are encouraged. Organizers add that there will also be "Halloween theming and spine-tingling decorations." Viewers will join Biker Mama the Witch and her band of spooky sidekicks as they soar high above Canada's breathtaking landscapes on the magical eight-minute journey.
Masks are mandatory, and children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult or guardian aged 14 years or older.
When: Runs daily until Nov. 1
Where: 201 - 999 Canada Place
Cost: $29 at the gate | $24 online
Vancouver Horror Nights
Vancouver Horror Nights is listed as "a family-friendly (but scary) haunted house located in one of Canada's most haunted theatres." The scary maze is a "Hollywood-level haunted attraction" that features 12 themes, complete with animatronics, special effects, lasers, and a cast of actors.
The XTreme Fear, or the "extra scary pass," features "more scares, more jumps, and has more special effects," while the less-scary, kid-friendly "Boogeyman Bash" allows guests to explore the regular haunted maze, but without any actors jumping out at you. Vancouver Horror Nights warns that there are still animatronics inside the attraction, but no big scares and some scary scenes may still not be appropriate for very young children.
When: Open nightly until Oct. 31, from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Where: The Giggle Dam Dinner Theatre, 2680 Shaughnessy St., Port Coquitlam.
Cost: XTreme Fear: General Admission (One-time entry): $25 | XTreme Fear: General Admission (multiple entry): $39 | XTreme Fear: VIP Package (Straight to the front of the line): $50 | Boogeyman Bash (Kids' event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.): $15. Tickets are available online.
Scream Month at the Rio Theatre
The independent movie spot is inviting Vancouverites to "Escape the nightmare," and "come see a movie," with its lineup of spooky flicks leading up to Halloween.
Rio Theatre is calling the festival “Scream Month," with on-theme movies like Beetlejuice, Hocus Pocus, Interview with a Vampire, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Rosemary's Baby, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Frankenstein, Carrie, The Exorcist, Nightmare on Elm Street, and, of course, Halloween.
When: Multiple showtimes daily until Oct. 31
Where: Rio Theatre, 1660 East Broadway, Vancouver
Cost: Single tickets - $15 in advance or at the door
Bear Creek Halloween Pumpkin Train
This family-friendly daytime activity includes a train ride through a decorated forest, as well as treat and a pumpkin.
When: Daily until Oct. 31, 10 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
Where: Bear Creek Park, 13750 88th Avenue, Surrey
Cost: $10 per person, free for children under two (Tickets are first-come, first-served.)
Bear Creek Halloween Scream Train
This evening attraction, meanwhile, is better suited for passengers aged 12 and up. Guests can expect to scream as they ride through a haunted forest complete with "creepy scary actors."
When: Nightly until Oct. 31, 6:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Where: Bear Creek Park, 13750 88th Avenue, Surrey
Cost: $13 per person, tickets available online.
Reapers Haunted Attraction presents: The Maze of Terror
While Reapers' legendary haunted house won't be returning for its 28th year, its Maze of Terror is "open to scare if you dare." The 22,000-square -foot outdoor maze might have little or no light, but it is filled with "everything that goes bump in the night!" - including a real chainsaw. Reapers is not recommended for children under 10 years of age.
When: Nightly, from 7 p.m. - 10 p.m. until Oct. 31
Where: 9423 Gibson Rd., Chilliwack
Cost: $15 per person
Halloween Mystery Nights
Downtown Vancouver Mystery Nights are returning this year with games every night in October. Aspiring detectives or spies can choose between two games: Secret Mission – Save the City or Crime in Downtown – The Detective Challenge. The outdoor mystery games are "100% unique outdoor gaming experiences, built in Vancouver for Vancouver." Teams of two-to-six players can sign up, while larger groups can sign up for multiple teams or book a private game. "Heroes and Villains Family games" are also available every weekend in October - and costumes are encouraged! Games cover around two kilometres of ground and take place outdoors in downtown Vancouver. Expect each game to take around two hours to complete.
Where: Downtown Vancouver
Cost: $35 per player
Art's Nursery in Surrey might be known for its popular annual "Build-A-Crow" Scarecrow building station, but given the social and safety challenges of 2020, the Nursery's annual fall scarecrow event has transformed into a "Scarecrow Stroll."
Visitors are invited to explore the facility's "expansive 10+ acre nursery" to enjoy a casual, socially distant, outdoor stroll among more than scarecrows and fall photo opportunities. If building your own scarecrow at home sounds like fun, "Scarecrow Building Kits" are also available for purchase, with a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each kit going towards local charities. Food Trucks will also be on location over the following two weekends from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
When: Daily from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. until Oct. 31
Where: Art's Nursery, 8940 192 Street, Surrey
Cost: Basic scarecrow kits cost $14.98 plus tax, complete scarecrow kits for $24.98
Once Upon a Haunted Sea
This "fairy-tale reboot" of the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site's annual Halloween event has extended to a month-long installation, running until Nov. 8, for visitors of all ages to explore with COVID-19 safety protocols in place. Visitors are invited to "Follow the path into the darkest depths of the sea and come out a hero with new knowledge and tools to help save the ocean from a death by Monsters of Plastic." Guests can expect to "Emerge inspired by tips on how to keep our oceans free of plastic," while all decorations are created from upcycled, repurposed materials kept out of our landfills." Visitors are warned to dress warmly, as the historic cannery is built on top of the Fraser River, and there is no interior heating - although there is a roof over your head! Masks are strongly recommended but not mandatory.
When: Open daily until Nov. 8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: The Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site, 12138 Fourth Avenue, Richmond
Cost: Regular admission: Adults $11.90 | Seniors $10.20 | Youth under 17 & Society members: Free
- With files from Elana Shepert and Sarah Grochowski