Halloween season is almost here. Are you ready? Some people plan their artful costumes months in advance, others never seem to get it together in time and either stay home or show up in street clothes. Boring. Others would rather hit the city’s haunted houses, catch a horror film, or read a creepy story. Us? We’re thinking about wandering the historic cemeteries south of Dignowity Hill. The downtown views are great, and where better to commune with the spirits of San Antonio from times gone by?
Here’s a rundown of places and events – some popular, some off the beaten path:
(Note: Links to further information about events are embedded in the text.)
Some say San Antonio is one of the most haunted cities in America. After all, we do have the Ghost Tracks. Grab your EMF reader and check it out for yourself on one of the many ghost tours around town. These tours take you through old streets and buildings while guides share creepy stories of the past. There are many options to choose from:
- Silver Ghost Tours
- Alamo City Ghost Tours
- Sisters Grimm Candlelight Ghost Tours
- Bad Wolf Ghost Tours
- Segway Nation Tours‘ “City Lights Ghost” Tour
From Halloween night hikes, to campfire scary stories, to pumpkin painting, to costume parties, and much more, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is hosting autumn and Halloween themed activities for all ages now until Halloween Day in state parks.
Haunted Houses are a staple of Halloween and San Antonio does not disappoint when looking for a frightful experience. Here are five favorites:
- 13th Floor Haunted House claims to be the longest and largest haunted attraction in San Antonio.
- Terror Mansion dubs itself a true paranormal haunted house.
- Trader’s Village Fourth Annual Haunted House Nightmare on Fright Street includes a spooky maze of scary characters and chilling sounds.
- With bone-chilling scenes, special effects, and horrifying creatures, Fearesta boasts a halting haunted house and a festival of the macabre.
- Last but not least, (and open year-round) is Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, a multi-million dollar haunted house with live actors and special effects.
There are two big parties happening on Halloween night, Oct. 31, in San Antonio. Music, costume contest, parade, food, and drink combine for a ghoulish good time at Bud Light’s Halloween Fest on the River Walk. For something more formal, head over to Espiritu De La Noche Masquerade Ball for a “dark and sultry evening” filled with music, psychics, fire dancers, food, and dance.
Terror in the Theater
Good old fashion theater is another way to soak in the Halloween spirit. This year’s production of the Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theatre is said to be “bigger and better than ever before,” with new special effects, staging, and choreography. A little further north at San Antonio’s historic Woodlawn Theater, rock musical star Ginger Minj will re-do the Rocky Horror Show in RuPaul style drag.
6 Feet Under
If you’re looking to mix a little history in with the macabre, check out the Sisters Grimm “Voices from the Grave Cemetery Tour” offered on Oct. 23, 24, 30 and 31. Walk amidst the cemetery’s beautiful tombstones, escorted by a costumed docent. First-hand re-enactments tell the stories of those resting in the graveyard.
Dine with Demons
Join the Sisters Grimm for a three-course, candle-light All Hallow’s Eve Dinner inside the “haunted” Menger Hotel on Oct. 23, 24, 30, and 31. After your feast, tour guides take you through the historic hotel and recount its ghost stories.
Boozing with Banshees
The folks at Bad Wolf Ghost Tours hand you ghost detecting equipment and take you to four of downtown’s oldest and most haunted bars on their Haunted Pub Crawl. Enjoy special drinks, hear gruesome tales, and keep and eye out for ghostly apparitions.
Start your Halloween with a run on Oct, 27. Pride San Antonio’s Scary Fairy RainBOO 5K Fun Run/Walk is an official Pride event celebrating LGBT pride and diversity in the city of San Antonio. After the run, the best costumes will be awarded prizes. All runners and walkers are welcome.
Spooky movies are a fundamental part of Halloween celebrations. Slab Cinema is showing several Halloweeny movies such as E.T., Hocus Pocus, and Ghostbusters around town in outdoor settings.
Or, head indoors to the Alamo Draft House for their variety of throw-back scary films.
The Southwest Workers Union is hosting a double feature in the Roots of Change Garden at The Movement Gallery on Friday, Oct. 23. Friday Night Fright Night will start at 7 p.m. with “Poltergeist” followed by Rob Zombies’ “Halloween.” If inclement weather persists, it will be moved inside the gallery at 1416 E. Commerce St. The $1 suggested donation and snack/drink sales will benefit the Youth Leadership Organization.
Autumn at the Farm
Hay rides, pumpkins, and petting zoos! Hitting the farm for an autumn celebration can be fun at any age. The South Texas Maize has a seven-acre corn maze, a pumpkin patch, a spider web and more. Devine Acres Farm will host their annual Fall Country Fest which has scenic farm hayrides, rubber duck races, scarecrow dressing, volleyball and a lot of other activities.
On Friday, Oct. 23, at 6 p.m. D.R. Semmes Family YMCA is hosting Trunk or Treat complete with obstacle course bounce house, basketball games, an open air photo booth, a costume and trunk decorating contest, and a pooch parade.
Bootanica is an annual family favorite at the San Antonio Botanical Garden. This year’s fall festival and plant sale has extended hours on Saturday, Oct. 24 for a scavenger hunt, pumpkin carving, bat exploration, and fortune-telling.
A Spooktacular Halloween in King William claims to be “the most family friendly Halloween event south of the Alamo” on Saturday, Oct. 24. Register ahead of time for free entry ($5 at the door) and kids can decorate their own trick-or-treat bag, play Halloween-themed games, enter a screaming contest, march in a costume parade, participate in a “fun dash” trick-or-treat, enjoy snacks and more.
Barrio Boo at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center on Wednesday Oct. 28 may rival King William’s Spooktactular. It’s free, open to the public and celebrates both Halloween and Día de los Muertos traditions with games, face painting, prizes, food, mariachis, dance groups, pumpkin decorating, a costume contest, music and other activities.
Halloween night, The DoSeum will host its first Monster Bash with an “educational twist” with STEM-based activities that explore the science of fear with chemistry and creativity. Tiny ones and their parents need not worry, “this is a fear free, fun-filled event kept low-scare.” General admission is $12 and includes museum entry and all Monster Bash activities. However, presale tickets for this event have already sold out. According to The DoSeum website, “some tickets may be available the day of event, but supplies will be very limited and subject to venue capacity.”
*Top image: An entertainer at Ripley’s Haunted Adventure. Photo by Scott Ball.