Spooky good times are hiding just around the corner.
By Chad Hason, Content Contributor
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of getting scared.
It dates back to my father’s love of hiding from me in the house and scaring the crap out of me when I came near the closet or around the corner.
Anytime the house was too quiet – I knew Dad was hiding somewhere, and the countdown to needing clean shorts was on…
As a result, I’ve spent most of my adult life avoiding horror films, scary stories and haunted houses.
I don’t even allow Count Chocula cereal in the house and have mixed feelings about Casper the (so-called) “friendly” ghost…
But I’m not the majority.
I’ve come to realize (through decades of teasing from friends) being scared is something a lot of people enjoy — especially around Halloween!
And so, in an effort to appease the masses, I have compiled two lists:
- The top ten fun activities for those who love to be scared should try; and
- The top ten no-fun activities those who hate being scared should avoid.
It’s the same list.
Here we go:
1) A classy scare: The Alberta Ballet’s Dracula
October 27th – 29th
Do you like getting scared, but prefer to be dressed up in a suit rather than a pirate?
Then the Alberta Ballet’s Dracula is sure to fit your needs.
Described as “an extravagant evening that will transfix you from the first kiss to the last bite”, this production’s haunting mix of original music, choreography and costumes will get you in the spirit of Halloween (and rumour has it they sell candy at intermission).
For tickets, and further details, visit Alberta Ballet’s website.
2) The good cause scare: Haunted Calgary
October 28, 29 and 31
Haunted Calgary, a popular Calgary tradition for those who appreciate a good ol’ fashioned scare, welcomes you to walk through their haunted house.
Be warned, this not-for-profit group have mastered the art of scaring even the most skeptical visitor.
This year’s theme features St. Abaddon’s Reformatory School, and it’s no place for hopscotch and playground games. These kids have issues…
These kids have issues…
While there’s no official age restrictions, parental discretion is strongly advised for those under 14 (or over 36, in my case).
Thankfully, for those who want to experience a toned-down version of the event, the group offers a low scare option earlier in the day without the actors — similar to the carob option for those who are allergic to dairy, but want to experience chocolate.
Entrance to the haunted house is by donation only. For details, visit their website (with the sound off if you don’t want to get scared prior to the event).
3) The traveling scare: Train of Terror
October 8th – 30th
This experience is so scary, those who are not included on their long list of people not approved to participate, are asked to sign a liability waiver prior to entering the exhibit.
The last time I had to sign a waiver before I tried something extreme was at a restaurant known for having the hottest hot sauce in Canada.
I regret everything about that experience and have since learned that if there’s a waiver to be signed – watch out!
But for those who fear no train, waiver or creature of terror, this unique experience features an “interactive spooktacular train ride experience that will have people chilled, thrilled, electrified and terrified.”
Those who choose to participate will have to make their way through two haunted rail cars filled with all kinds of horrific surprises, all while the train moves down the track.
But there is more to this event than just getting scared. Those who manage to face their fears and make it all the way through, are greeted on the other side with a
Those who manage to face their fears and make it all the way through, are greeted on the other side with a halloween party where friends can let their guard down and determine who among you was the bravest – and who requires clean pants.
Check their website for details.
4) The historical scare: Heritage Park Ghost Tours
September 7 – November 9
Now, I for one have been to Heritage Park during the summer and winter months.
All I’ve ever been afraid of is that their candy store may run out of the root beer candy canes I enjoy – but October is a little different.
You still get the same historic education you get in the other months, but during October, after dark, guests can be taken on a guided ghost tour through the streets and alleyways of the Historical Village.
Don’t be fooled by its historic charm.
Beneath its friendly surface are uncovered horrific stories of unearthly encounters, goosebump-inspiring history and some ghostly long-term guests.
The hour and a half outdoor walking tour includes one free coffee or hot chocolate and is open to all ages.
For details – visit their website.
5) The high-volume scare: ScreamFest
I am not sure what can be said about Screamfest that hasn’t already been covered by a plethora of past and present writers.
This event is the biggest display of haunted houses, freaks, sideshows and twisted entertainers found anywhere in Calgary.
In fact, it’s the self-proclaimed largest and scariest Halloween attraction in Calgary.
In addition to access to all the six, themed haunted houses, the attraction includes:
- carnival games
- walk-about entertainers
- stage shows and
- even an adult-only night that’s fully licensed
This is another adult-focused event considered too scary for kids (or adults like me who prefer the fear that comes from debt and having children).
For more details – or just for a laugh – check out their website.
In addition to being quite entertaining, you can pre-purchase tickets and take advantage of discount offers.
6) Bonus Scare 1: Legion Spook House in Turner Valley
Each year the Turner Valley Legion transforms into a set from Dr. Frankenstein’s nightmares complete with a creepy cast of characters! Grab your loved ones as you shuffle through this haunted house fearing what might lurk around the corner…
Grab your loved ones as you shuffle through this haunted house fearing what might lurk around the corner…
Head to 121 Sunset Blvd. Turner Valley if you DARE!!!
Visit the website for more details.
7) Bonus Scare 2: AIRSCARES in Airdrie
Now in its 5th year, AIRSCARES is Airdrie’s premier haunted house and this year they have even more ways to make you jump in fright!
Now you know a place is scary if they have a safe word (“Unicorn”) if you want to be safely escorted out. 50 shades of fright if you ask me!
And their website even points out they want as many “unicorns” this year. If that doesn’t give you goosebumps then I don’t know what will.
Check out their website for more information.
No matter what you choose to do this Halloween, stay safe, stay warm and above all else — have fun!
P.S. For those who read this as a way of learning about events to avoid – do what I do on Halloween: lock the doors, turn out the lights and see if you eat an entire box of mini chocolate bars.
Chad Hason is a Canadian storyteller and owner of Candid MarCom.