Travel Blog

22 Oct

Your guide to a wicked Halloween 2016

For those of us possessed by fear during the Halloween season – a profound fear of missing out, that is – Montréal has a witches’ brew of solutions for your All Hallows aspirations. Whether it’s fun stuff for the little monsters in your life, hair-raising thrills and chills, rollicking onstage entertainment or raucous Halloween parties, the following options will provide the healing potion for your FOMO.

It’s kooky for kiddos at the Botanical Gardens (part of Montreal’s Space for Life, which also includes the Biodôme, Insectarium and Planetarium), which invites you and yours to be the honoured guests of the good witch Esmerelda for the 31st celebration of The Great Pumpkin Ball. And you can truly have a ball in the company of the urban farming Esmeralda, Pépo the Pumpkin and some 800 wildly and wackily decorated squashes and pumpkins. The Ball rolls every day, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., until October 31.

While there, be sure to mosey on over to the aptly titled, outdoor Little Monsters Courtyard where the wee ones can conquer The Tricky River, The Shaky Bridge, a straw maze, tunnels and monkey bars (for kids 10 and under). Over at the Insectarium, you can get your creepy crawly on with a guided tour dedicated to nature’s eight-legged vampires, spiders. And at dusk the enchanting Gardens of Light exhibit promises to enthrall visitors with its artful Chinese and Japanese illuminated displays.

Chateau_Ramezay-Michel_PinaultPumpkins are also on the Halloween menu at the historic (some say haunted) Château Ramezay museum in (definitely haunted) Old Montréal with the Pick a Peck of Pumpkins outdoor exhibition. It focuses on the squash family and their many daily-life uses as food, in beauty products, as musical instruments and more. The exhibition is presented for free in the Governor’s Garden until November 6.

Spooky choo-choos are on track to entertain the young’uns during the Railway Ghosts exhibit at Canada’s largest railway collection, Exporail, in St. Constant just outside Montréal. Ghosts, skeletons, bats and spiders will be lurking throughout the museum and its vintage rolling stock, with one train car specially outfitted as a workshop for making Halloween masks. Railway Ghosts chugs along until October 30.

Une photo publiée par Pointe-à-Callière (@pointeacalliere) le 23 Oct. 2015 à 7h01 PDT

In the stony corridors and canals of Old Montréal’s Pointe-à-Callière historical museum there exists a glimpse into the origins of Halloween. The whimsical 45-minute kids’ tours are narrated by young Irishman Jack O’Lantern, who visits the haunts of strange twins Rucht and Friucht, a superstitious witch and a secret-filled Druid magician. On October 22-23 and 29-30 (see here for times).

Want to know how to make a monster? Well, the Stewart Museum – housed in a nearly 200-year-old arsenal and fort on Île Ste-Hélène – wants to show you. On October 29 and 30, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., “strange creatures” will be on hand for Quirky Monsters, an activity that shares stories, embarks on a treasure hunt and offers a monster-making workshop. Candy will be handed out and everyone’s invited to come in costume.

Call it Montréal’s home of horror: Death Row, Massacre Museum and the new The Cursed Farm are just a few of the now five haunted houses at amusement park La Ronde’s next-level Fright Fest, which again goes the extra distance to scare the bejeezus out of thrill seekers this Halloween season. Haunted mazes, a record number of frightful live performances (beware the wandering chainsaws!), scare zones and the usual terrifying rides (including new virtual reality roller coaster Rage of the Gargoyles) are all part of the ghoulish good times on select days until October 30.

The Requiem FearFest horror film festival, and now convention, will be presenting a gut-churning, spine tingling collection of film shorts and features on October 28-30 at the stylish ALT Hotel in Montréal’s trendy Griffintown neighbourhood. Also on the docket are an array of special and celebrity guest speakers, panels and discussions, retail vendors, parties and more. The event is a partnership with the nascent Malefycia Festival. Malefycia? Why, funny you should ask…

#Malefycia #halloween #horreur #bassinpeel #festival #Octobre #backstage @macbud

Une photo publiée par MALEFYCIA (@malefycia) le 11 Nov. 2015 à 14h03 PST

The Malefycia Festival is the new kid on the block, and what a terrifying tot it is. The (largely) family friendly Malefycia fest features, among many other things in an impressively packed programme, a Horror Zone (with its main House of Horror), a family Walk of the Dead, Dead Runs (yes, you will be chased by zombies), Pop-Up Family Camp a Freak Show and more. The whole thing sets up its not-so-little shop of horrors in the Peel Basin, October 20-23 and 27-31. For more info go here.

Want to add some Old Port thrills to those Peel Basin chills? Wander 10 minutes eastward along the scenic Lachine Canal, over to MTL Zipline, the first urban zipline in Canada. Their two ziplines, which stretch over the water of the Old Port and Bonsecours Island, officially close for the season on October 31, so what better day to face your fear (of heights, water, flying, the Old Port) than Halloween?

Zombie_walk_MontrealMontréal’s biggest annual undead event gets more alive with every passing year: to wit, last year’s edition of the Montréal Zombie Walk drew more than 10,000 fans of animated cadavers to Place des Festivals in the Quartier des Spectacles. This year’s sixth instalment sees thousands of strolling corpses leaving Place des Festivals on October 29 at 4 p.m., and makeup artists will be on hand from noon to 3 pm to assist participants with their deadness (cost $15). Questions? Zombies have the answers.

You’re going to have to walk the heebie-jeebies off after taking Haunted Montréal’s newest ghost tour, the Haunted Red Light District Ghost Walk. History buffs and Halloween freaks alike will thrill to twisted tales of brothels, booze cans, burlesque halls and the ghosts of that era and more. This tour joins three other 2016 season tours: Haunted Griffintown, Haunted Mountain and Haunted Downtown Montréal.

The old world ambience of Old Montréal gets some extra special spooky sauce for the annual Ghost Hunts as well as Ghost Walk Dark Encounters walking tours presented by Montréal Ghosts. During Ghost Hunt, look for ghosts (played by professional actors) hidden in the dark nooks of Old Montréal, while during Ghost Walk Dark Encounters follow a spellbinding storyteller sharing the most gruesome tales of Old Montréal while pointing out where the dastardly deeds took place, from October 27-31.

The Casino Montréal is raising the Halloween action with “two nights of ghoulishly good times,” and that ain’t no bull. Wait, it is bull – several hundred pounds of mechanical bull, and Casino-goers are invited to tame the savage steel beast (in a roulette wheel no less) in between sets by the band Tone Call and DJ Steve Watt. People are encouraged to come in costume – and there will be a makeup station and photo booth on hand – but please, no face coverings. The bull wants to know who it’s throwing.

Halloween doesn’t grow on trees… Well actually, yes it does when Geordie Productions present the Canadian premiere stage adaptation of legendary sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree, which sees a group of friends undertake an epic, otherworldly Halloween journey to save another buddy in peril. Both tricks and treats in store here at Concordia University’s DB Clarke Theatre, October 21-30.

By day she saves trees, and by night she’s a regular Frankie fan! Come see @buffalomeg reprise her role as one of our darling Columbias, this Halloween season! Rose Tint our world!

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