Loves going out and about in Canberra and writing about her adventures! Also addicted to coffee, high teas, escape rooms, and dressing up.
Published September 4th 2019
It's a most spooktacular time of the year
Are you ready, Canberra? That other most wonderful time of the year-Halloween-is coming! And that means Jack O Lantern pumpkins and skeletons grinning eerily at you from shop window displays, little witches and ghouls roaming around in our neighbourhoods, lots of fake blood splattered everywhere, fake body parts lying about, and a horde of terrifying zombies descending on Garema Place.
A little bit of Halloween history Halloween is celebrated every year on October 31. Its origins lie in an agricultural, pre-Christian European past. Common tradition has it that it was the Celtic-speaking peoples of Ireland and Britain who celebrated a festival called Samhain which, under the Catholic church, became All Hallows Eve (Halloween). Samhain was an agricultural festival, celebrating the end of the final harvest of the year and preparing for the long, cold, dark winter months ahead. It was also a time when the veil between our world and the spirit world was supposed to be at its thinnest, so ghosts and the spirits of ancestors and dead loved ones were able to cross over and walk the earth. Which pretty much explains why ghosts and ghouls and skeletons and the Walking Dead amongst many others continue to feature so prominently in Halloween celebrations to this day.
Halloween is celebrated in many countries around the world, including Australia. Unfortunately, the Halloween haters come out in full force at this time of the year too, usually condemning the holiday as either too 'American' and therefore 'un-Australian' or just plain Satanic. Honestly, sometimes I find the haters a lot scarier than a pack of werewolves charging at me!
But Halloween-lovers of Canberra, don't let the haters ruin your zombie parade! Unfortunately for the haters out there, Halloween is here to stay. Here are ten ways to celebrate the spooktacular season in Canberra.
Get into the Halloween spirit by decorating your home. Because of its popularity, many shops now dedicate whole sections to Halloween in the weeks leading up to it. Costco, Big W, Woolworths, Coles, K-Mart, the Reject Shop, Aldi, dusk, Riot! art and craft stores, TK Maxx, and bargain stores all sell Halloween-themed decorations for the home.
2. Get your costumes ready! A huge part of celebrating Halloween is your costume! Whether you're going to or hosting a Halloween-themed party, or you're going trick or treating with the kids around the neighbourhood on Halloween night, or just getting into the spirit of the season, then you'll need to think about who or what you'll be dressing up as. Costume Box has some great ideas. And you can't go wrong with Kmart and Big W for affordable kids' costumes. Better yet, why not just resurrect their Book Week costume if you're stumped for ideas?
3. Go trick or treating in your neighbourhood. Trick or treating around the neighbourhood is a fun activity to do on Halloween night with the kids. But because Halloween is not an 'official' celebration in Australia, trick or treating can be a very unwelcome intrusion. There will be many people in your neighbourhood who will not appreciate having your kids bang on their doors demanding lollies! So if you want to go trick or treating, make sure you ask your neighbours first if it's ok. If your neighbours aren't pleasant sort of people and you hardly ever talk to them anyway, why not organize with your kids' friends' parents to drive to each other's houses for trick or treating? Don't forget to wear your Halloween costumes, and also make sure you have a box of lollies ready for any trick or treaters who come to your door.
4. Throw a Halloween party. Halloween is extra fun when you celebrate it with your friends so why not host a Halloween party? You can do this on the night of Halloween or in the days leading up to it. Decorate your house, get your friends to dress up in their scary best and bring along a plate of food to share, and get into some Halloween games and activities such as: carving pumpkins, bobbing for apples (a traditional Halloween game where you fill a tub of water with apples and every person takes it in turns to grab an apple from the tub with their mouths only and with their hands tied behind their backs - make sure you have towels handy as this is a very wet game!), and a Halloween-themed piņata. For ideas on how to host a kid-friendly Halloween party, read my article here.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with watching scary movies during Halloween. In fact, it's the perfect night to watch movies that frighten the bejesus out of you! So on Halloween night, why not get your family or friends together and get all your goosebumps tingling and the hairs on your back rising by watching some truly horrible movies together? There are plenty of movies out there to scare you senseless, such as the Halloween movies, It, Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream , The Exorcist, and The Ring . However, if these movies are just too scary for you, or you have young kids, you could always watch films like the Harry Potter series, The Nightmare Before Christmas , Monsters Inc , Hotel Transylvania , The Addams Family , and Hocus Pocus.
6. Go on a scary escape room adventure. If you'd like a truly unique experience during Halloween, then why not book an escape room adventure? An escape room is an immersive, interactive, physical adventure game where you and other players are placed in a specially designed room. Each room has its own individual theme and storyline. It has clues and puzzles which you need to find and solve together in order to get out, and you are given only one hour to escape. Canberra has some perfectly creepy escape room experiences for Halloween including House on the Hill, an adventure set in Salem, Massachusetts, as well as Mr Keller's Magic Emporium (think creepy clowns and creepy dolls), both offered by Escape Rooms Canberra located in Phillip. And then there's The Nightmare, The Dungeon and The Hotel, offered by Riddle Room in Mitchell.
On October 12, Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra will be transformed into a 5km course of terror. With a cast of bloodcurdling characters lying await to scare the hell out of you, it's guaranteed to be a night full of fright and fun! If you and your friends make it out alive, the night doesn't end there; you can all enjoy the MONSTER DANCE PARTY featuring some of the hottest local and national DJs, Halloween bar, food trucks and more. For more information and to book your tickets, please go here.
8. Go on the Canberra Zombie Walk.
The annual Canberra Zombie Walk takes place this year on October 26. The aim of the walk is to raise money for and support the brilliant work of the Brain Foundation. The Brain Foundation is dedicated to funding world-class research Australia-wide into neurological disorders, brain disease and brain injuries. The Canberra Zombie Walk invites all ages and abilities to dress in their favourite zombie, monster, ghoul and Halloween-themed outfits, meet at Glebe Park for some spooky shows, then begin your slow shuffle through the centre of the city, ending at Garema Place. Go here to book your tickets.
9. Celebrate Halloween with Tim the Yowie Man at the NFSA.
Get ready for a wickedly fun Halloween night with Tim the Yowie Man at the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA). Tim has put together a night of mysterious and fascinating items from the NFSA collection, focusing on haunted histories from across Australia. From spirit slides to ghostly radio serials, short films to newsreels and testimonials, what better way to spend Halloween than with Canberra's very own authority on paranormal and unusual phenomena? Book your tickets here.
10. Celebrate the Day of the Dead Fiesta.
Celebrate the end of the Halloween season in Canberra with the Day of the Dead Fiesta! The Day of the Dead Fiesta is Canberra's yearly community celebration of Latin American & Multicultural music, dance, food and art. Plus there'll be plenty of skeletons about! Taking place on November 2 from 12pm-7pm at the Polish White Eagle Club, Turner. Tickets available at the event. Go here for all the latest Fiesta news and updates.