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Miles Miesnieks, 7, gets a handful of candy with his mom, Silka, from Marie Van Wassenhoven (right) as they trick-or-treat on 24th Street in Noe Valley as San Francisco celebrated Halloween in 2016.

Halloween 2021: Bay Area haunted houses, concerts and more ways to celebrate the spooky season

Spooky season is here, and it’s looking like the kids will be able to trick-or-treat for All Hallows’ Eve this year — pandemic restrictions permitting. Brush up on your spookiest dad jokes, deck out the front yard and fill a big bowl with wrapped candies, pencils or whatever treats you can conjure up before Oct. 31.

Some at-home revelers and local community venues plan to borrow innovation from 2020’s altered Halloween plans and set up trunk-or-treat offerings, in which a vehicle is decorated and contains treats for costumed neighbors and passersby. Many Bay Area residents will probably venture out and celebrate with spooky parties and scary scavenger hunts too, and arts and entertainment organizers are planning plenty of opportunities for seasonal fun in 2021.

Celebrate throughout the month with The Chronicle’s guide to events and activities ensuring a frightfully good time for all this Halloween:

Cal Performances Presents: Manual Cinema’s ‘Frankenstein’

Co-commissioned by Cal Performances, the gothic tale conceived by Chicago’s Manual Cinema features Mary Shelley’s gripping tale performed live as actors join puppeteers onstage, creating an animated film in real time featuring a score performed live by onstage musicians.

3 p.m. Oct. 31. $43-$82, available online. Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley. 510-642-9988.

Hex Twisting Halloween Book Launch Party

Stop by and stay for a spell to chat with author Diana Rajchel at a release event/book signing for her latest tome “Hex Twisting: CounterMagick Spells for the Irritated Witch.”

6:30-8 p.m. Oct. 31. Free. Reservations encouraged. Martuni’s, 4 Valencia St., S.F. 415-241-0205.


‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ with Barely Legal and Burlesque

Relive the cinematic cult classic, with live performance accompaniment by Barely Legal. Audience participation and costumes are highly encouraged. Burlesque show and costume contest with prizes included in the evening’s events.

8 p.m. Oct. 31. $16.50-$26.50, available online. The UC Theatre, 2036 University Ave., Berkeley. 510-356-4000.


SFJazz Presents: ‘Chills and Thrills — Phantom of the Opera and Nosferatu’

A screening of two silent-film classics with organ accompaniment is scheduled to include Rupert Julian’s 1925 horror classic ,”The Phantom of the Opera,” starring Lon Chaney at 7 p.m. and F.W. Murnau’s 1922 vampire classic “Nosferatu,” starring Max Schreck at 9:30 p.m. Both films will feature a live score performed by organist-composer Dorothy Papadakos on the cathedral’s 1934 Aeolian-Skinner organ.

7 and 9:30 p.m. Oct. 30. $20-$35 per screening. Reservations required. Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St., S.F. 866-920-5299.

Terror Ball Halloween Soiree, hosted by Peaches Christ

The party is set to feature a costume contest with prizes, live performances, dancing and DJ sets and includes admission to the frightening “Immortal Reckoning” event.

9 p.m. Oct 30-2 a.m. Oct. 31. $150, reservations required. 21 and older. San Francisco Mint, 88 Fifth St., S.F.

Tri-Valley Halloween Con

Wear your Halloween costumes before it’s time to trick-or-treat at a family-friendly pop culture, toys, anime, art, apparel and collectibles show. Live characters along with an eclectic mix of vendors; all-ages costume contests; and interactive activities onsite are scheduled for attendees at this inaugural event.

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 31. $12, under 10 free. Registration recommended. Shannon Center, 11600 Shannon Ave., Dublin. 925-408-4014.

Halloween Meltdown with John Waters

The two day, all-age-friendly Halloween dance and performance festival, formerly known as the Burger Boogaloo and hosted by “the Pope of Trash” John Waters, is scheduled to include a costume contest hosted by Shannon and Brontez and live sets from Osees, the Mummies, Losin’ Streak, the Gories, Seth Bogart, the Sheastie Boys, Naked Roommate, Vaxxines and many others.

Noon-9 p.m. Oct. 16-17. $29-$139. Registration required. Mosswood Park, 3612 Webster St., Oakland.

Muppets Haunted Mansion with Dave Goelz and Bill Barretta

Join Muppet performers and the hands/voices behind the Great Gonzo and Pepe the King Prawn, as they share insight into their experiences working with Jim Henson and the Muppets. The in-person event scheduled for 11 a.m. on Oct. 9 at the Walt Disney Family Museum is currently sold out, but there is an opportunity to watch it as a replay online on Oct. 16.

10 a.m.-midnight Oct. 16. $8, viewing link supplied with required registration. 415-345-6800.

Sonoma County Annual Zombie Movement

Arrive zombified and ready to lurk and lurch around Healdsburg Plaza. Meet at West Plaza Park next to the farmers’ market parking lot between 2 and 3:30 p.m. for the selection of costume contest finalists. Shamble through the pathway toward the plaza. Help feed the community and contribute food to one of the Redwood Empire Food Bank donation barrels located throughout the walk. And stop by Vitalant blood bank to donate while you’re limping through to add that extra bit of pallor to your zombie look. Proceeds will benefit the National Brain Tumor Society.

2-6 p.m. Oct. 16. Free-$25. Registration required. West Plaza Park, North Street, Healdsburg.

ReelKev’s Film Festival Presents: ‘Through the Glass Darkly’

A screening of the 2020 Southern murder-mystery thriller includes an in-person appearance from writer-director Lauren Fash, with a full bar menu available to attendees.

7 p.m. Oct. 17. $20-$25, reservations recommended. S.F. Oasis, 298 11th St., S.F. 415-795-3180

Cal Academy Presents: ‘SuperNatural’

Get ready for an in-the-flesh, spine-tingling good time exploring the museum at night. Come in your Halloween costume for an evening of family-friendly fun with live science, creatures of the house and trick-or-treating. Enjoy activities inside as well as in the outdoor garden spaces and Living Roof areas.

6:30-9 p.m. Oct. 22. 5 p.m. VIP early-admission tickets available. $45-$3,000. Registration required. California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, S.F. 415-379-8000.

Black Diamond Mines Halloween Hike

Come in costume and celebrate Halloween on the trails of an East Bay regional preserve. Hike around Rose Hill Cemetery and look for ghostly signs of the historical mining activities that occurred there. Bring water and a snack and dress in layers. Sturdy shoes recommended.

9 a.m.-noon Oct. 30. Free, registration required. Somersville Staging Area, Somersville Road, Antioch. 925-947-3535.

Witchfest 2021 and Fleetwood Macramé Concert

A special Samhain celebration for witches and wanderers alike offers a day filled with a host of mystical, magical vendors, tarot readings, henna art and live entertainment. Stay for a music performance (ticketed separately) presented by Tiny Towns Outdoor Concert Series and the Ivy Room at the outdoor garden stage.

Magickal Marketplace 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 30. Free admission. Reservations encouraged. Tiny Towns Concert 5-8 p.m. Oct. 30. $20-$120. Reservations required. Alfresco dining park, 1435 Webster St., Alameda.

Mexican Heritage Plaza School of Arts and Culture Present: Avenida de Altares

The fifth annual event will feature an outdoor exhibition of Day of the Dead altars created by local artists. Along with the altar gallery, community members can pay respects to those who have passed on at a public ofrenda area. Attendees are invited to enjoy live music, food vendors and beverage tastings. A concert with La Misa Negra will take place inside the Mexican Heritage Plaza, hosted by the School of Arts and Culture.

5:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30. Free.  School of Arts & Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza, 1700 Alum Rock Ave., San Jose.


Image credit:
Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle
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