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For fans of fear, it’s the most wonderful time of the year

Halloween is being celebrated so much in Greater Victoria, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. It doesn’t surprise Britt Small that the spookiest time of the year has become as popular as the yuletide season.
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Craigdarroch Castle is hosting Arkenham Abbey, with David Radford as the Fool, this month.

Halloween is being celebrated so much in Greater Victoria, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

It doesn’t surprise Britt Small that the spookiest time of the year has become as popular as the yuletide season.

“Halloween is always great because it’s a ‘performative’ kind of holiday,” said Small, who is directing that harbinger of Halloween, The Rocky Horror Show.

“It’s a time when everyone wants to go out and dress up, which speaks to theatre work because theatre is about pretend and dress-up, and it feels like the audience is closer to the stage in a way.”

RKO Production’s The Rocky Horror Show and Atomic Vaudeville’s Polterskate cabaret are among a mind-boggling array of Halloween attractions.

“Victoria has a phenomenal history of Wicca and Halloween, and we all just love Halloween,” said Kelly Kurta, general manager of the Greater Victoria Festival Society.

The society is organizing Sunday’s Wicked Victoria on Government Street, between Yates and Courtney streets, from noon to 5 p.m. The four blocks of Government will be closed to motor vehicles for a family-oriented event celebrating Halloween.

Highlights include a 3 p.m. Monster Mash costume parade and live entertainment on the Atomique Stage. There will also be spooky cookies and 400 pumpkins donated by Galey Farms combined with wristbands and glow sticks in $5 Halloween packs, with proceeds benefiting Children’s Health Foundation and Jeneece Place.

Other Halloween events include Arkenham Abbey, writer-director David Radford’s post-Edwardian era horror comedy, with Craigdarroch Castle playing a Suffolk country estate-turned-sanatorium.

“We like to get a little spooky during the month of October,” said John Hughes, executive director of the Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society.

While filmgoers can watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show at cinemas, there’s a reason RKO Productions is making last year’s wild and crazy stage show an annual event.

“It’s the traditional culty thing,” Candace Woodland said. She plays groupie Columbia in the show that inspired the hit movie, starring Tim Curry, that is to Halloween what It’s a Wonderful Life is to Christmas.

“You can see the movie anytime. The [live] show is pretty mind-blowing, and the music is so cool it brings songs like Time Warp and Sweet Transvestite to an amazing new level you can’t get with the movie.”

One of this fall’s real-life horror stories — the federal election — plays a starring role in Atomic Vaudeville’s Polterskate cabaret, Small said.

“Filled with petty bickering and fear-mongering [it’s] more horrific and disgusting than the Saw series,” reads a blurb for the show, which features vampires, sloth-clowns and roller skates.

“One of the main through lines in the narrative of this show is the boy who didn’t vote [Taylor Lewis], who keeps waking up to all these alternate realities,” said Small.

An enduring Halloween tradition is Galey Farms’ annual celebration that owner Rob Galey began in 2000 with a three-hectare corn maze at his 4150 Blenkinsop Rd. farm.

He later expanded it to reach an older demographic.

Galey’s Pumpkinfest features include a petting farm, kids’ haunted house, and pumpkin patch hay rides. A nighttime attraction, Festival of Fear is anchored by spookier draws such as Madame Isabella’s Seance and the horrifying Carnevil Haunted House.

“My parents always had Halloween parties and would have all the neighbours over,” Galey said. “The look you see in a child’s eye in the pumpkin patch is absolutely magical.”

Meanwhile, costumes for Star Wars characters, superheroes, wicked witches, fake severed fingers, katana swords and “embalming fluid” have been flying off the shelves at Halloween Alley, No. 1, 2680 Blanshard St.

“There’s been an exponential curve, right up to Halloween,” said staffer Matt Stringer, whose Halloween love began during his family’s seasonal get-togethers growing up in Toronto.

“My dad worked in cinematography, so he had fog machines and great lighting setups so we did a huge set for the block to enjoy.”

Hot sellers at the Halloween supermarket include fake horse heads and Disney costumes —“especially with women and girls,” he said.

Halloween events

Some attractions and events to get you into the Halloween spirit:

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW by Rebel Knock Out Productions. Metro Studio Theatre, 1411 Quadra St. Wed.-Fri., 8 p.m., Sat., 7 and 10 p.m. Until Oct. 31.Tickets at

ATOMIC VAUDEVILLE annual Halloween cabaret (Polterskate). Oct. 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31, 8 p.m. at Victoria Event Centre. Details:,

WICKED VICTORIA. Greater Victoria Festival Society’s free Halloween celebration. Sunday, Oct. 25, noon-5 p.m., Government Street, between Courtney and Yates streets.

HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN EXPRESS by Vancouver Island Model Engineers at Heritage Acres, 7321 Lochside Dr. Train rides for the whole family, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 24 and 25, 4-9 p.m. Details: or 250-883-1328.

VOICES FROM THE PAST. Ghostly walking tours, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. at St. Ann’s Academy, 835 Humboldt St. Tickets at or tel. 250-953-8829.

EVIL ACRES HAUNTED HOUSE presents Slaughter House Extreme; The Final Cut and The Darkness Maze; Phobia Edition. Nightly to Oct. 30, 6:30-11 p.m., and 6-10 p.m. Oct. 31, 10375 Wilson Rd., North Saanich. Not suitable for young children. Details at

PUMPKIN SWIM. Family-friendly Halloween games in the pool and on the deck at Esquimalt Recreation Centre, 527 Fraser St. Oct. 31, 1-3 p.m. Admission: $11.50 per family, or free with Esquimalt Recreation Centre pass.

PUMPKINFEST at Galey Farms, 4150 Blenkinsop Rd. Family-friendly fun with hayrides, U-pick pumpkins. Weekends in October, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Details at

FESTIVAL OF FEAR at Galey Farms, 4150 Blenkinsop Rd. Halloween with Corn Maze of Horror, Crazy Train, Madame Isabella’s and Carnevil. Nightly to Oct. 31, 6-10 p.m. Details at

PUMPKIN ART behind Oak Bay Municipal Hall, 2167 Oak Bay Ave. Hundreds of carved pumpkins featuring likenesses of local personalities, cartoon characters, the Royal Family, the Beatles and more. Nightly until Oct. 30, 5-9 p.m., and Oct. 31, 5-10 p.m. Details at

FOREST SPOOKTACULAR, a drop-in event for all ages. Dress in costume and win a prize. CRD Parks programs event takes place Oct. 24, 25 and 31, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Francis/King Regional Park. Guided walks at 11:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. Meet at Nature Centre off Munn Road. Details: or 250-478-3344.

> For more event listings, go to

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