Santa Cruz is a terrific place to be in the black-and-orange season, from the beautiful and family-oriented cultural richness of Dia de Los Muertos in downtown Watsonville to the whack-a doodle spectacle and abandon of Halloween night in downtown Santa Cruz. Wallace Baine brings you a selection of the best ways to have some spooky fun.
So you’ve picked out your most awesome Barbie-themed costume. You’re playing around with makeup ideas. Maybe you’re even planning a little surprise for all your friends who think they know you. It’s October and it’s Halloween season, the time to have some fun.
Santa Cruz is a terrific place to be in the black-and-orange season, from the beautiful and family-oriented cultural richness of Dia de Los Muertos in downtown Watsonville, to the whack-a doodle spectacle and abandon of Halloween night in downtown Santa Cruz.
Don’t let Halloween catch you off guard this year. The best goblins and ghosts make plans. Here’s a rundown of the some of the fun planned for Santa Cruz County this year.
— Looking for a little live theater in the Halloween-ish realm? Actors’ Theatre in Santa Cruz is up with its first play of the season, which opened last week, on Friday the 13th. Lucas Hnath’s “The Thin Place,” a chilling story about faith and the afterlife, plays Thursdays through Sundays throughout October, with a final performance on Halloween night.
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— This one sounds promising if you’re into elegant atmospherics with your chills. The Cocoanut Grove ballroom at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is hosting a series of concerts throughout the fall, all solely lit by candlelight. The “Candlelight Concert” series opens this month with two nights — four shows in total — of “Candlelight: A Haunted Evening of Halloween Classics.” The Listeso String Quartet will perform a number of seasonally appropriate tunes including Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” “Tubular Bells,” the themes from “Beetlejuice,” “A Nightmare Before Christmas” and “The Addams Family,” as well as Bernard Herrmann’s famously screeching violins overture to “Psycho.” Happening Thursday, Oct. 19, and Friday, Oct. 27. Two shows each night, at 6:30 and 9 p.m.
— The Santa Cruz Wharf is not going to be topped this year in its focus on Halloween. The wharf is stretching out the holiday to “The 13 Days of Halloween,” beginning Thursday, Oct. 19. The activities culminate in a “Thriller” zombie dance on Saturday, Oct. 28 (with a dress rehearsal at Laurel Park on Saturday, Oct. 21).
— Scary season, scary movies, right? “Boardwalk Fright Flicks” has been happening all month, with a classic scary movie screened in the Cocoanut Grove ballroom every Wednesday in October. Upcoming is the horror comedy “Zombieland” (Oct. 18) and the 2018 version of the classic franchise “Halloween” (Oct. 25), starring Jamie Lee Curtis. Tickets are $15 each, but that includes a free drink ticket. This is an adults-only series, 21 and over.
— The Halloween Mask Making Festival returns to London Nelson Center in Santa Cruz on Saturday, Oct. 21, noon to 4 p.m., with mask making, Halloween games and live theater and dance performances. It’s free.
— The Watsonville Plaza comes alive on Friday, Oct. 27, for the sixth annual Dia De Los Muertos celebration, complete with live music, community ofrendas and an outdoor screening of Pixar’s “Coco.”
— The Catalyst goes dark on Friday, Oct. 27, as the folks who do the Shrek Rave at the Catalyst present “Spooky Rave,” a Halloween-based rave party.
— Motion Pacific dance studio in Santa Cruz is the site for “Halloween Majesty,” a queer dance party and variety show, with emcees Cherry Cola and Franzia Rose, on Friday, Oct. 27.
— Some folks, especially in Santa Cruz, just have to have their Halloween Grateful Dead-flavored. For those and others, here comes the China Cats, the acclaimed local Dead tribute band playing live Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Veterans Memorial Building. Showtime is 7 p.m.
— On Saturday, Oct. 28, Moe’s Alley goes hard with “Glow Hard: A Full Moon Party,” featuring the “Frighteningly Fab” drag show and the “Haunted Circus of Horrors,” presented by the locally based Circus of the Moon. Also, there’s face and body painting and monster-themed beats all night long.
— The fun-loving local trio Bonny June & Bonfire gets into the spirit of the season with their Halloween show, Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center. Bonny June and her pals Craig Owens and Ken Kraft transform into, respectively, Countess June, Count Kraft-ula and Batman Owens, to tell stories and play original songs, like “Dracula’s Daughter” and “You Can Be a Zombie Too.”
— The Santa Cruz Natural History Museum is holding its Macabre Halloween Party on Saturday, Oct. 28, with a costume contest, creepy-themed exhibits and an outdoor screening of the terrifying “Tremors.” 6 to 9 p.m.
— The Crepe Place is going all out with “Crepeoween,” a Halloween-themed show featuring bands covering everything from Black Sabbath to the Ramones, Saturday, Oct. 28.
— Capitola Village is rarely thought of as particularly spooky, but Sunday, Oct. 29, might be an exception. That’s when Capitola will hold its annual Halloween parade, free and open to all ages, from 2 to 3 p.m.
— And don’t forget the absolute freak show that comes every year to Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz on Halloween night, Tuesday, Oct. 31. The daytime is ideal to bring the little ones to visit local merchants and score some treats. But after the sun goes down, the monsters come out to play.
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