Victoria is Canada's Haunted Capital, and that means we go all-out during the Halloween season. From a witch flying high over City Hall, to trees that spookily look back at you and bats fluttering in our alleyways; no city is as decked out as Victoria in October. Here are 13 reasons why you need to visit Victoria this Halloween:
1. You can Meet Our Local Ghosts
From the spirits at St. Ann's Academy to the ghosts at Ross Bay Cemetery and Bastion Square's eternal inmates, Victoria is home to several local ghosts and Halloween is the best time to get acquainted with them. Check out the full list of haunted locations and then take yourself on a self-guided tour.
Image: Ross Bay Cemetery
2. You'll Get Spooktacular Photos
One of the best parts about Halloween is taking awesome photos of costumes, décor and more. Head to Market Scare (formerly Market Square) and take a picture on one of the Bat Benches or visit The Bat Centre (formerly known as The Bay Centre) to check out the mystical fountain.
Make sure to tag your photos on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #VictoriaBOO for a chance to be featured on Tourism Victoria's channels! The city's transformation runs from October 1 to October 31.
Image: Witch flying over City Hall
3. You Can Stay in a Themed Hotel Room
Stay for the night, we dare you! Several of Victoria's hotels have created hair-raising Halloween offerings to get you in to the spirit, including a spooky Hitchcock-themed The Birds room at the Inn at Laurel Point and an Eyeball Martini at the Fairmont Empress.
Check out our fang-tastic hotel packages to see what's available and book your stay.
Image: Ouija Board Dessert at the Inn at Laurel Point
4. You Can Go Back in Time to Arkenham Abbey
Theatre lovers, head to Craigdarroch Castle Historic House Museum this October and travel back in time to the Post-Edwardian era for a dark night at Arkenham Abbey. This psychological horror comedy is a blend of Dark Detective and Downton Abbey, with an early 20th century English backdrop with many of the great Batman stories woven in.
Image: Arkenham Abbey character at Craigdarroch Castle
5. You Can Get Dressed Up
On October 15, you can get creative with gruesome makeup and monstrous costumes for Victoria's annual Zombie Walk. Beginning at Centennial Square and ending at the BC Parliament Building, this walk is guaranteed to turn a few heads as zombie fans walk and/or drag themselves along the route showing off impressive grisly make up and extraordinary costumes.
Image: Zombies take over the Inner Harbour at a past Victoria Zombie Walk
6. You'll Learn Something
From October 14 to 31, take a Ghostly Walk with Discover the Past tours and be mesmerized by Victoria's most famous ghost stories.
Your ghoulish guide will take you on a walk through Chinatown, Market Scare, the Inner Harbour and Bastion Square telling ghastly tales from Victoria's notorious gold rush featuring a beheading, a Jack the Ripper-style killing, a bloody murder in a brothel and how Victoria came to have the West Coast's only ghost ship.
Image: A Ghostly Walk tour with Discover the Past
7. You Can Scare Yourself... If You Dare!
If you like getting scared or are just super competitive, Victoria's escape rooms are a fantastic choice, especially around Halloween. Grab some friends or coworkers and visit Epic Escape Victoria, Horror Escape Victoria, or Victoria Escape Games. You'll be locked in a room and given a finite amount of time to figure out how to break free.
For those who really want to get scared, we suggest taking part in a Gruesome Tales of Bastion Square tour. Let us stress that this is not a ghost tour; you will hear true stories about the public hangings and other ghastly events that took place in and around Bastion Square, one of Victoria's heritage landmarks.
Image: Halloween escape room at Horror Escape Victoria.
8. You Can Party Like A Local
Halloween shouldn't be scary all the time, so if you feel ready to relax and have fun, head over to Phillips Brewing & Malting Company on October 28 for an outdoor film screening in the famous Phillips Backyard during a special Halloween edition of Movie Under the Maltworks: Shaun of the Dead.
This 19+ event is BYOLC (bring-your-own-lawn-chair) and the ticket price includes a pint of fresh Phillips beer and a surprise treat to enjoy during the film.
Image: Phillips Backyard, photographer: Heather Dubya
9. You'll Partake in Some Serious Trick Or Treating
From October 24 to 31, pick up a map and explore downtown Victoria's businesses and search for your favourite Jack-O-Lantern in the Pumpkin Pursuit. The map will highlight downtown Trick or Treat locations as well as downtown's spooktacular Halloween decorations.
On October 29, dress up in your favourite monstrous costume and trick or treat your way through the Monster Run at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa. After the run, you'll have a chance to play lots of fun games in the backyard at The Westin before a spooktacular fireworks display lights up the sky.
Image: Halloween fireworks at Bear Mountain Resort
10. You'll See Lots of Pumpkin Art
Oak Bay Village is now the home of Pumpkin Art on the Avenue! Hundreds and hundreds of carved pumpkins will be displayed behind the Oak Bay Municipal Hall featuring the likes of local personalities, cartoon characters, the Royal Family, the Beatles and more. Pumpkin Art is open from 5pm to 9 pm beginning the Friday the week prior to Halloween. The Pumpkin Art display will be open until 10 pm on October 31.
Tip: Oak Bay has even more Trick or Treating! On October 31, take your little ones to trick or treat on Oak Bay Avenue from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Avenue will have been magically converted into a carnival with magicians, live music and eerie entertainment.
Image: Pumpkins ready to become art in Oak Bay.
11. You Can Get Lost in the Corn Maze
The Second Annual Pendray Farm Corn Maze will truly a-maze you (we couldn't resist!) with over 14 acres and 10 km of walking trails. Get involved in the treasure hunt game for kids of all ages, or join themed events such as zombie dress-up nights. This year's event will see a new watchtower at the centre of the maze where you can snap a shot to prove you did it.
Image: Vancouver Island Corn Maze at Pendray Farms
12. You Can Carve A Pumpkin Underwater
We're not kidding. This Halloween, you can literally dive into Halloween by taking part in the 14th Annual Underwater Pumpkin Carving event in Victoria. On October 30, divers from near and far will come to Saxe Point to challenge their carving skills, and it's for a good cause! Proceeds from the event will go toward the Animal Rehab Centre (ARC). Even if you don't dive, you can still take part on land where there will be food, prizes and of course, lots of pumpkins.
Tip: Prefer to stay on dry land? You can also participate in free community pumpkin carving at the Sands Victoria on Sunday, October 30.
Image: Underwater pumpkin carving at Saxe Point
13. You'll Immerse Yourself in the Magic of Fall
With all of these Halloween events happening around town, you might not notice that the city itself is transitioning into full-on fall. Make sure to look up once in awhile and soak in the hauntingly beautiful colours of autumn. Beacon Hill Park, The Butchart Gardens and Hatley Castle National Historic Site are both fantastic places to experience the beauty of fall in Victoria this October.
Image: Fall colours at The Butchart Gardens
Bonus* Take a Haunted Whale and Wildlife Tour
No, there are no zombie whales and we can't guarantee that they will be in costume. That said, if you dress in costume on October 30, you can partake in a special Haunted Whale and Wildlife Tourwith Eagle Wing Whale Watching Tours, complete with prizes for best costume and lots of candy on board the boat. It'll be the cherry on top of an already incredible wildlife viewing experience!
Tip: Kids twelve and under ride free and adults in costume will receive a 25% discount!
Image: Humpback breach, photo via Eagle Wing Whale Watching Tours