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Twelve of the Spookiest Events Happening in Sydney This Halloween

From paranormal ghost tours to horror movie marathons to abandoned warehouse shows, here's where to get your scares this Halloween.
By Ellie Grounds and Concrete Playground
October 22, 2018

Twelve of the Spookiest Events Happening in Sydney This Halloween

From paranormal ghost tours to horror movie marathons to abandoned warehouse shows, here's where to get your scares this Halloween.
By Ellie Grounds and Concrete Playground
October 22, 2018


From paranormal ghost tours to horror movie marathons to abandoned warehouse shows, here's where to get your scares this Halloween.

There's something for everyone to get around when it comes to Halloween, whether it's eating nauseating amounts of lollies, flexing your arts and crafts skills and fashioning yourself a costume, or pulling that five-piece (mask included) Batman get-up out of storage and donning it to feel like the superhero you really are.

Trick or treating never really caught on here, but we'll be damned if we won't use it as an excuse for a spooky time. There are plenty of parties, tours and immersive events happening around town for you to get amongst. Here's a list of some of the best things going on in Sydney for Halloween, ranging from the not-so scary (dog costume show) to the truly terrifying (a paranormal ghost tour around North Head).

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    Imagine a fully immersive theatre experience with a choose-your-own-adventure twist and lots of macabre nods to Edgar Allan Poe, and you’ll have some idea of what to expect at A Midnight Visit. Unlike any theatre offering the city has seen before, this captivating experience is part performance, part playground and part film set. And it’s being brought to life across 30 rooms of an eerie, two-storey, 3500-square-metre Newtown warehouse before it’s demolished to make way for apartments.

    Audiences will find themselves transported into a dream world that takes its cues from those notoriously macabre works of Edgar Allan Poe, as imagined by a team of local actors and a crew of innovative sound, film-set and costume designers. Expect an air of David Lynch and some Stanley Kubrick vibes, with a spot of steam-punk thrown in for good measure.

    If you’re thinking you might need some sort of tipple to calm your nerves before all of that, or after, you’ll find yourself in good hands at The Ravens Rest pop-up bar, curated by Studio Neon.

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    Ghostly Encounters

    Halloween is ghost season, so what better way to celebrate (or is that commiserate?) these lost souls than trying to find them. Once a quarantine facility for newly arrived migrants, Q Station in Manly has been consistently voted one of the most haunted locations in Australia, so you know it’s going to be really, really creepy.

    North Head is dotted with gravestones and is the burial place of over 572 bodies. Many of the spirits that roam the area are the memories of British convicts and settlers who suffered horrifically from infectious diseases en route Down Under. While ghost tours run throughout the year, the special Halloween Ghostly Encounters tours are a cut above the rest. Each tour kicks off after the sun goes down and run for two-and-a-half hours across five nights, from Friday, October 26 through to the big spooky day itself.

    If you’re thinking that won’t stop you from sleeping soundly, sign up for the Paranormal Investigation Experience on Halloween night. Rather than just looking for ghosts, you’ll try to communicate with them and record their activity. This one costs $99 and is strictly for adults only.

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    Frankie's Halloween 2018

    It’s a nightmare on Hunter Street with Halloween at Frankie’s. First thing’s first (and surely this goes without saying): no costume, no entry.  Everyone’s favourite late-night dive bar is teaming up with New Zealand-based brewery Garage Project as part of Sydney Beer Week to put on a scarily good time with their un-boo-lievable brews. 

    All taps at Frankie’s will be pouring Garage Project goodies the likes of Block Party 9 (single-origin hopped IPA), Hatsukoi (neo-Tokyo lager) and West Coast Ultra (an ultra dry IPA), as well as some new, never-tasted-before beers.

    As expected, the rock ‘n’ roll haven will be showcasing some of Sydney’s best banger-heavy bands from 8:30pm, with all eyes on the headlining act, riot pop girl group RACKETT. Bow down, witches.

    All drinks are $3 from 4-6pm and there are some fab prizes up for grabs for the “Worst Dressed” including credit on the Garage Project online store, VIP access to Sydney’s Cheers Beer Festival the following weekend and a $50 booze/$50 pizza voucher at Frankie’s itself. Yes, it might be mid-week, but go on. Trick or treat yo’ self.

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    Jurassic Lounge: Halloween

    You can always count on Jurassic Lounge to produce the goods when it comes to an all-out themed super-fun time. Considering the location at the Australian Museum, it’s easy to see why the Lounge is one of Sydney’s favourite adult playgrounds. And it really turns things up to 11 for Halloween.

    This year, Jurassic Lounge is back with a whole mess of DJs, artists, scientists, chefs and dancers to bring your weekend fright-fest to a crescendo. The museum will be crawling with activities, from an eerie silent disco to a ‘haunted’ gallery tour in the dark (complete with torches).

    You’ll also be able to get a gory makeover from the on-hand make-up artists, perhaps before you partake in some ‘after-death’ speed dating. There’ll also be dance-offs, craft workshops, talks and performances throughout the night. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 on the door. These events nearly always sell out, so we’d book in advance just in case.

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    Beresford Dog Show: Howl-o-Ween Edition

    If you thought your Halloween costume couldn’t be beat, then you, my friend, have fallen for a trick — not a treat. Because these dogs will trump you. On Sunday, October 28, The Beresford will host a Halloween-themed dog shot. The Merivale establishment is teaming up with premier pup institution Dogue to put on a day of fun for both human and hound.

    There will be live entertainment, market stalls and prizes for the best-dressed pups, so start your outfit brainstorming now. Vampire viszlas, ghoulish golden retrievers, alien alsatians, t-rex terriers, Jack the Ripper jack russells — the creepy costume ideas are endless for man’s best friend. Even if you don’t have a dog to dress, you can head along and have a gander — and maybe donate to the Sydney Cats and Dogs Home, too,

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    The Hayden Orpheum's 2018 Halloween Special

    When the end of October rolls around, the Hayden Orpheum will be asking quite the iconic question: do you like scary movies? And, if you don’t, don’t worry. They’ll also be pondering another query: if frightening flicks aren’t for you, do you like like horror-themed comedies?

    From the sinister and unnerving to the amusing and quirky, the northside cinema’s Halloween lineup has everyone covered, even those that aren’t fond of jumps and bumps. Across three days in the lead up to the spookiest time of year, they’ll be unleashing an anarchic zombie sequel, an unsettling 60s classic and an amusing 80s great as part of their Halloween Special. Army of Darkness gets things started with a chainsaw and some comedy on October 26, for those keen on some Evil Dead fun 25 years after this third instalment’s initial release.

    Then October 28 sees Rosemary’s Baby hit the big screen again, fifty years after it first premiered. Finally, rounding it al out on All Hallow’s Eve itself is the zany antics of Beetlejuice in a 30th anniversary session. Hitting up all three nights is a nostalgic movie buff’s idea of Halloween heaven.

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    Zombie Walk 2018

    It’s that time of the year again. Sydney’s streets are about to filled with moaning and groaning as fanged and bloodied souls drag their rotting limbs through the city. Since 2009, the annual Zombie Walk has let people live out their apocalyptic fantasies, encouraging them to don their freakiest and foulest makeup and attire, all in the name of raising money for a good cause.

    After all that brain eating, it’s only fair that zombies put in the hard yards to keep some of them intact — so what better charity to raise money for than the Brain Foundation? Funds raised by participants go towards financing Australia-wide research into neurological disorders, brain disease and brain injuries. If your Frankenstein-inspired makeup skills leave something to be desired, never fear — there will be makeup artists on-site to help you look divinely deceased. They’re bound to be popular, so it’s recommended to get in touch and make a booking in advance. The walk will kick off at 2pm outside St Marys Cathedral, and then continue down College and William streets.

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    Plants with Bite

    The Royal Botanic Garden has launched a new blood-thirsty exhibition just in time for Halloween. Plants with Bite, which has made its home in the garden’s Calyx building, features 25,000 creepy carnivorous plants. The living exhibition is made up of Venus flytraps — luckily these ones don’t thrive on human blood — lobster pots, flypapers, bladders and more fascinating, bug-munching plants. And, if you’re lucky, you might even see them in action.

    If you’re not, you can do so in augmented reality. The RBG has launched an app in conjunction with the killer exhibition, which lets you ‘collect’ the plants — a bit like Pokemon GO — and watch them eat flies. Or, you can get eaten by a plant, à la Little Shop of Horrors, thanks to its new Snapchat filter. While the exhibition looks impressive now, it’ll continue to grow and overflow onto the floor as the hungry plants search for food. So, we suggest checking in again in a couple of months to see how it progresses — it is free, after all.

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    Warm up for Halloween with a visit to Paddington’s Cement Fondu. Until Sunday, November 25, Warm Bodies takes over the gallery with an array of irreverent and challenging explorations of horror, rot, mutation, destruction and post-apocalyptic existence.

    Expect analogue photography, ceramics, projections, dance, digital glitch textiles, .GIFs, installations and Muslim black death metal. Leading the program is Haunted House — a .GIF installation that will take over Cement Fondu’s mezzanine level with adaptations of scenes from B-grade horror films, as created by American artist Jaimie Warren in collaboration with the KARI Foundation Indigenous Youth Group.

    Meanwhile, dance artist Angela Goh will present the Australian premiere of Body Loss, an artwork that combines live performance, sound and light in its exploration of the female voice in folklore, film and culture. Look out, too, for a multi-media installation by London-based Adham Faramawy, whose Make Up Tutorial (2018) will appear among two new site-specific vinyl adhesive wallpapers. The program also includes a Halloween party from 7pm on Saturday, November 3.

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    Cockatoo Island Ghostyard — A Paranormal Tour

    Every corner of every city comes with its own history, including ordinary stories and tales that are more than a little spooky. That’s especially true on Cockatoo Island, of course. The tiny patch of land has played host to a prison, ship-building facilities, a reform school and a wartime boat repair port over the years, all in the middle of Sydney Harbour. And yes, it’s also apparently home to a few ghosts too.

    Plenty of mysteries surround the island, and while it runs regular Haunted History Night Tours, the site’s latest event is particularly unsettling. It’s called Cockatoo Island Ghostyard— A Paranormal Tour for very good reason. The guide will even have a paranormal detection device as they share the island’s most unnerving yarns across a 90-minute walk, taking attendees through sites and buildings that have achieved notoriety. Many of the spots visited are rarely opened to the public, so you’ll be seeing some new sites as you listen to gruesome true tales. Kicking off with a sold-out session on Halloween, the tours will run each Saturday night from 9.30–11pm from November 17. Bookings are required, with $45 gets you a scary adventure — and if you’re feeling brave, you can also glamp overnight from $200.

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    Spooktacular: The Night He Came Home — 40 Years of Halloween

    Every year, when October rolls around, Palace Cinemas hosts an all-night movie-watching extravaganza. ‘Tis the season for bumps, jumps, screams, creepy celluloid dreams and getting scared while sitting in a cinema, after all. But there are halloween marathons, and then there are Halloween halloween marathons.

    No, we didn’t accidentally repeat a word in the last sentence. For the Chauvel Cinema’s venue’s 2018 spooktacular, it’s dedicating an entire night to the frightening film series that John Carpenter started 40 years ago. Expect the writer/director/composer’s famous piano-filled score to echo throughout the building as Michael Myers dons his mask, grabs a knife, bursts through wardrobes, stalks babysitters and terrifies his hometown of Haddonfield, all on the titular occasion. And, expect Jamie Lee Curtis to cement her credentials as the ultimate big-screen scream queen.

    From the iconic first film — one of the best horror flicks ever made — to the not-so-iconic late 90s and early 00s sequels, all eight original Halloween movies will screen from 7pm on Saturday, October 27. The Halloween onslaught couldn’t be better timed, and not only due to the date, with the all-new ninth film in the franchise hitting cinemas everywhere just a week earlier.

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    Shocktober Film Festival

    If you’ve long been wanting to impress your cinephile friends with your knowledge of classic horrors, here’s your chance to educate yourself. Throughout October, the Ritz Cinema in Randwick is playing cult classic horrors, thrillers, dramas, sci-fi and fantasy movies. Get ready to gasp, gawk and grab the edge of your seat.

    Start with the all-time scaries The Exorcist and The Shining, or check out 2018 flicks Bad Times at the El Royale, Venom or the remake of Halloween. And if you’ve ever been to a costume party and wondered who the people in the black and white stripes or the girl with the black bob, white shirt and cigarette have come as, well, after watching Beetlejuice and Pulp Fiction, you’ll have your party parlance down pat. And on Halloween Eve there’ll be a preview of the much anticipated, Golden Lion-nominated flick Suspiria, which is an homage to the 1977 film of the same name.

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