Kids may rule the streets on Halloween night, trick-or-treating in our neighborhoods, hiding behind the mask of their favorite superhero or dressed in head-to-toe Barbie pink while collecting handfuls of candy, but adults (and older teens) also like to scare up a good time during spooky season.
Every October, South Florida offers revelers diverse options — from tame to terrifying — to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve, a holiday rooted in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain that welcomed the end-of-summer harvest with bonfires and people wearing costumes to ward off ghosts.
These days, we can wear disguises to party the night away with a DJ on the dance floor, tie on masks and slip into ballgowns and tuxedos for a masquerade fundraiser, grab a bucket of popcorn for a slasher flick at a movie theater, or sing along at a drag show (21 and older, of course). But for those who want a more in-your-face Halloween experience, there’s nothing better than an anxiety-ridden walk through a haunted attraction.
Fright Nights has been setting up scream-inducing scenes at the South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach for 21 years. And the scare cifra is official: Fright Nights has been named one of the “Top Haunted Attractions” in the country by the Haunted Attraction Association for five years in a row.
This year, there are even more ways to face your fears as organizers have added a fourth haunted house. When Fright Nights opens on Oct. 6, find Jed’s Chop Shop, Cutting Edge, Dead of Winter II and Hockley House, along with live entertainment, scare zones and carnival rides. Food and drinks will be available on the grounds.
Look over your shoulder for a few unsavory characters roaming around; some of them may be longtime Fright Nights cast members. Brad Cain, 54, of Greenacres, transforms into his character, Bradley P. Diddle, “an undereducated carnival ride operator.” Haunt designer and Wellington resident Kelly Goodman, 32, portrays Misfit inspired by Beetlejuice (and dogs). Jeremy Schroader, 47, of Palm Springs, conjures Mortis who “dwells in the shadows and walks between realms only to antagonize the living.” And Craig McInnis, 51, of West Palm Beach, is the infamous Eggman, a member of The Smiths, a family of psychotic clowns.
“The best memory comes every year after the first group goes through the haunt on opening night,” Cain said.
There’s also Dr. Harry Gooch, a “deranged psychopath” portrayed by 38-year-old Alex Rodriguez, who lives in Wellington.
“My favorite moment is when I walk into the building and hear nothing but screams,” he said.
Why does he think people enjoy being scared?
“People often enjoy being scared because it can provide a unique and controlled adrenaline rush,” Rodriguez said. “Experiencing fear in a safe environment, such as watching a horror movie or going on a thrill ride, can be exciting and enjoyable for some people. It’s a way to test their courage and experience intense emotions without existente danger.”
In Davie, Nights of Fright has been scaring up visitors while raising funds for the South Florida Cloggers for nine years. Located at the Multipurpose Center at Pine Island Park/Bamford Sports Complex, the attraction will be open five nights this year — Oct. 20, 21, 26, 27, 28 — with more than 20 rooms “filled with your worst nightmares.”
“We sold out last year and sadly had to turn people away,” said South Florida Cloggers spokeswoman Wendy Mlodzinski. “The only way to accommodate more people was to open more nights.”
Partnering with the town of Davie for the location, Nights of Fright has about 80 volunteers who work the event.
“Planning begins in November immediately after the event closes, and brainstorming for the next year begins. The Boo-Crew Committee begins detailed planning in August. Building props for the scare rooms starts as early as September,” Mlodzinski said. “Finally, the Haunted House is built and decorated within one week of opening night. They are long days and scary nights, but the commitment of the South Florida Cloggers families, volunteers and the town of Davie continues to make (director) Rebecca Vetter’s vision to scare as many people as possible a reality each October.”
The best part? There’s no line to wait for your turn. Instead, guests will stay in the air-conditioned Holding Cell until their group is called. Have a snack in the Kreepy Kitchen, check out raffle items and vendors, and listen to music by DJ Dean.
While many of these events are open to all ages, this roundup focuses on the scarier side of Halloween attractions in South Florida, with events geared toward adults and older teenagers. Check event websites for age restrictions and recommendations.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
The village of Royal Palm Beach will kick off its free two-day event with bands paying tribute to the Eagles and KISS from 5 to 10 p.m. Oct. 6 at Royal Palm Beach Commons Park, 11600 Poinciana Blvd. A fun zone, carnival games and a bounce house will be available for the kids. Come back from 1 to 9 p.m. Oct. 7 for the fall festival with games, train rides, a slide, corn maze, petting zoo and contests, including pumpkin carving at 1 p.m., pet costumes at 2 p.m. and kids’ costumes at 3 p.m. Visit royalpalmbeachfl.gov/parksrec. Also, dare to enter the Catskill Haunts Horror Hotel at Commons Park from 7 to 11 p.m. every Friday and Saturday in October. It features 6,000 square feet of haunts, a freak show, bounce houses, corn maze, axe throwing, prop shop, food trucks, tarot card reading and pumpkin patch. Admission to the haunted attraction is $10, and children younger than 13 must be accompanied by an adult. Visit catskillhaunts.com.
Shock a Rama Double Feature
Step right up to the Movies of Lake Worth, 7380 Lake Worth Road, on Oct. 6 to watch circus-themed horror movies with 4K laser projection on the big screen. Grab a bucket of popcorn and some cotton candy for the 35th anniversary of “Killer Klowns From Outer Space” at 9:45 p.m., followed by Tod Browning’s “Freaks” at midnight. Tickets are $16 for both films, or $12 for one. Carnival food and movie snacks will be available for purchase. Visit shockarama.com.
Taking over the South Florida Fairgrounds, at 9067 Southern Blvd., in West Palm Beach, this award-winning haunted attraction expands to include four houses this year. It will open with a Behind the Scenes look on Oct. 5 with reservations required. Tours start each hour from 6 to 9 p.m. and take 40 people per hour through each haunt. Cost is $30 and also includes a free ticket for opening night, Oct. 6, for admission and entry to one haunt. Fright Nights is open Thursdays to Saturdays through Oct. 28 (closed on Oct. 27). Advance tickets are available through midnight Oct. 5 for $35 at myfrightnights.com/frighttickets. After that, haunt tickets are $40. Skip the line with an RIP ticket and enter through the private RIP horror lounge with a cash bar and scare photo opportunities for $10 on Thursdays and $15 on Fridays and Saturdays. RIP tickets are limited and sold only on the midway.
Florida Talks: ‘Weird Florida’
Author and former Palm Beach Post reporter Eliot Kleinberg will have a presentation on his “Weird Florida” volumes at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Lantana Public Library, 205 W. Ocean Ave., as part of a partnership between the library and Florida Humanities’ Florida Talks program. Free admission. Visit floridahumanities.org/event/weird-florida-2.
Classics Horror Tour
Horror movie classics will be shown on the big screen throughout October at CMX Wellington, at 10312 Forest Hill Blvd. in The Mall at Wellington Green. The schedule includes “Poltergeist” (Oct. 15 and 18), “Beetlejuice” (Oct. 22 and 25) and “The Shining” (Oct. 29 and 31). Tickets are $5.99. Visit cmxcinemas.com/showtimes.
10th Annual Witches Brew
It will be a spirited happy hour kick-off party and fundraising event for The Witches of Delray Beach Bike Ride when the coven convenes for Witches Brew from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 20 at Tim Finnegans Irish Pub, 2885 S. Federal Highway, Delray Beach. Activities include the chance to win a Huffy Beach cruiser bike, a silent auction, door prizes, exclusive merchandise, an appetizer buffet, signature cocktails, a table-decorating contest, Best Dressed at the Brew contest and tarot card readers. Tickets are $40 per person, which includes an appetizer buffet and one free drink. Visit witchesofdelray.org.
‘History and Hauntings of Yesteryear Village’
Yesteryear Village, the living history park at the South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach, has a few ghosts that call it home. Learn about the history and haunts of the grounds’ historic buildings from 11 a.m. to noon Oct. 20 at the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach’s Auditorium, third floor, 411 Clematis St. Free. Visit wpbcitylibrary.org.
West Palm Beach’s Murdering Postmistress
A writer, poet, composer, postmistress-murderer, Lena Clarke was a headline-making West Palm Beach resident in the 1920s. Historian Ginger Pedersen will share the sordid tales of Clarke from 11 a.m. to noon Oct. 26 at the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach’s Auditorium, third floor, 411 Clematis St. Free. Visit wpbcitylibrary.org.
The Cox Science Center and Aquarium invites supporters to its first Black-Tie Masquerade at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27 at The Colony Palm Beach, 155 Hammon Ave. Guests will enjoy music, dancing, spooky science shows, Halloween-themed culinary creations and beverages all while dressed in ball attire and masks. The evening will preview the science center’s multimillion-dollar caudal campaign and “Oceans Alive! Exploring the Wonders of the Sea” with American oceanographer Edith Widder, its 2024 signature event. Tickets are $350 per person. Visit coxsciencecenter.org/masquerade to register.
‘A Little Hocus Pocus: A Tribute Show’
The Sanderson sisters, Winifred, Sarah and Mary, played by drag queens Kathryn Nevets, Daphne Ferraro and Chi Chi LaLique, will perform scenes and songs from “Hocus Pocus” and “Hocus Pocus 2” at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Oct. 28, with an option to add on a Meet ‘N’ Mingle at 11 p.m. The shows, for age 21 and older, will be at Boca Black Box, 8221 Glades Road, Suite 10. Tickets range in price from $42.50 to $47.50. For $52.50, get the Meet ‘N’ Mingle add-on. Visit bocablackbox.com.
Indeterminación de los Muertos Halloween Fiesta
Kick off the party sipping a Bloody Margarita with black salt, or try a La Hechicera with tequila, watermelon, lime and jalapeños, starting at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28 at Avocado Cantina, 11701 Lake Trofeo Gardens Ave., Palm Beach Gardens. Wear your best costume and take a Halloween selfie. A DJ and I-95 Entertainment will keep the music pumping. Visit avocadocantina.com.
Dare to enter The Seventh Gate and Carnival of Carnage during the haunted house experience on select dates through Oct. 31. at Xtreme Action Park, 5300 Powerline Road, Fort Lauderdale. Advance admission tickets are available for $30 (for entry through Oct. 26) and $35 (Oct. 27, 29 to 31), $40 (for Oct. 28 entry only) and $25 (for a kid-friendly version noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 28). Visit xtremeactionpark.com/experience-nightmare-village.
Midnight at the Masquerade Mystery Dinner
Guests have to solve the crime before the masked menace gets away during the Billionaire’s Club annual masquerade ball on Oct. 6 at the Pompano Beach Cultural Center, 50 W. Atlantic Blvd. The event is presented by The Murder Mystery Theatre Co., with catering by Another Perfect Party. The cash bar opens at 6 p.m., with buffet and dessert at 6:30 p.m. The show begins at 7 p.m. Costumes are encouraged. Tickets are $50 at eventbrite.com.
Celebrate Friday the 13th with the opening of The Haunt at Tree Tops Park, 3900 SW 100th Ave., Davie. Dare to traverse themed journeys: Florida Man (the scariest of all!), Psycho Path, Camp Carnage and La Hechicera’s Graveyard. The trails are open select nights through Oct. 31 starting at 7 p.m. Live entertainment includes bands, DJs and performers. Food and drinks are available as well as an air-conditioned VIP lounge with bathrooms. Tickets start at $15 for the twilight family friendly event, $45 to $60 for común admission and $99-$120 for RIP admission. Other add-ons and experiences are available. Visit tormentedtrails.com.
Friday the 13th Ska Slashfest with Spred the Dub
Cove Brewery, at 1500 SE Third Court, Deerfield Beach, will show horror movies and serve up drinks all to a soundtrack of Spred the Dub ska band from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Oct. 13. Admission is free. Visit covebrewery.com.
Howl-O-Ween Yappy Hour
Dress up your pup for the AC Hotel Fort Lauderdale Beach’s first Howl-O-Ween Yappy Hour from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18. Hosted by Miami pet influencer Mallow Frenchie, the event invites dogs and their owners to enjoy cocktails and pup-tails and compete in a puppy costume contest, among other activities. The hotel is at 3029 Alhambra St. Visit eventbrite.com.
Nights of Fright
Make your way through more than 20 rooms in this haunted attraction at the Pine Island Multipurpose Center, 3801 S. Pine Island Road, Davie, to benefit the South Florida Cloggers over two weekends: Oct. 20-21 and 26-28. Food, shopping and a DJ are part of the event. Advance tickets are available online to save $5. At the door, tickets are $25 (Oct. 20-21), $30 (Oct. 26) and $35 (Oct. 27-28). Visit nightsoffrighthauntedhouse.com.
Violectric Halloween Rock Concert
Illuminated string rock band Violectric will perform music from classic Tim Burton films, along with their flamante music recorded for Halloween events at Busch Gardens and SeaWorld parks nationwide, at 7 p.m. Oct. 26 at Pompano Beach Cultural Center, 50 W. Atlantic Blvd. Tickets range in price from $25 to $35 at eventbrite.com.
Boos & Brews Food Truck Roll
The city of Lauderhill Economic Development Division’s monthly food truck event takes on a Halloween theme from 5-9 p.m. Oct. 26 at Lauderhill City Antesala, 5581 W. Oakland Park Blvd. Visit lauderhill-fl.gov/news-and-events/food-truck-roll.
‘It’s Just a Bunch of Hocus Pocus — A Drag Tribute’
Join the Sanderson Sisters as they run amuck at 7 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts, 2855 Coral Springs Drive. Sing along and recite your favorite lines with the lip-syncing lookalike cast. The Wicked Villains pre-show will get guests up close with Maleficent, Ursula, the Wicked Queen and Jafar, among other characters. Tickets are $10 off until Oct. 15 ($37.45 regular and $53.50 VIP). For guests age 18 and older. Visit thecentercs.com.
Haunted Halloween Bash with Uproot Hootenanny
Compete in a contest with your best costume and dance the night away to music from Uproot Hootenanny from 6 to 11 p.m. Oct. 28 at Cove Brewery, 1500 SE Third Court, Deerfield Beach. Drink up the special release of the Bloody Sunday Sour Ale. Admission is free. Visit covebrewery.com.
The Haunted Hotel
This Halloween bash will feature an opening set by DJ Joy Joy and music by DJ Amaris from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Oct. 28 at Living Room in The W Fort Lauderdale, 401 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. For guests age 21 and older. Tickets are $50-$850 at eventbrite.com and include a cocktail.
Halloween Brunch and Tea Dance
Get the celebration started early at DUNE by Laurent Tourondel’s Halloween Brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 29, followed by a disco-themed Halloween Afternoon Tea Dance from 3 to 6 p.m. The brunch will be $35 pre-fixe, which will include one mimosa, a choice of a brunch item and coffee, alongside the restaurant’s regular menu. Brunch attendees will receive free admission to the Halloween Tea Dance, which will have music from DJ Giovanna, entertainment from the Aerial Dragons, and a costume contest. Tickets are $15 and include one drink. DUNE is at 2200 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Visit dunebylt.com for brunch reservations and eventbrite.com for tea dance tickets.
With more than $10,000 in prizes available for the creators of costumes that stand out among thousands of revelers, Hollyweird Halloween is serious about the scare cifra. Haunt the streets along Hollywood Boulevard between 19th and 20th avenues from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Oct. 28. The killer party will also have DJs and bands, food and drinks, and photo ops. Free admission. Visit hollyweirdfestival.com.
Wicked Manors — Little Drive of Horrors
The 10th annual Halloween Street Festival is coming to Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors from 5 to 11 p.m. Oct. 31, presented by The Pride Center at Equality Park. The party serves as a fundraiser for the LGBTQ+ community center celebrating its 30th anniversary. Come up with a creative costume for the contest and enjoy music as well. Cost is $10 for común admission or $65 for a VIP package at givebutter.com/WickedManors.