Halloween in San Francisco used to be all about trick or treating for children and drunken revelry and debauchery in the Castro for adults, but safety and traffic concerns have led to a slew of alternative Halloween parties, costume parades, celebrations, shows and activities for all ages. These Halloween events are listed in date order.
MATCHA: Ghosts & Golden Clouds
Oct. 28, at 5–9 pm
Master storyteller Brenda Wong Aoki conjures up Japanese ghosts, people who have died with unpaid obligations and roam restlessly through the night. She's accompanied by jazz composer Mark Izu, taiko drummers, sax and koto musicians and percussionists. Make your own Noh mask (just in time for Halloween) and see exquisite ancient and modern Japanese screens in the special exhibit Beyond Golden Clouds.
At the Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St. Tickets $10.
Oct. 28, at 7–9 pm
A night of rarely screened 1970s horror classics. In Season of the Witch, a housewife tries to escape her suburban boredom by dabbling in witchcraft. Suspiria follows an American ballet student studying abroad who discovers the ballet academy's dark secret.
At SFMOMA. Tickets $5 general; free for museum members or with museum general admission.
Ghost Walk at City Hall
Oct. 29, at 6:30 pm
Disinterred remains, assassinations and other ghostly tales, and little-known facts (do you know about the cemetery that once covered Civic Center?)
Enter City Hall from Polk St.; meet at South Light Court. Expect full security checks and bag searches, so travel lightly and allow for extra time. Free.
Oct. 29, at 7:30-9 pm
Musicians and artists generate haunting sounds for multiple phantasmagorical projections of films, slides and videos from Pacific Film Archive’s collection. Theater of Charity leads a ghostly procession. Visitors are encouraged to wear ghost costumes. The event is in conjunction with the Hauntology exhibit, which is discussed by an interdisciplinary panel at 6 pm.
At Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way. Admission free-$7.
Fear Oaks Haunted Woods
Oct. 29 & 30, at 7:30-9:30 pm; Oct. 31 at 7 pm
Walk in the woods at your peril; living and non-living things will assault you with scary sights, sounds and smells. Then relax to a squad of teen zombies re-enacting Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. Proceeds benefit Young People’s Teen Musical Theatre Company, an SF Recreation & Parks Department program.
At 346 Fair Oaks St. Suitable for teens and older. Admission $4. Info: 415 285-4526
Shocktoberfest!! 2010: Kiss of Blood
Thursdays and Fridays at 8 pm through Nov. 19. Extra performances Oct. 30 at 11:59 pm & Oct. 31 at 8 pm.
Three one-act plays by Thrillpeddlers feature botched brain surgery, a museum of torture devices, mad drag queens, human monsters and lots of blood. Plus demos of a full-size replica of an 18th-century guillotine.
At Hypnodrome Theatre, 575 10th St. Tickets $25-$35.
Family Halloween Fest
Oct. 30, at 10 am-2 pm
Ghoulish games and crafts, pumpkin carving, live entertainment and treats at a Creepy Café.
At Randall Museum, 199 Museum Way. Suggested donation $3.
Paxton Gate’s Halloween Party
Oct. 30, at 11 am–1 pm
Play spooky games and make shrunken heads (from apples). Come dressed for a costume parade.
At Paxton Gate’s Curiosities for Kids, 766 Valencia St. Free.
Spooktacular Twilight Tour
Oct. 30, at 5-9 pm
Spend Halloween among bats, snakes, owls and bugs. Go on a nocturnal safari, carve pumpkins for the animals, meet spooky critters up close.
At San Francisco Zoo, Sloat Blvd. at the Great Highway. Visitors are requested to not wear rubber masks as they may frighten the animals. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets free-$40.
Stories from a Haunted Forest: A Night of Filipino-American Experimental Theater
Oct. 30, at 7-9 pm
Family fables about tree ogres and other mysterious creatures, told using shadow play, puppets, stilt-walkers and glow-in-the-dark actors and sets.
At the Log Cabin, 1299 Storey Ave.(in the Presidio's Fort Scott District). Free.
Journey to the End of the Night
Oct. 30, at 7-11 pm
A San Francisco-wide tag game. Using only their feet (no skates allowed!) and public transportation, players race to Halloween-themed checkpoints and try to avoid the chasers. Those tagged become chasers. About 600 people played in 2009.
Meet at Justin Herman Plaza (Steuart between Market & Mission). RSVP on the Facebook event page to receive the secret info to play. Open to all ages.
Halloween Weekend Office of the Dead Concert
Oct. 30, at 7:30-10 pm
San Francisco Renaissance Voices performs Requiem and In Paradisum by Juan de Esquivel Barahona and other haunting, beautiful music from the Spanish and Portuguese renaissance.
At Seventh Ave Presbyterian, 1329 7th Ave. Tickets $15, 20.
Halloween Massive: Cirque Du Freak
Oct. 30, at 8 pm-2 am
A Halloween mega-party: Eight DJs on two dance floors, acrobatic and aerial artists and a five-story high atrium, and a costume contest with big prizes.
At 888 Brannan (the former Gift Center Pavilion). Tickets $49 and up.
Oct. 30, at 9:30 am-5 pm; Oct. 31, at 11 am -5 pm
Acrobats, magicians, a Creepy Crawly Scavenger Hunt, costume parade, ghoulish music by 102.1 KDFC and Radio Disney, and reusable trick or treat bags for the first 2,000 costumed visitors each day. Hold a tarantula or scorpion, meet albino alligator Claude, cozy up to vultures, pythons and sharks.
At California Academy of Sciences. Check the Academy’s costume & mask policy beforehand. Free with admission.
Boo at the Zoo
Oct. 30 & 31, at 10 am- 4 pm
Trick or treat through the zoo, walk the Haunted Nature Trail, see animals chomp their Halloween treats, listen to a witch’s stories and make scary crafts.
At San Francisco Zoo, Sloat Blvd. at the Great Highway. Visitors are requested to not wear rubber masks as they may frighten the animals. Free with admission.
The Haunted Presidio
Oct. 30 & 31, at 6:30-8 pm
A ranger and a docent reveal mysteries and unexplained events of the Presidio's 200-year history, while leading a moderate one-mile hike.
Meet at the corner of Lincoln Blvd. & Funston Ave. Parental guidance suggested. Wear comfy shoes and bring a flashlight. Advance reservations required; call (415) 561-4323. Free.