Travel

10 ways to celebrate spooky season in Ontario

From where to get the best pumpkin donuts, to the most horrific haunted houses, these events will set you up for a spooktacular Halloween

  • Oct 04, 2022
  • 1,192 words
  • 5 minutes
Ottawa's Saunders Farm is the perfect place to pick a pumpkin during the day. Then at night, FrightFest takes over for a haunting experience. (Photo: Kris Machnicki)
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Halloween is right around the corner, and we’ve got the lowdown on the spookiest activities in Ontario. Across the province, Halloween enthusiasts have put together the most exciting (and haunting) events and attractions to choose from, with something for every age! So whether you are looking for the perfect place to pick a pumpkin or to experience the fright of your life, Canadian Geographic has you covered. Ontario certainly knows how to celebrate the scariest time of the year, so grab your flannel, put on a scarf (or a costume) and get ready to be spooked.

1000 Islands Ghost and Mystery Cruise, Kingston

Explore Kingston Harbour after dark on Kingston’s 1000 Islands Ghost and Mystery Cruise. This 90-minute experience showcases downtown Kingston from a different perspective, examining the spine-chilling tales surrounding this historic city from the water. Hop aboard the Island Queen to learn about the terrifying tales of Kingston’s past, including child deaths at Bellevue House, the fair maiden ghost of Cedar Island, the mysterious Marysburg Vortex and more. A full-service bar and canteen are available on board, so grab some snacks, find a seat and set sail on this ghostly cruise.

Pumpkins After Dark features more than 6,000 hand-carved pumpkins from the Mona Lisa to Frankenstein and even a giant tarantula! (Photo: Ryan Visima)
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Pumpkins After Dark, Milton

With over 6,000 hand-carved pumpkins, Pumpkins After Dark is a one-of-a-kind walk-through experience, and a must-see this spooky season. Explore a dreamlike trail of pumpkin sculptures and displays paired with music, sounds and effects for an unforgettable night. This event is perfect for the entire family, with live pumpkin carving demonstrations, fall treats and sweets and plenty of photo opportunities. As one of Ontario’s most popular outdoor Halloween events, there is no better way to get in the Halloween spirit than to walk through up to an hour of magical pumpkin pathways full of iconic Halloween characters. Pumpkins After Dark will run from Sept. 23 to Oct. 30, so there is plenty of time to enjoy this spooktacular experience.

Legends of Horror at Casa Loma, Toronto

Once again, Toronto’s historic Casa Loma has been transformed into a horrific haunted house, with a two-kilometre trail leading visitors through castle gardens, dark tunnels and secret chambers. As one of the city’s most popular Halloween events, Legends of Horror is Toronto’s annual haunted house experience that will leave you screaming. Don’t miss out on this year’s new experience: Zombie Apocalypse. This 45-minute experience introduces immersive elements in various theatrically designed sets with haunting characters, unsettling showrooms and gruesome experiments. A glowing 3D projection on the castle’s walls brings the storyline and castle eerily to life. So, grab your tickets now and get ready to be spooked.

PumpkinFest at Downey’s Farm, Caledon

Wagon rides, farm animals, live entertainment and more! What better way to get in the Halloween spirit than to lose yourself in an eight-acre corn maze and pick out the perfect pumpkin? From Sept. 17 to Oct 31, Downey’s Farm will be transformed for PumpkinFest, an annual event featuring thousands of pumpkins to stroll amongst, and take home! A yearly tradition for many families, PumpkinFest is the place for the best fall treats and sweets like kettle corn, delicious pies, freshly baked bread and Downey’s signature pumpkin donuts — possibly the best in the province! So, if you are a pumpkin-lover, Downey’s is the place to be.

During the day, Saunders Farm is the perfect place for families with dozens of outdoor activities. At night, however, FrightFest is the place to be with five different immersive haunts. (Photo: Kris Machnicki)
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FrightFest at Saunders Farm, Ottawa

For 31 years, Saunders Farm has hosted their annual FrightFest, where you can experience five different immersive haunts. From The Coven to this year’s new Barn of Terror, FrightFest is the place to go to in Ottawa for the fright of your life. And if FrightFest is a little too spooky for you, check out Saunders Farm during the day for Fall Pumpkin Days. With multiple open-air activities like mazes, puppet shows and a haunted hayride, this farm can be an excellent option for the whole family.

Screampark at Bingeman’s, Kitchener

As Kitchener’s premier haunted house experience, Screampark at Bingeman’s is said to be the season’s most terrifying haunted house attraction. What better way to get in the Halloween spirit than to be scared out of your skin? Choose between six different horrific attractions, including the Soulless Swamp, Cannibal Carnival and The Slaughter Shed — and get ready to scream. This event is not recommended for children under 12 years old and does not refund tickets (even to those who are too scared to make it through the haunted house). Are you brave enough to make it through Screampark?

Enter the world of brain-eating zombies at The Stalking Dead in Peterborough. (Photo: Jake Walling)
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The Stalking Dead, Peterborough

Calling all zombie-lovers, The Stalking Dead is back with a new story, new puzzles and new zombies. As one of the season’s most famous haunted escape experiences, The Stalking Dead is a game designed for four to 10 players and the perfect way to fully immerse yourself in a horrific Halloween. This year’s story, Still Feeding, plays off the previous year’s theme: players had to find the cure to the corn farmer zombies. The experience runs outdoors, rain or shine, so prepare for the elements. This experience is not recommended for children under 14 years old and is open Friday through Sunday until Oct. 30.

Fall Festival at Chappell Farms, Barrie

In search of the perfect pumpkin? Look no further, because the Fall Festival at Chappell Farms is back with plenty of attractions and events to choose from. Offering magic shows, a corn maze, a tricycle track and more, this event is perfect for the entire family! Open from Sept. 10 to Oct. 31; Fall Festival is a great place to go if you have young kids who need open space to run and play. Tickets are only $12 (children under 23 months are free) and the experience includes one pick-your-own pumpkin!

Pumpkinferno at Sudbury's Science North features 19 carved pumpkin sets displayed along a 250-metre outdoor pathway. (Photo courtesy Science North)
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Pumpkinferno at Dynamic Earth, Sudbury

For the entire month of October, Dynamic Earth will be showcasing 19 carved pumpkin sets displayed along a self-guided 250-metre outdoor Halloween pathway. With three new sets for this year, Pumpkinferno takes about 30 to 40 minutes to walk through and does have food and retail available. Want even more Halloween fun? Check out the spooktacular science show, the creepy crawly show and even take a stab at panning for witches’ fingernails and vampire blood. Face painting is also available for kids (and adults) looking to get in the Halloween spirit. Pumpkinferno is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and tickets are $13 for the general public.

Nightmares Fear Factory, Niagara Falls

Built on an old coffin factory, Nightmares Fear Factory is the scariest haunted house attraction in Niagara Falls, built on an old coffin factory. Located at the top of Clifton Hill, this event is famous for the number of visitors who have “chickened out” from fear and exited through the designated “Chicken exit.” A physiologically thrilling experience, this event takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete and is full of live actors in costumes waiting to scare daring visitors. Highlights include a room that induces claustrophobia, a shaky drawbridge and “shrinking” walls.

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