Halloween in Philly

Halloween in Philadelphia 2021

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A shortlist of “alternative” Philly Fright activities to indulge in for Halloween in 2021.

While it is tragic that the Philadelphia Art Museum area’s Eastern State Penitentiary is no longer offering its long-running Terror Beyond the Walls program (nitwits), there are any number of Philly Halloween and Mischief Night parties you can attend that will guarantee laughs, thrills and chills, including everything from a yacht costume event along Penn’s Landing, the usual special FX-driven, holiday horror house strolls (Bates Motel, Fright Factory) and, of course, the legendary Henri David’s doubly legendary Halloween costume Ball happens for its 53rd iteration at the Sheraton Downtown Philadelphia on 17th Street, this year on Mischief Night, October 30. Fun. Of course. Getting out and wearing a mask because you want to, and not because you have to is always a treat. There are a few locally derived alternatives to Philly’s spooky costume fare that I would love to advise you try:

Robby Krieger plays the music of The Doors at the Keswick, October 31

The Doors my favorite American band, followed by the equally frightening The Cramps, Talking Heads, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Flaming Lips and Parliament-Funkadelic. The late Jim Morrison and company made insularly poetic, sinew-ly snaky blues-cabaret psychedelia that could chill any spine. Guitarist Krieger is one of two Doors left alive, and the only one who continues on with the tradition of The Doors in a live setting. Plus, he wrote and-or co-wrote “Light My Fire”, “Love Me Two Times”, “Touch Me”, and “Love Her Madly.” Go.

A night out dining along North Front Street and Frankford Avenue

You’ll see from my upcoming review of Stephen Starr’s LMNO how cool and tasty Baha Mexican fare with designer flare can be, but, beyond that, one thing I noticed, last night, is how Philly’s newest restaurant rows (1700 block of North Front Street with Goldie, Middle Child) and Frankford Avenue (now with Izakaya by Yanaga) has welcomed a slew of costumed dining goofs on a Thursday night. If that’s the case, and people want to dine while dressed as bloody stumps or characters from The Squid Game, maybe the established party events will take a beating on ticket sales. Don’t let that happen. Do it all, baby.

October 29’s pre-Halloween release of Insane Clown Posse’s Yum Yum Bedlam and Mastodon’s Hushed + Grim

If only Ghost and GWAR were also releasing records, this would be the unholiest quartet of new music. No matter. The horror rap-rock clown duo that everyone loves to hate (yet never ceases to draw attention) with a new Fathom Theater screened documentary, is planning to end their touring career, so Yum Yum Bedlam is the way to go when Trick or Treating listening. The same thing goes for marauding metal outfit Mastodon whose drummer and co-founder Brann Dailor also just published a new book of creepy clown drawings. Unstoppable fear fests, these.

Buy and read The Dark History of Penn’s Woods: Murder, Madness, and Misadventure in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Halloween in Philly

Reading may not be your thing while everyone is out dining, drinking costuming, promenading or listening to Mastodon records loudly. But, Delaware/West Chester historian and local land expert Jennifer L. Green (she scribes at sites such as ExplorePAHistory.com and the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia), has concocted a true-tale ghost-strewn tale of the area’s “darkest histories” dating back to 1609 and the Delaware Bay. Child murder, witchcraft, necromancy, funny hats and wide buckles – all of these take place under Green’s watch and detailed informational sketches of the horror of Ye Old(e) life in the hills of Pennsylvania. While the Dark History is available now at local retailers (and, yes, sure, Amazon for that Prime member rush), Green is available for public talks if you look into her website. Heck, I may ask her to come to my neighborhood – if not to read, just to get spooked by the Italian Market.

Mischief Night at Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art 

Halloween in Philly

Of course, PhilaMOCA’s Eric Bresler has something scary up his sleeves. This October 30, he’s booked and curated a sumptuously spooky punk rock scare-fest with Evil Sword (and their “video variety show of art-damaged fantasy celebrating the season of rot”), Primitive Finks and The Out-Sect. Check the ad, too: “Medical Attention Provided for “Shock Victims”. Love that. Boo.

Lil Uzi Vert’s “Demon High”

Halloween in Philly

Just out on October 29, Philly’s one man fear fest, Lil Ui Vert just dropped his new single, “Demon High,” his first solo track since last year’s chart-topping, ETERNA ATAKE album, and out just hours after his set at Rolling Loud NYC. How new is this? I haven’t even heard it, and I’m writing it up as I know it will be bugging out.

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