A chill in the air: October offers Edmonton's most frightful experiences

· The Pulse
By Paul Blinov
in the Arts Roundup
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April may be the cruellest month, but October offers more than its share of seasonal thrills and chills.

For those looking to celebrate the Halloween season, there's no shortage of horror-themed events to brave. At Fort Edmonton Park, the fourth-annual fright-fest DARK is offering haunted houses and a spooky festival atmosphere.

After scaling back considerably last year, the event is returning to its roots while keeping with current COVID protocols.

"The public seemed hungry for opportunities to partake in live events and we also wanted to bring back the large-scale version of DARK," Teresa Ryan, experience development director for Fort Edmonton, told Taproot. "With the introduction of the Government of Alberta's Restriction Exemption Program, combined with the fact that the majority of our event takes place outside, we felt that we could safely return."

This year's DARK features three immersive haunts to wander through — built around depraved clowns, sinister scarecrows, and a lab experiment gone wrong — as well as festival grounds, food trucks, and a "Raveyard" with a DJ.

For those unable to make it down to DARK, there are also online offerings: Halloween Quiz nights are happening every Monday in October through Fort Edmonton Park's Instagram, as well as DARK Mixology, a guided cocktail-making experience.

One of the frightful faces at this year's DARK. One of the frightful faces at this year's DARK. (Clara Chin Photography)

Of course, DARK isn't Edmonton's only Halloween opportunity. Deadmonton, another annual haunted house, is offering two different haunts to test your fortitude for frights. Edmonton Ghost Tours is organizing a ghostly walk through Old Strathcona to introduce you to the neighbourhood's creepy history. And for a less spine-tingling sort of experience, the Edmonton Corn Maze is open until Oct. 17.

So no matter your level of comfort with discomfort, there's an opportunity to embrace the spirit of the season. Ryan also has a few ideas as to why so many of us willingly look for frights around this time of year.

"There are many reasons why people seek out scary experiences," she said. "Perhaps one reason is the sense of accomplishment that comes from facing your fears and stepping outside of your comfort zone. If you choose to go through that scary experience, you can come out on the other side feeling more confident and courageous."