As Austinites enter the fall and winter holiday season, they might be wondering what celebrations will look like. Some annual attractions, like the House of Torment haunted house, are closed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Other time-honored traditions like door-to-door trick-or-treating and costume parties aren’t a good idea this year, according to local health officials.
On Tuesday, interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott warned of worsening COVID-19 statistics in the region. He recommended that Halloween gatherings be eschewed now in favor of at-home fun.
Still, a few local festivities are on the books (all touting pandemic safety measures), as are some things you can enjoy at home. Ticket availability varies for some events, so act fast if you decide you want to go. If you do go out, make sure to maintain your physical distance from others and wear a face covering — an effective one, not just a fright mask.
• Nightmare on Willie Nelson Boolevard is a haunted tour of ACL Live now running Oct. 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31, including an extra family-friendly tour on Halloween. Multiple tours happen each night from 8 to 11 p.m., and COVID-19 safety protocols are listed on the venue website. Tickets are $49 in advance. Go to acl-live.com/haunted-tours for more information.
• Alamo Drafthouse’s Alamo On Demand is hosting several virtual watch parties of scary cult classics, including a screening of "Satanis" with Austin drag royalty Louisianna Purchase. Find them all at ondemand.drafthouse.com.
• Austin Film Society is heading to the Contemporary Austin’s Laguna Gloria Amphitheater for two outdoor screenings of Kaneto Shindo’s 1968 Japanese film "Kuroneko" on Oct. 29 and 30. "Deep in the mist-swept bamboo wilderness, samurai troops returning from war are mysteriously killed," the plot summary reads. "A valiant young man is dispatched by the warlord to uncover the murderers, but all is not what it appears in this forest in which ghosts are real and the desire for revenge is never satisfied without bloodshed." The screenings start at 7 p.m. and seating areas will be spaced out. Masks required. Go to austinfilm.org for more information.
• Austin Symphony Orchestra is holding a virtual Halloween children’s concert. Expect "frightfully fun symphonic music that is stimulating for young eyes and ears (ages 2–10)." The music will include selections from "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone" and "Peter and the Wolf." Viewing costs $20 per household and begins at 3 p.m. Oct. 31, but you can watch until Nov. 7. Find more information at austinsymphony.org.
• Austin brewery Central Machine Works is throwing a Halloween soiree from 5 to 11 p.m. on Oct. 31. There will be themed decorations, mood music and food and drink specials; Central Machine Works also will hold a costume contest, and a face mask must be incorporated into costumes, with the winner getting their tab covered. The brewery promises social distancing and encourages reservations. Go to cmwbrewery.com for more info.
• Downtown Austin restaurant Devil May Care is hosting the Surrealist Ball, a "captivating dinner experience shrouded in myth and intrigue" inspired by the 1972 Rothschild’s Surrealist Ball. The dress code is black tie, long dresses and surrealist headpieces. The dinner will have two seatings, at 6:30 and 9 p.m., from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1. Entrance is by reservation only, and Devil May Care says the event will be COVID-19 safety "compliant." Find more details and purchase tickets at devilmaycareatx.com/surrealistball.
• Hotel San Jose and Jo’s Coffee are holding a South Congress Candy and Cocktail Crawl starting at 4 p.m. on Oct. 31, while supplies last. Go to sanjosehotel.com for more information.
• Halloween By Design and Doc’s Drive-In are teaming up for movie screenings on Oct. 23 and 24 in Buda, with live music, food and your choice of "Little Shop of Horrors" or "The Addams Family" on the film front. Tickets are $200 per car for up to four people and include "food, libations and treats." Go to halloweenbydesign.com/hbd-2020 for more info and to buy tickets.
• East Austin’s Native Hostel will host Mesmerize Halloween, "a narrative art adventure filled with cosmic curiosities," from Oct. 28-Nov. 1. Tickets are $40 for Halloweeen weekend. Capacity is limited and time slots are reserved. Go to thisismesmerize.com/tickets for more information.
• Horror movie icon Bruce Campbell is returning to the Paramount Theatre for two socially distant indoor screenings of "The Evil Dead" on Oct. 31. Find tickets at austintheatre.org.
• Pioneer Farms’ Un-boo-lievable Pumpkin Fest offers a variety of macabre fare, including a spooky light tour, pumpkin carving and a ghost tour. Masks, social distancing and small groups are required to visit. Tickets are $10 each night, except for Oct. 24 and 31, when they’re $15. (The fest has already kicked off.) Check the schedule and find ticket information at pioneerfarms.org/halloween-2020.
• Local favorite Pluckers Wing Bar is currently open for dining, but they’re holding virtual trivia nights for spooky season. There will be a Halloween-themed trivia night at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 via the restaurant’s Facebook Live feed, as well as a Halloween-themed family trivia night at 6 p.m. on Nov. 1, also on Facebook Live. To sign up, go to pluckers.com/trivia.
• Austin drag troupe Poo Poo Platter is throwing its 3rd annual Drag Supreme of Halloween Pageant at 9 p.m. on Oct. 30. The event will be virtual this year. Go to facebook.com/events/991105638036897 for more info.
• Red Velvet is holding a Halloween Drive-Boo Experience from 3 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 31. "Drive-thru our back parking lot for (physically distanced) treats and games, brought to you by our community partners. Be sure to catch live music, photo opportunities, and see the world’s smallest haunted house all while remaining safely in your car," the description reads. Find out more at redvelvetevents.com.
• Scream Hollow in Smithville, an outdoor park with four haunted attractions, will be open from 7 p.m. to midnight on Oct. 23 and 24, 7 to 10 p.m. on Oct. 25 and 7 p.m. to midnight on Oct. 30 and 31. Group sizes are limited. Ticket prices vary, and they can be purchased online or at the gate. Orange glow necklaces can be purchased on site for $1, which will alert cast members of the attractions to keep their distance from anyone wearing them, according to the Scream Hollow website. For more information on safety protocols and admission, go to screamhollow.com.
• Scholz Garten is celebrating Halloween from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 30. There will be photo opportunities, music by DJ Fontana and a costume contest. Children 12 and under in costume will receive a free bag of treats, including candy and a $5 gift card to Scholz. For more, go to scholzgarten.com.
• Torchy’s Tacos is throwing a virtual costume contest, and the grand prize is a $500 gift card. Participants can dress up and post their photo on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #TorchysTacoween and tag @torchystacos. Three winners will be picked. Find the rules at torchystacos.com/contest.
• Travis County Constable’s Office Precinct 2 will hold a drive-thru trick-or-treat from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 29 at 10409 Burnet Road. Go to facebook.com/events/777843583051636 for information.
• Ventana Ballet presents "Undead," an adults-only, drive-in Halloween show. "Encounter the shadows of the night, where only the undead gather," according to the description. The show features local professional dance and theater artists. There will be two shows each night, 6:30 and 8 p.m., on Oct. 30 and 31. General admission tickets at $25 and must be purchased in advance. Find more details at ventanaballet.com/undead. — E.W.
• Walmart is "deploying a team of ghosts and goblins" for a drive-thru trick-or-treat experience designed to be socially distanced and contact-free. Families can dress up and drive to one of three area Walmart locations: 1030 Norwood Park Blvd. (1 to 7 p.m. Oct. 29), 12900 N. I-35 Service Road SB (1 to 7 p.m. Oct. 30) and 13201 RM 620 N (11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct 31). Go to walmart.com or call stores for more information. — E.W.