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Halloween in San Francisco: Parties, movies and other events

Check out these haunted parties, freaky flicks, creepy concerts and more spooky events during Halloween in San Francisco

San Francisco Halloween Pub Crawl, one of the best Halloween events in San Francisco
Photograph: Matt Olson/Flickr San Francisco Halloween Pub Crawl
By Shoshi Parks |

Halloween in San Francisco gets festively freakish with celebrations just raucous enough to wake the dead. From immersive haunted houses (check out the brand new one at San Jose’s historic Winchester Mystery House), to ghastly dance parties, bloodcurdling drag performances, and spine-chilling escape rooms and movies, this year’s holiday celebrations will haunt your dreams for years to come.

Can't wait for the holiday to arrive? Get pumped for Halloween night by getting lost in a creepy corn maze, checking out local haunted spots IRL or cuddling on the couch with one of the best horror movies.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to San Francisco Halloween

Halloween in San Francisco

Terror Vault
Photograph: Courtesy Terror Vault

Into the Dark

After last year’s successful debut, the SF Mint is back with two immersive, interactive horror houses. At the Terror Vault, the Mint’s Halloween team has created a horrifying, adults-only experience full of escape rooms, fear-inducing mazes and heart-palpitating performances ($62/person). The brand new Apocalypse ($35) is a desperate run through a zombie-infested maze where only the strong will survive. If you want to peek behind the curtain, sign up for the Behind the Scenes Tour ($55), which will give you an intimate look at the Mint’s hidden horrors with producers Peaches Christ and David Flower.

California Academy of Sciences
Photograph: Tim Griffith

Creatures of the NightLife

The creatures come out on Halloween night for a spine-tingling celebration at the Cal Academy of Sciences. Hosted by drag queen extraordinaire Heklina, the museum will transform the African Hall into a cursed movie theater showing horror films, the aquarium into a Dia de Los Muertos celebration, and the planetarium into a haunted exploration of the night sky. On the main floor, DJ Omar Perez will spin graveyard smashes for an epic Monster Mash all night long. Tickets range from $12–$25.

Photograph: Eventbrite

Drag Me to Hell

Drag Me to Hell is a ghastly, haunting takeover of the chic Virgin Hotel hosted by glamorous queen Juanita More! Explore all 13 floors of this tower of terror where three separate stages will keep things horrifyingly entertaining all night long. Tickets start at $100 and include drinks and food.

Halloween International Ball, Volume II, one of the best Halloween parties in San Francisco
Photograph: Creative Commons

W Hotel Halloween Parties

Each Halloween the chic W Hotel goes ghoulish with its raucous dance parties. On Friday night, the W hosts the Halloween International Ball, a distinctly global dance party featuring Euro hits, Persian and Middle Eastern dance music as well as 1980s and '90s hip hop. On Saturday, the W gets Marvel-ous with a Superheroes vs. Villains themed costume party with four different dance floors on three floors featuring EDM, house, Top 40, reggaeton and hip hop. Tickets start at $30 and costumes are required for entry. 

Pirates of Emerson
Photograph: Flickr
Things to do

Pirates of Emerson

There are no fewer than five separate haunted attractions at the Pirates of Emerson theme park. An almost 30-year-old tradition, the Pirates of Emerson are sure to terrify this October’s crop of fright-seekers with the intriguingly named spaces like Hillbilly Holler, Mystery Mansion and Dorm of Doom, not to mention their namesake ghostly pirate ship. Outside of the haunted houses, the park keeps the adrenaline pumping with mazes, a frightmares sideshow, a misfortune teller, and live music. Tickets start at $30. 

winchester mystery house
Photograph: Flickr/ Doug Letterman
Things to do

Unhinged at the Winchester Mystery House

As if the Winchester Mystery House weren’t creepy enough, this year they’re going full ghost with a terrifying immersive experience, Unhinged. Step inside the psychological and paranormal horrors of the legendary cursed estate where visitors will trespass forbidden rooms never opened to the public before and confront the twisted secrets of Sarah Winchester and the spirits that haunted her. Tickets start at $44.

Man on tall bike with people walking down street in background
Photograph: Flickr/Eric Fischer
Things to do

The Gravemind Estate

Get inside the home, and mind, of creepy Doctor Ash Gravemind as he debuts his new invention, a machine to commune with the dead. Don’t expect your visit to be safe. The good doctor’s home is full of hidden rooms and secret doors, dark tunnels and scary surprises, and his latest work is bound to put you, and his other guests, in grave danger throughout the night. You’ll have to find your way through the free roaming, actor guided story if you want to survive. Tickets are $85.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Live!
Photograph: Courtesy Oasis
Theater, Comedy

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Live!

The vampires are out this Halloween, but never fear, Buffy and her gang of misfit friends are kicking ass and taking names. Watch one of the city’s best drag reviews take on the '90s cult classic in an event guaranteed to be equal parts hilarious and scary (okay, maybe more hilarious than scary). The show plays at the Oasis on several nights this October with tickets starting at $27.50.

Fear Overload
Photograph: Fear Overload
Things to do

Fear Overload

There will be screams at San Leandro’s Fear Overload. A lot of them. Because this isn’t your average haunted house: Fear Overload has two new spaces to get your heart pumping. Tiptoe your way through the first, Night Terrors, a dangerous house with a murderous past. In the ghoulish The Tooth Collector, an evil doctor is after your pearly whites. Tickets start at $25 for admission to both haunted houses. 

Photograph: Courtesy CrawlSF
Nightlife, Daytime parties

Crawloween Pub Crawl

Think of San Francisco’s largest Halloween pub crawl as trick-or-treating for adults. Last year more than 7,000 costumed revelers took over Polk Street for cheap drinks, music and dancing, and costume contests. This year, whether you show up on foot or via the San Francisco Party Bus, you’re sure to be in spooktacular company at 20 haunted watering holes including Mayes, Lush Lounge, Rouge, Jackalope, the Wreck Room, and Brickyard. Check in at Mayes or Rouge to get a route map and wristband. Tickets are $12.  

Titanic Masquerade Cruise
Photograph: Courtesy SF Nightlife
Nightlife, Alternative nightlife

Titanic Masquerade Halloween Party Cruise

Set sail for a masquerade ball on the San Francisco Bay this Halloween. The San Francisco Spirit plays host to a soiree of Titanic proportions with the ship decked out as the ill-fated vessel. Three decks, two dance floors and shining views of the city skyline make this one of San Francisco’s most stunning Halloween parties. Tickets start at $52 and semi-formal attire with masks are required for entry.   

A Haunting Halloween Tea Party
Photograph: A Haunting Halloween Tea Party
Things to do

A Haunting Halloween Tea Party

This October the Gregangelo Museum, San Francisco’s whimsical house of oddities, hosts a magical immersive experience accented with a Malaysian tasting menu and tea elixirs. Explore the historical home and its enchanted installations and interactive games then delve into the supernatural and open your mind to voices from other realms during the ancient tea ceremony hosted by Fabula Tea. Tickets start at $80.

A crystal ball with hands hovering over it
Photograph: Pixabay/Creative Commons
Nightlife, Cabaret and burlesque

Halloween in a Haunted Hall

Get in on some real paranormal activity at a haunted hall in Alameda where you can participate in a ghostly investigation and witness the work of psychic medium June Ahern. When the hunt is over, the party kicks it up a notch with a live band and DJ. Tickets start at $10. 

Lake Merritt
Photograph: Flickr/ Daniel Ramirez

Murder in Old Oakland Mystery Game

This mystery murder game at Oakland’s historic Cameron-Stanford House is for the suspicious sleuth in us all. Join the hunt for the killer of Virgil Hammer, wealthiest man in 1890s Oakland, in this twisted Halloween mystery. A drink and gourmet nibbles are included with a $50 ticket. 

Spookeasy Halloween Extravaganza
Photograph: Courtesy Spookeasy/Dennis Hearne

Spooktacular Mansion Halloween Ball

Get your thrills this Halloween at a costume ball of the spookiest proportions. This two-level dance party amid horrifying holograms and freaky fog will be spinning Top 40s, hip-hop, and mashups for a super fun celebration. $20 for one person, $35 for a couple.

Can you handle these corn mazes?