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Costume challenge: Make something this elaborate by the weekend. No, really, just have fun this Halloween – low-effort dressing up works too. | PHOTO BY CHRIS STONE

San Diego Weekend Guide: Oct. 29-31 – Halloween Edition

Boo! Now, now, don’t let that frighten you. There’s so much worse out there. Ghosts and goblins, of course, will hold sway this San Diego weekend. So will spirits and squid. Squid?

Yep, the runaway Netflix hit already is inspiring theme nights, and just in time for All Hallows Eve.

If the scares go down easier with a pint (or shot) or two, try:

  • The Great Pumpkin Beer Festival, at Seventh Street and Island Avenue, featuring 40 pumpkin-themed suds, live music, a costume contest and hidden surprises in the Gaslamp. The fest kicks off at 3:25 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, by tapping a 1,000-pound giant pumpkin keg. ‘Tis the season for pumpkin lattes, so why not brews too? Remaining admission tiers start at $45.
  • The Haunted Beer Mansion at Sideyard in Barrio Logan at 8 p.m. Saturday. Presented by Rock Star Beer Festivals, the house features 20 beers from Stone Brewing and Thorn Brewing, and the “dead dance party” with music by (naturally) the Ragin’ Vampire Band and DJ Pennywise. Admission, with unlimited samples, costs $40.
  • Bridgerton – so last year. Taking the place of sexy refinement? The brutal gamesmanship of Squid Game, a top streamer since its September debut. Play a (presumably) milder version of the game at Understory, a bar at the Del Mar Highland Town Center’s Sky Deck, on Saturday. Enjoy $4.56 shots and a DJ, while donning your track-suit best for the costume contest.
Pumpkin beer? Yeah, it’s a thing. Photo by Rupert Affen via Flickr

Halloween of course, is not just for tipplin’ adults. One option for families – the Pumpkin Bash at Alpine’s Lions Tigers & Bears sanctuary. Attendees can come at 10 a.m. Saturday dressed in costume to watch rescued wild cats and bears devour pumpkin treats while enjoying a guided tour. Admission is extremely limited, at $60 for adults and $35 for children.

Finally, community celebrations include:

  • El Cajon – free, HauntFest on Main, with two stages of music, rides, a pumpkin patch, costume contest and kids zone, 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29, on East Main Street, from Magnolia to Avocado avenues.
  • Hillcrest – starting at $25, Nightmare on Normal Street, a block party with dancing, costume contest and a Carrie-style prom, 5 p.m. Friday, Pride Plaza at Normal and University Avenue.
  • Chula Vista – $25, Third Avenue Village Dia de los Muertos celebration with food and drink samplings for ticketed adults, and free treats for the littles, 5:30 p.m. Friday, set off from Memorial Park at Third.
  • City Heights – free, Day of the Dead commemoration with community altars, face-painting and entertainment, 11 a.m. Saturday, Henwood Memorial Park.
  • Encinitas – free, also Dia de los Muertos, with mariachi bands, dance, art exhibits and car clubs, noon, Saturday, Encinitas Community Center.

Want your Dia celebration with great scenery too? Head to the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31. Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles and Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuellar will team up for the “Ofrenda” concert, paying tribute to traditional music and dances from different regions, including “La Bruja” from Veracruz, “Retablo Purepecha” from Michoacan, as well as music from the Disney movie Coco. Mexican artists, such as Juan Gabriel and Selena, get shoutouts too. Tickets start at $38.

And just this bit more: For a list of local haunted houses that wrap up this weekend, check here and here. If you want to tour a pumpkin patch, take a look here.

(This first appeared in Times of San Diego and made available as part of the CalMatters Network.)

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