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September 28, 2023

Halloween Nights and spooky mini golf: Your weekend guide to things to do

Adventure Aquarium and the Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival also get in on the holiday fun

Weekend Things To Do
Halloween Nights weekend events Erin Davis/Eastern State Penitentiary

A vampire flashes fangs at the Eastern State Penitentiary's Halloween Nights scarefest.

The countdown to Halloween begins in earnest this weekend as spooky season kicks into high gear. That of course includes the return of Eastern State Penitentiary's signature scarefest, running now through Nov. 11.

Don't want to get chased by an undead prisoner? Head to Franklin Square for some less heart-stopping Halloween activities, including a "spooky mini golf" course with fog and music. Adventure Aquarium also has family-friendly fall programming, including aquatic jack-o-lanterns and a "What Goes Bump in the Midnight Zone" show featuring creatures that lurk on the ocean floor.

Fans of shlock can check out cult horror movies at the Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival, but Halloween isn't the only holiday in town. Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day, and Manayunk's annual Out & About event will mark the occasion early with drag shows and street fests this weekend.

Run from vampires and evil carnies at Eastern State

Every year in October, the Eastern State Penitentiary transforms from a historical site focused on criminal justice reform to a 10-acre labyrinth of nightmares. During Halloween Nights, visitors can check out five different haunted houses on the grounds of the former prison, including a vampiric crypt and the circus-themed Big Top Terror. Four bars provide a safe space to kick back and enjoy the undead lounge singers. 

Putt through fog and shrieks at Franklin Square

From Sunday, Oct. 1 through the end of the month, Franklin Square will offer mini golf with a sinister side. The 18-hole course features fog, strobe lights and creepy music to get golfers in the holiday spirit. Open each night from 6-9 p.m., the course costs $15 per adult and $12 per kid.

Learn about the darkest, creepiest corners of the ocean

Sharks may not know about Halloween, but their minders at Adventure Aquarium sure do. The Camden center recently got a fall makeover complete with specially carved jack-o-lanterns and sensory tables featuring pumpkin slime. Braver kids and adults can head to the "What Goes Bump in the Midnight Zone" show, which is all about creatures that live in the darkest depths of the sea. The fall programming runs through Sunday, Nov. 5.

Watch slasher flicks, other oddities Unamed Film Festival

The Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival prides itself on showing indie, alternative movies — including a whole lotta horror. All weekend long, the organizers will screen slashers for $15 at Theatre Exile, at 1340 S. 13th St., Titles include "Sweet Relief," a thriller about an online teen murder game, and "T Blockers," a queer Gen Z take on "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Sadly, a movie about murderous gophers already played on Wednesday.

Party on Main Street for National Coming Out Day

Manayunk will once again offer a full weekend of queer performances and parties during Out & About. The celebration includes a street festival on Saturday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. featuring drag storytime, musical marchers and an LGBTQ business marketplace. Later that evening, the Venice Island Performing Arts Center will host two live performances of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." And on Sunday morning, head to Blondie or Fat Lady Brewing for drag brunch. Quizzo, karaoke and bingo will also take place at bars and restaurants along Main Street.

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