Be it zombie walks, trick or treating, horror film festivals or mystery murder dinners, there’s no doubt that Halloween is haunting South Africa.
This weekend ghouls, ghosts, witches and spooks will be popping out of coffins, hanging from trees and haunting houses in cities and towns around the country. Halloween, a North American secular holiday observed annually on October 31, has been growing for the past decade and is now trending in South Africa.
Durban’s iconic five star Oyster Box is going all out, with a 12 room haunted house, filled with freshly dug graves, empty coffins, blood soaked beds and flying phantoms.
The hotel’s MD Wayne Coetzer will be dressed as “Pennywise”, the creepy clown made famous by Stephen King’s classic “It”.
He said Halloween was a time for adults to have fun and bring out their inner child.
Cape Town’s biggest event, The Zombie Walk, began in 2009 with 100 people and today draws more than 3500 lurkers, floaters and hunters who walk through the streets of Cape Town and then celebrate the apocalypse at a huge after-party.
There will be a “Howl- oween” picnic at Johannesburg Zoo which includes an outdoor cinema screening alarming animated movies and in Durban the “Carn-evil” at Ushaka Marine World will include a spooky maze in the Phantom Ship and a bewitching dolphin show. Port Elizabeth is hosting a drinking “boo-lympics”.
Trend analyst Nicola Cooper said that the increasing popularity of Halloween in South Africa can be partly attributed to the need for escapism. “We lead stressful lives and this is an opportunity for a fun escape and a chance to express ourselves.”
She added that the horror-filled holiday was being embraced by many other countries outside North America.
“Our version of Halloween is very American but as with everything else it will evolve and take on a local flavour.”
Halloween is thought to have begun over 2000 years ago as pre-Christian Celtic festival where people used the time to communing with the dead.
Brought to the USA by Irish immigrants, the custom of playing tricks took off in America in the late 1800s, while “trick or treating” and dressing up became a mass practice around World War Two.
Some of the goriest gigs around the country:
On October 28, Sun City’s Valley of the Waves is hosting a “spooktacular” event with the water park transformed into a hellish haven – the Lazy River will become a bone-chilling River of Horrors and awful apparitions emerging from the shadows.
Blood, guts and gore is on the ten day programme at the South African Horrorfest, taking place at Cape Town’s Labia cinema (October 26 – November 3). The curators have promised to scare you silly and leave your nerves shattered.
There’s a spooky night at the museum in Pietermaritzburg, for October 27. Children are dared to go along – dressed appropriately – and experience a snake show, a creepy tour through the History Hall and Marine Gallery and a beastly booth for photo selfies.
The Johannesburg Zoo will also be hosting a Halloween picnic on October 28.