Fairs & Festivals

Spooky events, fall festivals and ghost tours lurk in Manatee, Sarasota


Except for the Christmas season, there's probably no other time of year that gives rise to as many events as Halloween.

This year's no exception. In the weeks ahead, the Bradenton area is home to dozens of seasonal shows, events and activities.

Lots of them are suitably spooky, from haunted houses to screenings of classic horror films and some great ghoul-related stage plays. But there are lots of costume events for kids, including several trick-or-treating events in safe environs.

And plenty of the upcoming activities are more related to autumn than to Halloween itself. The biggest is probably the Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival, which draws thousands of people for live country music, games and shows.

Here's a rundown of some of the most promising area events for the 2014 Halloween season:

Frightmares Haunted House: Sarasota County Fairgrounds, 3000 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota

Frightmare's Haunted House returns with two Shockingly Horrific Haunts and over 12,000 square feet of terrifying, chest-pounding scares around every corner 7:30-10:30 p.m. Thursdays, 7:30-11:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and Oct. 30, 8-10:30 p.m. Oct. 26 and 7:30-midnight Oct. 31. Visitors can experience the most unique mix of horror and fun with ghastly sights, horrifying sounds, terrifying FX and your worst nightmares brought to life. Tickets: $16, $30 fast pass. Age suitability: teens and up. Information: frightmareshauntedhouse.com.

Inaugural Pumpkin Patch and Pancake Breakfast and Bake Sale: St. George Episcopal Church, 912 63rd Ave. W., Bradenton

St. George Episcopal Church will host its inaugural Pumpkin Patch 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays, and 1-6 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 31, and a Pancake Breakfast and Bake Sale 8:30 a.m.-noon Oct. 18. All proceeds will benefit the building of a playground for the community. Information: 941-755-3606.

The York Drive Project: 3512 York Drive W., Bradenton

This year The York Drive Project presents "Portraits of ... TERROR," 7-10 p.m. Oct. 24-25, 31 and Nov. 1 featuring a labyrinth of red doors sending visitors deeper and deeper through dimensions of fear. Donation: $5 per entry. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Safe Children Coalition. Information: facebook.com/theyorkdriveproject.

Tampa Theatre Halloween movie series: Tampa Theatre, 711 N. Franklin St., Tampa

Tampa's most historic, and temporary haunted, movie palace announces the return of popular Halloween movie series, including classic horror films, family-friendly spooky movies, creepy cult favorites, ghastly ghost tours and blood curling special guests in "A Nightmare on Franklin Street" during 15 nights of petrifying programming. The movies are: "Creature from the Black Lagoon 3-D," 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23, "Paranormal Activity," 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24, "Freaks" 5:15 p.m., "Scream" 7:30 p.m., "Eraserhead" 10:15 p.m. Oct. 25, "The Witches" 3:30 p.m., "Frankenweenie" 6:15 p.m. Oct. 26, "Gremlins," 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27, "Shaun of the Dead," 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28, "Child's Play," 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29, "Evil Dead" (1981), 7:30 p.m. and "Evil Dead" (2013), 10 p.m. Oct. 31. A Tampa Theatre Film Camp Saturday Session: SFX Makeup will be 9 a.m. Oct. 18, Balcony-to-Backstage Tours: Ghost Stories" will be 11:30 a.m. Oct. 20 and 25, Lights-Off Paranormal Investigation will be 10 p.m. Oct. 24, and Tampa ghost stories with Deborah Frethem, author of "Haunted Tampa: Spirits of the Bay" will be 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30. For tickets prices and detailed information, call 813-274-8287 or TampaTheatre.org.

National Theatre Live "Frankenstein": Historic Asolo Theater, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota

National Theatre Live's "Frankenstein" will be 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 featuring Oscar-winner Danny Boyle and Jonny Lee Miller alternating roles as Victor Frankenstein and his creation. Tickets: $18-$20. Information: 941-359-5700 or ringling.org.

Lakewood Ranch "Boo Fest": Main Street at Lakewood Ranch

Community Activities presents "Boo Fest" 6-9 p.m. Oct. 24 featuring a spooky street filled with fun and scary activities for kids of all ages including a haunted house, cemetery haunt, touchy feely table, dunk tank, face painting, trick or treat, pumpkin patch pictures, photo booth, scarecrow and merchant costume contest and a costume parade at 6:30 p.m. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Visitors are encouraged to wear their best Halloween costume. Admission is free. Information: lakewoodranch.com/mainstreet/events.

Hunsader Farms 2014 Pumpkin Festival: Hunsader Farms, 5500 County Road 675, Bradenton

The 2014 Hunsader Pumpkin Festival will be 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 25-26. This family event will feature more than 100 craft booths, live music, live shows, pumpkins, charity pumpkin games, pioneer trades village, hay rides, pony rides, chain saw sculptor, corn maze, scarecrow displays, homemade ice cream, farm roasted sweet corn, food and beverage vendors, face painting, rock climbing wall, power jump, petting zoo, barnyard playground, children's train ride, juggler, frog jumping championship, butterfly experience and fresh produce for the entire family. Admission: $10 adults, children ages 12 and younger are admitted free. Corn maze is $2 and there is a small charge for some rides and activities. Information: 941-941) 322-2168 or hunsaderfarms.com.

Desoween VI: The Return of Desoween: De Soto National Memorial, 8300 De Soto Memorial Highway, Bradenton

Bring the family to "Desoween VI: The Return of Desoween" 6:30-9 p.m. Oct. 25 and encounter restless spirits, zombies, night creatures, and the most terrifying monster to encounter in the dark, clowns! This event is free and is suitable for ages 7 and up. For information or if you would like to volunteer to become a member of the Desoween crew, call 941-792-0458.

Spirit and Orb Walk: Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery, 8905 Bunker Hill Road, Duette

A Spirit and Orb Walk is offered 8 p.m. Oct. 25. Due to the "paranormal" nature of these walks, reservations are required and are limited to a maximum of 25 adults, ages 18 and older. Guests must arrive by 7:30 p.m. for a 30-minute indoctrination and discussion of the walk and activities, followed by the walk which will promptly start at 8 p.m. and will last until 9:30 p.m. Guests are requested to wear good walking shoes, long pants and a jacket. Cost: $10. Reservations and information: 941-776-0418 or bunkerhillvineyard.com.

Florida Railroad Museum "Pumpkin Patch Express": 12210 83rd St. E., Parrish

The Pumpkin Patch Express will depart 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Oct. 25-26. The train ride takes visitors to a patch of pumpkins where children can pick their own pumpkin to take home. The entire family can participate in hay rides, crafts and other activities at no additional charge. Tickets: $14-$28. Some of the tickets are for open-air cars and are first come, first serve at boarding. Information: 941-776-0906 or frrm.org.

Woof-O-Ween Waffle Breakfast Extravaganza: Jeanne's Bistro, 417 12th St. W., Bradenton

Moonracer No Kill Animal Rescue presents "Woof-O-Ween Waffle" breakfast extravaganza 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Oct. 26 featuring food and fun for the whole family including a pet costume parade at 1 p.m., 50/50 and prize drawings, games, face painting, photo opportunities, dog nail trims, Karma Gourmet ice pops, doggie goodie bags for parade participants and more. Dog parade registration is at 12:30 p.m. and is $4. per dog Admission: $10 adults, $5 children ages 8 and younger. Advance tickets sales and registration at Jeanne's Bistro and at moonraceranimalrescue.com.

Halloween Holiday Roller Figure Skating Show: Astro Roller Figure Skating Club of Bradenton, 3611 Third St. W., Bradenton

The Astro Roller Figure Skating Club of Bradenton will host a Halloween Holiday Roller Figure Skating Show, an open skate and trick or treat party for all ages, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 26. The show, a tribute to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," will be approximately 45 minutes long and will be followed by the skate and trick or treat party and features world class competitor and US National Champion, John Birchfield. Attendees are encourage to wear Halloween costumes. Tickets: $8-$15. Information: 941-929-4574 or 813-818-9050.

"The Addams Family": The Players Theatre, 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

The Players Theatre brings that classic macabre family back to life with the area premiere of "The Addams Family: A New Musical Comedy" Oct. 29-Nov. 16. This three-week run production will feature the original story, and it's every father's nightmare, it's a "scream." Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29-30, Nov. 4-6, 8, 12-13, 15 and 2 p.m. Nov. 2, 8 and 9. Tickets: $12-$30. Information: 941- 365-2494 or theplayers.org.

Mixon's Halloween Spectacular: Mixon's Fruit Farms, 2525 27th St. E., Bradenton

Mixon's Halloween Concert in the Grove will be 7-10 p.m. Oct. 30 and will feature fun 60's live music with a Halloween flair by the Paisley Craze Band. Attendees are encouraged to come dressed in Halloween costume for a costume contest. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Coolers not allowed. Admission: $10. Parking is free. Information: 941-748-5829 or mixon.com.

"War of the Worlds": Little Grey Hat Productions will stage a re-enactment of the Mercury Theatre on the Air's historic 1938 broadcast of "The War of the Worlds" in a live performance at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30, in the Bishop Planetarium at the South Florida Museum, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton. Tickets are $20, and available at the door or at www.southfloridamuseum.org. For more information, call 941-746-4131, ext 17.

SCF Halloween Spooktacular: Ghostly musicians and spine-tingling actors will spread holiday cheer during the Halloween Spooktacular Concert and Trick or Treat at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 31 at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, Neel Performing Arts Center, 5840 26th St. W. The event is open to the public. Seasonal selections will include the SCF Orchestra playing "Voo Doo," and Michael Stuart performing the theme song from "Phantom of the Opera" on the pipe organ. The SCF Choir also will entertain festival-goers with "pumpkin carols" followed by trick-or-treating at student clubs' booths in the semi-circle outside the Neel Performing Arts Center. Revelers are invited to wear their Halloween finery and join in a costume parade. General admission to this family-friendly event is one canned food item to the donated to the Food Bank of Manatee

County. Information: 941-752-5252.

Dakin Dairy Farms "Halloween Family Fun" Night: 30771 Betts Road, Myakka City

Get lost in a 6-acre and 7-feet tall corn maze during Halloween Family Fun 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Oct. 31 and receive a free ice cream upon exiting. Kids can ride the cow train on its own path through the maze, participate in karaoke and roast hot dogs and marshmallows over roaring camp fires. The maze is open Saturdays until 9 p.m. through December. Admission: $10, admission and free for children ages 2 and younger. Information: 941-322-2802 or dakindairyfarms.com.

"Bewitched Burlesque": McCurdy's Comedy Theatre, 1923 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota

Combining traditional vaudeville acts with the elegance of classic burlesque, Black Diamond Burlesque will perform their most extreme show "Bewitched Burlesque," 8:30 p.m. Oct. 31 featuring special guest drag king Spikey Van Dykey and a performance by sword swallowing juggler Bill Berry, and tricks and treats. Tickets: $35. For ages 18 and over. Information: 941-925-3869 or mccurdyscomedy.com.

Halloween Trick-or-Treat in the Village: Village of the Arts, 1113 12th St. W., Bradenton

All little ghosts and goblins are welcome in the Village of the Arts as over 20 of the shops, restaurants and galleries will be giving out goodies at the inaugural Halloween Trick-or-Treat in the Village 6-8 p.m. Oct. 31. Children can have their face painted, have fun at the sparkle station or enjoy a specially priced Halloween gemstone bucket. Information: 941-807-5353 or 941-993-3281.

Prism Youth Initiative: "Rocky Horror Picture Show": Dancin' on the Suncoast, San Marco Plaza, 8215 Natures Way, Lakewood Ranch

The Prism Youth Initiative will host a Halloween party "Rocky Horror Picture Show," 9 p.m. Oct. 31 and 7 p.m. Nov. 1 featuring a costume contest Oct. 31 and the show starting one minute after midnight Oct. 31 and at 8:30 p.m. Nov. 1. Admission is free, party packages are: Transylvanian package, includes audience participation kit: $10; Cult Classic package, includes one drink, one snack and audience participation kit: $20; Time Warp package, includes time warp dance lesson, VIP seating, one drink, two snacks and audience participation kit: $30. Proceeds will benefit Prism Youth Initiative. Seating is limited. Reservations and information: 941-357-0111 or prismyouth.org/events.

Big Cat Habitat "Wild-O-Ween" and Food Bank Drive: 7101 Palmer Blvd., Sarasota

Big Cat Habitat will host "Wild-O-Ween," an annual exciting, without being scary, kid-friendly festival noon-5 p.m. Oct. 31-Nov. 2. Family fun includes visiting with the Habitat's exotic and other animals, petting zoo, music, children's costume contest, games, prizes and photos with a white tiger. Attendees may bring a small pumpkins to toss to the bears (they'll eat them) and the big cats (they play with them). Admission for children ages 12 and younger is free with a non-perishable food item as a donation. Admission: $15 adults, $7 children. Information: 941-371-6377. or bigcathabitat.org.