by Ian Shantz | October 2023
The scary season is here and there’s no better place to spend a fright night or two than in Waterloo Region.
From full-blown theme parks to fear-inspiring farms, hair-raising heritage properties, mysterious museums, and even a spine-chilling castle, fill your calendar with creepy outings that will ensure a ghoulishly good time for one and all.
Visitors won’t be spooked by any planning fatigue either – there’s a wide range of overnight accommodations and the region is easily accessible from places such as the Greater Toronto Area to the east, London and Windsor to the west, and all parts in between.
Consider a spirited road trip this spooky season with these spine-tingling activities in mind.
Designed “exclusively for thrill-seekers and fearless souls,” the eeriness is elevated throughout five fall weekends on the grounds of Bingemens in Kitchener. Screampark is where everything goes bump in the night. There are six horrifying attractions where live actors and animatronic characters work hard to manufacture as many screams as possible. Screams are the name of the game, after all. Bingemans has revamped the trail, resurrected two fan-favourite haunts, and introduced three spine-tingling new attractions this year.
“Once again, Screampark will be unleashing terror upon the Region,” general manager Michelle Playfair said. “We’re injecting fresh frights into our spine-chilling lineup, preparing to accelerate your pulse, ignite your adrenaline, and challenge your threshold for terror.” This event is not recommended for children under 12.
FEAR FARM (AT SNYDER’S FAMILY FARM)
Snyder’s Farm is in Bright, Ont., but the emphasis is on the darkness during Fear Farm. Horrifying highlights at this legendary haunted farm include hayrides and six haunting experiences where guests can attempt to face their squeamishness in the countryside on the outskirts of Kitchener. Corn-maze haunts and indoor scare zones are also included with admission while ‘VIP Fear Farm Campfire’ experiences can also be booked. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our evening campfire at Snyder’s a few summers ago and would recommend the farm to all ages. There are all sorts of tasty food options available for purchase on-site and there’s even a beer garden. Fear Farm is intended for visitors aged 16 and up.
SPIRIT SEASON AT HOMER WATSON HOUSE
Throughout October, the one-time home of iconic Canadian artist Homer Watson in what was formerly the village of Doon is transformed into a one-stop shop for all things spooktacular. Enjoy psychic readings with a medium, ghost hunts with the Ontario Paranormal Society, lectures and workshops as well as a movie night and spirit market featuring spooky crafts and a scavenger hunt. Spirit Season is a fundraiser and all proceeds go towards supporting Homer Watson House and Gallery’s mission to provide accessible arts education, exhibitions and events in the community.
REGION OF WATERLOO MUSEUMS
There are a monstrous number of Halloween events offered at the region’s museums. Experience the ‘Dark Side of Galt’ walking tour, examining hauntings and other unsavory events that shape part of Galt’s dark history. The 90-minute tour starts at the McDougall Cottage historic site. Schneider Haus hosts ‘Chilling Candlelit Evenings,’ allowing visitors to check out the heritage site – considered by some to be Kitchener’s most haunted house – in a whole new light. The ‘Bloody Berlin Walking Tour’ takes participants through the back alleys and side streets of downtown Kitchener to learn about some of the area’s scary happenings of the past. For something on the lighter side, take part in the Pumpkin Hunt at the Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum. Dust off your favourite costume and dance the night away at the ‘To Hell with the ‘90s’ Halloween dance party or check out the kids’ Halloween party at the same museum. There are many more fang-tastic events to be found.
GHOST WALKS AT CASTLE KILBRIDE
There is perhaps no setting more fitting for a ghost walk than Castle Kilbride in Wilmot Township. Located in the heart of Baden, the grand Victorian home built in 1877 hosts a variety of special events throughout the year including the always popular traditional ghost tour. Visitors will hear a variety of stories as told by a trained storyteller including one about Kilbride’s resident ghost. Free parking is available on-site. This tour always fills up fast each year so those interested are encouraged to book in advance.
GHOST WALKS AT LANGDON HALL
Waterloo Region’s only Relais & Chateaux hotel, Langdon Hall, is hosting an evening of ghost stories, history and fun! On Halloween night you can learn more about the history of the property, along with some spooky stories that have been gathered from staff and guests over the years. These are 1-hour tours that will take you throughout the interior and exterior of the property. Each tour ends in the Colonel Langdon room, where you can enjoy a signature Halloween cocktail, mingle with other guests, and chat further with your tour guide.
BONUS: ST. JACOBS PUMPKIN PARADE
We realize your calendar of spirited activities in Waterloo Region is quickly filling up, but we’d encourage you to carve out some time for the fourth annual St. Jacobs Pumpkin Parade. There’s a full slate of events on Oct. 28 and participants are encouraged to bring their carved pumpkin creations to the village for this family-oriented event.
Ian Shantz is an award-winning, seasoned writer and editor based in Waterloo Region. Throughout his career in journalism spanning nearly 20 years, Ian has specialized in various storytelling, including sports, travel and breaking news reporting. He works at The Toronto Sun. Raised in the townships of Wellesley and Woolwich, Ian is forever in pursuit of a quality cup of coffee, a top-secret swimming hole, and a favourite new band.