Austin

10 Spooky Ways to Celebrate Halloween in Austin This Year

The only frightening thing this Halloween would be missing any of these amazing events.

House of Torment
House of Torment
House of Torment

Austin may be known for keeping it weird, but it might as well be known for keeping it spooky, too. After all, the place considered the most haunted in all of Texas, The Driskill Hotel, sits squarely in the middle of Downtown-and, in a move straight out of The Shining, the ghost of a jilted bride apparently resides in Room 525. And while a good ol’ fashioned Halloween ghoul hunt is always an appealing option for those who don’t mind risking possession, we’ve rounded up some other standout activities for those paranormally paranoid. From lands built entirely of everyone’s favourite festive gourd to a wild surrealist ball, this Halloween promises plenty of ways to sink your teeth into a full-sized candy bar’s worth of fun. This is Bat City, after all.

House of Torment
House of Torment
House of Torment

House of Torment

Open through November 13
2632 Ridgepoint Drive
Nothing says Halloween more than being chased by strangers in costumes through a haunted house, and there’s no better place to get in the screams than North Austin’s House of Torment-even the hot girl coach herself, Megan Thee Stallion, hit up the attraction after her ACL performance. With three different bewitching spaces to explore, frightful opportunities abound. Themes include The Boogeyman, featuring the title character of your childhood nightmares, and Operation: Laughing Place, which is one to avoid should you ever want to look a clown in the face again. Just remember-no pushing, even if they come after you with a fake chainsaw (eek!).
Cost: Tickets start at $26.99 per person

Flickr/Roger Ho
Flickr/Roger Ho
Flickr/Roger Ho

LEVITATION

October 28 – October 31
Various locations
While it may not be the most traditional Halloween activity, attending a psych-rock festival is definitely the most Austin thing to do on All Hallows Eve. The genre carries some inherent witchy vibes, and, considering the incredible bill they’ve been able to conjure up this year, we wouldn’t be surprised if some serious magic was involved. While you can’t go wrong with any of the shows, don’t miss Friday’s set by festival founders and Austin natives, The Black Angels.
Cost: Ticket prices vary

Photo courtesy of Pumpkin Nights Austin
Photo courtesy of Pumpkin Nights Austin
Photo courtesy of Pumpkin Nights Austin

Pumpkin Nights Austin

September 30 – October 31
Pioneer Farms
Get that TikTok feed into spooky shape by checking out the always-spectacular Pumpkin Nights Austin. Throughout the half-mile trail, you’ll encounter “lands” made entirely of everyone’s favourite orange gourd-and we don’t just mean some half-assed jack-o’-lanterns. These are full-out displays, built using over 5000 real and artificial pumpkins and depicting everything from a pirate’s cove and an underwater reef to China’s famous imperial residence, the Forbidden City. After you’ve had your fill of autumnal thirst traps, hit up the Village Center for games and entertainment-plus drinks and a slice of pumpkin pie, of course.
Cost: Ticket prices vary

Photo courtesy of Psychedelic Séance
Photo courtesy of Psychedelic Séance
Photo courtesy of Psychedelic Séance

Psychedelic Séance

October 27 – November 1
Native Bar & Cafe
Chances are you’ve already emerged from a night at East Austin hotel and party-haven, Native, looking like a mask from Spirit Halloween-and, with all the fun packed into their Psychedelic S√©ance event, that hangover spell is likely to be repeated. Each night contains its own spooky debauchery, from costume contests to drink specials to special installations and photo-ops for you to show off that Squid Game costume. Not to mention the tunes will be pumping all night long, with after parties for the previously mentioned LEVITATION as well as free entrance to the Museum of Future Present, an interactive series of music-based installations.
Cost: Ticket prices vary

Photo courtesy of The Surrealist Ball
Photo courtesy of The Surrealist Ball
Photo courtesy of The Surrealist Ball

The Surrealist Ball

October 27 – October 31
Devil May Care
For those who love an excuse to put together a head-turning Halloween costume, the infamous Surrealist Ball at Devil May Care is the perfect chance for you to pull out the paper mache. Inspired by the 1972 Rothschild’s Surrealist Ball, your ticket gains you entrance to the year’s most lavish dinner-party-and, with a dress code of “black tie, long dresses, and Surrealist heads,” you better have a ‚Äėfit to match. This year, they’re kicking it up a notch with menu selections from Les diners de Gala, the cookbook written by master Surrealist artist, Salvador Dal√≠.
Cost: Reservations start at $120 for a table of three

Photo courtesy of Spooky Silent Disco
Photo courtesy of Spooky Silent Disco
Photo courtesy of Spooky Silent Disco

Spooky Silent Disco

Sunday, October 31
The Belmont
Put those campy club kid boots to good use and hit up The Belmont’s Spooky Silent Disco this Halloween. Pop on the provided headphones and dance the night away to three different DJs: one playing Top 40 dance hits, another giving you all the ‚Äė90s and 2000s throwbacks you crave, and the last serving straight-up hip hop and R&B. Plus, considering the music is playing in your headphones and not on huge speakers, you won’t have to face the fear of ringing eardrums by the end of the night.
Cost: Advance tickets start at $15 per person ($20 at the door)

Barton Hill Farms
Barton Hill Farms
Barton Hill Farms

The Fall Festival and Pumpkin Patch

Saturdays – Sundays through November 7
Barton Hill Farms
If your idea of October is a little less horror and a little more Pumpkin Spice, experience all the fall feels at Barton Hill Farms. Engage in Instagram-worthy autumnal activities like combing the pumpkin patch for the perfect jack o’lantern or navigating through the themed, three-and-a-half-acre corn maze, then reward yourself with a local craft beer or cider at the on-site bar, the Barton Hugel Apfelwein & Biergarten, set to a backdrop of live music.
Cost: Admission starts at $21.95 per person

Photo courtesy of Blue Starlite Drive-In
Photo courtesy of Blue Starlite Drive-In
Photo courtesy of Blue Starlite Drive-In

The Haunted Drive-In

September 24 – October 31
Blue Starlite Drive-In
Nothing says Spooky Season like a good scary movie-and, whether you’re looking for a bloody horror slasher or something more family-friendly, the Blue Starlite has you covered. Catch everything from Beetlejuice and Casper to late night screenings of The Blair Witch Project, Cabin in The Woods, and midnight margarita favourite, Practical Magic. This year, they’re even featuring some new sure-to-be-classics like Michael Meyers’ latest vehicle, Halloween Kills, and creepy farm feature, Lamb. You can even order your candy concessions ahead of time along with your tickets, because what’s Halloween without binging on some fun-sized snacks?
Cost: Tickets start at $30.50 per car

Photo courtesy of Haunted ATX
Photo courtesy of Haunted ATX
Photo courtesy of Haunted ATX

Haunted ATX

Year-round
Various locations
If you think ghost tours are fun to begin with, imagine taking one in the privacy of your very own luxury hearse-that’s what’s on hand this month at Haunted ATX, which will drive you around to some of the city’s most haunted spots including the Tavern, Clay Pit, Littlefield House at UT, and more. For those who prefer to save the hearse for the trip to the graveyard, they also have public van tours. And, to boot, the whole experience is BYOB-spirits of all kinds are encouraged.
Cost: Ticket prices vary

Photo courtesy of South Congress Candy & Cocktail Crawl
Photo courtesy of South Congress Candy & Cocktail Crawl
Photo courtesy of South Congress Candy & Cocktail Crawl

South Congress Candy & Cocktail Crawl

Sunday, October 31
Various locations
Swapping cocktails for candy, this trek around South Congress is sure to have you buzzing. Stop by Hotel San Jos√© for a Spooky Shandy and then hit Perla’s for the appropriately named Nightmare on South Congress Street before making additional stops at Joann’s Fine Foods, Neighborhood Sushi, and June’s. For those with kids, or just those who love candy (i.e. everyone), there will also be traditional Halloween goodies at every location. Don’t forget to hit Jo’s at the end of the evening for the unveiling of the winner of their 4th Annual Ugly Dog Contest-we hear the completion is pretty “ruff.”
Cost: No cover; additional prices vary

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Molly Moltzen is a contributor to Thrillist.

Austin

Get Lucky at These Irish Bars in Austin

Drink a green pint on St Patrick's Day at these Irish bars in Austin.

Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by Melissa Vinsik, courtesy of Cork + Barrel

In the midst of all the SXSW chaos, it helps to remember that there’s a rainbow at the festival’s end-that is, the hangover-blessing we’ve been granted of having St. Patrick’s Day 2023 fall on a Friday. Whether you attribute this small win to the Gregorian calendar or the luck of the Irish, it’s sure to amp up the already liver-damaging activities associated with this cultural celebration. However, √Čire is more than just leprechauns and Colin Farrell-it’s a breathtaking land full of warm, welcoming, and good-hearted people. Fortunately, there’s a way you can get a taste of the Republic’s spirit, and a dark stout, at the same time by hitting up one of Austin’s various Irish pubs. From cozy, intimate spaces decked out like small taverns in Cobh, to modern dives with all the party energy of Temple Bar, our list has the best spots in the city to “erin go bragh” all out on March 17.

Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys
Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys
Photo by Jane Yun, courtesy of BD Rileys

B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub at Mueller

Mueller
With a giant model of a beer tap literally decorating their front door, you can’t miss B.D Riley’s, nor doubt that this East Austin hang is a spot to down some serious brewskis. And its name, and perfect pours of Guinness, aren’t the only aspects they draw from the Emerald Isle-the entire pub itself was actually designed and built in Dundalk, Ireland, and shipped over for assembly in Bat City. Such authentic decor calls for equally authentic sounds, therefore, on St. Patrick’s Day, B.D. Riley’s will feature an all-day, four-artist bill of live, trad-inspired music. So, while you may not start the day knowing all the words to “The Galway Girl,” you are bound to sing along by last call.

Kelly’s Irish Pub

Bouldin Creek
Having only opened this past December, Kelly’s is the new kid with a brogue on the block. Occupying the space which formerly housed tapas restaurant Winebelly, this pub had big shoes to fill for South Austin barflies, but quickly won them over with an impressive whiskey selection and friendly atmosphere. A big reason behind the real deal √Čire vibes can, most likely, be chalked up to the fact that one of Kelly’s owners was actually born and bred in Ireland-and the dedication to delivering a true-to-life experience is evident in everything from the shepherd’s pie to the witty bartenders. For St. Patrick’s Day, they are getting the party started early with live music and an opening time of 8 am.

Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger's
Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger’s
Photo courtesy of Jack & Ginger’s

Jack & Ginger’s

The Domain
While The Domain may boast more bars than you can shake a shamrock at, there’s only one spot in the North Austin entertainment behemoth that can be properly called an Irish pub: Jack & Ginger’s. Start off the night with selecting a tasting flight from their over 82 beers on tap, then, move onto shots poured straight from their Irish Whiskey Tours-after loosening up with a round or two, you might just find yourself with the gift of gab. And, before snapping a selfie over Jack & Ginger’s see-through glass floor, balance out that buzz with food offerings like a giant soft pretzel or a round of fried pickles.

Photo courtesy of Foxy's Proper Pub
Photo courtesy of Foxy’s Proper Pub
Photo courtesy of Foxy’s Proper Pub

Foxy’s Proper Pub

Downtown
Here’s a spot that visibly radiates with Irish pride-at Foxy’s, the glow of green beams out from the bar’s lighted panels, and across their chandelier made of Jameson bottles. When it comes to cups and chow, their commitment to the theme continues-the use of the word,”proper,” in the pub’s name alone indicates you’re in for a heavy pour of the standards. Consequently, the taps are abundant with essential Irish sips, including Guinness, Magners, and Smithwick’s. With Lone Star on draft, there’s also a nod to Texas tradition as well. But don’t fear if you’re bored of beer-Foxy’s variety of whiskey-based cocktails will let you switch it up (and still keep it Celtic). March 17 will find them celebrating with live music, whiskey tastings, and swag giveaways.

Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel
Photo by LEVY Architects, courtesy of Cork + Barrel

Cork & Barrel Craft Kitchen + Microbrewery

Round Rock
Compared to a flight to Dublin, the 30-minute drive to Round Rock’s Cork & Barrel is much more convenient-not to mention, won’t require waiting in a TSA line. A mix between a modern Austin beer garden and a historical Irish pub, this spot’s spacious interior and expansive outdoor patio guarantees there will be enough room for the whole crew to cheer “sl√°inte.” And, their microbrewery’s signature beers are the ideal drinks to do such a toast with. The menu of specially crafted drafts includes a blueberry wheat, an Irish red ale, and a vanilla stout. This St. Patrick’s Day also marks Cork & Barrel’s two-year anniversary, and they are throwing down for the double-celebration with live music, yard games, Irish food specials, and plentiful amounts of green beer and Irish Car Bombs.

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Molly Moltzen is a Thrillist contributor.

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