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The 10 Best Halloween Parties and Events

Halloween is fast approaching, and if you’re anything like us, you’re just now scrambling to make a grand plan. And though the downfall of the Castro's chaotic festivities has left everyone without an obvious choice for holiday mayhem, we're certainly not lacking in parties and play. Whether you’re into tricks, treats or more sophisticated revelry, we’ve got you covered. Here, our Top 10 Halloween To-Dos.

1. Great America Halloween Haunt: Alright, so you haven’t thought about theme parks since you were a teenager, but Halloween is the perfect excuse to be a kid again for the day (or night). When else can you throw on a costume and test your Harry Potter skills in horrifying mazes, scare zones and sinister stage performances? We have to admit—this one tops our list. We’ll see you on the haunted roller coaster.  

2. Ghost Walks at City Hall and Palace Hotel: If you enjoy a good ghost story and want a little haunted SF history, sign up for a free, guided tour of City Hall or the Palace Hotel. Rumor has it that people of the past still walk these halls today. Feel the hair on your neck rise as you learn about the old Civic Center cemetery, mysterious murders and echoing gunshots in stately corridors, all compliments of SF City Guides. 

3. Very Postmortem Ghoulish Gala: Head to the Legion of Honor for a sophisticated Halloween spooktacular celebrating the opening of the museum’s latest exhibit “Mummies and Medicine.” Quaff plentiful potions, dance among the undead and explore modern embalming technology.

4. Spiderball: The gala benefit season is almost upon us, so why not start early and wrap your Halloween with a cause? Get tickets for this year’s Spiderball at the Bently Reserve and dress to impress (think Phantom of the Opera). Proceeds support the Black Rock Arts Foundation.

5. The Clift Halloween Party: The swanky Union Square hotel is transforming its entire first floor, including the lobby, Redwood Room and Asia de Cuba so you can get your costumed groove on in style. Your admission benefits Global Green and the hotel is offering slashed room rates in case you go a little too wild with the party punch.

6. Club 1994 Halloween Party: Channel your inner Buffy or take your inspiration from Scream and the Blair Witch Project for Club 1994’s ‘90s-themed All Hallows Eve bash. Strike a pose in the photo booth, watch clips from your favorite scary movies and compete in the night’s costume contest. It’s your only chance to get a thumbs-up on that retired scrunchy you used to love.  

6. Mr. Roboto Holla-Ween: It’s just another night on the town, with an added bonus. Get creative with your look for the chance to win a $1,000 cash prize for best costume at this annual shindig featuring music by BCDC, Wallpaper and DJ Shane King. 

7. Cougar Halloween Party: Cougars in costume—it can’t get any scarier than this. We all remember photos from the recent convention, and we’re itching to report that the ladies and cubs that love them are at it again.

8. Jekyll & Hyde: Forgo the haunted houses and costume contests for a more subdued Halloween experience. The Royal Underground Theatre Company presents an updated version of the classic Jekyll & Hyde in the form of goth musical at Fort Mason. Let your split personality loose for a night.

9. Teatro Zinzombie: Teatro ZinZanni goes macabre. For one night only, the famous spiegeltent along the Embarcadero will transform into haunted cabaret of bloody cocktails and death-defying acts. Suit up and expect diabolical decadence.    

10. Antichrist: If the idea of costumes makes you cringe, head to the movies instead for Lars von Trier's latest. The psychosexual thriller starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg both shocked and wowed Cannes audiences with its story of the lustful cruelty between a grieving couple who discover the darker side within.