Halloween and Día de los Muertos are just around the corner and grand events are in store for the community. This year’s spooky season in Orange County features more in-person events that weren’t safe enough to carry out last Halloween. This Halloween, families can enjoy haunted mazes or trick-or-treating activities and for older folks, expansive beer tasting at the OC Fair & Event Center to mark the return of a long-awaited spooky season.

 Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is celebrated every year on Nov. 1 and 2, the annual two-day holiday is central to Mexican and Latin American culture and serves as an opportunity for family members to celebrate the lives of the dead through dances, food, costumes and parades. Across the county, families can celebrate the holiday at festivals, community altars and other lively festivities.

The 17th Door

When: Through Oct. 31
Where: 1851 W. Orangethorpe Ave., Fullerton
Tickets: $32 and up

Starting in late September of every year, The 17th Door tells the story of Paula who murdered her son after being forced to give birth to her rapist’s child. Paula’s story doesn’t start from the beginning every year; instead a new chapter to Paula’s storyline is added and explored during the given year’s setup.  

The 17th Door is an immersive scare experience targeted more toward thrillseekers than the faint of heart. It’s a horror walkthrough where guests are taken through a series of rooms, each room building onto the protagonist’s storyline, complete with scares, unique rooms, pop-ups and shocks (literally).  

This year’s chapter focuses on Paula’s journey to redemption at Perpetuum Penitentiary, as she wants to atone for her sins. But in the process, she’s being used as a guinea pig in experimental treatments by the warden and engineers of a lab on the penitentiary’s premises. 

Be aware that participants are required to sign a waiver before entering the haunt. 

Haunt of Halloween

When: Thursdays through Sundays until Oct. 31
Where: Kaleidoscope, 27741 Crown Valley Parkway, Mission Viejo
Tickets: $15 and up

Haunt of Halloween is a haunted maze attraction at Kaleidoscope in Mission Viejo that features scares and thrills for the entire family. 

For those looking for a real scream, “Outpost 13: The Fear is Real” is a haunted maze where guests will journey through as actors scare at every dark corner. The maze uses strobe lights, fog, intense audio, low visibility and special effects to achieve a hair-raising and immersive fright experience.  

But for a not-so-scary experience, visit the Haunt of Halloween on a Saturday or Sunday where kids can enjoy the trick-or-treat event from 2 to 5 p.m. The event has its own haunted maze, “The Not-So-Scary Haunted Maze,” where kids ages 6 through 12 can experience a less frightening version of the maze. The special effects and low visibility are replaced with theatrical lights, and kids can enjoy activities and trick or treating throughout the maze. 

Aside from the haunted maze and kid-friendly maze, Haunt of Halloween will also have other side attractions to attend.  

OC Boo Ha Ha: A Haunted Oktoberfest

When: 6 p.m. to midnight, Oct. 29 and Oct. 30
Where: OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa
Tickets: $47.50 and up

Boo Ha Ha is a 21+ event in collaboration with Brew Ha Ha Productions and the OC Fair, where guests can enjoy three hours of unlimited beer tastings while sporting their costumes for this Halloween season. 

While beer tasting is from 6-9 p.m., concessions will be available afterward. Guests can look forward to live performances from Lit, Mest and Handsome Devil on Friday then come back Saturday for more beer tasting and performances by A Flock of Seagulls and The M80’s. 

Some breweries that will be participating in the Boo Ha Ha include Wild Barrel Brewing Company, Ten Mile Brewing Company, Rad Beer Company, 2 Towns Ciderhouse, Baja Brewing Co. and others. 

Headless Horseman’s Hallows’ Eve

When: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 31
Where: Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center, 241 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim
Tickets: $10 and up, children under age 5 are free

The Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center will be hosting “Headless Horseman’s Hallows’ Eve” where guests can enjoy learning about “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” as they create their own miniature version of this American ghost story. 

Guests will be able to visit an in-house tarot card reader who will read the past, present and future of those who seek her out. Other activities such as potion making, a costume contest and spell casting will be included during the event. 

For a more Halloween events, jump to: More Live Events for Halloween

Día de los Muertos events in O.C.

A nearly 3,000-year-old tradition with Aztec roots, Día de los Muertos marks a special day where family members can reunite with the spirits of loved ones who have passed. On Nov. 1 and 2, the border separating the spirit and the real world dissolves, welcoming back the souls of the dead to join in joyous celebrations.

The most common symbols for the holiday include calacas and calaveras, skulls and skeletons, and they are seen everywhere on costumes, dolls, masks and more on Día de los Muertos. A symbol of the dead, the calacas and calaveras are not represented in a lifeless way; instead they are shown to be enjoying life with their vibrant and intricate clothes.

To welcome back the dead into the living world, family members traditionally decorate ofrendas, or altars, with candles, marigolds and calaveras. Food, photos and other memorabilia are placed on ofrendas in order to invite visits from the dead on this festive day. Ofrendas are traditionally built inside the home; however, there are also many community ofrendas built in churches and other public spaces. 

After many of last year’s Día de los Muertos celebrations were either canceled or shifted toward a virtual setting, the populous Latin American community in Orange County is able to gather once again for grand festivities throughout the county. There are an array of events occurring this year including community ofrenda, musical performances, art installations and special memorial services.

An ofrenda set up at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana. Credit: Photo courtesy of the Bowers Museum

Bowers Museum: Día de los Muertos Festival

When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 24
Where: 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana
Tickets: Free

A free festival will be held in honor of Día de los Muertos at the Bowers Museum on Oct. 24 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., taking place throughout various sections of the museum. To help celebrate the lives of the ones lost, live music will be performed by Joel Aceves and Los Cuates. Along with live music, you can watch dance performances by Relampago del Cielo in the museum’s key courtyard, or enjoy art and special foods as well.

The museum has also opened a free and open to the public community ofrenda where visitors can swing by and place their own offerings to their loved ones. Located in the Bowers Museum Historic Courtyard Annex, the ofrenda is open through Nov. 2 during museum hours, Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

7th Annual Viva La Vida Día de los Muertos Festival

When: Nov. 6 from noon to 10 p.m.
Where: 4th and Birch Streets, Santa Ana
Tickets: Free

Viva La Vida will be hosting its seventh annual Día de los Muertos event in Santa Ana where the community is invited to bask in the beauty of the candle lighting ceremony and other live entertainment that will fill the evening. 

Founded in 2015, Viva La Vida Santa Ana is a nonprofit based in Santa Ana. The nonprofit’s mission is to expose the beauties and liveliness of Latino culture by producing a free, family-friendly event every year for Día de los Muertos. 

For this year’s celebration, the streets of 4th and Birch will be lined with community altars where residents can pay tribute to their loved ones as they celebrate their lives with photos, flowers, special foods and candles. As the sun starts to set and the evening crawls in, La Catrina, a prevalent, skeletal symbol for Dia de los Muertos, will visit each altar and light the first candle of the night.

Grand Park’s Ninth Annual Downtown Día de los Muertos, Los Angeles

Art Installations
When: 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (normal park hours of operation). Oct. 22 to Nov. 2
Where: Grand Park, 200 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles
Noche de Ofrenda
When: 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 23
Where: Grand Park Performance Lawn

Curated by Self Help Graphics, there will be a 12-day public art installation available for guests to experience and learn about the history of Día de los Muertos in downtown Los Angeles. Although not technically in O.C., it is still a great option for those who may live in north Orange County and are looking for a unique event to attend. 

The 20-altar installations on display will come together to highlight community issues, vital leaders and more. There will be a tribute to recently deceased Chicana community leader and feminist Betita Martinez. Other altars will honor the LGBTQ community as well as the large loss of community members during the pandemic. There will also be a community altar created by artist and educator Ofelia Esparza and her family that will allow visitors to contribute their own keepsakes and mementos to honor their passed loved ones.

“By partnering with local organizations and artists, we bring together the diverse voices, perspectives, experiences and neighborhoods from among the many who make up one Los Angeles. This creates a vibrant tapestry of ofrendas that showcase what has been meaningful and in many cases hard for Los Angeles this year,” said Julia Diamond, director of Grand Park.

For a more Día de los Muertos events, jump to: More Live Events for Día de los Muertos

More Live Events for Halloween

Listed by city

Fall Fest, hosted by Compass Bible Church

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 31
Where: 150 Columbia, Aliso Viejo
Tickets: Free

16th Japanese Classic Car Show

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 30
Where: Angel Stadium of Anaheim, 2000 E. Gene Autry Way, Anaheim
Tickets: Adults $15; kids under 12 free with an adult

Trick or Treat at Anaheim Plaza

When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 30
Where: Anaheim Plaza Food Court, North Euclid Street and the Santa Ana (5) Freeway, Anaheim
Tickets: Free

Brea Downtown Treats in the Street

When: 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 31
Where: Downtown Brea
Tickets: Adults, $30; kids 6-12, $20; kids under 5, free

Cops ‘N’ Goblins Drive Thru

When: 2 to 6 p.m. Oct. 29
Where: 6650 Beach Blvd., Buena Park
Tickets: Free

Knott’s Scary Farm / Knott’s Spooky Farm

When: Through Oct. 31 (Knott’s Spooky Farm on Saturday’s and Sunday’s only)
Where: Knott’s Berry Farm, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park
Tickets: Regular tickets start at $59; see website for full details

Pirate’s Dinner Adventure’s costume contest for Halloween

When: All shows on Oct. 31
Where: 7600 Beach Blvd., Buena Park
Tickets: Adult tickets start at $64.95

Creatures of the Night

When: Evenings on Oct. 29 and 30
Where: The Sherman Library and Gardens, 2647 East Coast Highway, Corona del Mar
Tickets: Members $15; non-members $25 non-members; kids under 3 are free

Halloween Halloween Spooktacular & Trunk or Treat

When: 2 to 8 p.m. Oct. 23
Where: Dana Point Community Center, 34052 Del Obispo St., Dana Point
Tickets: Free

Spooky Seas

When: 4:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 29 and 30
Where: Ocean Institute, 24200 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point
Tickets: Adults, $20; children $15; children under 2 are free

Fullerton PD Trunk or Treat

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 23
Where: Fullerton Police Department, 237 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton
Tickets: Free

Seeker’s Chapel Trunk or Treat

When: 3 to 4 p.m. Oct. 31
Where: 1521 E. Orangethorpe Ave., Suite D, Fullerton
Tickets: Free

Jack O’Lantern Jamboree

When: 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 30
Where: Atlantis Play Center, 13630 Atlantis Way, Garden Grove
Tickets: $10 (kids under 2 are free)

King of Kings Lutheran Trunk-or-Treat

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 30
Where: 13431 Newhope St., Garden Grove
Tickets: Free

Huntington Beach Fall Fest

When: 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 23
Where: Worthy Park, 1831 17th St., Huntington Beach
Tickets: $20 per family

Halloween Trick-or-Treat Kids Party

When: 3 to 5 p.m. Oct. 30
Where: Bella Terra (at The Green), 7777 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach
Tickets: Free

Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch & Weekend Fall Festival

When: 9 a.m. to 6. p.m. through Oct. 31
Where: 5380 University Drive, Irvine
Tickets: starting at $20 per car; reservations required for weekends

Pretend City Costume Week

When: Oct. 27 to Oct. 29
Where: 29 Hubble, Irvine
Tickets: $13.95

Haunted Trails

When: 6:30 to 10 p.m. Oct. 22 to Oct. 24
Where: Crown Valley Community Park, 29751 Crown Valley Parkway, Laguna Niguel (at the entrance to the community park on the emergency road)
Tickets: Free

Fall-O-Ween at Heritage Hill Historical Park

When: 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 22 to Oct. 24
Where: Heritage Hill Historical Park, 25125 Serrano Road, Lake Forest
Tickets: Free

Halloween Drive Thru

When: 3 to 5 p.m. Oct. 31
Where: City Hall Parking Lot, 7822 Walker St., La Palma
Tickets: Free

Los Alamitos Trunk or Treat

When: 5 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23
Where: Little Cottonwood Park, 4000 Farquhar Ave., Los Alamitos
Tickets: Free

Halloween Party at the Library

When: All day. Oct. 30
Where: Central Library Children’s Room, 1000 Avocado Ave., Newport Beach
Tickets: Free

Halloween Spooktacular

When: 3 p.m. to dusk. Oct. 30
Where: Mariners Park, 1300 Irvine Ave., Newport Beach
Tickets: Free

Orange County Zoo: Halloween Zoo-tacular!

When: All day, Oct. 23
Where: 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange
Tickets: Entrance $2 per person; $5 per vehicle parking

Treats in the Streets Autumn Festival

When: 4 to 7 p.m. to dusk, Oct. 28
Where: Glassell Street & Chapman Avenue, Orange
Tickets: Free

Pirates Cave Haunt

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. select nights through Oct. 31
Where: 2548 E. Garfield Ave., Orange
Tickets: Free

Rancho Santa Margarita Fall Family Festival

When: 2 to 5 p.m. Oct. 31
Where: 30842 La Mirada, Rancho Santa Margarita
Tickets: Free

Spooky San Clemente

When: 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 23
Where: Community Center, 100 N. Calle Seville, San Clemente
Tickets: $5

Casa Creepy: Haunted House

When: 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 28 to 30
Where: Casa Romantica, 415 Avenida Granada, San Clemente
Tickets: $18; $12 for 12 and under

City of San Clemente Pumpkin Splash

When: 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 30
Where: San Clemente Aquatics Center, 987 Avenida Vista Hermosa, San Clemente
Tickets: $7

Ghosts and Legends Tour

When: Starts at 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Oct. 29 and 30
Where: O’Neill Museum, 31831 Los Rios St., San Juan Capistrano
Tickets: $15 to $75

Discovery Cube Presents: Spooky Science

When: Through Oct. 31
Where: Discovery Cube, 2500 N. Main St., Santa Ana
Tickets: Adults $19.95; seniors $16.95; kids 14 and under, $14.95

BOO at the Zoo

When: 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23, 24, 29 and 30
Where: Santa Ana Zoo, 1801 E. Chestnut Ave., Santa Ana
Tickets: Members $14.95; non-members $29.95; kids 14 and under $14.95

Hocus Pocus Halloween Movie Night

When: 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 23
Where: Heritage Museum of Orange County, 3101 W. Harvard St., Santa Ana
Tickets: $24.99

Halloween Fun with Family and Friends

When: 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 30
Where: Stanton Central Park, 10660 Western Ave., Stanton
Tickets: Free

Halloween Howl

When: 3 to 5 p.m. Oct. 29
Where: Columbus Tustin Activity Center, 17522 Beneta Way, Tustin
Tickets: Free

Haunted Trivia and Filmfest

When: Opens at 5 p.m. Oct. 23 and 29
Where: The District at Tustin Legacy, 2437 Park Ave., Tustin
Tickets: Free

Villa Park Halloween

When: 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 30
Where: Villa Park Towne Centre on Santiago Boulevard
Tickets: Free

More Options for Día de los Muertos

Listed by city

Día de los Muertos at Anaheim Town Square

When: 3 to 6 p.m. Oct. 24
Where: 2180 East Lincoln Ave., Anaheim
Tickets: Free

Cermonia del Día de los Muertos

When: 5 p.m. Nov. 2
Where: Pearson Park Amphitheatre, 401 Lemon St., Anaheim
Tickets: $15

Hutchins Consort: Halloween & Día de los Muertos Concert

When: 3 p.m. Oct. 31
Where: Oasis Senior Center, 801 Narcissus Ave., Corona del Mar
Tickets: $20 to $60

Día de los Muertos at the Muck

When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28
Where: The Muckenthaler Cultural Center, 1201 W. Malvern Ave., Fullerton
Tickets: Members $15; non-members $35; students/seniors $35

Halloween and Día de los Muertos at Casa 723

When: 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 30
Where: 723 S. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton
Tickets: Free entrance; proceeds from sales benefit the Estrella Family Foundation

Los Alamitos Día de los Muertos

When: 2 to 9 p.m. Oct. 24
Where: St. Isidore Historical Plaza, 10961 Reagan St., Los Alamitos
Tickets: Free

Saddleback: Día de los Muertos Celebration

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 1 and 2
Where: Saddleback College, 28000 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo
Tickets: Free with RSVP

Mission San Juan Capistrano Día de los Muertos ofrenda/altar

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 23, 26, 28, 30 and Nov. 1
Where: 26801 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano
Tickets: $9 to $14

Calaca / Sugar Skull Painting

When: 3 to 5 p.m. Oct.31
Where: Galleria of Imagination in Main Place Mall, 2800 N. Main St., Santa Ana
Tickets: $30

Westminster Día de los Muertos

When: 12 to 4 p.m. Oct. 31
Where: 14801 Beach Blvd., Westminster
Tickets: Free

Kristina Garcia is a writing fellow for Voice of OC Arts & Culture. She can be reached at kristinamgarcia6@gmail.com.

Crystal Henriquez is an intern for Arts & Culture at Voice of OC. She can be reached at crystalh774@gmail.com.

Since you've made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.