Press-Republican

October 18, 2012

Montreal full of frights this season

By STEVEN HOWELL
Press-Republican

---- — MONTREAL — It’s time to fall for Montreal. Here are a few Halloween-themed events from which to choose.

FRIGHT FEST

First up, if you think the rides are frightening, wait until you meet the zombies.

La Ronde Amusement Park offers a few fall chills with its annual Fright Fest. This year, the park debuts a new haunted house dubbed the Massacre Museum. And if you can make your way through that alive, then pay a visit to the onsite cemetery, carnival of terror, death row gauntlet or vampire lair.

For the youngest visitors, the park also offers pumpkin-carving demonstrations, face painting and, of course, the rides.

La Ronde is open Oct. 20, 21, 27, and 28. An online-only ticket discount costs $42.99 for those 54 inches and taller and $33.99 for those shorter than that. Call (514) 397-2000 or visit www.laronde.com for details.

JACK O’LANTERN

Next, Jack and friends are back.

Pointe-a-Calliere, Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History, presents its annual “Jack O’Lantern: Halloween at Pointe-a-Calliere.”

Jack was a young Irishman who was condemned to wander among the dead with only a lantern carved from a turnip to light his way. For the next two weekends, he roams the hallways of Pointe-a-Calliere to share stories of the cultural origins of Halloween.

Joining Jack are a few ghoulish friends, including twins Rucht and Friucht; a cat-like witch; and Gwynedd, the Druid magician who knows the secret of light. Jack and friends pay a Halloween visit between 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. the weekends of Oct. 20, 21, 27 and 28 at 350 Place Royale in Old Montreal. 

For those in need of some costume inspiration, check out the authentic Samurai warrior suits of armor on display at the temporary exhibition “Samurai: The Prestigious Collection of Richard Beliveau.”

Admission, which includes access to all exhibitions, costs $18 for adults, $35 for families, $9.50 for students, $14 for seniors and $7 for youths 6 to 12. Call (514) 8729150 or visit www.pacmusee.qc.ca to learn more.

GHOST HUNTS

Fantomes Montreal offers a special Halloween-edition Ghost Hunt where visitors can meet some criminals of the New France kind — as well as their victims. With every passing Old Montreal cobblestone street you meet, the phantoms share some intimate details about their lives — and untimely deaths.

The ghost hunts of Old Montreal take place at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 26, 27, 30 and 31 with an extra walk at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 27. The tour costs $22 for adults, $18.50 for students and $12.50 for children 12 and under. The 90-minute tour departs from 360 St. Francois Xavier St. For details, call (514) 844-4021 or visit www.fantommontreal.com.

GREAT PUMPKIN BALL

For a truly illuminating experience, the Montreal Botanical Garden presents a milestone 20th edition of the Magic of Lanterns, its annual fall festival of lights. This year’s theme is “The Celestial Banquet,” which explores the “Feast of Peaches,” an ancient Chinese celebration that comes about just once every 3,000 years.

New this year, the neighboring Japanese Garden stays open at night with an illuminated space dubbed “Gardens of Light.” In all, almost 1,000 large and small silk lanterns are on display. The Magic of Lanterns and Gardens of Light continue through Sunday, Nov. 4.

The main greenhouses and the Insectarium remain open during the evening hours as well. The greenhouse plays host to the annual “Great Pumpkin Ball,” where hundreds of one-of-a-kind pumpkins are on display. The Little Monsters Courtyard, designed for visitors 10 and younger, comes complete with an insect soup game and a tricky river with a very shaky bridge. The “Great Pumpkin Ball” continues through Wednesday, Oct. 31.

The Montreal Botanical Garden is at 4101 Sherbrooke St. E. Magic of Lanterns hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Admission costs $17.75 for adults, $16.75 for seniors, $13.50 for students, $9 for youths 5 to 17 and $50 for a family of four. Call (514) 872-1400 or visit www.ville.montreal.qc.ca/jardin to learn more.

FREAKY FRIDAYS

Finally, the Redpath Museum offers its next installment of the Freaky Fridays series with “Monster Ants and Genetic Engineering” at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26, at the Redpath Auditorium on the campus of McGill University, 859 Sherbrooke St. W. Hosted by McGill biology professor Ehab Abouheif, the presentation explores the concept of genetically engineering supersolider worker ants. It’s followed by a screening of Steven Spielberg’s “Super 8.” The event is free.

Visit www.mcgill.ca/redpath for more information.

Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at iTunes.com.