Halloween is exactly two weeks from today. On Monday, Oct. 31, the 22nd annual Portsmouth Halloween Parade (PHP) sets off, led by newly crowned grand marshal Diana Kirkpatrick. But there are numerous opportunities to get into the devilish spirit before then.
In the Portsmouth area, Halloween is really a month-long affair. Already in October, we have seen the parade’s annual (I Gotta) Rock Show at the Thirsty Moose Taphouse, as well as Let’s “B” Reel’s drive-in presentation of “The Exorcist” at 3S Artspace. Here are 10 other Halloween highlights coming up in the next two weeks.
Diana Kirkpatrick earned her sash as grand marshal of the Portsmouth Halloween Parade following 20-plus years of turning her barn on Middle Road into a dreadful house of horrors each October. To learn more about the history of Kirkpatrick’s haunted barn, check out this story from The Sound’s archives. Another option for local hauntings is Haunted Overload at DeMeritt Hill Farm in Lee. Finally, there’s the Night Terrors Haunted Woods Walk — and Zipline with Zombies!!! — at Take Flight Aerial Adventures in Kittery, Maine.
Every year, The Press Room in Portsmouth becomes a veritable wax museum of Halloween parades past. Masks, props, and costumes created for (or inspired by) the parade adorn the walls of the bar’s first floor for the entire month of October. The open-invitation art show is free to see every day at the bar on Daniel Street.
Undead Beat Night
Another annual tradition at The Press Room is Undead Beat Night, when local poets share their most hideous ramblings while The Beat Night Band improvises a freaky soundtrack. This year’s event takes place Thursday, Oct. 20, from 7-9 p.m. It’s an open mic, so bring your poems, put on your costume, and spill your guts.
“Bitter Pill: The Songs of Billy Butler as Conceptualized by the Mad Men of Oopsy Daisy Inc.” runs through Oct. 30 at The Players’ Ring in Portsmouth. The show features monster puppets, carnival freaks, and other oddities, all illuminating the work of Butler, a past PHP grand marshal. Read about the show here; get more info here.
Halloween is a great time to unleash pent-up aggression, and on Saturday, Oct. 22, in the normally tranquil setting of the Portsmouth Farmers Market, you can smash for a worthy cause. Choose your weapon and squash a squash for $5; proceeds benefit the PHP. The smashing takes place from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. outside City Hall.
Silent Film Night: Haxan
If Satanism, witchcraft, and psychosis are not enough reasons to check out the 1922 silent horror classic “Häxan,” the live soundtrack by Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys should win you over. The screening and live score take place at The Music Hall in Portsmouth on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 8 p.m. More here.
Bracken MacLeod: Stranded
Horror author Bracken MacLeod’s latest novel involves an apocalyptic storm, a mysterious illness, and ominous fog in the arctic. He’ll read from the book at RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth on Thursday, Oct. 27, at 6:30 p.m. The event is free; a portion of proceeds from sales of “Stranded” will go to the PHP. Find out more here.
The 11th annual Dover Zombie Walk, a promenade of putrefying flesh on the streets of downtown Dover, takes place Saturday, Oct. 29, at 2 p.m., starting at the Chamber of Commerce and shambling all the way to Adelle’s Coffeehouse for a brain-eating contest and other nightmarish spectacles. Learn more here. Rochester has its own Zombie Walk on Friday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. More here.
Every October, the normally omnipresent singer-songwriter Dan Blakeslee mysteriously disappears, and the nefarious madman Doctor Gasp emerges for a month-long tour. Gasp serenades Portsmouth with his band, The Eeks, on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 9 p.m. at The Press Room — home of his muse, Pingree the Prowler. Also performing are the Soggy Po’ Boys. Learn more about Gasp here.
Jumbo Circus Peanuts Halloween Bash
For the Jumbo Circus Peanuts, it’s always Halloween. The rock-and-soul cover band wears costumes at every gig, turning any room into a dance party. Their annual Halloween bash, another fundraiser for the parade, takes place at the VFW Ballroom on Deer Street in Portsmouth on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 and benefit the PHP.
The Portsmouth Halloween Parade takes place in downtown Portsmouth on Monday, Oct. 31, starting at 7 p.m. For more information about the parade and other PHP events, click here.
More frightful Halloween events have come to our attention, so we’re adding to the list.
Local hip-hop collective Kingdom, in partnership with the SOS Recovery Community Organization, is offering a Halloween bash for the sober community on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 8 p.m. The 18-plus, alcohol-free event will feature live music from Kingdom artist