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Ten ghoulish ways to spend a frightfully spooky Spanish Halloween

Spain is increasingly embracing a tradition once viewed suspiciously as a foreign import

Halloween 2016 Ampliar foto
One of the actors in ‘Cabaret Maldito,’ a horror show in Valencia.

1 La Santa Compaña

VIGO

The Santa Compaña on the streets of Vigo. ampliar foto
The Santa Compaña on the streets of Vigo.

Faithful to the Galicia region’s Celtic background, the Casco Vello neighborhood association in Vigo is once again organizing Samhain, the Gaelic feast of the end of harvest. Residents in the old part of town will hang pumpkins from their windows and doors to make sure that the dead pass by on the night of October 31 without entering their homes. Makeup, pumpkin carving and puppet workshops are scheduled throughout the afternoon inside a tent on Berbés square. At 7pm, people will come together to roast chestnuts and exchange stories at an event known as the magosto. And at 8pm there will be a street parade by the Santa Compaña, whose members represent souls and revenants. Dancers and musicians will accompany the ghostly group through the streets of downtown Vigo playing tambourines and bagpipes.

2 The box of horrors

MADRID

Actors from La caja del terror in Madrid. ampliar foto
Actors from La caja del terror in Madrid.

La caja del terror sells itself as Spain’s only interactive theater experience focused on magic and horror themes. Open all year long, shows are normally scheduled between Thursday and Sunday, but special sessions will be held on Monday and Tuesday to celebrate Halloween and All Saints Day. The theater company is offering two shows: La noche de los vampiros (The Night of the Vampires) and La Criatura (The Creature), set inside an escape room inspired by the H. P. Lovecraft universe. The Panic Row (first-row seating) guarantees an extra dose of fear. There is also a milder show aimed at families, Juan sin miedo (Fearless John), featuring songs, puppets and magic.

3 Abduction in Córcoles

GUADALAJARA

Entrance of the Terror Hotel in Pareja (Guadalajara). ampliar foto
Entrance of the Terror Hotel in Pareja (Guadalajara).

A 12th-century monastery in Córcoles (Guadalajara) that was once home to the Cistercian order of monks is the setting for Escape en el Monasterio (Escape from the Monastery). Participants will be kidnapped by make-believe military troops and taken down to the dungeon, from which they will have to escape as the situation gets increasingly worse. The interactive show, available on three dates only (October 28, 29 and 31), is the brainchild of PartyHotel, a company that owns a nearby hotel.

4 The forest of fear

TARRAGONA

A Halloween show for children at Port Aventura. ampliar foto
A Halloween show for children at Port Aventura.

Port Aventura, the Tarragona-based theme park, has announced a Great Halloween Night on October 31 and numerous shows that will run to November 13. These include Vampires; La Muerte Viva (Living Death), a Halloween Parade and Horror en el lago (Horror at the Lake), which comes with a fireworks display. The park also boasts two of the largest walk-through horror attractions in Europe: [REC] Apocalipsis and Selva del Miedo (The Forest of Fear).

5 Zombie Race

MURCIA

The city of Murcia is hosting its third annual Zombie Race Murcia on Friday. Runners will have to dodge zombies to reach the finish line alive and in one piece. The idea began in the United States, where the race is known as Run for Your Lives Zombie, and it has successfully extended throughout Europe. The five-kilometer run begins at 11pm at the main roundabout in Terra Natura, the city’s safari-zoo park. Flashlights are a must.

6 The night of the deceased

TENERIFE

A dramatized rendering of the Night of the Deceased in Tenerife. ampliar foto
A dramatized rendering of the Night of the Deceased in Tenerife.

 On November 1, the History and Anthropology Museum of Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, will host a special session to illustrate regional customs involving All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Visitors will learn about the “Pan por Dios” that children used to cry out as they went from door to door asking for bread in Garachico, Buenavista and Santiago del Teide. They will also hear about the santitos (little saints) of San Juan de la Rambla, the brotherhoods that went out begging, and the family and neighborhood reunions to exchange stories about the dead, to play music on their guitars, tambourines, castagnettes and triangles, and to feast on chestnuts, walnuts, almonds, figs, sweet wine, anisette, rum and honey.

7 Cursed cabaret

VALENCIA

'Cabaret maldito', a show in Valencia. ampliar foto
'Cabaret maldito', a show in Valencia.

Cabaret Maldito (Cursed Cabaret) is the show that ends the successful trilogy created by Circo de los Horrores. This time, director Suso Silva takes viewers into an old, rundown Gothic-style cathedral that has morphed into a cabaret, and is now home to the terrible Lucifer. There are no rules, taboos or prohibitions in here, and humans’ basest instincts get free rein. A combination of theater, circus acts and cabaret performances, the show premiered in Valencia on October 13 and will remain open until November 13.

8 A night tour of Belchite

ZARAGOZA

The abandoned village of Belchite in Zaragoza. ampliar foto
The abandoned village of Belchite in Zaragoza.

An estimated 5,000 people died at the Battle of Belchite, one of the bloodiest confrontations of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Traces of the shrapnel are still visible in the streets of the old village, which has since been abandoned. Local authorities organize dramatized night tours for history buffs who will also hear the old legends about the bandit Calzaprieta, the terror of the highways in the late 19th century. Four special sessions have been scheduled for this long weekend, and the local tourism office said that an actor will come up with “a surprise or two” during the tour.

9 The night of the souls

SORIA

A literary reading in Soria last year. ampliar foto
A literary reading in Soria last year.

Knights Templar and noblemen from Soria once waged a fierce battle on Monte de las Ánimas (Soul Hill). Every year on All Souls Day, their skeletons rise and wander through the hill at night, according to 19th-century Spanish writer Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, who provided an account in his short work El Monte de las Ánimas. For 30 years, locals have been celebrating the Festival de las Ánimas (Festival of Souls), which now extends through to November 5. But the big event remains the night-time reading of Bécquer’s tale on November 1, when an actor will deliver the lines as he stands next to a pyre. The bravest among the audience will be asked to walk on the hot embers. The festival also features fencing exhibitions, percussion, puppet theater and a giant Pied Piper of Hamelin who will encourage visitors to follow him to the edge of the Duero River.

10 Horror film fest

BARCELONA

Phenomena, a Barcelona-based state-of-the-art movie theater boasting a 15-meter-wide screen, will host a Halloween movie marathon with well-known titles such as the 1988 Child’s Play. It is also organizing the second annual Phantasma Terror Festival from November 3 to 6 with movies like the South Korean thriller Train to Busan. Other classics on the list include Friday the 13th and Piranha.

English version by Susana Urra.

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