By Miriam Raftery
October 12, 2023 (San Diego’s East County)—Looking for a frightfully good time? You’ll find plenty of spooky special events, from a Haunted Forest at Banner Ranch to HauntFest on Main in El Cajon, as well as haunted train rides in Campo, a Pumpkin Bash and Spooky Campover at Lions, Tigers and Bears in Alpine.
Plus an Autumn Jubilee and an Heirloom Apple Festival continue in Julian, while the Borrego Days Desert Festival takes place in Borrego Springs and Santee hosts its Brews and Bites Festival. Theatre aficionados can watch Randy Rainbow’s political comedy show at The Magnolia in El Cajon, or savor an Old Globe For All experience in Lemon Grove. Plus tribute artist Robert Neary brings his "So Good! The Neil Diamond Experience" to the Magnolia in El Cajon.
Scroll down for details on all of these events and more.
HAUNTED FOREST AT BANNER RANCH NOW THROUGH HALLOWEEN
Get into the Halloween Spooky Spirit at Ghost Town Banner City's The Haunted Forest in Julian. It’s open Fridays and Saturdays throughout October, plus Halloween Eve and Halloween from 6:30 to 10 p.m., weather permitting.
The Haunted Forest is about a half-mile Halloween Walk, located at historic Banner Ranch, also known as the Banner Store, about 7 miles from Julian. The old orchard area is decorated with graveyards, ghosts, and ghouls galore, Costumes are encouraged, along with comfortable closed-toed shoes.
All ages welcome, but parental discretion is advised though due to some light gory content. This attraction also contains strobe lights and sudden sounds/movements.
Tickets are available at the General Store before the event, along with snacks and drinks. A portion of The Haunted Forest proceeds funds Julian town’s Christmas decorations. For more information, visit www.BannerRanchJulian.com or The Haunted Forest Julian on Facebook.
JULIAN AUTUMN JUBILEE: WEEKENDS NOW THROUGH OCT. 29
The Julian Autumn Jubilee takes place each weekend from September 23 through October 29. Enjoy Julian’s famous apple season with activities including a hayride, cider pressing demonstration, hoedown and jug band show, petting zoo, pumpkin patch, reptile interactions, candle dipping and painting craft.
There’s also an adventure package option if you want to try your hand at archery and tomahawk throwing. Other options include U-pick veggies, herbs and berries, fairy and dinosaur garden crafts and more.
Full details are available at https://www.fortcross.com/autumn-jubilee.
LATE SEASON HEIRLOOM APPLE FESTIVAL OCT. 1-30
Ranchita del Reo in Julian invites you to a Late Season Apple Festival October 1st through 30th from 9:30a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Rancho is located at 1711 Highway 78 in Julian.
Visitors can savor several varieties of heirloom apples grown in Julian and available just once a year. You can also taste apple cider made from the ranchita’s heirloom apples, pick apples and stroll through the vintage orchard.
Home-made jams and preserves will be available, as local foodies and apple enthusiasts share their specialties. For more information, visit Ranchita Del Reo(link is external) on Facebook.
Tickets are available at the SDSU Cal Coast Amphitheatre(link is external) website.
PUMPKIN EXPRESS OCT.7-29
The Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo invites you to take a ride aboard the Pumpkin Express. You can celebrate Halloween aboard the decorated vintage railcars on an excursion through San Diego’s backcountry each Saturday and Sunday from October 7th through October 29th.
After the train returns to the museum grounds, passengers will head to the display building, where children and their parents can decorate pumpkins from the museum’s pumpkin patch. Guests can also viewi Halloween scenes and haunted train cars. Pumpkins are included in the purchase of every toddler and child ticket on the Pumpkin Express; additional pumpkins may be purchased.
Passengers of all ages are encouraged to arrive in costume. For tickets, visit the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum website at PSRM.org(link is external).
RANDY RAINBOW COMEDIAN AT THE MAGNOLIA OCT. 14
The “Randy Rainbow for President” comedy show is coming to the Magnolia Theater in El Cajon on October 14.
Randy Rainbow is a three-time EMMY nominated American comedian, producer, actor, singer, writer and satirist best known for his popular YouTube series, The Randy Rainbow Show. His musical parodies and political spoofs have garnered him worldwide acclaim and two EMMY® nominations. In 2019 he landed a spot on The New York Times Best Performances list, and in 2020 The Washington Post proclaimed Rainbow as Best Parody.
For tickets, visit magnoliasandiego.com.
HAUNT FEST ON MAIN OCT.20
El Cajon presents Haunt Fest on Main, a family friendly Halloween season festival on Friday, October 20 from 4 p.m.to 9 p.m. in downtown El Cajon.
The 10th annual Haunt Fest on Main features live music on two stages plus other performances, costume contests, expanded carnival rides and games; a car show; candy challenge, Kidz Zone, face painting, pumpkin patch, craft and game booths; LED rock wall; Inflatables for kids; plus a surprise feature of Movies In The Park.
Find more information at http://hauntfest.org.
SANTEE BREWS AND BITES FESTIVAL OCT. 21
Cheers! Santee hosts its Santee Brews and Bites Festival on Saturday, October 21 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Town Center Community Park East, 550 Park Center Drive.
The festival features sampling of beers, wines, and tasty treats from more than 45 local food and drink vendors, as well as live music and opportunity drawings for prizes.
Choose from general admission tickets ($60, or $35 for designated drivers) or new “bite-sized” tickets ($35, or $20 for designated drivers). All tickets include unlimited food and beverage sampling plus commemorative sampling cup, but the higher priced full-experience tickets allow early admission at 5:30 with reduced lines, bonus drawing ticket and more. The bite-sized lower-priced tickets allow admission at 6:30.
The city has also partnered with the Cameron Family YMCA to offer a Parent's Night Out and provide childcare.
Funds raised will benefit the Santee Teen Center, park improvement projects, senior programs, and Recreation Scholarship Program, which provides financial assistance to Santee residents participating in city recreation programs.
Tickets and details: Brews & Bites
SO GOOD! NEIL DIAMOND EXPERIENCE OCT. 21
Musical entertainer Robert Neary, also a TV and Broadway actor, brings his acclaimed “So Good! The Neil Diamond Experience” show to the Magnolia theatre in El Cajon on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 6:30 p.m. His uncanny renditions of 22 of Diamond’s classic hits such as Cherry, Cherry,” “I’m a Believer,” “Solitary Man,” “Holly Holy,” “Coming to America,” and “Sweet Caroline” are backed by New York's premier band, The Mystic. Neary will also share Diamond’s personal stories about some of his songs, and provide a finale that has dazzled critics.
For tickets, click here.
To learn more about the show, visit SoGoodTheNeilDiamondExperience.com.
BORREGO DAYS DESERT FESTIVAL OCT. 21
The 57th annual Borrego Days Desert Festival, produced by the Borrego Chamber of Commerce, will be held Oct. 21st and 22nd at Christmas Circle Community Park in Borrego Springs.
The festival includes live musical entertainment, art exhibits, a kids’ zone, food vendors, artisans. a beer garden, a car show and more. For details, visit borregodays.com.
GLOBE FOR ALL IN LEMON GROVE OCT. 25
Globe For All, the innovative traveling troupe that brings the Bard to Lemon Grove, will stage a fun performance of The Comedy of Errors.
On Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m., the troupe descends on Lemon Grove Academy on School Lane to take over Roberto Alvarez Auditorium and wow the fans for the ninth season.
Shakespeare meets “The Jersey Shore” in this hilarious take on The Comedy of Errors. Here's the story: A young man and his servant arrive in town, unaware that each of them has an identical twin already there. Things can’t possibly end well—or maybe they can, but not before the mistaken identities lead to confused lovers, shocked family members, and all-outcomic chaos. Get your hair gel and spray tan ready for one of the Bard’s most outrageous comedies, filled with music and brought to life by award-winning director Em Weinstein as it visits communities across San Diego County.
This event is open to the public (free), but RSVPs are required so be sure to reserve space by emailing email@example.com.
SPOOKY CAMPOVER AND PUMPKIN BASH OCT. 28-29
Lions, Tigers and Bears in Alpine invites you to two wildly eerie events: A family-friendly pumpkin bash on October 29 and a Spooky Campover October 28-29. These events sell out quickly, so early reservations are recommended.
Camp out in the countryside and sleep under the stars with the sanctuary animals during the annual Spooky Campover fundraiser. This family-friendly spooktacular overnight event includes campfire songs, pumpkin carving, a Halloween costume contest, and an all-ages haunted house. Enjoy the fun of the animal trivia challenge, make s'mores by the campfire, and sip hot cocoa at the big cat and wildlife sanctuary.
The next morning is the Pumpkin Bash, during the morning sanctuary visit. Come dressed in your best costume and watch the rescued big cats and bears devour their pumpkin treats. Pumpkins carved by campers the night before are stuffed with all kinds of delicious goodies. This event will take place rain or shine.
For tickets and details, visit https://www.lionstigersandbears.org/
SANTEE LAKES HOSTS SPOOKTACULAR AND TRUNK OR TREAT OCT. 28
Every ghoul is welcome at Santee Lakes’ first-ever Spooktacular and Trunk-or-Treat on Saturday, October 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This will be a ghoulish day of games, a giant Halloween maze, face painting, creepy crafts, photo opportunities, and much more.