"There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin." — Linus, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"
Got costume? Let your fire burn (and your cauldron bubble) with a huge range of local Halloween activities, from the silly to the sedate to the scandalous. The suggestions below are arranged by age group.
For all ages
KISS tribute band Gods of Thunder will play at noon and 2 p.m. Saturday at the Orange County Market Place, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa. Admission is free with a can of food for the Second Harvest Food Bank and a flier available at ocmarketplace.com.
The Mesa Verde Center, 2701 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa will hold an all-ages Halloween Festival from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, including trick or treating, $2 face painting, and arts and crafts from noon to 3 p.m.; a balloon artist onstage from noon to 2 p.m.; a magician onstage from 2 to 3 p.m.; and a costume contest for $25 Toys R' Us gift certificates at 3 p.m. Other offerings include a raffle and a pumpkin patch filled with rides and activities. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Costa Mesa. Visit mesaverdecenter.com.
One of the most cherished local traditions is Sonora Elementary School's Trunk or Treat, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday at 966 Sonora Road, Costa Mesa. Savory treats including hot dogs, soda, and chili and/or cheese nachos will be $1. Families have decorated the trunks of their cars Halloween-style for a contest, which will be followed by trick or treating from car to car. Sonora students get in free; the general public is invited for $3 per person.
Take the kids trick-or-treating at Costa Mesa Courtyards, where Newport Boulevard, 19th Street and Harbor Avenue meet, from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday. Participating stores will have a "Trick or Treat Here" sign in their window. Free Halloween bags will be given to the first 500 kids at Cold Stone Creamery. Call (714) 259-1046 or visit costamesacourtyards.com.
Country-style craft store Piecemakers, 1720 Adams Ave., Costa Mesa, holds an annual pumpkin patch and holiday barn. Open all month, including from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Call (714) 641-3112.
Seeking a spooky Halloween display to take the family to? Check out the famous Boot Hill, at 16 Goldenrod, Irvine, from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, or 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Now in its 11th year, the house emulates the church and cemetery of the Old West town of Bridgewood (the house is in Irvine's Woodbridge neighborhood). Viewing is free to all; donation proceeds benefit the Children's Hospital of Orange County. Call (818) 633-0300.
For the grown-ups
Reputedly the largest such party in Orange County (and one of the bawdiest), Halloween OC 2010 starts at 8 p.m. Saturday at the OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa — and doesn't end until 4 a.m. The 21-and-older event will feature thousands of partiers, six indoor/outdoor party areas, a haunted pumpkin patch, a $2,500 Sexist Costume contest, live bands and deejays, a fashion show, costumed go-go dancers, two VIP lounges, a food court and vendor booths. General admission is $40 while supplies last at the Spirit Halloween store at 1835 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa; $60 at the door; or $200 at the door for a VIP ticket. Call (714) 708-1500 or visit owlus.com/Halloween-OC.html.
For a Mexican twist on Halloween, stop by SOL Cocina's Le Semana de Los Muertos, 251 E. Coast Hiwy., Newport Beach. The restaurant and bar has extended its happy hour week through Sunday. From 4:30 to 11 p.m. Friday, enjoy mole pipian in roasted kabocha squash with kurobuta carnitas as a dinner special. Starting at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, partake in the Dia de los Muertos Fiesta, which includes a live deejay, costume contest and prize drawings; the dinner special will be a green chile tamale with chipotle chicken. From 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, a brunch and dinner benefit for Corazon de Vida will see 10% of all sales benefit the organization, which helps orphanages in Mexico. The benefit includes live music, a showcase of Mexican American designer fashions, and an art gallery in the downstairs La Cava dining room. The special will be traditional Oaxacan turkey mole. Call (949) 675-9800 or visit solcocina.com.
Everybody's coming; leave your body at the door of this retro Halloween party and concert on the Costa Mesa border. The 10th annual Dead Man's Party (Oingo Boingo tribute band) and Mutaytor Halloween Bash will begin at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Galaxy Concert Theatre, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana. Highlights include a costume contest and prizes. Tickets are $29.50. Call (714) 957-0600.
Could there be a better time to catch the weekly "Rocky Horror Picture Show" screening party than at 11:30 p.m. Saturday at the Regency South Coast Village Theater, 1561 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana? Dress up as your favorite alien maid or leather-loving doctor; the world-famous Midnight Insanity live cast also will hold a dance party before the show. Admission is $10. Call (562) 235-8053 or midnightinsanity.com.
Sutra Lounge, 1870 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, is readying a variety of 21-and-older Halloween happenings, including LMFAO's party rock at 9 p.m. Friday (admission $30); DJ Kris P, with his live Halloween video mixing, at 9 p.m. Saturday (admission $15); and the seventh annual Lolita Halloween Bash and costume party, featuring Dada Life, Mr. White and an opening set by Kedd Cook, starting at 9 p.m. Sunday ($20 admission). Visit sutraoc.com.
Corona del Mar landmark restaurant Five Crowns, 3801 E. Coast Hwy., will hold a Murder Mystery Dinner, "The Fiend of Five Crowns," at 7 p.m. Sunday; the cost is $96, inclusive of tax and gratuity. The prix-fixe menu includes passed hors d'oeuvres, porcini mushroom ravioli, tossed garden salad, a choice of three entrees (prime rib, potato crusted salmon or roasted duckling), and strawberry English trifle. Pre-paid reservations are required. Call (949) 760-0331 or visit lawrysonline.com.
The restaurant's adjoining partner gastropub, SideDoor, will have its own Halloween party and costume contest starting at 5 p.m. Sunday. Look for the red skeleton key on Poppy to enter. Admission includes six craft beers paired with six seasonal plates, and a costume contest at 8 p.m. Prizes include $300 and $150 SideDoor gift cards and a magnum bottle of wine. Costumes are encouraged but not required. The cost is $65 per guest, inclusive of tax and gratuity; designated drivers are $35. Pre-paid reservations are required. Call (949) 717-4322 or visit lawrysonline.com.
Back Bay Bistro, 1131 Back Bay Drive, Newport Beach, is planning a Monster Mash party at 9 p.m. Saturday, with music, dancing, a costume contest and more. Dan Ackroyd, Ghostbuster extraordinaire, will be sponsoring the event with his Crystal Head Vodka line. Admission is $5; food and beverages will cost extra. A special three-course, $25 Halloween dinner will be available Saturday and Sunday. Call (949)729-1144.
The Heaven & Hell Halloween Costume Party begins at 9 p.m. Friday at new nightclub 8Eighty8, 4647 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach. Marc Crenshaw will provide the music in the main room, where the dance floor has LED lights; the club also features five patios, two dance floors, and premium sound system. VIP lounge seating is available. A sushi bar will be open until 1 a.m., and after-hours food will be served until 4 a.m. Call (714) 916-2582 or visit 8eighty8.com.
Aston Martin Newport Beach and AnQi Bistro by Crustacean join to present Masquerade at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the restaurant, inside Bloomingdale's, 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa. Admission is $65, and includes endless tapas and treats; music by DJ Angeline; an Aston martini and prize entry. Attire is masquerade themed; masks are encouraged. Call (714) 557-5679.
Prego Ristorante, 18420 Von Karman Ave., Irvine will hold a masquerade ball starting at 9 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $30 to $200. The OC Afterdark Halloween Party will feature two huge outdoor patios, two rooms with two music formats, a large bar and more than a half-dozen other bars for fast drink service; the spacious restaurant specializes in Northern Italian cuisine. General admission will be $30 at the door (arrive by 9 p.m. to avoid the line), or $50 for front-of-line, red-carpet admission and two drink tickets per person. A based-on-availability, pre-sale-only VIP table package for four, $200, also will include a reserved table; front-of-line, red-carpet admission for four; complimentary appetizers; and a bottle of Voga Pino sparkling wine. Call (949) 949-553-1333 or visit pregoristoranti.com.
The Irvine Hilton, 18800 MacArthur Blvd., will host a Halloween dance party at 7 p.m. Sunday, with free parking, $10 cover charge, costume contests and more. Call (949) 833-9999.