Things to do in October

Top events coming to San Diego during the spookiest of months include various Halloween haunts, Pacific Beach Fest, San Diego International Film Festival and Extreme Sailing Series.

Through 10.31: Haunted Hotel

Hop on the Hellevator and venture into the depths of horror as the latest inn-carnation of San Diego’s long-running haunted house dares you to endure a shuddering mutant mineshaft, a sickening swamp and an atrocious zombie-infested alley.

424 Market St., Gaslamp,

Through 10.31: Haunted Trail

The faint of heart shouldn’t attempt this mile-long amusement that starts with a spine-tingling traipse through a 3,500-square-foot maze, then continues past Balboa Park’s contorted trees while putting you face-to-face with some of cinema’s most insidious icons.


Balboa Park, downtown,

Through 10.31: Scream Zone

The county’s largest haunted experience returns with three hair-raising attractions: the House of Horror, the Haunted Hayride and the KarnEvil freak show, all complemented by food trucks, fun photo opportunities and a ghastly Spirit Lounge bar.

Del Mar Fairgrounds, Del Mar,

10.3-14: San Diego Italian Film Festival’s feStivale 2018

Feast your eyes on a cornucopia of films, replete with rom-coms, indie flicks, dramas and documentaries, during nearly two weeks of events for aficionados of Italian movies and culture.


Museum of Photographic Arts, Balboa Park,

San Diego Italian Film Festival’s feStivale

San Diego Italian Film Festival’s feStivale.

(Courtesy photo)

10.4: Orchids & Onions Gala

The San Diego Architectural Foundation hosts their annual awards ceremony shining a spotlight on the most aesthetically pleasing — and most visually offensive — structures in the city.

U.S. Grant Hotel, downtown,

10.4-31: Backwoods by Savage House Haunted Attraction

Scare yourself silly at San Diego’s only themed haunted attraction, where brave souls will dodge cannibalistic hillbillies at the Gray family farmhouse.

Westfield Mission Valley,

10.6: 21st annual Pacific Beach Fest

P.B.’s free, full-day beach festival is back with an oceanfront 5K and a fish taco contest, plus tons of merchants and live, local music all day long.

Oceanfront Walk, Pacific Beach,


10.6: Imperial Beach Auto Fest

More than 400 engines of all years, makes and models will roar to life as the South Bay’s signature auto event returns with tons of live music, merchants and more entertainment than ever before.

Seacoast Pier, Imperial Beach,

Imperial Beach Auto Fest

 Imperial Beach AutoFest.

(Chadd Cady / San Diego Union-Tribune)

10.6-7: La Jolla Art and Wine Festival

Visitors at this two-day celebration of art and wine will enjoy a wine and beer garden, a silent auction, a family art center, live music, food and entertainment, all in the heart of La Jolla village.

Girard Ave., La Jolla,

La Jolla Art and Wine Festival

La Jolla Art and Wine Festival.

(Elliot Heller)

10.6-7: Maker Faire

Meet more than 200 local makers at this gathering of fascinating folks showcasing their incredible inventions, creations and craftsmanship inside several of Balboa Park’s most-loved museums.

Balboa Park,


Maker Faire

Maker Faire.

(Courtesy photo)

10.10-14: 17th annual San Diego International Film Festival

The region’s premier film festival and one of the leading stops on the independent cinema circuit is back with more than 115 movies, several glamorous parties and intimate events with up-and-coming filmmakers. Here are some must-see events during the 5-day festival:

Opening Night Film Premiere and After Party: On Oct. 10, watch as festival VIPs and stars stroll down the red carpet at the Balboa Theatre before heading in to see a screening of Can You Ever Forgive Me? featuring Melissa McCarthy. After the movie, it’s time to party with music from the Stilettos and DJ Marc Easy or test your luck at the Jamul Casino Gaming Tables.

Night of the Stars Tribute: Presented by trade publication VARIETY, dine in style while accomplished members of the industry are recognized and honored with awards, including Alex Wolff who will receive this year’s Auteur Award (read our Q&A with the young actor here), on Oct. 11 at the Pendry hotel. An after party follows at Oxford Social Club.

Alex Wolff

Actor Alex Wolff.

(Udo Spreitzenbarth)

Social Impact Panel: Industry leaders gather on the morning of Oct. 12 for a 90-minute panel to discuss social justice, the refugee crisis and how filmmakers are telling these stories.


Amandla Stenberg and Algee Smith in Twentieth Century Fox’s THE HATE U GIVE. 

(Erika Doss)

Culinary Cinema: Raise a glass with a welcome champagne cocktail on Oct. 14 before heading into the theater for a cuisine-themed movie followed by bites from some of San Diego’s top culinary talents.

Venues throughout San Diego,

San Diego International Film Festival

San Diego International Film Festival.

(Courtesy photo)

10.12-14: Del Mar Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show

Mass-produced products are strictly verboten at this arts and crafts show that exclusively features handmade items and embellished artifacts.

Del Mar Fairgrounds, Del Mar,

Del Mar Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show

Del Mar Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show.

(Courtesy photo)

10.12-14: Fashion Week San Diego

California’s largest publicly accessible fashion event once again celebrates the clothing industry by highlighting local entrepreneurs and their apparel.

Lux Art Institute, Encinitas,

Fashion Week San Diego

Fashion Week San Diego.

(Luis Gonzalez)

10.13: Marine Corps Bootcamp Challenge

Climb cargo nets, leap over logs and scale a 6-foot wall while racing to complete the same 3-mile, 50-obstacle course that transforms recruits into Marines.

Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Midway District,

Marine Corps Bootcamp Challenge

Marine Corps Bootcamp Challenge.

(Courtesy photo)

10.13: Boots in the Park

This West Coast touring country music festival arrives in San Diego with performances by country music acts including Billy Currington, The Wild Feathers, Tyler Rich and more.

Waterfront Park, Little Italy,

Boots in the Park

Boots in the Park. 

(Oh Dag Yo Photography)

10.13: 18th annual Row for the Cure

Use a human-powered watercraft to complete a 4.5K competitive course — or opt to SUP/paddle through the brand-new beginner course — at this aquatic event raising awareness and funds to support those affected by breast cancer.

Ski Beach, Mission Bay,

Row for the Cure

Row for the Cure.

(Courtesy photo)

10.13: San Diego Modern Home Tour

Visit some of San Diego’s most gorgeous homes — in any order and on your schedule — during this design-centric event showcasing local architecture.

Throughout San Diego,

San Diego Modern Home Tour

San Diego Modern Home Tour.

(Courtesy photo)

10.13: Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

Strap on a pair of heels — or slip into whatever kind of kicks you want — then strut your stuff for a full mile at this fundraising walk that aims to draw attention to the seriousness of domestic violence.

MLK Promenade, Gaslamp Quarter,

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.

(Courtesy photo)

10.13: 26th annual City Ballet Gala

San Diego’s own Mario Lopez will emcee this celebration of the City Ballet’s award-winning performances and inspirational outreach programs, which benefit more than 10,000 local youths each year.

Hotel del Coronado, Coronado,

City Ballet Gala

City Ballet Gala.

(Anna Scipione)

10.13-14: Latin American Art Fair

Join 10,000 like-minded Latin American art enthusiasts at this innovative fair focused on bringing more international art to our city’s local galleries.

Bread & Salt, Logan Heights,

10.14: Sixth annual Bike for Boobs

Grab your helmet, hop on your bike and choose either a 20-mile road ride or a leisurely trip around Shelter Island during this afternoon rendezvous that raises funds to fight breast cancer. 

The Wine Pub, Shelter Island,

Bike for Boobs

Bike for Boobs.

(Courtesy photo)

10.14: Installation Dances at Liberty Station

Witness six site-specific dances inspired by Liberty Station’s alluring art installations during one of three guided walking tours hosted by Jean Isaacs of San Diego Dance Theater fame.

Liberty Station Arts District, Point Loma,

Installation Dances at Liberty Station

Installation Dances at Liberty Station.

(Courtesy photo)

10.14: Mustangs by the Bay

Scope out hundreds of models of Ford’s classic car — or show off your own precious “pony” — as the Mustang Club of San Diego hosts their premier auto show.

Embarcadero Marina Park North,

Mustangs by the Bay

Mustangs by the Bay.

(Don Cole)

10.18-21: Extreme Sailing Series

The stadium-racing sailing circuit returns to the Big Bay during this high-energy, spectator-centric event that attracts some of the world’s best sailors and puts attendees right in the middle of the action.

Harbor Island,

Extreme Sailing Series

The Extreme Sailing Series.

(Lloyd Images)

10.20: Scallywag!

Rancid, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Less than Jake are just three of the acts performing at this daylong festival focused on killer tunes and incredible food and offering unlimited tastings of more than 150 craft brews.

Waterfront Park, Little Italy,



(Courtesy photo)

10.20-21: Coronado Art Walk

Hundreds of contemporary craftsmen and craftswomen join other gifted artisans to present one-of-a-kind creations during two days where it’s all about original art.

Coronado Ferry Landing, Coronado,

10.20-21: Fourth annual Art Rhythm & Wine Festival

This free, two-day open-air festival includes exhibits from more than 50 artists all celebrating the dynamic culture of Carlsbad.

The Forum, Carlsbad,

Art Rhythm & Wine Festival

Fourth annual Art Rhythm & Wine Festival.

(Xavier Bailey)

10.21: Green Homes Tour

Chart your own course as you visit the county’s most eco-friendly homes on this self-guided tour that aims to encourage, educate and empower you to make your own home greener.

Throughout San Diego,

Green Homes Tour

The 2018 Green Homes Tour includes the McConkey Residence in Lakeside.

(Courtesy photo)

10.21: Craft Classic Half Marathon & 5K

Opt to either run alongside Route 56 or stay closer to Sorrento Valley during these two runs that offer sweeping views, challenging hills and a craft beer reward at the Green Flash’s finish line.

Green Flash Brewing Co., Mira Mesa,

Craft Classic Half Marathon & 5K

Craft Classic Half Marathon & 5K

(Kyle Grillot)

10.23: Halloween Pumpkin Carving Contest

Celebrate Halloween in retro style at this carving contest, where contestants compete for prizes like a stay at The Pearl Hotel while watching a Halloween-themed movie projected on the hotel’s poolside big screen.

The Pearl Hotel, Point Loma,

Halloween Pumpkin Carving Contest

Halloween Pumpkin Carving Contest at The Pearl Hotel.

(Courtesy photo)

10.26: P.B. Pub Crawl

Hit up P.B.’s favorite haunts and hotspots as you crawl with hundreds of other costumed crazies to more than 10 different bars, each offering drink discounts and free shots without any cover charge.

Throughout Pacific Beach,

10.26: Halloween Pub Crawl

Knock back free shots and specialty cocktails at more than 10 select venues during this costumed pub crawl followed by several epic after-parties.

Throughout downtown,

Halloween Pub Crawl

Halloween Pub Crawl.

(Andrew Minner)

10.26: Naked Magicians

Two unabashed illusionists from Australia bare it all during this uproarious, R-rated magic show that includes lots of coarse language and leaves little to the imagination.

Balboa Theatre,

Naked Magicians

Naked Magicians.

(Courtesy photo)

10.26, 27 + 31: Zombie Crawl

Shamble throughout the streets of downtown alongside thousands of other undead drinkers during this creepy bar crawl that includes access to more than 20 of the city’s hottest parties, nearly all of which include complimentary shots and devilish drink specials.

Throughout the Gaslamp Quarter and East Village,

10.27: Eighth annual Hallo-Wine & Spirits

Coronado’s famously haunted hotel welcomes you to wear a killer costume for this adults-only affair full of drinking, dancing and decadent desserts, all abiding by this year’s theme: Legendary Screams from the Silver Screen.

Hotel del Coronado, Coronado,

Hallo-wine & Spirits Party

Hallo-wine & Spirits Party at the Hotel Del Coronado.

(Jared Gase)

10.27: Nightmare on Normal Street

Hillcrest’s annual happenin’ Halloween street party is back, with outdoor dance floors, an American Idol-style costume competition, local DJs and food trucks.

Normal St., Hillcrest,

Nightmare on Normal Street

Nightmare on Normal Street.

(Courtesy photo)

10.27: Halloween Yacht Party

Don your costume and board this decked out three-hour Halloween cruise offering tray-passed hors d’oeuvres, two floors of dancing and cash prizes for best costumes.

Spirit of San Diego, San Diego Harbor,

10.27: WCKD Village

The evolution of the long-standing Monster Bash, this new event spans six blocks, boasts four concert stages, and includes a glitter bar, gypsy lounges and drink specials at more than two dozen of downtown’s hottest venues.

Throughout East Village the Gaslamp Quarter,

WCKD Village

WCKD Village.

(Courtesy photo)

10.27: Spooktoberfest

San Diego band Pinback will headline this dual Halloween/Oktoberfest event featuring a beer garden, food demonstrations, live zombies, and costume contests.

The Lafayette Hotel, Swin Club & Bungalows, 2223 El Cajon Blvd., North Park,

Pinback will perform at The Irenic on Feb. 25. (Drew Reynolds)
(unknown / )

10.27: Second annual Day of the Dead Festival North Park

With face painting, tequila tasting and sugar skull decorating, this second-year event also offers guests an opportunity to learn more about this vibrant Mexican holiday in remembrance of those no longer living.

Ray Street, North Park,

Day of the Dead Festival North Park

Day of the Dead Festival North Park.

(Courtesy photo)

10.27: Out of the Darkness Walk to Fight Suicide

Do your part to raise awareness about San Diego’s rising suicide rate during this walk that helps fund educational programs and support those affected by suicide loss.

NTC Park Liberty Station, Point Loma,

10.28: Halloween at the Station

All ages are encouraged to attend this free, family-friendly Halloween celebration that includes daytime trick-or-treating throughout the district, along with live entertainment and several spooky surprises little ones are sure to love.

Liberty Station, Point Loma,

Halloween at the Station

Halloween at the Station.

(Dave Siccardi)

10.28: 17th annual Dia de Los Muertos Oceanside

Eat, dance, and shop till you drop as North County’s largest Dia de Los Muertos celebration returns with one of the most authentic Mexican experiences north of the border.

Mission San Luis Rey, Oceanside,

10.28-29 & 11.1-2: Fiesta de Reyes Dia de Los Muertos

Remember lost loved ones in a lively way over the course of two weekends that include candlelight processions, professional face painters and several colorful Catrinas — female skeletons dressed in hats — scattered around Old Town.

Fiesta de Reyes, Old Town Historic State Park,

Old Town Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos in Old Town, San Diego.

(Jared Gase )

San Diego Gulls home games

10.12: vs Tucson Roadrunners

10.19: vs Milwaukee Admirals

10.20: vs Bakersfield Condors

10.26: vs Stockton Heat

10.27: vs Tucson Roadrunners

San Diego Gulls

San Diego Gulls.

(Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune)


Full plate: October food and drink events

Laughing stock: October comedy shows 

Curtain calls: October performing arts performances

Art beat: October gallery and exhibit openings

Groove: October concert calendar

Spin cycle: October EDM and DJ performances

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