Burnaby is angling to become a worldwide Halloween destination

A house decked out for Halloween in Burnaby, B.C., on Oct. 28, 2022.   (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
A house decked out for Halloween in Burnaby, B.C., on Oct. 28, 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Burnaby, B.C., is making a move to become a destination for all things spooky, scary and skeletons.

It's part of the city's five-year plan to become a true Halloween city, hoping to attract tens of thousands of visitors to events leading up to the big night.

After two years of pandemic restrictions, Mayor Mike Hurley said this year was the first where they could 'get down to it.'

Haunted tours, scary movie screenings, creepy art installations and even a zombie walk are all on the itinerary.

They also held a contest for the best-decorated homes, awarding the spookiest space with $1,000, and created a map of all the decked-out homes to check out on or before Halloween.


In 2019, the city sent a delegation to Derry, Northern Ireland, to check out their Halloween festivities.

Derry is known in Europe and around the world for its dedication to Oct. 31. Every year, it hosts Europe's largest Halloween festival, which includes fairs, haunted houses, pumpkin carving and more.

"They really engage their community and they would engage their schools and get them involved," Hurley told Gloria Macarenko, host of CBC's On The Coast.

Tourism Burnaby
Tourism Burnaby

He said there are up to 90,000 people each night attending Halloween festival events in Derry.

"It just turned into a fabulous community event and now people from all over Europe are going there to enjoy the celebration in Derry."

Halloween originates from the Celtic festival Samhain, which marks the end of harvesting and the beginning of winter, so it's no surprise the Irish have claimed the world's spookiest title.

Catherine McCooey, who works for Tourism Burnaby but grew up in Northern Ireland, said Halloween in her rural community of Keady meant spending time with loved ones, bonfires, bobbing for apples and eating homemade apple tarts.

"It was a real family thing," she said.

Tourism Burnaby
Tourism Burnaby

For Hurley, Halloween is a family affair, too.

"My boys love getting out and joining in the celebrations and I go with them to go around the houses on Halloween night and we have a lot of fun," he said.

"We enjoy working as a family and painting our faces and just joining in and having a good time. That's what Halloween's really about."