-- Eastern State Penitentiary’s annual Halloween festival features the return of “opting in” for a more intense experience, plus history and museum experiences for visitors to catch their breath --
August 22, 2022
Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary returns for its 2022 season on Friday, September 23. The annual event, which runs select nights through November 12, will feature three new attractions. In addition, for the first time since 2019, visitors can once again “opt in” for a scarier experience by allowing actors to touch them and separate them from their group.
Halloween Nights is a massive Halloween festival featuring five haunted houses, live entertainment, and themed bars, as well as nighttime historic tours and museum experiences, occupying all ten acres of Eastern State Penitentiary’s abandoned cellblocks and yards.
New offerings for this season include two haunted houses and an immersive, themed bar. Nightmares will bring visitors face-to-face with the creatures that lurk in the shadowy corners of their most unsettling dreams. Big Top Terror winds through the grounds of a twisted carnival with menacing characters at every turn. Continuing their carnival-themed adventure, visitors can stop for a drink and light fare at the Bizarre Bar where fire dancers, knife throwers, and other acts will be on hand to entertain.
Halloween Nights will also bring back the popular option to “opt in” for a more intense experience for the first time since 2019. If they choose, visitors can pick up a glow necklace at the entrance to any haunted house. Anyone wearing a glow necklace may be grabbed, sent into hidden passageways, and even temporarily separated from their group.
“Opting in has been a fan favorite and a rite of passage for many of our visitors, so we’re thrilled to bring that experience back this year,” says Brett Bertolino, vice president and director of operations. “Opting in allows our visitors to customize their experience and amp up the scare factor. But don't worry, If you need a breather between haunted houses or prefer a less scary experience, Halloween Nights includes plenty of opportunities to enjoy live entertainment or explore our historic tours and exhibits.”
Nighttime History and Museum Experiences
Within the festival is an area for the historic site’s flagship history and museum experiences. Visitors can take a break from the scares in the Fair Chance Beer Garden, operated in partnership with Triple Bottom Brewing Company. This area includes Eastern State's award-winning Prisons Today exhibit about the root causes of mass incarceration, and a history highlights audio tour narrated by actor Steve Buscemi that illustrates patterns of incarceration with a dramatic 16-foot-tall bar graph on the prison's baseball diamond. Both experiences suggest models for how our nation could move toward a more equitable and effective criminal justice system. A guide-led flashlight tour takes visitors into Eastern State Penitentiary’s historic Cellblock 3, the Hospital Block.
"We are thrilled to redesign our most compelling exhibits and tours for the Halloween Nights audience," says Senior Vice President Sean Kelley. "The festival format means that our visitors can now choose from an incredible array of experiences, from pure Halloween entertainment to thought-provoking museum experiences, or a combination of both."
Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary is open select nights from September 23 through November 12, 2022. Ticket prices start at $34 and vary by night. Tickets are on sale now at www.HalloweenNights.org.
A Halloween Festival of Epic Proportions
The setting for Halloween Nights is unparalleled. Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a lost world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. This gothic structure, with soaring 30-foot-high fortress walls, is intimidating enough during the day. At night, the cellblocks fall into darkness and the penitentiary takes on a different energy.
Halloween Nights brings visitors into the penitentiary’s cellblocks, exercise yards, workshops, outdoor courtyards, and hidden nooks. Nearly every inch of the penitentiary complex is activated for the event.
Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary is located at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Halloween Nights does not affect operation of the historic site, which remains open for daytime tours every day from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. year-round. All proceeds from Halloween Nights benefit the preservation and operation of Eastern State Penitentiary, a National Historic Landmark.
Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary runs select evenings from September 23 through November 12, 2022.
Ticket prices start at $34 and vary by night. Tickets are on sale now at www.HalloweenNights.org. Purchasing tickets online in advance is strongly recommended. It’s the cheapest and most convenient way to purchase tickets, and is the only way to guarantee entry to the festival. Some tickets may be available at the door, but capacity is limited, and many nights do sell out.
For more information about Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary, the public can visit www.HalloweenNights.org.