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The rise of Halloween tourism

What used to be a neighbourhood event now draws trick-or-treaters from across the region seeking a Halloween experience.
Most residential houses don’t try to compete with the likes of Van Dusen Botanical Garden. Most. (MaxAch /

When I was a kid, nobody asked “what are you doing for Halloween.” Almost everyone with kids under ten did the same thing: dressed them up in costumes and went trick-or-treating in their own neighbourhood.

Now? The elementary school parking lot is full of Halloween party talk and parents are driving their kids to different neighbourhoods, myself included.

This year, we took the kids to trick-or-treat on our friends’ street in Lynn Valley. Their neighbourhood goes all out for the holiday. Almost every house is decorated, with full-on haunted houses in their front yards. The adults are dressed up, the candy haul is next level and they throw firecrackers into a wheelbarrow and we gather around to watch them fly…sometimes getting a little too close.

While trick-or-treaters do come out along our street, the excitement and enthusiasm is not quite the same.

For the past couple years CBC has been ranking the city’s best neighbourhoods for best decorations and most candy so Vancouverites can really maximize their Halloween experience. They’ve asked those giving out candy to log how many trick-or-treaters came to their houses and they use that data to populate the treat count map. The winners? Trinity Street in East Vancouver and Douglas Park for the most extravagant displays and best decorations. Vancouverites delivered with a list of spots where full-sized candy bars were given out last year.

The interesting flip side of this trend is that some of the city’s neighbourhoods are abandoned almost entirely on Halloween night. Checking the #TreatCount2019 hashtag on Twitter, some were reporting only one or two knocks on their door all night.

What used to be a community or event has changed in many ways because our city has changed. Part of the reason many seek out other neighbourhoods and shopping malls is it’s tough to trick-or-treat in a condo or if your street is full of empty homes purchased by foreign investors.

Halloween tourism has taken a strong hold on Vancouver and the holiday has become so different for it. We might not all be knocking on our neighbour’s doors but there is a (still) little magic is the chase – there’s only one night to find the city’s best Halloween spots and that ever-elusive full-sized candy bar.

Ada Slivinski is the Founder & Principal of Jam PR, a boutique agency focused on helping small businesses get big exposure. You can reach her at [email protected]