DARK brings back in-person scares for 4th year

The fourth annual DARK at Fort Edmonton Park runs Oct. 7-31, 2021.

DARK has returned to Edmonton a fourth time bigger than ever.

The Halloween festival featuring haunts, performances, and food and drinks started its month-long run Thursday evening.

“Our actors are really excited to get people in front of them,” Teresa Ryan, DARK’s director of experience development, told CTV News Edmonton. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the event to go virtual in 2020.

Meanwhile, its host space -- Fort Edmonton Park -- saw a massive expansion completed, leaving DARK organizers “a whole new area to play with,” Ryan said.

The fourth DARK event boasts roving performers, scare zones, food and drink trucks, and three themed immersive haunts: Under the Big Top, Core Industries, and Blood Harvest.

“You enter the Big Top, you navigate your way through sinister carnival workers, and you come face to face with killer clowns,” Ryan explained.

“Core Industries is about a parasitic outbreak. As part of a special operative team, you get to go in after the lab has been closed for two years and assess the carnage and just see how the lab is doing.

“And then Blood Harvest is kind of our take on an 80s slasher film. After experiencing a drive-in movie in the country, you’re making your way home and then you have a flat tire… You see a farmhouse in the distance, and you think, you know, maybe I’ll walk over there and see if they can help. Probably not a good idea.”

Organizers also kept two virtual events this year: a quiz night every Monday on Instagram, and a craft cocktail experience hosted by Rig Hand Distillery.

DARK will run for a total of 13 nights until Oct. 31. Admission is $45.

The event is participating in Alberta’s Restrictions Exemption Program, meaning guests will have to provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.