It's safe to say that nerds get more excited for October than any other month in their Pusheen the cat wall calendar. And why not? October is full of costumes, horror and sci-fi movie marathons, and the year’s biggest day for fantasy, Halloween. Here in Phoenix, there are ways to celebrate Frankenstein’s 200th birthday, a live rendition of the Harry Potter soundtrack, and of course, a zombie walk. So swap your ironic T-shirts for ironic hoodies, and check out these 11 nerdy things to do in the Valley this October.
"Frankenstein at 200"
Mary Shelley conceived Frankenstein in 1816 during Lake Geneva, Switzerland’s “year without a summer." Though that concept's tough for Phoenicians to grasp, we can still celebrate the big lug’s 200th birthday with the free "Frankenstein at 200" exhibit, showcasing works by Arizona State University students and faculty on Frankenstein’s “scientific, technological, cultural, and social impacts.” Find "Frankenstein at 200" on the first floor of Hayden Library at ASU’s Tempe campus, open to the public Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to midnight, Saturday 9 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday 10 a.m. to midnight through December 10. Visit the ASU Libraries website for more.
The Ghost Lounge at the Hotel San Carlos will be dressing up October as the Maison de Santé – the fictional insane asylum inspired by the work of Edgar Allan Poe for the eighth annual PoeFest. Actors costumed as inmates and patients perform Poe tales on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 to 9:30 p.m. from October 7 to 29. There will be a special Halloween performance of The Raven on Monday, October 31, at the Rosson House, and a PoeFest Séance in the Hotel San Carlos Senator's Room at 10 p.m. on October 22 and 29. Tickets are $22 for student, senior, and military attendees, $26 for general admission, $49.95 for a festival pass to all performances, $34.95 for the PoeFest 2016 Séance, and $79.95 for a festival pass with séance. Visit the PoeFest website for more.
Halloween at Hogwarts
Witches, wizards, and muggles alike are sure to assemble in droves for Halloween at Hogwarts, happening Friday, October 7, through Sunday, October 9, at Phoenix Symphony Hall. The annual Phoenix Symphony event has become an autumn tradition in the Valley, featuring 90 minutes of Harry Potter movie soundtrack and some fall season favorites. Come costumed either as a beloved or hated character from Hogwarts, or use this night as a dress rehearsal for your upcoming Halloween ensemble. Visit the Phoenix Symphony website for more.
Bayeux Book Release Party
Author Tyler Button and illustrator Gerry Kissell are celebrating the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings by presenting Bayeux – a graphic novel recounting the prequel-like events leading to the 1066 battle that we don’t have time to explain (and you probably have access to Wikipedia, or better yet, come buy the book). Bayeux is released to the masses with the book release party from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, October 14, at the First Draft Book Bar at Changing Hands Phoenix. The free party is presented by Tapestry Comics, and will include a talk, book signings, and merch, as well as beer, wine, and snacks. Visit the Tapestry Comics website for more.
Okay, we’ll say it: No one can really replace Jon Stewart, but damn if we don't like Trevor Noah. And for political junkies who agree, the current Daily Show host will perform stand-up at Comerica Theatre at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 14. Tickets range from $35 to $55. Two stand-up specials, African American and You Laugh But It’s True, are currently on Netflix, so check out those two if you want to be extra psyched for the show. Visit the Live Nation website for tickets and more information.
Otsukimi Moonviewing Festival 2016
You’re allowed to crack exactly one “must be a full moon” joke at Otsukimi Moonviewing Festival 2016 – a Japanese moon-viewing festival happening at the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix. The viewing party is from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday, October 14, and Saturday, October 15. It will include traditional food, live music, and lots of luminaries. Tickets are $25 for general admission. Attendees may also participate in a traditional Japanese tea demonstration for an additional $10. For more details, visit the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix website.
Apocalypse Later International Fantastic Film Festival
Or just ALIFFF, the Apocalypse Later International Fantastic Film Festival is a first-year genre festival screening shorts of horror and science fiction – because what’s October without heavy doses of both? The film festival will take place in the 210-seat Third Street Theater at the Phoenix Center for the Arts. Doors are at 5, and the festival begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 15. The night will go: 90 minutes of horror shorts, intermission, 90 minutes of science-fiction shorts, and an award ceremony featuring judges from Phoenix FearCon, Cult Classics, and the Jerome Indie Film & Music Festival. Tickets are $10 a pop, but the popcorn is free. A selection of beer will also be for sale. For more information, visit the ALIFFF website.
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Twin Peaks Dinner Party
Inspired by The Secret History of Twin Peaks book, the Twin Peaks Dinner Party is an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner and with Twin Peaks trivia, a Twin Peaks marathon, and a costume contest – cue the Audrey Horne music. The Twin Peaks Dinner Party starts at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 21, at Changing Hands in Phoenix. Packages range from $42 for one hardcover copy of The Secret History of Twin Peaks and dinner for one, to $52 for a hardcover copy and dinner for two. That dinner includes bottomless spaghetti, garlic bread, and stacks of doughnuts – plus “damn fine" coffee and Laura Palmers. Visit the Changing Hands website for more information.
Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest
Attention those who spent the summer watching Stranger Things: This is your fest. Welcoming David Harbour, a.k.a. Chief Jim Hopper, and Millie Bobby Brown, a.k.a. freaking Eleven, Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest runs from 9 a.m. on Saturday, October 22, to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 23, at the Phoenix Convention Center. The programming guide features events like Vinyl Revolution with Zia Records, Worlds Of Stephen King, Star Wars Rebels – The Path Ahead, and Fan Fest PUGS. Other guests include WWE’s John Cena, Admiral Ackbar puppeteer Tim Rose, and Arthur Darville of Doctor Who fame. Costumes are encouraged, to say the least. Sunday membership is $25, Saturday membership is $30, and it’s $40 for the full event – plus $10 sidekick memberships for kids ages 3 to 12. For more details, visit the Phoenix Fan Fest website.
PHX Zine Fest 2016
Another first for the Valley this October, the PHX Zine Fest will feature a slew of DIY small-press publications, plus comics and photo and art books. Events include the The Zine Table: Gender In Transition and Blood and Sweat and Tears and Actual Blood (Just Once) – The Four Chambers Story, plus plenty of vendors like Pop Ook, Juli Huddleston, and Alloy Press. The inaugural PHX Zine Fest runs 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, October 23, at the Ice House. The all-ages event is free. For more details, visit the PHX Zine Fest 2016 website.
Zombie Walk 8
Phoenix’s Zombie Walk is a human, and human-craving, parade through the Quarantine Zone – otherwise known as the downtown Phoenix Warehouse District at Fourth and Jackson streets. Presented by Arizona Hemophilia Association and Downtown Phoenix, Inc., Z-Walk opens the gates at 4 p.m., with the very slow walk beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 29. Other events include the costume contest at 7:30, and the ticketed, adults-only Blood (Pub) Crawl to downtown bars at 9 p.m. The Zombie Walk is free, though a $5 donation to Arizona Hemophilia Association is encouraged, and the Blood (Pub) Crawl is $20 per walker. For further details, visit the Zombie Walk Phoenix website.