1. Kings Island's Halloween Haunt
Voted 2021's "Best Theme Park Halloween Event" in the country by USA TODAY readers, Halloween Haunt is an immersive scare-fest filled with haunted mazes, scare zones, live entertainment and hundreds of horrifying creatures lurking through the fog, looking to make your worst nightmares a reality. In addition, coasters and other thrill rides will be operating. Haunt activities start at 6 p.m. every Friday and Saturday through Oct. 30.
Since Halloween Haunt is not recommended for ages under 13, families with tweens and younger kids can hit the park from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays for HalloTween and Tricks and Treats Fall Fest. HalloTween features spooky-fun haunts for young scare-seekers without the fear of running into gruesome creatures, and Fall Fest includes costume contests, crafts, games, food, activities and all the park's rides and attractions. Kings Island is located at 6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason. visitkingsisland.com.
2. Brimstone Haunt
Located next to the Ohio Renaissance Festival grounds, this haunted attraction has different levels of scare-ability. The Haunted Hayride is a low-medium intensity haunt suitable for ages 8-up, where you'll take a one-mile ride through a haunted cornfield on a tractor-pulled wagon. The next level is Zombie Assault, a five-minute high tech ride in a simulator bus where you try to survive the zombie apocalypse. This attraction is suitable for ages 10-up. The Forgotten Forest ramps up the fright factor during a 20-minute walk through the woods, and Psychosis finds disturbing scenes of horror as you wind your way through a dark, maze-like pathway trying to find a way out. These two high-intensity attractions are for ages 13-up.
Brimstone Haunt is located at 525 Brimstone Road, Harveysburg. It's open 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Oct. 30. $50 fast pass combo, $30 combo hayride and forest; $18 hayride, $17 forest, $11 Psychosis, $7 Zombie Assault. brimstonehaunt.com.
Friends, we are spoiled for choice this weekend when it comes to Oktoberfest celebrations. Here are a few highlights:
St. Cecilia Oktoberfest tales place 5-9 p.m. Friday and 5-10 p.m. Saturday at 3105 Madison Road, Oakley. Also opening Friday is St. Jude Oktoberfest, 5924 Bridgetown Road, Bridgetown. Hours are 6:30 p.m.-midnight Friday, 4 p.m.-midnight Saturday and noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Sonder Brewing's Oktoberfest returns this year featuring live music, games, vendors, food and lots of regional craft breweries bringing German-style beers to sample. It runs from 10 a.m.-midnight Saturday at 8584 Duke Blvd., Mason. (sonderbrewing.com). The new kid on the block is Loveland Oktoberfest, running 4-10 p.m. Friday and 4-11 p.m. Saturday in downtown Loveland. Highlights include stein hoist and lederhosen competitions, weiner dog races and live music. (lmrchamberalliance.org).
4. 'Pipeline' opening
After playing only a few performances to rave reviews from audience and critics alike, "Pipeline" was sidelined the day after it opened in March 2020 due to the pandemic. Now this portrait of parenthood, education and the experience of young Black men in America returns to the Ensemble Theatre stage. The winner of the 2018 OBIE Award for Playwriting, this drama follows Nya, an inner-city public high school teacher committed to her students but desperate to give her only son, Omari, opportunities they’ll never have. When an explosive incident at his prestigious private school threatens to get him expelled, will all her efforts be lost?
Written by acclaimed playwright Dominique Morisseau and starring Sharrell D. Luckett as Nya and Jay Wade as Omari, "Pipeline" opened earlier this week and runs through Oct. 16. Times are as follows: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Ensemble Theatre is located at 1127 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine. $35-up. ensemblecincinnati.org.
5. Art happenings
It's the last Friday in the month, which means it's Final Friday time! At Pendleton Art Center (1310 Pendleton St., Pendleton), you'll find over 250 artist studios open to the public for art fans and collectors to view and purchase original art directly from the artists themselves. This month features an art auction on the eighth floor, and the artist of the month is Jess Sheldon in studio 512. It runs from 5. to 9 p.m. and is free to attend, with valet parking available for $5 at the door. pendletonartcenter.com.
A short stroll from PAC is Art Attack Cincinnati at Braxton Brewing Co. (331 E. 13th St., Pendleton), where local artists will have artwork for sale, plus live music, a selfie machine and, of course, plenty of quality brews. It runs from 7 to 11 p.m. facebook.com/artattackcincinnati.
The Art Academy of Cincinnati celebrates Final Friday with a public reception from 5 to 8 p.m. for three new exhibition openings. Metal is an exhibition of works by Keith Benjamin; Heavy Heavy, No Mistakes features recent works by AAC alum Anna Christina Sands; and Home Sweet Home is a group show by students of AAC's Exhibition Studio class. All three openings are at Chidlaw Gallery, 1212 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine. artacademy.edu.
In East Walnut Hills, Manifest Gallery kicks off its 18th season with three unique art openings. It's Painting Biennial launches in all five galleries, featuring 58 works of painting by 40 artists in 20 states. Aquachrome is a biennial survey of watercolor, and the third opening is a solo show of paintings by Jason Bly of Wichita Falls, Texas. The openings take place from 6 to 9 p.m. at 2727 Woodburn Ave. Exhibits run through Oct. 22. manifestgallery.org.
Honorable mention: Ish Festival
This festival brings artists and communities together to explore Jewish and Israeli cultural heritage in an approachable way. Enjoy food, art, music and cultural activities from traditional to contemporary, religious to secular, Jewish and non-Jewish. Ish Festival takes place 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine. Renowned Jewish reggae artist Matisyahu headlines Saturday night. Tickets to see Matisyahu run $36-$200. ishfestival.org.
Honorable mention: Great Outdoors Weekend
Great Outdoors Weekend showcases nearly 100 outdoor events – all free – for the whole family to sample the best outdoor recreation and nature awareness programs throughout Greater Cincinnati. Explore hiking and biking trails, take an archaeological site tour, enjoy free pedal boat rentals, learn canoeing and camping skills and more. See the entire listing of fun, family-friendly activities happening Saturday and Sunday at greatoutdoorsweekend.org.
Honorable mention: Concert for the Human Family
This inspiring collaborative between award-winning musicians and Episcopalian church leaders features genre-bending original music that bridges jazz, hip-hop and bluegrass. Led by Nashville pianist and composer Kory Caudill, the multicultural team includes Baltimore hip-hop artist Wordsmith, Genesis and Frank Zappa drummer Chester Thompson, and several Cincinnati-area guest artists. The concert makes a stop in Cincinnati at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Christ Church Cathedral, 318 E. Fourth St., Downtown. Tickets start at $12. eventbrite.com.