A Halloween Haven: How Escape Halloween Is Elevating the Festival Experience

For two nights out of the year, the grounds of the NOS Events Center come alive as part of the most immersive Halloween electronic music festival arguably anywhere. Produced by Insomniac Events, Escape Halloween completely envelops attendees with all things creepy alongside head-spinning bangers from some of the biggest names in the game.

The festival, which has called the San Bernardino venue home for over a decade, has morphed and evolved throughout the years. Having started as an Alice In Wonderland-themed rave as Escape from Wonderland, the event is now a full-fledged festival coupling eletro beats with multiple haunting settings.

The Grimm.

Jamal Eid for Insomniac Events

Working with an expanded footprint, the site now offers five stages along with two highly themed areas and detailed walking paths that create a unique sense of place. From the larger-than-life skeletons flanking the Boulevard of Bones to the intricate fire-laden set pieces inside Crazy Town, Escape Halloween feels like Insomniac's spooky answer to Disneyland.

Crazy Town clowns.

Keiki-Lani Knudsen for Insomniac Events

And if you think Insomniac's lavish designs ended there, you'd be dead wrong. Things got even more extravagant for those lucky enough to don VIP wristbands, particularly at the main VIP area adjoining The Grimm stage.

It was here where a ghostly woman perched atop her balcony would welcome guests into her space. From Dia de Los Muertos curios to Haunted Mansion-themed bars, the entire expanse could easily rival Disney or Universal with its meticulous theming. 

Stealing the scene were the myriad of costumed performers found throughout the venue. Whether they be fortune tellers, pyro dancers, skeletal stilt-walkers, blackjack dealers, creepy clowns or deranged butchers, these characters gave life to the festival, allowing for a narrative to be told around each corner of the event space.

Dia de los Muertos stiltwalkers.

Scott Hutchinson for Insomniac Events

Of course, it wouldn't be an Insomniac festival without a stellar lineup of artists guiding the symphonic journey. Over the course of its two-day run, nearly all of the genres that make up the electronic spectrum were represented between the five distinct stages.

At the Feeding Grounds, the bass was heavy as the Bassrush-hosted stage took over Friday night. Zomboy, ATLiens, HEKLER and SVDDEN DEATH were some of the artists melting faces and causing heads to bang. Come Saturday, sounds shifted at the arachnid compound as Three 6 Mafia, William Black, MALAA and Rezz performed to varying crowds.


Jake West for Insomniac Events

The sounds of the underground seeped from the manholes and enraptured partygoers at the Sewer District stage. Surrounded by giant containers on all sides, the Factory93 Experience gifted us to two days of techno and house music. Lilly Palmer, Jamie Jones, Hot Since 82, Green Velvet, Patrick Topping, Loco Dice, Charles D, and Reinier Zonneveld were some of the names that graced the stage throughout the weekender.

Hot Since 82.

Ivan Meneses for Insomniac Events

As the newest addition to the Escape footprint, Wicked Woods was the only indoor stage and took full advantage of its environment. In this scary backwoods setting, a wide array of performances could be found. From a drum and bass set by Nitepunk to a throwback set from k?d, the enclosed space was a beehive of activity both days of the event.

Meanwhile, at the hard-to-miss Saintarium, two distinct soundscapes  encircled the air. Hardstyle dominated Friday night, with acts like Ben Nicky, LNY TNZ, Lady Faith, Darren Styles, Code Black,and DJ Isaac b2b SayMyName. The BPM dropped drastically by Saturday, when the rhythmic sounds of house music were presented by the likes of Max Styler, Wade, MK and Matroda b2b San Pancho.

The grimacing skeleton known simply as The Grimm is where the majority of the action was to be found. It was here where thousands of revelers gathered to dance along to the beats unleashed by some of EDM's titans. Above & Beyond, Zedd, Kaskade, Afrojack, Armin van Buuren, DJ Snake, SLANDER and Tchami were among the many heavyweights that created monster-sized crowds on the main stage.

Above & Beyond.

Jamal Eid for Insomniac Events

As an electronic dance music festival, Escape Halloween delivers with its multi-genre approach dispersed throughout its five distinct stages. However, it is in its immersive theming where Escape leaves the realm of festival and enters a world of sinister storytelling. 

The atmospheric characters, the freakshow found inside the Psycho Circus, the gargoyle fountain, the jack-o-lanterns and scarecrows lining the Haunted Hay Row, and the creepy picture frames lining the VIP lounge all help elevate Escape into a bonafide Halloween haven.


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