At the risk of sounding like a cliché, nature is healing if Midsummer Scream is back at the Long Beach Convention Center. Pulling up to see the familiar arch buffered by giant crowds outside waiting to enter was a welcome site, especially with a new Friday evening preview night.

For those unaware, Midsummer Scream is the world’s largest Halloween convention that takes place each summer in late July, right before all the real thrills start. Think of it like a sampler of the months to come.Around here is where many of the big haunts have reveals, announcements and promotions of their upcoming events, like the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride. And, by now, you should’ve have seen the details of the Halloween Horror Nights presentation with John Murdy detailing a bit of what was to come later this month.

But there’s a lot more to Midsummer Scream than simply just announcements during presentations. Any company with a passing link to the macabre can easily justify a presence here, whether it’s a VFX company showing off their work, or someone with handmade goods with a spooky twist.There’s plenty of photo ops around. HHN has typically done fun ones where you get props and they even print the photo at the end as a souvenir. But the handmade goods are really where the show floor earns its place. The sheer number of vendors that show up make it really hard to leave the convention without buying at least a few tchotchkes.

This year they also had a curated museum that had so many lovely items in it. It was the garage sale you’d always dream of coming across, but sadly none of it was actually for sale. But, of course, it wouldn’t be Halloween without some scares. So a good portion of the show floor is also dedicated to the Hall of Shadows, a darker area containing a mix of more mature booths, slider performances, and mini-haunts. Each year it’s given a theme for the walk-in area, to help set the mood. This year it was under the guise of the Midsummer Estates Annual Halloween Festival, so as you entered, you walked by all the homes decorated for the season. And yes, monsters were out. The mini-haunts came in every shape and size. From walk-through mazes to self-guided tours to scripted theatrical live performances. Some are samples of actual larger events while others exist only within these walls. There’s a reason this area can be the most packed part of the convention center. The event had been put on hold for the last few years, and seeing those giant inflatable black cats looming over the entrance was a nice comfort to have back.

If the hall of shadows was too frightening for you, there was also Paranormal Pixie’s Pumpkin Patch where the kid-friendly performers were including Buster Balloon and the Bob Baker Marionette Theater. They commanded a huge audience this year and I’m always happy to see more people fall in love with the marionettes.

This doesn’t even touch on all the other special showings, podcast recordings, live readings, interviews and so much else that went on. It’s tough to not pack your schedule full of things to do, no matter how you decide to celebrate Halloween.

Of course, necessity being the mother of invention, led to their creation of a Christmas-themed Halloween event last December, which we attended and loved. While at the time it seemed like a one-off to see what could be done given the circumstances, dates for the 2nd annual Season Screamings have been revealed this December, from the 2nd through the 4th. It was such a pleasure, we’re happy to see it return as well. We hope to see you all there!

All the details for the upcoming menagerie of events are available at