Writer Lara Piu
Photographer Salt River Fields

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]alloween is not just a day; it’s months upon months of costume planning, Pinterest boards, mega candy displays and well-decorated front porches. Thanks to Spooktacular at Salt River Fields, it’s also a weekend-long celebration.

Now in its seventh year, this spectacularly spooky festival will happen October 27 and 28, just days before the big Day of the Dead. The event promises everything the Halloween heart can imagine, from impressive hot air balloons, nightly firework shows, live music, a pumpkin patch and a free KidsZone to delight kids and adults alike.

“People attend this event because it is the most unique trick-or-treating their family will get to do!” suggests Vanessa Clifton, vice president and COO of Aerial Solutions. “Having the opportunity to get up-close and personal with hot air balloons is fascinating for people of all ages. Plus, there are so many activities included in the admission price that make it a tremendous value for families.”

A safe, fun and memorable trick-or-treat family-friendly experience, Spooktacular has a lot to offer. Kids, adults and groups can enter for a chance to win costume contests each night. The Spooktacular Marketplace will sell arts, crafts and merchandise from local shops, as well as beverages and holiday-themed foods from dozens of on-site vendors.

The star of the show will be Spooktacular’s fire-fueled display of more than 20 larger-than-life hot air balloons that will illuminate the sky. At more than three continuous hours, the balloons will set the record for the world’s longest continuous glow.

Kids will be invited to go trick or treating at each balloon operator’s station, where candy will be handed out under their glow. And for $25 (or $15 for kids), guests can get an aerial look at Salt River Fields’ spring training, which is surrounded by beautiful mountain panoramas, in a tethered balloon ride.

“I have to say I have two favorite parts [of Spooktacular],” Vanessa adds. “The first is when that first balloon starts to inflate and you see people’s excitement for the balloons. The second is the all-glows. This is when we do a countdown for the balloons and they all light up and glow at the same time. The roar of the balloons combined with the roar of the crowd is something that you have to be a part of to understand just how thrilling it is!”

Ready for more? Dare to stroll the Spook Trail. This fan favorite, manned by Saguaro High School students, will transform Salt River Fields into an excitingly frightening path developed and lead by the students. It supports the school’s choir program events and activities throughout the school year.

A break from the spooky, soaring fun will await guests at the KidsZone, where kids can run around and play more than 40 games and attractions including inflatable bounce houses, slides and an obstacle course, which is free with admission.

Make this one for the books at the Pumpkin Patch photo booth, where event goers can take pictures with the pumpkins and share them with Instagram and Facebook. Both nights culminate with a fireworks show at 9 p.m.

Spooktacular will be held at Salt River Fields, the spring training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies, located at 7555 North Pima Rd. in Scottsdale. Tickets to 7th Annual Balloon Spooktacular are $15 for adults; $10 for children 3-12; and free for kids 2 and younger. Purchase them in advance on Salt River Fields’ website.