• Howl-O-Ween kicks off at the WNC Nature Center (75 Gashes Creek Rd., Asheville, 298-5600) this Saturday, Oct. 23, 1-8 p.m.
Says the Nature Center, "Come visit our 43-acres during the cool of the evening. Our creatures of the darkness will be on display in the Creepy Crawler Cabin along with some fabulously large pythons, boas and lizards with the Southern Appalachian Herpetological Society members! The club will be holding a raffle for herpetological items with proceeds going to the WNCNC's Veterinarian Clinic. Learn about skulls, bats, nocturnal creatures and our native wildlife through programs and enrichment presentations on the hour starting at 1 p.m.
"We will enhance your visit with our arts & crafts, hot dogs, hot cider and chocolate, baked goods, and treats for the kids, as well as two performances by the Mountain Marionettes at 6 and 6:40 p.m.
"Our costume contest for all ages will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the barn, so come dressed for the occasion!" Admission is $8 adults/$6 city residents/$7 seniors/$5 senior city residents/$4 kids ages 3-15/free for kids age 2 and younger.
• Dessert first! It's Los Dias de los Muertos at Short Street Cakes (225 Haywood Rd., West Asheville, 505-4822). According to a Facebook invitation, "Its that time of year again- time for harvesting, putting by, and honoring the past, and the things and people that have passed from our lives. Please join us for the weekend of Day of the Dead, also Halloween Weekend, for sugar skulls, altar making, and spooky cupcakes.
"We will be selling blank sugar skulls at the Cake Shop to benefit Defensa Comunitaria, a local immigrants rights group, and decorating an altar to loved ones who have passed. Traditionally, ofrendas for the altar include pictures and mementos of loved ones, treats that they enjoyed, candles, marigolds, bread, and sugar skulls.
"We will also have a decoration station for the skulls." The event begins Friday, Oct. 29; the finished altar will join the altar at Mayfel's (22 College St., Asheville, 252-8840) on Day of the Dead — Monday, Nov. 1.
• Something for your furry friends: Blaze-N-Skyy (30 Battery Park Ave., Asheville, 253-2850) announces this year's Halloween Dog Festival, a "Spooky, Costumed Pooches Haunt Wall Street to Raise Funds for Asheville Humane Society."
The festivities go from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30 on Wall St., downtown Asheville. Costume contests (large dog, small dog, best ensemble, best trick), begin at 1 p.m. The event also includes Asheville Humane Society pet adoptions, raffles and games, pet photography, animal-friendly marketplace and food and beverage vendors. Admission is free, contests are $5 per dog per contest.
Also, Spellbound Children's Bookshop (19 Wall St., Asheville, 252-2228) will have dog-themed storytime. (The bookstore holds Halloween story time on Sunday, Oct. 31, 3-4 p.m.)
• "There will be a few unusual creatures visiting City Lights Bookstore (3 E Jackson St., Sylva, 586-9499) on Saturday, Oct. 30," says a press release. "Come listen and be entertained by Whimzik's mask and music Halloween story time. All ages welcome so join us during your 'Treat Street' hike at 3 p.m. for a splendid spooky time."
• Bluegrass faves Sons of Ralph provide the soundtrack for the Jack of the Wood (95 Patton Ave., Asheville, 252-5445) Halloween party. The costume contest gets started around 11 p.m., with a $200 prize for first place, $125 for second place and $75 for third.
• The Zombie Stomp takes place at The Admiral (400 Haywood Rd., West Asheville, 252-2541) at 11 p.m. According to a Facebook invite, "Once again, Greg 'Cartwrong' and the Abominable Dr. Filth will be spinning sinister sounds for your weekend Halloween revels.
"Last year's Saturday Night ADMIRAL Halloween DJ Party was completely off the hook - crazed dancing, great costumes and wild Halloween-centric rock and soul from the last 50 years of monster mashing.
"I know there's a lot to do on the 30th, but make sure to make the Admiral part of your midnight rambles."
• And, finally, on Halloween night (that's Sunday, Oct. 31) The Archrivals hold a Halloween Bash at Barley's (42 Biltmore Ave., Asheville, 255-0504). 9 p.m. "Oh Yeah! It's on like Barnum and Bailey's! So don't say maybe..." says the Archrival. One has to wonder, since the guy wears a costume year round, what's he going to wear for Halloween?