The Wizard World Big Apple Comic Con “Spring Edition” herds international artists, writers, and celebrities together into one superpowered carnival atmosphere. Attendees can wander the pavilion's floor and meet their film and comic-book idols face-to-face, asking penetrating questions about their artistic processes, favorite projects, and availability to join a vigilante crackdown on line-cutters. The day’s program features events and guests, including a Q&A with Chandler Riggs of The Walking Dead renown, appearances by Harry Potter’s Tom Felton and Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark artist Greg Horn, and a writing panel featuring Eisner Award–nominee Matt Kindt.
Although it takes place at the Orange County Fair and Event Center, the Anatolian Cultures & Food Festival actually exists at the nexus of thousands of years of Anatolian history. That's the way it feels, at least. Upon arrival, guests begin this trek through time at the Gates of Civilizations, whose waypoints honor 14 historic and present-day nations ranging from the mighty Hittite Empire to the modern Turkish Republic. Towering, ornate arches and a staff of highly knowledgeable costumed actors guide them through this journey, sharing the traditional dress and customs of bygone regional residents including the Ottomans, Romans, Phrygians, and Byzantines.
Once inside, guests can extend their explorations within stunning recreations of nine different Anatolian cities, grabbing lifelike views of everything from the Topkapi Palace—once occupied by Ottoman sultans—or the Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the ancient seat of the Armenian Orthodox patriarch. Along the way, they can stop for souvenirs at the bustling Grand Bazaar, where more than 100 vendor hawk traditional Near Eastern good. A traditional Turkish coffeehouse also occupies part of the festival grounds, tempting guests with cups of rich Turkish coffee that par well with the kebabs, stews, and baked goods prepared by the festival’s food vendors.
Over 13 days, 31 people screamed as a madman stole their lives. The bitter, vengeful whispers of the dead urged him onward—drove him to slaughter—until he could bear it no longer and dug a grave for himself. He used his bare hands, scraping his knuckles raw, until the earth collapsed over him. Only then did the town quiet.
But the grave has been unearthed, and the horrors of that killing spree once again haunt the living. Inside the abandoned family mausoleum, visitors encounter dismembered bodies, a bride whose throat spills blood onto her white gown, and a skeleton with rotting flesh still clinging to its bones. As guests creep through hallways covered with gory handprints and stumble past broken fences, the grave’s fleet of masked monsters leaps out, raising goose bumps with impolite greetings—ranging from growls of “fresh meat!” to “arrrrrrgh!”—that would make Emily Post scream in horror.
To keep the spirit of its musical roots ever near, House of Blues Houston keeps a metal box of mud from the Delta Mississippi beneath its stage and proudly displays the traditional crazy quilt. As the only venue in the revered chain to be built vertically rather than free floating, House of Blues Houston stands as a pillar of entertainment in the Houston Pavilions complex. The hot spot’s Bronze Peacock Room commemorates Houston's rich history and the blues clubs where Lightnin' Hopkins and Big Mama Thornton held sway, and features an enormous hand-painted mural depicting other local legends such as Albert Collins and Johnny "Guitar" Watson.
While the rest of the natural world prepares to hibernate for the winter, Enchanted Country Trees & Pumpkins has been at its most active since 1983. Farmers pick the plumpest pumpkins from their patches, displaying them next to bounce houses and trundling John Deere tractors. Barnyard animals deign to be petted in exchange for palmfuls of feed, and ponies accept small riders for afternoon trots. Come winter, the lots fill with Christmas trees.
At each of several one-day festivals held throughout the country, thousands of revelers unite in an epic clash of pulp, beer, and live music. Armed with a cache of 300,000 tomatoes, participants don protective bathing suits and goggles and hurl the fruit at one another during a two-hour battle. Throughout the afternoon, live music and costume contests offer an entertaining respite from the front lines, as bartenders dispense drafts of beer to attendees older than 21, refueling soldiers' morale before they resign to writing goodbye letters to their produce vendors back home. All tomatoes used during the event are past ripe and already fated for disposal, making the battle an efficient means of tossing them before their cursed transformation into singing Muppets.