Do you have a fear of the forest? Do you mistrust trees? Worried about what may be hiding behind them? The woods can be a scary place. Just ask Hansel and Gretel! Are you willing to take a chilling walk through a dark forest before Halloween?

Photo courtesy of Powell Gardens

By Peg Cameron Gill

If spooky sites are your thing, we have a great one for you: Powell Gardens in Kingsville (45 minutes from Kansas City) is thrilled to bring you The Dark Forest, an immersive event that might just scare your socks off! It’s a haunting Halloween event October 20–22 and 26–29.

  The Gardens are partnering with Quixotic, an innovative performance art collective that combines imagination with technology, dance, projection mapping, and live music to create fully immersive, multi-sensory experiences.

Photo courtesy of Powell Gardens

Quixotic was given Silicon Valley’s unofficial stamp of genius when they were invited to perform at the global TED Conference in 2012. 

A unique blend of performance art, technology, and emotion, Quixotic fuses all these elements into what the New York Times branded an “innovative circus performance,” They have performed for audiences worldwide.

Visitors will travel on foot along a 1-mile mulched trail through Powell Gardens’ woods.

Dark Forest is best suited for a PG-13 audience. This signature event has limited tickets available. Doors open at 6 PM, with the Dark Forest experience taking place 7–11 PM.

Photo courtesy of Powell Gardens

During the event, guests can enjoy a snack or dinner at the Missouri Barn concessions, Cabinet of Coffee & Curiosities, and the Mystic Faire. Selections will include a menu of hot food, coffee & cider, signature cocktails, local brews, and more. 

You can buy a VIP Fast Pass ticket, which allows you to visit Dark Forest any time on the date selected and move to the front of the line. VIP Fast Pass includes two drink tickets, VIP parking, and a limited-edition T-shirt. VIP Fast Pass holders will have access to a private seating area and bar along the Dark Forest trail. 

This exclusive VIP experience is limited to a few guests each night and must be purchased in advance.

You can purchase VIP Fast Pass or regular tickets here.

About Powell Gardens:

Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s Botanical Garden, provides 175 acres of recreation, adventure, and exploration. Visitors enjoy themed display gardens with rotating botanical displays, notable plant collections, seasonal programming and events, educational classes, art, architecture, breathtaking views, and more. Turn your next adventure into a lasting memory at Powell Gardens, your botanical garden. 

About the common fear of forests:

Throughout literature, a fear of the woods has found its way into the subconscious of several texts, both ancient and modern. Every Little Red Riding Hood has its wolf in the forest, every Hansel and Gretel its witch in the woods. Psychologists have interpreted such symbols “as an expression of unconscious processes in the mind,” deconstructing a journey into the woods to be more than just a literal journey through the forest — it is a metaphorical journey into the mind.

Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung elaborated on the persistence of these images when he explained that they are:

“The primordial language natural to these psychic processes, and no intellectual formulation comes anywhere near the richness and expressiveness of mythological imagery. Such processes are concerned with the primordial images (‘Urbilder’ or archetypes), and these are best and most succinctly reproduced by figurative language.”

The German term Urbilder is used throughout philosopher Immanuel Kant’s critical writings to designate particular representations that convey universal ideas.

If experiences like the Dark Forest are your cup of tea (or witches’ brew), check out these supposedly haunted hotels, (story printed in the October 2023 issue of Missouri Life) several of which are in Kansas City.

For hundreds more events, visit Missouri Life’s Event Calendar.