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Lexington's ScareFest Weekend: What You Need to Know

L. Sarhan is a former volunteer (STAPH member) for many years with The Scarefest Convention who assisted the previous organizers.

Graphic designed by L. Sarhan of Sassy Eagle Designs. L. Sarhan is a former STAPH member for The Scarefest Convention (2012 - 2016).

Graphic designed by L. Sarhan of Sassy Eagle Designs. L. Sarhan is a former STAPH member for The Scarefest Convention (2012 - 2016).

The Largest Horror and Paranormal Convention in the United States

Each year, thousands of people from all over the world flock to Lexington, Kentucky, for the ScareFest Weekend, formerly known as The Scarefest Convention. This convention is the largest horror and paranormal convention in the United States. It is a three-day weekend packed full of dozens of celebrities, vendors, seminars, games, special events, and parties. Sometimes it is hard to take in the full effect of all that ScareFest Weekend has to offer.

If you are a fan of horrors film and/or the paranormal, the ScareFest Weekend convention is the place for you. You have a chance to meet and collect autographs from several celebrities starring in your favorite horror films and paranormal television shows. The ScareFest Weekend also offers several seminars and Q&A panels as well. Vendors come from all over the country with products, such as ghost hunting equipment, T-shirts, posters, books, DVDs, FX effects, memorabilia, and much more.

Sometimes this convention offers the opportunity to get tattoos from talented artists specializing in horror art. There is a portal where you can experience a variety of games and activities from cosplay, sci-fi, fantasy, and pop culture. In addition to all this, there are special movie viewings, a paranormal investigation, a VIP party, a costume ball, and much more. Special events and offerings may change from year to year. Be sure to check the ScareFest Weekend website for the most accurate information for the upcoming year.

With all that the ScareFest Weekend has to offer, there are a few tips to consider to make the most out of your Scarefest weekend. These suggestions will help make the weekend run smoother and ensure you have the best possible experience.

Buy Tickets in Advance

Although tickets may be purchased at the door for daily admission or as a pass for the weekend, buying tickets in advance will help tremendously. Daily and weekend passes are more readily available as long as the number of attendees meets the building's fire code capacity allowance. However, platinum tickets and golden tickets are limited and must be purchased in advance. Platinum and golden tickets come with a variety of perks that are well worth the money. Tickets go on sale around December each year.

The exact date may vary, so it is a good idea to keep checking the official website each year to find out when the best time to purchase advance tickets is. Keep in mind that the ticket pricing may vary according to ticket type: daily, weekend, platinum, or golden. Scarefest tickets make great Christmas and birthday gifts—so keep that in mind!

Golden Ticket Holders

Aside from receiving a special three-day weekend pass which includes a special lanyard and armband that allows extra privileges to the convention, golden ticket holders also receive specific VIP treatment. This means early entry, access to the VIP party to hang out with some of the celebrities, an official ScareFest Weekend t-shirt, preferred seating, a goodie bag filled with a variety of gifts and promotions, and much more.

Platinum Ticket Holders

Platinum ticket holders receive all the perks of golden ticket holders and more. What sets the platinum ticket holders apart from the golden ticket holders is that platinum ticket holders also receive accommodations for two nights for two guests to stay at the Hyatt, which is located at the Central Bank Center, formerly known as the Lexington Convention Center. Your goodie bag filled with gifts, promotions, and your lanyard and wristbands will be delivered and waiting for you in your room when you arrive. The t-shirts can be picked up at the information booth.

In addition to all of this, you will also have the privilege of “line jumping.” This means you will be able to jump to the head of the line before regular ticket holders. However, keep in mind that this does not automatically place you in the front of the line; other platinum ticket holders may be ahead of you. In some cases, they will stagger the lines, meaning alternate between VIP and regular attendees if both lines are long to ensure satisfaction for all who attend.

Hero Day

Hero Day is held on the Friday of the ScareFest Weekend. Hero Day is about honoring our military (both active and retired), police force, firefighters, EMS, and correction officers. Only on Friday, anyone who falls into one of these categories is allowed into the ScareFest Weekend for free. All they need to do is show their agency ID or badge.

ScareFest Weekend Hours

Remember, these may change by the year, so check the website. As of 2022, the hours are as follows.

Friday (Hero Day)

VIP Entry: 3 p.m.
Expo: 4 p.m.–9 p.m.
Box Office: 12 p.m.

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Saturday

VIP Entry: 10 a.m.
Expo: 11 a.m.–8 p.m.
Box Office: 10 a.m.

Sunday (Kids Day)

VIP Entry: 10 a.m.
Expo: 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Box Office: 10 a.m.

*Note: This does not include the hours of after-hour events and activities. Please check the website for more information on special event times.

The newly renovated Central Bank Center, formerly known as the Lexington Convention Center, is home to ScareFest Weekend every year.

The newly renovated Central Bank Center, formerly known as the Lexington Convention Center, is home to ScareFest Weekend every year.

Book Lodging Early

The ScareFest Weekend convention has grown in popularity over the years. You should not expect to just show up and assume hotel rooms will be available close by. In fact, most hotels across Lexington sell out during the dates of ScareFest Weekend. There are two hotels at the Central Bank Center. The Hyatt is located within the convention center and the Hilton is located across the street. These are the first locations to book up quickly. Some patrons will actually book rooms a year to two years in advance, just to attend ScareFest Weekend each year.

If you are booking rooms at the Hyatt, be sure to ask for the ScareFest Weekend Fan Block rate when you call 1-800-233-1234 to make reservations. If you are going to stay at the Hilton during ScareFest weekend, you can call 1-877-539-1648 and also mention the Fan Block rate to receive a discounted rate.

Just five minutes down the road on Broadway, there are more hotels. Some of these include Springhill Suites, The Inn on Broadway, and the Campbell House. The Holiday Inn Suites and the Four Points by Sheraton are not far away either. But again, even these hotels fill up quickly.

Located just four miles away from the Central Bank Center is the Clarion. If you call 859-233-0512 and request the ScareFest Weekend Fan Block by a specific date, which varies each year, then you can receive a lower rate.

Parking

The Central Bank Center and Rupp Area have parking available at 141 W. High Street, which is located across from the Rupp Arena. There are three thousand parking spaces available. You can also park at one of the many downtown Lexington garages. Here is a list of the parking garages within ten minutes or less walking distance from the convention center.

List of Parking Garages

  • 112 W. Short Street
  • 241 W. Short Street
  • 339 W. Short Street
  • 350 West Short Street
  • 167 E. Short Street
  • 150 East Vine Street
  • 150-160 W. Main Street
  • 250 W. Main Street
  • 114 N. Upper Street
  • 105 Barr Street (approximately a ten minute walk)

*Pricing may vary from garage to garage. It could range from $3 to $35 a day.

The Scarefest entrance in 2015

The Scarefest entrance in 2015

Arrive Early

Arriving early will help you get closer to the head of the line to purchase tickets and get your armbands. The lines start getting long an hour or two before ScareFest Weekend is opened to the public, even for golden and platinum ticket holders. Sometimes the lines are so long that it starts at the Scarefest Convention entrance and wraps all the way through the door and around to the food court.

Make sure you visit the ticket booth before getting in line to enter the ScareFest Weekend convention. You will need to have your armband visible to security to be able to get in. So while you are waiting in line, make sure you affix your armband securely to your wrist. As you get to the entrance, make sure the armband is clearly visible for the entrance security to see. This will help the line move faster.

Wear Comfortable Shoes

Expect to do a lot of walking at the convention. Therefore, it is best to wear comfortable shoes. The folks running this three-day event want you to enjoy your time and be able to take in all it has to offer. You don't want to have to worry about your feet hurting due to the type of shoes you're wearing.

Some people enjoy dressing up in costume when attending this convention and while it is encouraged, attendees should consider their feet. If you must wear shoes that may not be the best for standing or walking in for long hours, consider bringing a change so that you can switch them if need be. Achy feet can potentially ruin your fun over the ScareFest Weekend.

So, what is the best type of shoes to wear to the ScareFest Weekend convention? Most people agree that a comfortable pair of tennis shoes or sneakers are best. Walking shoes are great, but not all people agree with this. Some people find that flip-flops are more comfortable than tennis shoes. So again, it comes down to knowing your own feet and comfortability. Just remember that you will be on hard concrete floors for most of the weekend.

Map Out Your Experience

Before attending and getting the full effect of the ScareFest Weekend convention, consider mapping out your experience. The website is the best place to start. It will have up-to-date announcements of stars and celebrities who will be attending, a list of vendors, more information on seminars, the gaming portal, parties, movie viewings, featured sponsors, and much more.

Once you arrive and receive a ScareFest Weekend program, take time to look through it. In the past, the program has not only listed stars and vendors, but has included a seminar schedule, a map of the venue, and other information that will help you maximize your experience.

Crowds at the Scarefest Convention in Lexington, KY

Crowds at the Scarefest Convention in Lexington, KY

Bring Plenty of Cash

Having plenty of cash on hand will also help with enjoying the weekend even more. Each star, or celebrity, will charge for autographs. It is difficult to know exactly how much since each star has different pricing. They may charge anywhere from $25–$100, but the average cost for an autograph is $35.

Sometimes a film still or another photo of the star comes with it, but some stars charge extra for the picture. Again, pricing is set by the individual celebrity. Having smaller bills, to give exact change will help save time and move lines along faster. It also allows more time in conversation with the star because they will be less focused on counting back change. Carrying smaller bills will also help when it comes to purchasing items from vendors and the concession stand as well.

Standing in Line

Many celebrities have people waiting in line to meet them and collect their autographs. Some lines are longer than others. The key is to have patience. Also, note that there is an entrance and exit to the celebrity lines. Do not try to go through the exit.

Keep in mind that platinum ticket holders have the privilege of line jumping, meaning they can go to the head of the line. However, they will alternate line jumping in order to be fair and keep the lines flowing smoothly. A STAPH member should be on hand to help coordinate this and if you have any questions regarding where the line begins and ends. There is usually a STAPH member at most of the horror celebrity lines. This is to help things flow more smoothly and minimize confusion.

Carry a Bag

It is a good idea to carry a bag of some sort. This will help leave you hands-free to better enjoy the ScareFest Weekend. Some patrons like to carry a fanny pack that allows them to put their money, identification, and credit cards in front of them and keep them close at all times. Although there is better traffic flow at ScareFest Weekend than at most other conventions, it can still get congested in certain parts.

Consider carrying a messenger bag or backpack. This allows you to hold any celebrity photos and autographs safely. Depending on your purchases from the vendors, you may be able to tuck away those purchases as well without having to run to your vehicle or hotel room or having to carry them around all day.

Concession stand in 2014 at former Lexington Convention Center, now known as Central Bank Center.

Concession stand in 2014 at former Lexington Convention Center, now known as Central Bank Center.

Food and Drink

Because there is so much to do at Scarefest Weekend, many people are there from the early morning hours until long after the sun goes down. At some point, patrons will have to stop for food and drink.

There is generally a concession stand open within the main convention area. It serves a variety of stadium foods and drinks, including beer. If you want something more filling, you could head over to the food court of the Central Bank Center. There you will find Subway, Arby's, and other popular restaurant chains.

There are dozens of restaurants and several pubs in or close to the downtown area of Lexington, Kentucky. Many of which are within walking distance of the Lexington Convention Center. Many people choose to have dinner at Tolly-Ho, Shakespeare and Co., Colombia Steak House, and many others.

Cameras and Filming

You are encouraged to bring your camera to ScareFest Weekend. Not only does the ScareFest Weekend love seeing fan photos, but it is a great way to immortalize your experience. There is even an area as you enter the convention with a ScareFest Weekend backdrop to pose for pictures. This is the same area where the Black Carpet event (just like a Red Carpet event in Hollywood) takes place.

There are some things to consider when taking photographs. It is good to remember that it is a ScareFest Weekend policy that pictures are not allowed to be taken on Stars Row without the permission of the celebrity or event organizers. Authorized media, such as those with a Media Pass and our own Staph photographers, must first obtain permission from Stars Row Security STAPH before taking pictures and filming. Some celebrities and their agents charge for photographs. Many are good about it, especially if you are buying an autograph or still photo. As a rule of thumb, just ask before you take a picture or film a video with celebrities in it. You don't want to be asked to leave the event or escorted out.

STAPH member assisting with photos for a fan.

STAPH member assisting with photos for a fan.

STAPH and Security

ScareFest Weekend prides itself on having knowledgeable STAPH (staff) members and security. Although an information booth is available, feel free to approach any STAPH member if you have any questions or concerns. They will have on a neon yellow shirt that says “STAPH” on the back and security STAPH will be wearing regular yellow shirts with “SECURITY” across the back.

Weapons

Generally speaking, weapons are not allowed at the Central Bank Center. If you want a film prop, machete, chainsaw, or another horror film-related weapon signed, the Central Bank Center has made an exception for ScareFest Weekend, with some regulations attached. You will need to talk with the organizers and the staff at the Central Bank Center before assuming a weapon prop will be fine to bring in.

For safety reasons, you will have to keep all weapon-related props contained in a box, case, sheath, or another safe container. Keep in mind that after you have it signed by the star of your choice, you may not walk around with it. You will have to take the item to your car before continuing to enjoy the convention.

Enjoy the Convention

ScareFest Weekend is an event you do not want to miss. Attendees of all ages enjoy meeting and talking with the stars and other wonderful people that set up at the convention. The stars also love connecting with their fans and hearing the support they have for their contribution to the industry.

Planning your trip early will help you to enjoy the full effect of the convention. With a little planning to maximize your ScareFest Weekend experience, you will see why so many people return year after year. With each passing year, the convention gets bigger and better. The people who organize this event always bring something new to the convention each year to create a unique experience each time you attend.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Linda Sarhan

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