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Analysis: With FreakNight in the rearview, how will Insomniac’s ‘Boo’ Halloween festival compare?

BOO!, FreakNight
With FreakNight (pictured above) appearing to no longer be in the picture, a new Halloween event is coming to Seattle. (Photo credit: USC Events)

There’s no denying it: Seattle has been home to some pretty killer Halloween festivals. Although this year’s will look slightly different, BOO! festival is coming to Seattle this Halloween from Insomniac Events.

 

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In its other iterations, BOO! has been held at locations across the country since 2018. That’s seen the festival bring in a variety of artists, including Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, What So Not, Black Tiger Sex Machine, Afrojack, Dombresky, Wax Motif, and more.

Alternating between one and two-day events, BOO! has run in Arizona, Orlando, and San Francisco. In 2020, there was even a Park N’ Rave drive-in iteration in San Bernardino, California.

Bringing BOO! to Seattle allows Insomniac to quickly establish a major event foothold in the Northwest market, largely due to the vacuum left behind by USC Events’ FreakNight.

FreakNight’s legacy in the PNW

For nearly a decade, FreakNight had been the region’s largest annual Halloween festival. Bringing in massive attendance of over 20,000 people annually, FreakNight grew into a two-day endeavor in the mid-2010s. Each lineup was massive in its own right, consistently featuring some of the biggest names in EDM, big room, dubstep, and house.

FreakNight was not without its challenges and controversy, however. Its 2014 iteration was halted due to the speculated drug overdose of an attendee. After changing locations from WaMu Theater to the Tacoma Dome for the following two years, a single-night FreakNight returned to its previous home at WaMu where it remained through 2019.

Following the sudden dissolution of USC, many were left wondering what large-scale Halloween festival might fill the void in Seattle. As FreakNight appears surely cancelled for good, there exists a massive opportunity for another company to step into those shoes.

BOO! brings something new to the PNW for Halloween?

While any real info is yet to be announced, it’s clear Insomniac has some big expectations to fill with Boo. The only confirmed information is that BOO! will be held over Halloween weekend in Seattle, but much of the region is closely watching for more details to come soon.

It may be safe to speculate the festival could take place at the WaMu Theater. As of this writing nothing appears on the venue’s calendar for Halloween and it is one of only a few venues in Seattle with the capacity to host a large festival.

Another option (historically speaking) could be the Tacoma Dome, although there’s a country concert scheduled for Friday the 29th. While that doesn’t necessarily rule out the Tacoma Dome, it would be a stretch to completely turn over the venue on such a tight schedule.

Early lineup speculation

In terms of artists, it’s much more difficult to speculate. We’ve had NGHTMRE on our list for a PNW Halloween festival for a while, but that could be wishful thinking since he’ll be joining Seven Lions a few weeks prior for Chronicles at the Gorge.

RL Grime would be another amazing headliner, with his Sable Valley label recently announcing a tour schedule with a glaring Halloween weekend opening.

Two other potential candidates are Illenium and GRiZ, both of whom are fresh off of newly-released albums. Tours and large show announcements following album releases are common, so it could be possible.

It will be interesting to see the festival’s diversity of acts, too. In 2019, FreakNight booked a surprising headliner: YG, one of the most popular hip-hop artists in the U.S. His set was well-received and likely drew a lot of attendees who wouldn’t have otherwise attended to an EDM festival. With Insomniac’s fairly recent takeover of III Points festival in Miami, they’ve forged some closer ties to underground hip-hop and alternative acts as well.

Regardless of the names on the lineup and the location, we’re excited to have a Halloween festival this year at all. After over a year of the pandemic and shuffling of promoters in the PNW, it’s great to know there’s a festival coming so close to Seattle.

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