At most comic cons and fan events, one expects to run into people dressed as supernatural entities, extraterrestrials, and mysterious creatures. But at paranormal, cryptozoology, and ufology events, fans are discussing the existence of them – and often gather to actively go looking for them.
And as much as I move about in the world of comic cons, for the past decade or so, I have spent weekends traveling the world to talk as a journalist and researcher about ghosts, demons, curses, aliens, UFO, and monsters. During the day, the world of paracons closely resembles most fan events, and there is quite a bit of cross-pollination between them. There are panels, vendor rooms, and signings by notable authors, television personalities, and occasionally actors from paranormal pop culture. But at night, the activities continue with a skywatch, ’squatch hunt, or ghost hunt in supposedly haunted houses (or asylums, penitentiaries, hospitals, and hotels).
Many paracon attendees skew towards the belief end of the spectrum, but most are an overwhelmingly curious balance of Mulders or later-season Scullys in the “I Want To Believe” or “The Truth is Out There” sense. While there are certainly eccentric characters, they are no more so than the most ardent comic con-goer – which is to say things can get delightfully weird. And though I could tell stories about times I was accused of being a reptilian from another planet, I rarely encounter tinfoil hats or (hardly ever) meet anyone possessed by the spirit of a dead president.
With that in mind, I wanted to offer a breakdown of some of the best paracons out there, worthy of a fantripping adventure. I have not attended all of these, but based my recommendations on reputation, location, or guest list. Whether you’re new to the scene, or the paranormal is an old haunt for you, give these a chance. Enter with an open mind, and an appetite for fun. And if you see me at any, come up and say, “Boo!”
Paranormal Historical Investigation at Morris-Jumel Mansion
New York, NY
Feb. 15, 2020 (and recurring)
The Morris-Jumel Mansion in Manhattan is one of the crown jewels of the haunted Big Apple. Notable investigators from Hans Holzer to Zak Bagans have looked for paranormal activity here, and now you can as well. The mansion offer bi-monthly investigations of “Manhattan’s Oldest House,” which also includes some tips, theory, and history. There are also snacks! While this is a recurring event, it’s an especially fun way to celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend.
Hosted by Amy Bruni and Adam Berry of Travel Channel’s paranormal show Kindred Spirits, this four-day event is unique for its exploration of Hawaiian ghosts and spirituality. An intimate affair on the Big Island, limited to 20 attendees, this year the focus is on spirituality. Along with daytime lectures, the event includes cocktail parties, a sunset meditation, and private tour of Hulihe’e Palace. There is also a visit to the Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park, the Painted Church and Cemetery, and Kona Living History Farm. Look, I am all for dark and stormy nights in haunted prisons, or asylums, but sign me up any day for a paranormal/meditatitve/tiki mash-up vacay!
Regarded as a beloved paranormal community event, “Phenom” returns after a couple year absence with an impressive line-up. The guests this year include Jason Hawes from Ghost Nation, Dave Schrader from The Holzer Files, paranormal icon John Zaffis, prolific researcher Jeff Belanger, medium Chris Fleming, and the Perron Family fictionalized in the movie The Conjuring.
Combine a historic (and allegedly famously haunted) ocean liner, with a theatrical séance led by an illusionist, and seven-course gourmet meal, and you have “A Night To Remember” upon the RMS Queen Mary. Master Magician and Apparitionist Aiden Sinclair (as seen on America’s Got Talent, and Penn & Teller: Fool Us), casts a striking presence as he utilizes antiques, and artifacts, in a Victorian séance. But is the haunting evening that ensues an illusion or something more … unexplained? This special black-tie affair will be dedicated to the memory of the Titanic, which sank April 15, 1912, and includes cigar rolling, whiskey flights, and a menu inspired by the final first-class meal served aboard the doomed ship. If you miss the event, it is still worthwhile checking out Sinclair’s “Illusions of the Passed” séance on the Queen Mary throughout the year.
The 133-year-old Ohio State Reformatory is a historic prison with a striking exterior, and haunting interior. A combination of Victorian Gothic, Richardsonian Romanesque, and Queen Anne styles of architecture, the facility was meant to inspire inmates to rediscover their spiritual sides. Instead, it has come to be known as one of the most haunted locales in America (though it should be noted that ghosts are notoriously reluctant to fill out surveys quantifying this). But I’ve been there numerous times, and it is an amazing location. ParaPsyCon taps into this history with a six-hour ghost hunt in the foreboding prison, as well as offering programming.
Running for seven years, the Paraunity Expo gathers the power of multiple Travel Channel paranormal series: Kindred Spirits, The Dead Files, The Holzer Files, and Kindred Spirits, while also including Daryl Marston from A&E’s Ghost Hunters.
The line up for this UFO and Extraterrestrial Life event looks out of this world (pun very much intended). George Noory of Coast to Coast AM, investigator Leslie Kean, Dr. J Allen Hynek’s son Paul, author Whitley Strieber, Ben Hansen of Ghosts of Morgan City and Fact or Faked, and so many more heavy hitters from the E.T. community will gather to talk about crop circles, abductions, forbidden archaeology, and more. There will also be some epic sky watch opportunities at night.
Cruising from the New York region to Nova Scotia, and Maine, this Strange Escapes tour features multiple paranormal lectures, as well as a gallery reading by psychic Chip Coffey, and a ghost tour/excursion in St. Johns. There are also cocktail parties, a shore day, and tours of Halifax’s Atlantic Maritime Museum, and Fairview Cemetery – both connected to the Titanic tragedy.
Roswell is bucket list destination for anyone remotely interested in UFO, aliens (and government cover-ups). The town is inextricably linked with the 1947 incident involving a crashed “flying disc,” or surveillance balloon, according to some. The so-called UFO Capital of the World has responded by throwing an annual festival complete with alien parades, cosplay, and carnival rides. Along with the light-hearted fun, the UFO Festival typically includes lectures from Roswell investigators Donald Schmitt, and Thomas Carey, as well as notable figures in the community, such as Travis Walton (whose UFO abduction story was the inspiration for Fire in the Sky).
Cryptid Con combines ghostly pursuits and cryptozoology with a comic con-style format that welcomes both the casual fan, the movie nerd, and the die-hard researcher. This year’s event is still being assembled, but it already boasts sasquatch researcher Jeff Meldrum, James “Bobo” Fay and Cliff Barackman from Finding Bigfoot, Nick Groff of Paranormal Lockdown, the cast of Mountain Mounsters, and a lot of other notable names. The event also looks like a lot of fun because of the wild assortment of crypto-crazy vendors.
Celebrating its eleventh year, the Michigan Paranormal Convention has earned a reputation for its top-notch roster of guest speakers from all manner of paranormal fields. This is a veritable who’s who of paranormal celebrities from Ghost Hunters, Kindred Spirits, The Holzer Files, Ghost Nation, Ghost Adventures, Finding Bigfoot, and more. The Michigan Paracon is notable for not placing focus on a ghost hunt, but instead for its presentations, and a social scene where attendees mingle with the speakers at the Kewadin Casino.
Dragon Con is first and foremost known as a Nerdy Burning Man event, where parties and cosplay reign. But in addition to those, and the traditional convention trappings of celebrity signings and vendor floors, the Atlanta event has a healthy paranormal programming track. The event draws notable TV personalities and researchers from the ghost hunting and ufology.
This one is something of a family affair at Den of Geek as contributor Alejandro Rojas is one of the organizers, and yours truly has spoken there. But the Congress also bears the distinction for holding the Guinness World Record for largest UFO conference. The guests are still coming together for the event, but it’s guaranteed to be a great one.
This annual festival commemorates the 1966-67 sightings of a red-eyed, winged creature (was it a cryptid? Alien? Interdimensional being?), and other supernatural happenings that led up to the collapse of the Silver Bridge. The events are a part of folklore, but the stories of the Mothman don’t end there. While the schedule is still coming together for this event, it is a slice of Americana, complete with speakers, entertainment, tours of the sighting areas, and of course photo ops at the Mothman statue.
I have admittedly never attended this event, but am quite enamored of the lore surrounding it. The small-town festival situated south of Des Moines is dedicated to a series of 1903 eyewitness accounts of a 9-foot-tall bulletproof, horned, bat-like creature (who shoots light out of its horn). The so-called Van Meter Visitor supposedly disappeared into a mine but has been seen into modern times.
This event is a new one to me, but touts an impressive lineup across the paranormal board. There are lecturers on the areas of cryptozoology (Loren Coleman), aliens (Chuck Zukowski, John E.L. Tenney), psychic phenomena (Chip Coffey, Chris Fleming), and a lot of ghosty folks, such as Grant Wilson, Amy Bruni, Dustin Pari, and actor/ghost hunter Chad Lindberg from Supernatural.
Hosted by the Chicago Hauntings tour group, and noted paranormal author Ursula Bielski, the Ghost Con is more than a decade strong as an “all paranormal” event with speakers, workshops, ghost tours, and ghost hunts. Details are still coming together for this year’s event, but keep an eye on the site.
Horror meets paranormal (and real-life ghost hunters meet Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson) at Fort Wayne Fright Fest. Along with modern horror icon Kane Hodder, Boris Karloff’s daughter Sara, and Cryptkeeper John Kassir, the event includes a diverse roster of paranormal authors, and investigators from TV, with a variety of expertise.
Before the year ends, it is certainly worth taking a jaunt across the pond for Sage Paracon at the historic Coombe Abbey in Coventry, England. The Abbey is a gorgeous setting, and the 11th century abbey – since modernized into a luxury hotel on 500 acres of scenic parkland. The location alone is worth a trip, and that’s before you consider the ghost stories, and tales of a murdered monk. In addition to a paranormal investigation of the grounds, organizer MJ Dickson offers a VIP dinner and Ghostly Great Gatsby Gala at night, with a group of diverse guests giving presentations during the day.
In Florida, Halloween is more than a holiday, it’s a lifestyle. There are tons of paranormal places across the state that can get you in the spooky season spirit all year long. From haunted lighthouses to optical illusions, these spooky spots are sure to give you nightmares. These 13 haunted places in Florida are scary, but totally worth the visit.
St. Augustine Lighthouse
Price: Dark of the Moon Ghost Tour $25
Address: 100 Red Cox Rd., St. Augustine, FL
Why You Need To Go: Take a private ghost tour of this historic lighthouse in Florida. You’ll enter the tower at night and listen to eerie ghost stories.
Here’s What Happened When I Played with Spirits on the Haunted Queen Mary Ship!
02-12-2020 by Nicole Koch
Ghost lovers, paranormal activity seekers, and all-around spiritual believers, this article is for you!
Even if you don’t fall into the categories above, please keep reading because I LEGIT played with ghosts on the Queen Mary. Seriously, I have proof.
Paranormal Illusionist and Apparitionist Aiden Sinclair (seen on “America’s Got Talent” and “Penn & Teller: Fool Us”) gave me an opportunity to attend his show, “Illusions of the Passed”, which is essentially a theatrical séance. So. Fricken. Cool. It’s 90 minutes long and audience interactive, and ghosts come out to play! It’s a different show every single night, because Aiden is working with the spirits directly, and spirits’ participation is influenced by the energy of the room.
When I walked in, Aiden was sitting in the middle of the stage with his eyes covered. He was in a hypnotic state, I assume to channel the spirits and get his energy right. When he took the cloth off, he welcomed us to the show and began telling us about a little girl ghost named Jackie. [*chills*]
To see who was open enough to the idea of Jackie, and to see who could actually connect with her, Aiden had us close our eyes and see what messages we could get from her. He had Jackie send us a temperature, a color, a sound, and shapes. The room was silent as we all tried to pick up on her messages and my heart was POUNDING. No joke, at one point I thought I was going to pass out!
My friends and I got different messages right, but we ALL got the shapes she sent us. She sent us a triangle within a circle, and as Aiden confirmed it, I gasped SO loud. I swear, as soon as he was like, “She’s sending you two shapes, one within the other,” I immediately got the image of the above in my head. My friends all got that message right too, and Aiden was like, “From the responses I just heard, I think it’s safe to say some of you have connected with Jackie.” Here we GO.
Another audience member came up and did it with me, and it was SO mind-blowing. Some of you are going to think things like, “The key started turning because your fingers let it happen,” or “Gravity made it fall,” but I SWEAR on all things that I felt Jackie turn that key. If you look at my face throughout the demonstration, I start to smile. Jackie was making me laugh! Call me crazy if you want, but I could actually feel her. She wanted to turn the key and play with us. So pure.
Throughout the show, Aiden told us stories about other ghosts who chill on the ship, which also serves as a hotel full-time, including a lady in white who everyone claims is the most beautiful woman they’ve ever seen. He said that when people see these spirits, they ACTUALLY see them and think they’re real people. When they try to talk to them, the spirits just walk away. SO WILD.
Would also like to mention that, before walking into the show, I slipped in the hallway. It was kinda like my shoe slipped or my leg gave out or something. It was odd, and no, it wasn’t because I had too much wine (you’ll get to that part of the article later). Through Aiden’s stories, I found out a woman slipped and fell there, and later passed away, and hotel guests describe a similar experience in the same spot. [*shifty eyes*]
They hand out tarot cards as drink and seat tickets, and as you hand them to the bartender, you get a tarot message! I’m obsessed with tarot cards, so this made me squeal with excitement. My card was the 4 of Cups, and the bartender told me I “need to take a social break”. Ha! I mean, she’s not wrong. I work a ton and probably deserve a nap or 10, ya feel me?
Rewinding a bit before the show, I got to have an exquisite dinner at their classy restaurant Sir Winston’s! Fit for a King and Queen (seriously), anyone who dines here gets a 5-star experience. Most tables get a gorgeous view of the ocean and you legit feel like you’re royalty.
We started with an amazing red wine, bread and butter, and salad. I’m not a big meat-eater but opted for the Beef Wellington with truffles, which was SO good. My friends got the Surf and Turf special, which looked INCREDIBLE, and we ended with a chocolate cake and chocolate-covered strawberries.
Overall, it was a SPOOKY AF and super memorable night. You guys HAVE to check this show out if you’re in the area.
They also offer night investigations on the ship, where you essentially go looking for spirits and see what you find. Best believe I’ll be back for that. Scary? Yes. Worth it? HELL YES. Just sage yourself after you leave the ship and you’ll be fine.
If you can’t get enough, don’t even trip because I got all the socials for ya right here:
Chances are you have heard that a particular house in your town or even in your neighborhood is haunted because of an unexpected death happening or for some other reason. Therefore, you have been told to either stay away from that house or to see it at your own risk. However, is there actual proof that the house is haunted?
Are ghosts and spirits even a thing? That is something that is not easily determined because it cannot really be proven. However, there are scientific reasons behind many instances of paranormal activity. Listed below are 10 examples of those reasons which will end up making a lot of sense at the end.
Infrasound is a sound that cannot be heard by humans but may be picked up by certain animals. However, even though these sounds are not audible to the human ear, they can be felt. The effects of infrasound have been known to trigger many intense feelings such as anxiety as well as those chills going down the spine. Therefore, it is understandable that anyone that encounters infrasound would be the ones to say I just have a strange feeling about this area and I bet it is haunted.
Infrasound can be emitted through volcanic activity, wind, the ocean, and even by elephants.
9 Electromagnetic Fields
Electric magnetic fields or EMF are produced by electrical charges moving around and that what microwaves, televisions, radio, and mobile phones need in order to operate. EMF could be a reason behind hauntings. The late neuroscientist Michael Persinger determined that EMF exposed to the temporal lobes of the brain could result in paranormal experiences.
That could be the cause of people feeling some kind of presence being in the same room as well as even being touched. That means that there is a good chance that a spirit is not even in the room. If the mobile phone, television, and microwave are being used at the same time, that could be the reason instead.
Anyone who is sensing that their creepy basements may be haunted may want to hire a restoration company to detect whether or not there are any harmful types of mold. Studies that have been conducted have found that certain types of toxic molds can alter the state of the brain. Symptoms such as hallucinations and extreme paranoia have been found to be connected to bad air quality and mold.
However, there would have to be a lot of the toxic mold in the area for it to have an effect. Given this fact, it is difficult to know whether some old buildings are truly haunted or are filled with mold that causes people to believe that being the case.
7 Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Another scientific reason that many old houses have been reported to have hauntings is due to carbon monoxide leaks. It is a known fact how deadly that dangerous gas can really be. It is not a surprise that the poisonous gas that leaks will alter the brain as well and cause hallucinations and delusions. People can feel things that don’t exist as well.
The hosts of This American Life conducted an interview with toxicologist Albert Donnay who confirmed that this is the case. However, newer homes are not immune to those leaks. It is critical to have furnaces checked each year to make sure that they are functioning properly.
6 Sleep Paralysis
Everyone has that story where they wake up but cannot move, talk, and feel as if they are being crushed by a creepy dark presence in the room. That is sleep paralysis and that is one scientific explanation for a frightening paranormal experience. According to WebMD, sleep paralysis happens when anyone wakes up before the rapid eye movement (REM) part of their sleep cycle is over.
REM is the deepest part of the sleep cycle when dreams happen and the body releases a hormone to temporarily paralyze the body so dreams are not acted out. However, sometimes people wake up before that cycle is finished which is why they cannot move and hallucinate.
5 Exploding Head Syndrome
The term is not nearly as bad as it sounds, however, exploding head syndrome is a phenomenon when a person is falling asleep or waking up, they hear a loud sound. The sound is quite frightening and this is a sleep disorder that is similar to nightmares or night terrors.
Some people may also experience flashes of bright lights in addition to the noise. The experience is shocking enough to jolt them awake regardless of whether they are falling asleep or waking up. It happens in between sleep cycles as well which means someone could be jolted awake by it after only getting three hours of sleep and will be afraid to fall back asleep after that.
4 Chronic Sleep Deprivation
Everyone has had a sleepless night here and there, however, there are a few people who suffer from chronic insomnia. When those sleepless nights add up, many health problems begin to creep up. The main reason that sleep is needed each night is due to the fact that the body needs to rest, recharge, and repair itself.
One of the serious effects of chronic sleep deprivation is becoming delirious and having hallucinations because of the negative effects that a serious lack of sleep has on the brain. Sleep-deprived people often talk about seeing ghosts and spirits, and other things that are not there because of the fact that they are extremely exhausted.
3 Influence Of Drugs
It is a known fact that drugs and alcohol can alter the state of the mind. However, some types of drugs and substances are stronger than others. Most illegal drugs such as LSD, high doses of THC, and ecstasy will have a major impact on the brain and will reduce the individual’s ability to function. It is not a surprise that they are psychedelic drugs. Therefore, it is not a surprise that those who have taken too many drugs will hear voices, see things, and feel things that are not there.
Drugs are a cause of people having ghostly experiences due to the influence of the drugs on the mind.
2 Because Someone Else Said Ghosts Are Real
Never underestimate the power of suggestion as well as social influence. If someone says that something is real such as ghosts, then those who are listening will believe them and think that ghosts are real as well. In fact, a study that was conducted at Goldsmiths, the University of London in 2014 by psychologists, has confirmed this to be true.
Participants were told to watch a video of a psychic using their mind to bend a mental key. The participants who were directly working with the psychologists stated that they saw the key bending as well even if in reality, it did not.
1 The Power Of Belief
Sometimes people just believe that ghosts are real due to that very fact it is a belief. And what motivates their belief is the notion that there is life after death. It is a comforting belief considering that many people have a fear of death due to the fact that it is tied to the unknown. And the uncertainty of any kind does make many people very uncomfortable.
Therefore if people convince themselves that ghosts are real because there really is life after death, then that is a big reason behind some paranormal experiences.
It can be a genuinely hair-raising experience exploring the historic Gila County Jail, which housed murderers and other sociopaths from 1910-1981. Is it haunted? Tickets range from $15-$50 for your choice of three eerie experiences on March 14, a Saturday night with separate events there at 6:30 p.m., 8 and 10 p.m. Proceeds benefit maintenance and upkeep of the historic building at 177 East Oak Street in downtown Globe. The venerable jail was featured on an episode on show Ghost Adventures; reserve your tickets to see what may lurk in the shadows March, when AZ Ghost Tours has scheduled three different experiences
6:30-7:30 p.m. Ghost Walk for $15 each. Take a walking tour, hear ghost stories and the haunted history of the jail. Guides will discuss the claims of paranormal activity; and the audio and visual evidence that has been collected. Guides also demonstrate and explain the equipment used for paranormal investigations. Participants will have time to explore the jail on your own — if you dare!
8-9:30 p.m. Ghost Tour & Paranormal Investigations $25 per person, and limited to eight participants. Start with a brief tour to learn the jail’s history; then review evidence of paranormal activity seen and heard here. Then it’s your turn to investigate! Join an actual investigation with experienced paranormal investigators utilizing the latest equipment.
10 p.m. ‘til 1 a.m. Midnight Ghost Hunt Paranormal Investigations for $50 per person, limited to six participants. During this special three-hour ‘lock-down paranormal investigation’ you will be guided by seasoned paranormal investigators, using state-of-the-art equipment used by professional paranormal investigators worldwide. Spend the midnight hours roaming the building, try to communicate with spirits who may linger. Participants may also choose to experience a special ‘Iso Spirit Box’ session.
Editor’s note: event organizers from AZ Ghost Tours added this caveat about the special midnight tour: “this chilling lockdown will reveal mystery that lingers in every inch and around every corner. Doors slamming, people being pushed and shoved, shadow figures, disembodied voices, footsteps, eerie laughter and full-bodied apparitions.”
Do you love Old West History? Are you curious about Territorial era jails and frontier justice? We open the cell-block doors each month for a Saturday morning house where you can explore this century-old facility. Start with our brief introductory video, then step back in time for an experience in this Territorial Arizona Jail. See photos and find special events, connect with volunteersfacebook.com/1910azjail. Suggested donation of $5 per-person for entry funds continuing maintenance and restoration of the building.
Built before Arizona was officially a state, the Globe jail served the territory starting in 1910 through Feb. 14, 1912, when Arizona received its Statehood, and continued from then ‘til 1981, when the facility released its last prisoner. Lovingly restored, the building is now a museum and visitor center offering old west territorial facility tours by appointment, and on the Second Saturday each month from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
I found an article explaining how to explore and investigate your own house.
DO NOT and I really can’t stress this enough DO NOT INVESTIGATE YOUR OWN HOUSE.
Lawyers almost never represent themselves and ghost hunters don’t investigate their own homes. Its just a bad idea.
First, there is just no way you can separate your bias in your house. Every inch likely has a memory of some kind, every stain, every gash and tear and rip. Its wear the dog was a bad puppy or wear Junior took his first steps. If grandmas vase falls and breaks you may think its grandma when its really someone else but you can only remember grandma in that moment. You just can’t be unbiased in your own home. You can’t.
Second, what if you find something? Are you going to move? Can you move? Are you going to tell anyone? If its a not so friendly ghost and you have an EVP saying it wants to kill you but you can’t afford to move you’ve really set yourself up for failure.
Third, if you look for something you’re likely to find something. Then you’ll have whatever it is that you found floating around your brain at 2 a.m. and you’ll jump every time the wind blows or the house settles.
Fourth, if you don’t know what you’re doing and you investigate you could be doing more harm than good. You could be inadvertently inviting things in that you had no intention of bringing into the house. You could be irritating and agitating whatever is already there. What if it WAS grandma but now you’ve invited the devil in so she’s long gone now?