A ghoulish cast of characters prowled China's streets on Friday, celebrating Halloween, a holiday growing in popularity in the country.
Residents of Manila's Marikina suburb parade in Halloween costumes on Friday during an event organized by the city government. Fifty-five contestants took part in the 5th annual costume competition to win cash prizes. [Agencies]
Organizers of Beijing's biggest bash, the Yen Fetish Halloween party, said they expected more than 2,200 people to descend on Star Live for fright night festivities.
"When we started doing this five years ago, it was like 40 percent Chinese people, but last year it was like half and half," Wang Xiaoding, who becomes DJ Dio behind the turntables, said.
"I expect this year we will have more locals than foreigners, because more and more Chinese know about Halloween."
Acupuncture records founder Miao Wong said she expected about 1,500 people to attend the company's Spooked Halloween Party - the capital's second largest event of the night - at Originally Square in the 798 art district.
"We have a really fun-loving crowd, and it's getting bigger," she said, adding that last year's shindig attracted about 1,000 guests.
Costume retailer Fancy Pants employee Li Farong said the company sold out of outfits weeks ago.
Shuangjing Beta Costume Rentals manager Zhang Shangdong said his firm had rented out about 600 getups by Friday morning, with foreigners snapping up about 60 percent.
Huan Run employee Wang Li said the company had rented outfits out to "a great many people, both foreign and Chinese".
In Shanghai's Xintiandi bar district, crowds gathered outside nightspots' doors waiting to get in.
Luna Bar operations manager P. Subramaniam said: "People aren't feeling the pinch of the financial crisis too much. They're coming out and spending for the traditional event."
Tickets sold out days ago, he said.
In Beijing, Zhang Yue donned a witch costume and hopped aboard the Clubzone Halloween Party Bus.
"I don't know how many Chinese people know about the history of the festival, but it's a good excuse to party, be with friends and have a good time," the 29-year-old Beijinger said.
Starting from Coco Banana, three buses organized by China's biggest nightlife website, and decked out with jack-o-lanterns, paper skeletons and spiders' webs, chugged along to three other nightspots, ChinaDoll, Block 8 and the Yen party.
Clubzone.cn founder Jack Zhu said: "People party inside the bus and party outside the bus."
Dressed as an airplane captain, Zhu led the convoy of 100 partiers.
New Yorker Melissa Buyum planned to stay in on Friday night but said she would join weekend festivities hosted by language-instruction firm E-Plus.
She said she would help kids make masks, teach them about the holiday's history and take them trick-or-treating around the school. They also planned to bob for apples, play "pin the broom on the witch" and draw faces on pumpkins.
"I think it will be fun for me and them," she said.
"Everyone enjoys wearing a mask. It's fun to change your identity."
In Guangzhou, American Eric Law organized a party for English First attended by about 200 people, including about a dozen foreigners from the US, the UK, Australia and France.
"It's a pity we couldn't trick or treat, as we did not have such a neighborhood," he said.
Americans Benjamin Childs and Laurie Schiller posted a signup sheet on their dorm at China Agricultural University in Beijing for anyone willing to give their 1-year-old son Seth candy.
They took the tot door-to-door dressed as a bee, but Seth flew solo this year, because the family "hasn't been able to find a network of kids for him to go with", Childs said.
"But it will be the same in the sense of going around with a cute kid in a costume, getting candy from friends and family, and getting a lot of pictures taken."
Liang Qiwen contributed to the story