Behind the whitewashed walls of Vancouver’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, winding pathways lead between ornamental ponds, manicured shrubbery and elegant pavilions. Inspired by the formal gardens of 15th-century China, the facility was named Top City Garden in the world by National Geographic.
Now it’s about to become one of the strangest haunted houses in Vancouver. The garden will be the scene of murder, mayhem and unspeakable horror this month as part ofJudge Dee’s Chinatown Haunted House, Oct. 24-Oct. 31.
Visitors will be called upon to solve a unique, interactive murder mystery staged entirely inside the garden. More than a dozen actors, dancers and musicians from the Seven Tyrants theatre company will roam the haunted grounds, dropping clues and terrifying guests.
The action is inspired by the grisly stories of Judge Dee, China’s Sherlock Holmes. The semi-fictional character is based on a real-life magistrate during China’s Tang Dynasty, more than 1,ooo years ago, with a knack for solving crimes. The Judge Dee stories, which first appeared in the 18th century, follow the magistrate as he pursues criminals and killers and subjects them to swift, often merciless, justice.
Featuring plenty of gore and surprises, Judge Dee’s Chinatown Haunted House is not suitable for young children. (In fact, the official poster warns, “Take your children to Stanley Park. Bring your friends to Chinatown.”) Performances are staged after dark from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Groups of ten guests wander into the garden every ten minutes, then spend the next half-hour battling killers and ghouls in an effort to crack the case and get out of the garden alive.
Judge Dee’s Chinatown Haunted House runs Oct. 24-Oct. 31 at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Tickets ($12 adults) are available at the door or by calling 604-662-3207.