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Attack of the Town Festival

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The festival always brings in all kinds of out-of-towners...

"By the way, the festival was supposed to occur on the day the world ends up ending. And it's the Moon Festival, go figure. Yay, irony! (as Shigeru Miyamoto) Miyamoto like irony."

A common plot in Attack of the Killer Whatever movies. The town that is under attack happens to be holding a festival. Generally this is accompanied by an official that refuses to cancel the town festival for economic reasons. This in turn puts the public at risk and the hero of the story now has a whole town to protect from the fearsome people-eating whatever.

Bonus points if the festival in question features some theme, object or commodity (besides potential victims) which would naturally attract the Killer Whatever. Double bonus points if the festival is a masked event, and the attackers are taken as masks by the members of the public (until they are being eaten, that is) and become a Needle in a Stack of Needles for the heroes.

In many a fantasy RPG, this trope often overlaps with Doomed Hometown, with the doom in question (usually an invading horde of mooks working for the Big Bad) falling upon the town during a local festival.

See also Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday for the holiday variant. Not to be confused with A Fête Worse than Death, where the festival is itself the threat. Sub-Trope of Tourism-Derailing Event.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Afro Samurai: Resurrection, Afro battles the new Number Two during the town festival. At the same time, the Big Bad sends a bunch of assassins to ambush him. Everyone but Afro, the DJ, and the Number Two dies. Then Afro kills the other two.
  • Attack on Titan has Eren Yeager interrupting a festival in Liberio where many important politicians, aristocrats, royals, nobility and a hefty helping of well-established characters, such as Reiner Braun and his Child Soldier subordinates are gathered. Of course, Willy Tybur, the secret ruler of Marley, and Magath, commander of the military, knew that their enemies were probably nearby and used the festival to lure out Eren by having Willy give a speech that included Marley's declaration of war on Paradis Island. Eren appears to fall for the trap, as he kills Willy in front of everyone, but it's possible he knew exactly what was going on too.
  • In Elfen Lied, one of child-Lucy's rampages, and the culminating endpoint of her Start of Darkness, occurs during a local town festival.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Happens during the Mahora festival and in Cosmo Entelecheia's attack during General-Governor's Ball.
  • Toriko: The 50th Cooking Festival becomes a warzone due to the Gourmet Corp. attacking.
  • In Your Name, Tiamat falls on Itomori the night it is holding an autumn festival.

    Comic Books 
  • Multiple Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic books (Pre-Season 8) had festivals/celebrations become interrupted by huge monster fights.
  • Very literal example happens in Hellblazer, where a pagan costume festival (which is also helping to revive the town) causes everyone in fancy dress to become whatever they're dressed as and become murderously insane (new father in baby costume to infant: "You're taking all of mummy's attention and it's! not! fair!" *splat*; a dentist(?) with a rictus grin mask wants EVERYONE TO SMILE!). John and his friend discover that loud punk rock cancels the effect a little too late: an ex-fighter pilot is "cured" just seconds after he releases a nuke, destroying the town and everyone in it (except John, of course).
  • The Odd Thomas graphic novel by Dean Koontz has a subtle twist. The police chief, despite sincerely believing in the evidence, can't spare any cops to hunt down a child-killer because they are all working security for the festival. This, of course, leaves it up to the plucky teenage heroes to save the day.
  • THAT, a one-off comic by John Allison set in the Bobbinsverse, is a parody of the trope, involving as it does an attack by giant vampire moths on a lemon festival.

    Films — Animated 
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, where the threat is the very reason for the festival. More specifically, the raining food which has made the town famous enough to become a tourist attraction is now overmutating, becoming bigger and more unstable.
  • The Curse of the Were-Rabbit has a vegetable festival. Since the eponymous creature is a giant rabbit, it's only the focus of the festival that will attract it, and the people are in no real danger. The festival is Serious Business, though.
  • Frozen II depicts the spirits attacking Arendelle the very same night as the Harvest Festival.
  • ParaNorman has a small New England town celebrating the anniversary of a historic witch burning when that witch's curse finally comes back to bite them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alligator has its eponymous giant predator attack a wedding. The sequel-cum-remake has its mutant version attack a carnival.
  • Batman (1989). The Gotham 200th Anniversary Festival is in trouble because people are scared of high crime in the city, and the conflict between the Joker and the gangsters and the Joker's poisoning of the population make it worse. Despite all this, the mayor insists that the Festival must occur so businesses will come back to the city.
    • Eventually, the mayor does give in when it becomes obvious that it's simply too dangerous to hold a festival... which is The Joker's cue to pick up the slack. And he's giving out free money! Why, how could that hurt anyone?
  • Curse of the Crimson Altar has all the events of the film take place around Witch's Festival: a local village festival that commemorates the burning of local witch Lavinia Grey.
  • In Dante's Peak, the volcano begins "waking up" during the town's "Pioneer Festival". Which happens just when a new factory is being moved to the town, and the town's naming as one of the best places to live in the United States. The town's officials are a little hesitant to declare an emergency. Which works real well.
  • In John Carpenter's The Fog (1980), the target town is holding its bicentennial celebration - which happens to be the anniversary of a revenge-worthy event, resulting in the Fog of Doom.
  • In Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man all the monstrous doins' in Frankenstein's ruins take place during the village's "Festival of the New Wine."
  • The Giant Spider Invasion has the spider attack a town festival. However, there's no "refusing to cancel the festival" subplot, because the festival is literally never mentioned until the spider shows up to crash it. This naturally leads a few viewers into assuming that the townsfolk are simply celebrating the Green Bay Packers winning the SuperBowl.
  • In Uwe Boll's rendition of House of the Dead, zombies attack an open rave held on the island the movie takes place; the main cast is Late to the Tragedy.
  • The big fishman attack in Humanoids from the Deep occurs at the town festival.
  • While it wasn't a festival, this was the reason the town officials tried to deny that there was a shark near the town in Jaws. Closing the beach would ruin the town's tourist business over the Fourth of July weekend. Then, Jaws 2 was centered around the opening of yet another summer season, Jaws 3-D around the celebration of a theme park's opening, and the beginning of Jaws: The Revenge was set against the backdrop of preparations for the Christmas festivities.
  • The TV-movie Killer Bees had the swarm attacking during a honey festival.
  • Kingdom of the Spiders. The town is preparing for the county fair, and the mayor tries to keep a lid on reports of tarantula attacks on livestock.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the Fantom tries to sink Venice during a carnival.
  • Lightning Strikes: In this Sci-Fi Channel Made-for-TV Movie the pumpkin festival is interrupted by killer lightning after the mayor refuses the cancel it after being warned.
  • In Mortal Thoughts, Jimmy is killed at a Feast of Saint Rocco festival.
  • The climactic battle of Pokémon Detective Pikachu takes place at a parade celebrating the anniversary of the founding of Ryme City. Also an Invoked Trope, as the parade has been organised by the Big Bad Howard Clifford to gather as many people (and their Pokemon) in one place at the same time.
  • Safe Haven has the heroine's abusive husband stalking her through the Fourth of July festivities of the small town she's fled to.
  • Sesame Street, of all things, does this in Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird. Big Bird, his friends from Sesame Street who set out to look for him, and various figures looking to catch him all converge in the town of Mushroom, Kansas, in the midst of the Mushroom Festival and Parade.
  • Sleeping with the Enemy: Laura's abusive ex stalks her and her new boyfriend through a local carnival.
  • The Swarm (1978) featured killer bees attacking a small-town "Flower Festival".
  • The 1997 Italian film Tentacles starring Henry Fonda has the Giant Octopus attack the sea resort during a big sailing event, snatching many helpless kids from their boats in the process. The fact that the creature moves at jet drive speed isn't helping at all.
  • In Transylvania 6-5000, town officials frantically attempt to get rid of the local monsters so they can boost revenues from festivals and expand the tourist trade. Unusual in that the "monsters", none of which are genuine, only become a problem because the local busybodies are trying to chase them off.

  • Played with in The Dreamside Road. The first arcs appear to be this, set during Nimauk's world famous Wintertide Festival, a weeklong costume party that still draws thousands of guests. However, the monster attack is really a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax. The Liberty Corps and Councilman Tucker are using this ploy to make their move to locate the Dreamside Road.
  • Bizarre variant from Clive Barker's In The Hills, The Cities: the monster actually is a town, whose citizens have all lashed themselves together into a gigantic humanoid figure as part of an annual ceremonial "battle" between their gestalt-giant and a neighboring town's. This festival didn't just attract a monster, it built the darn thing.
  • In One Hundred Years of Solitude, guerrillas open fire on the citizens of Macondo as they're holding a carnival.
  • In the Relativity story "Cold Case", the city's Christmas parade is attacked by a villain who can control the weather. He makes the temperature rise rapidly so all the snow melts, then adds-on a torrential rainshower just to make things worse.
  • In the novel The Relic, the New York Museum of Natural History is gearing up for the grand opening of its "Superstition" exhibition. All of the city's most influential people will be there, and the Museum would very much like to have this dreadful business about the murders dealt with as quietly as possible.
  • In Scorpions (2016), Scary Scorpions threaten Laughlin, Nevada's annual offroad enthusiast event, which the mayor refuses to postpone.
  • The Darke outbreak in Septimus Heap Darke occurs right during Septimus's and Jenna's birthday and Longest Night.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents did a revised version of The Lady Vanishes for one episode. In it, this trope provides the reason for the mysterious disappearance of the eponymous lady and the town's collusion with it: the lady died of some highly communicable disease. Because the town's well-being rests on the success of a world's fair (or some such event) they're putting on at great expense, they attempt to suppress news of the death. The episode starred Hitchcock's daughter Patricia who'd appeared in some of his 50's era movies. "How'd you like the little leading lady?" he asks in the epilogue.
  • On Banshee the town is having a festival when a biker gang comes into town. The bikers have come through the area before without serious incidents but this time they decide to have some fun and one of them tries to rape Carrie. A sheriff's deputy kills the would-be-rapist and the other bikers decide to exact revenge on the town by riding their bikes through the festival and attacking people.
  • In Cougar Town, the town's annual Buccaneer Week festival is endangered when Bobby reports being attacked by giant jellyfish. Andy, as mayor, is torn between closing the beach on rumors from a known Cloud Cuckoolander or keeping it open and losing the trust of his best friend. In the end they both go into the water to prove that the beach is safe... and are badly stung by jellyfish.
  • ER: Carter and Lucy are viciously stabbed by a mentally ill patient during the department's Valentine's Day party. With the loud music blaring in the background, no one hears them screaming and everyone is having so much fun that they fail to notice their absence.
  • Midsomer Murders featured this nearly every episode. If it wasn't a festival, it was a regatta, or a fair, or a carnival...
    • The episode The Straw Woman had a village deciding to go ahead with a festival despite the vicar being burnt to death. The replacement vicar was then also murdered.
    • In "The Scarecrow Murders", people are being murdered and then dressed up and posed as Scary Scarecrows during the village's annual scarecrow festival.
  • The Pioneer Days celebration in Juniper, NV, is menaced by shriekers in an episode of Tremors: The Series. The townsfolk actually do know about the shriekers, they just have no idea how dangerous they are and don't expect wild animals to come into town.
  • A variation on this occurs in the The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Ring-a-ding Girl". An actress leaves her press tour to stop off at her home town, where the big annual town picnic is going to be held that very afternoon. She convinces the powers that be to move the scheduled picnic to the high school gymnasium, where she will appear as a surprise guest. At the end, a plane (the very plane Ringading Girl was flying in) crashes in the field where the picnic was supposed to take place.
  • The Vampire Diaries does this. A lot. One gets the impression that the constant festivities are a desperate attempt to distract people from all the murders.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dragon Age: Downplayed in the introductory module "The Dalish Curse", a Rage Abomination attacks the village of Vintiver a couple weeks after its autumn harvest festival and is later revealed to have originated during said festival.
  • Pathfinder:
    • The first adventure of the first Adventure Path, Rise of the Runelords, begins during the Swallowtail Festival being celebrated in the small town of Sandpoint. The PCs first come to prominence when they have to defend the town against a goblin raid that happens during the festivities.
    • The Wrath of the Righteous path begins during a religious celebration, which promptly gets crashed by demons.

    Theme Parks 
  • In the JAWS ride at Universal Studios, the shark returns to wreak havoc during Amity's Fourth of July festival.

    Video Games 
  • The plot of Alan Wake is set in the week before Bright Falls' "Deerfest". And in one level, the town float gets possessed and tries to run you over, potentially becoming Attack Of The Killer Town Festival.
  • The plot of Chrono Trigger was kicked off by an invention being exhibited at one, the Millenia Fair, in 1000 AD. However, it was not attacked.
  • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, the first mission in the Empire campaign has the player leading an attack on a Russian town in the midst of New Year's celebrations. The opposing commander berates you over the comlink for this, saying that he'll defeat you quickly so that his men will still have time to celebrate.
  • The plot in Dark Cloud was kicked off when the genie attacked our hero's town, during a festival.
  • The main arc mystery of Detective Pikachu is started by a Charizard going berserk at a carnival. The final chapter has a race against the clock to prevent a repeat of that incident.
  • Dragon Quest VII has Engow's Festival of Flame, which involves throwing torches into a volcano as part of a whole symbolic "returning the God of Flame's gifts" exercise. Pamela had a vision of the volcano erupting right after the ceremony ends, but their leader refuses to listen, playing this trope to the hilt. This then gets flipped around when Present Day Engow no longer holds the Festival of Flame, and the God of Flame turns out to be real after all, and less than pleased with their lapse of worship.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: The team enters a village in Iwate Prefecture just in time for a local festival, complete with an exhibition wrestling match! This is fantastic news for Sharkungo, the prince in exile of the Shakun Star and whose Star Yui martial arts greatly resemble professional wrestling, giving him a much needed morale boost as he participates. Unfortunately, the criminal organization Tarantula also launches an attack on the festival in order to kidnap suitably athletic individuals for their nefarious purposes. Even successfully repelling the attack cannot prevent villagers from having been kidnapped, prompting Toyama to join the party against this injustice.
  • In Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus, a town is celebrating the whole Sephiroth fiasco. What happens? Soldiers arrive and start shooting and capturing anything that moved. Cue Vincent Valentine to go into badass stalker mode and wiping most of the force out with a triple-barreled pistol.
  • Golden Sun: The Lost Age does this off-screen. The Great Serpent of Mount Mikage attacked the town of Izumo in the middle of an unspecified festival. It is implied that the Serpent woke up because of either your actions in the first game (as Isaac) or your actions in the first game (as Felix).
  • At the beginning of Halo 2, the Covenant decide to attack Earth while our heroes are attending an award ceremony for their exploits in the first game. It's a bit of a Downplayed example, as after they get the advance warning they still find the time to calmly receive their awards before getting to work.
  • Lakeview Valley: In the standard ending Morgo will begin his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the town on Lake Day, a week after the protagonist moves in. It's up to the player whether they want to assist or stop him, or just ignore the entire thing.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has a town continue a festival despite the moon dropping on them. Not that running would help anything, but seeing a guard not leave his post, just looking at the moon, really gives a "this is the end" feeling.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap: The game's story opens with a festival. The winner of its contest turns out to be Vaati, the Big Bad who proceeds to turn Princess Zelda into a stone statue and unleashes a legion of monsters that were previously sealed in a vessel.
  • Played with in Neverwinter Nights 2. West Harbor's Harvest Festival is the Justified Tutorial; the githyanki attack that kicks off the plot happens that night.
  • Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask takes place during a carnival in the town of Monte d'Or, complete with a mysterious masked villain who performs new "dark miracles" every night. Such acts are proven to be just well-elaborated illusions, but the very last intended act is real and dangerous: The masked villain aims to activate a mechanism within Nautilus capable of sinking the city beneath the desert's sand.
  • The final mission of Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield is to stop a Grim Reaper parade float from unleashing a mustard gas bomb on the Festas Juninas.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Soleanna's Festival Of Light gets interrupted by Eggman's arrival.
  • In Sonic Generations, when Sonic goes back to Spagonia, there is some type of celebration happening.
  • This happens at the beginning of Super Mario Galaxy, where the Star Festival in Toad Town is brutally interrupted by Bowser and his flying Airships. Also happens in the sequel.
  • In Wild ARMs, a devastating demon attack strikes Adlehyde during a major festival. Everyone in the festival grounds was killed, and only a handful of survivors can be rescued from the main town.
  • In Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim, the Rehdan Village is raided by the Romun army just before the Festival of Alma.

    Web Animation 

  • In the Bad Machinery side-story "THAT", the town of Heaven, Arizona is attacked by giant moths during its Lemon Festival.
  • The first 'Kitten' arc of Sluggy Freelance parodied the Jaws example with the local sheriff refusing to make any serious investigation into some murders because it might scare away the tourists. The person who is trying to get an investigation counters that the town's tourist trade consists of renting a few cabins to college kids, and that she could cover the town's loss out of her own pocket. She is promptly ignored.

    Web Video 
  • Nightmare Time: in the episode "Killer Track," the song's host plans to play the killer song at the towns Honey Festival, with the goal of killing as many people as possible.

    Western Animation 
  • Happens a lot in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. It's like an ungulate can't throw a party without being invaded.
    • In the two-part premiere "Friendship is Magic", Twilight Sparkle is sent to to Ponyville to make sure the Summer Sun Celebration goes well... only to have it coincide with Nightmare Moon's return and subsequent attempt to bring about The Night That Never Ends.
    • In the Season 2 finale "A Canterlot Wedding", Canterlot is invaded by emotion-eating shapeshifters called changelings after it turns out the bride, Princess Cadance, has been kidnapped and replaced by their queen, Chrysalis.
    • In the Season 4 premiere "Princess Twilight Sparkle", Ponyville comes under attack on the eve of the Summer Sun Celebration again, this time by killer vines planted by Discord before the princesses first sealed him in stone.
    • Happens once again in the movie, this time when a friendship-themed festival in Canterlot is crashed by the forces of the Storm King, who is looking to steal alicorn magic to empower his magic staff so he can Take Over the World.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): In "The City of Frownsville", Lou Gubrious unleashes his joy-stealing machine onto Townsville during the sixth-annual happiness carnival.
  • This happens in the second episode of the Netflix series She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. The town that Adora was supposed to attack turned out to be a peaceful village holding a festival, which is what caused her to realize that the rebellion isn't as evil as she was led to believe.
  • While visiting Tuskegee, Alabama on a mission to help the botanist George Washington Carver, the Time Squad arrive during a Peanut themed festival that the town threw in honor of Carver's contributions. The festival turns bad fast when George's little brother, Todd Washington Carver takes over the town with his "Evil One Hundred Uses" for the peanut while inside a giant Peanut shaped blimp.

    Real Life 
  • The fire-bombing of Dresden in 1945 occurred over the Shrove Tuesday festivities.
  • At the Marathon campaign, the Spartan army delayed its intervention because of a festival.
  • When you think about it, Pearl Harbor was about at the beginning of the Christmas season. Which did not soften the recipients' expected reaction.
  • The Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War is so named because the Vietnamese New Year is called Tet, and Tet is when the Viet Cong began their unexpected insurgent uprising (to catch the South Vietnamese government off guard).
  • There was an inversion in the first year of WW1. Both the German and British armies stopped fighting to celebrate Christmas together.
  • The Yom Kippur War. Which of course started during Yom Kippur. (Arguably Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday, since the invaders purposely chose to attack when they knew everyone would be fasting and off duty. Of course, what a lot of people tend to forget is that the invaders, for the most part, were Muslim and therefore also fasting—the offensive came on the Tenth of Ramadan.)
  • Mont Pelée was about to erupt. The local government, which was facing an election, tried to keep everyone from panicking. The town of Saint-Pierre was not only the largest city in Martinique at the time, but its population swelled to several times its size as people migrated from the countryside to vote in elections. This contributed to the death toll of 30121 people.
  • Washington's Christmas attack on the Hessian encampment during the Revolutionary War.
  • Several villages were attacked during the Spanish Civil War on market day for maximum carnage and damage to morale, most famously Gernika.
  • The Chernobyl disaster happened five days before May 1st, probably the most important holiday in the Soviet Union. Local Party leaders were instructed to carry on as normal and lead the parades themselves to give an appearance of normality, although by the time the feast came along the cat was already out of the bag.
  • A big contributing factor to the 2019-nCov spread in China was the coincidence of the outbreak with the Chinese New Year holidays, where millions of Chinese visit family and/or travel abroad. Comparisons to Chernobyl abounded, though not for this reason. The virus spreads more easily in crowds due to the close contact among people, hence the warning to practice social distancing. Outbreaks in other countries followed public celebrations or major gatherings, like the legislative elections in Qom, Iran, during Carnival in Italy, and the Platinum Jubilee in Britain.