Zombie travel: the world's best places to mingle with the undead

Want to shoot brain-eating ghouls in an abandoned laboratory? Swing an axe against the walking dead? The $5 billion zombie industry has you covered. October is prime time for action with the reanimated beasties, who rise up around the world. This round-up of zombie-themed attractions and activities is sure to appeal to your dark side...

'Zombie gathering' by Jim Reynolds. Creative Commons Attribution licence

Zombie Survival Camp, Portland, Oregon, USA

It's hard to kill the undead because, well, they're already dead. In the zombie-swarmed post-apocalypse you're going to need a new skill set to carry on. Abilities like how to throw a hatchet, cut with a samurai sword, build smokeless fires, and camouflage a shelter in the wilderness are handy. Outdoor specialist Trackers PDX in Portland (trackerspdx.com/zombie-survival.php) teaches the essentials in day classes or overnight retreats so you'll be ready when hell boils over.

Zombie Museum, Monroeville, Pennsylvania, USA

A suburban Pittsburgh shopping centre might seem an odd location for the globe's foremost zombie institution, until you realise Monroeville Mall (monroevillezombies.com) is where Dawn of the Dead - the greatest zombie flick of all time - was filmed in 1978. Fans stream in to see rotting legs, eyeball-less faces and a red-jumpsuited Michael Jackson 'Thriller' fiend among the film props. Bloody handprints from genre celebrities cover the Maul of Fame.

'Snow White zombie' by daveynin. Creative Commons Attribution licence

Patient 0, Melbourne, Australia

Armed with M4 assault rifles, your team enters the secret medical facility in Melbourne where a zombie outbreak has erupted. Eager moans ricochet through blood-splattered corridors, while decomposed bodies lurch out and grab at your limbs. Stay calm and aim for the head in this live-action immersion, akin to stepping into a video game for 90 minutes. Local actors play the zombies, an abandoned factory sets the scene, and the laser-tag rifles track your kills and allow you to move onward. Open October 31-December 21; learn more or irlshooter.com.

ZombieCon, Ft Myers, Florida, USA

More than 20,000 zombiephiles attend the annual convention. By day they take part in author readings, fashion shows, make-up demonstrations and the 'Walk Like a Zombie' acting workshop. By night, they're ready to unleash their dusty, crusty inner cannibal on the Zombie Walk, which traces sights from Day of the Dead, the 1985 zombie classic filmed in the city. Monster-themed bands, movies and cabaret follow into the wee hours. The gore flies in Florida on 20-21 October; learn more on zombicon.com.

Zombie Shopping Mall, Reading, UK

Take a derelict shopping centre, pepper it with lusty zombies, then invite the public in to shoot them. It's the genre's quintessential role-playing scenario. Nice touches include a police team that arms you with airsoft guns and leads you through the building, and the inevitable demise of said team members as they're dragged into darkness by zombies murmuring 'braaaaains'. Book on www.zedevents.co.uk, or find corpse capers further north at their Manchester zombie manor experience.

'Zombie' by Mark Hill. Creative Commons Attribution licence

Run for your Lives 5K, multiple locations, USA

There's something about being chased by virus-infested flesh-eaters that makes you more fleet-footed. But the undead aren't the only obstacle on the course. Competitors have to crawl through mucky tubes, slip under wire fences, ford streams and navigate root-snarled trails. The goal is to finish with your belt of mini-flags untouched by the coagulated corpses. Training is imperative; the organisers suggest a regimen of: run; watch zombie movies; run some more. Get the gory details on runforyourlives.com

Zombie Combat Zone, Surrey, BC, Canada

A local film special effects master designed the live-action zone, lacing 57 acres of forest with smoke, gunfire, air raid sirens and 20 zombies drawn to fresh juicy brains. Your mission: plunge in and rescue a group of missing scientists. Your weapon: a paintball gun. Your nerves: shredded, as wave after wave of rabid shufflers attack in the pitch-black night. Open September to mid-November. Find all the info on zombiecombatzone.com.

Zombie Week, Stockholm, Sweden

Zombies are for life, not just for Halloween. For a summer event, plan for Zombie Week in Sweden next year. Lots of cities host zombie walks, but Stockholm's is one of the best, known for super-creepy costumes and wide-ranging participation that includes kids and dogs. The event now spreads over a week in late August, with the library and Swedish horror publishers joining forces to provide author talks, writing workshops and manuscript pitch sessions (biblioteket.stockholm.se/kalender/stockholm-zombie-week).

'Stockholm Zombie Walk 2012' by Pelle Sten. Creative Commons Attribution licence

World Zombie Day, multiple cities worldwide

When the second Saturday of October rolls around, the walking dead take to the streets in muddy, bloody solidarity. Some groups organize blood drives, others grunt over drinks during pub crawls, while others gather for communal screenings of Shaun of the Dead. Find your nearest gory gathering on worldzombieday.net.