24 Frightfully Fun Halloween Events Across the Country

Photo credit: lev radin/shutterstock

LOW-COSTUME FUN


Sooner or later we all age out of trick-or-treating, but no one is too old to enjoy Halloween. While children gorge themselves on free candy, adults celebrate with their own sorts of revelry, from elaborate costume contests to scary movies to raunchy parades. Here are some of the best free or cheap Halloween events happening around the country this year.

Related:Get Lost in These 20 Corn Mazes and Pumpkin Patches Across America
Photo credit: a katz/shutterstock

VILLAGE HALLOWEEN PARADE, NEW YORK CITY

A sizable chunk of lower Manhattan shuts down Oct. 31 for a massive public parade in which anyone wearing a costume can participate. The Village Halloween Parade features thousands of marchers, dancers, artists, more than 50 musical acts, and giant handcrafted puppets.
Photo credit: Dana K./yelp.com

WEST HOLLYWOOD CARNAVAL, CALIFORNIA

More than half a million people attend the West Hollywood Carnaval, held along Santa Monica Boulevard. The free event offers multiple music stages, while nearby bars draw visitors with themed drink specials and contests. This night of excess and outrageous costumes (leave the kids at home) ends with a celebrity guest being crowned "Queen of the Carnival."
Photo credit: festivalofthedead/facebook.com

FESTIVAL OF THE DEAD, SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS

The home of the Salem witch trials embraces its notoriety with a monthlong Festival of the Dead. Some events have steep prices, but others are free, including the Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo (with free psychic readings) and the Salem Witches' Magic Circle on Halloween night, when practicing witches and open-minded vistors from around the globe honor the dead.
Photo credit: jbd30/shutterstock

EMMA CRAWFORD COFFIN RACE & PARADE, MANITOU SPRINGS, COLORADO


Named for a woman whose coffin was displaced from the top of Red Mountain by railroad construction and bad weather, the Emma Crawford Coffin Race & Parade begins with a lively parade on Oct. 29. The free event concludes with 70 teams -- each consisting of one "Emma" and four "mourners" -- racing homemade coffins down Manitou Avenue to win trophies for speed, creativity in coffin design, and more.

Related:10 Creepy Ghost Towns Across America
Photo credit: Chad Zuber/shutterstock

HALLOWEEN IN NEW ORLEANS

Often named the nation's most haunted city, New Orleans has a Halloween second only to Mardi Gras for liveliness. Walking tours delve into the city's rich, spooky history and peek into voodoo shops and graveyards. A free celebration lights up Frenchmen Street, the music-venue-lined avenue near the French Quarter, with elaborate costumes and seasonal marketplace vendors Oct. 28 to 31.
PreviousNext
Photo credit: Nishan P./yelp.com

HALLOWEEN ON HALSTED, CHICAGO

Chicago's beloved Halloween on Halsted celebrates its 20th year Oct. 31 in the city's LGBT-friendly Northalsted neighborhood. Anyone who takes the time to register (for free) can join the festivities and costume competition in categories including pet costumes, drag, scariest, most original, and group costume. Keep an eye out for people on stilts, fire twirlers, and other entertainers among the 2,000-plus competitors walking the 0.7-mile parade route.
Photo credit: BluIz60/shutterstock

LITTLE FIVE POINTS HALLOWEEN FESTIVAL AND PARADE, ATLANTA

The self-proclaimed "best Halloween parade in the South" takes over this historic Atlanta neighborhood Oct. 15. Costumed participants and floats from local businesses come out in droves for the free event, but the main attraction may be the food trucks and neighborhood restaurants selling everything from barbecue to wood-fired pizza at pop-up stalls throughout the event.
Photo credit: Louisvillezoo/facebook.com

LOUISVILLE ZOO HALLOWEEN PARTY, KENTUCKY

The Louisville Zoo transforms into a "cheery, not eerie" seasonal wonderland of costumed storybook characters and trick-or-treating for children 11 and under Thursday through Sunday throughout October. Families can view certain animals before enjoying a hay maze or strolling through decorative walkways with themes such as "Frozen" and "Pirates of the Caribbean." Tickets are $8 for non-members.
Photo credit: Chuck Wagner/shutterstock

FANTASY FEST, KEY WEST, FLORIDA

The beach town of Key West celebrates the season with Fantasy Fest Oct. 21 through Halloween. Many of the best events are free, including the family-friendly Bahama Village Goombay Festival, the moving cocktail party that is the Masquerade March, and the 70,000-person Fantasy Fest Parade.
Photo credit: taedc/flickr.com

17TH STREET HIGH HEEL RACE, WASHINGTON, D.C.

One of Washington's proudest Halloween traditions is a different kind of drag race. Hundreds of drag queens run a quarter-mile in their most extravagant outfits -- stilettos included. The free Oct. 25 event starts at 7 p.m. with a pre-race costume parade and food vendors. Arrive early to get a good spot among the thousands of attendees and enjoy drink specials from bars along the route.
Photo credit: armadilo60/flickr.com

DIA DE MUERTOS, SEATTLE

The city's largest Dia de Muertos festival takes place in the shadow of city landmarks such as the Space Needle on Oct. 29 and 30. The free celebration honors the departed through family-friendly activities, meticulously created community altars, and cultural rituals that let attendees create sugar skulls and paper skeletons before marching in a joyous musical procession.
PreviousNext
Photo credit: Kenovas-Famous-Griffith-Pumpkin-House/facebook.com

C-K AUTUMNFEST, CEREDO AND KENOVA, WEST VIRGINIA

The centerpiece of this event is the Pumpkin House, an attraction that began with only five carved pumpkins in 1978. Today about 3,000 jack-o'-lanterns draw more than 30,000 people during the free C-K Autumnfest. The festival on Oct. 28 and 29 also features an arts and crafts show, cruise-in tractor show, food vendors, and a bake-off.
Photo credit: keenepumpkinfestival/facebook.com

NEW HAMPSHIRE PUMPKIN FESTIVAL, LACONIA

Three thousand jack-o'-lanterns is impressive, but how about 30,581? That's the record set by the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival in 2013. On Oct. 22, locals and visitors will contribute jack-o'-lanterns in an attempt to beat that record while enjoying seasonal harvest foods and a costume parade. The Pumpkin Dump Derby has teams compete to clean up afterward in exchange for a cash prize.
Photo credit: Neewollah-Independence-Kansas/facebook.com

NEEWOLLAH, INDEPENDENCE, KANSAS

This Kansas town has celebrated its own annual October holiday, Neewollah ("Halloween" backward), since 1919. Most events Oct. 21 to 29 are free, including a chili cook-off, parades, movie screenings, live music, talent shows, and craft fairs. Tickets to a musical and festival queen events are $6 to $12.
Photo credit: zacharyssavannah/flickr.com

MIDNIGHT SERENADERS HALLOWEEN BASH, PORTLAND, OREGON

A three-band bill of the Midnight Serenaders, Bridgetown Sextet, and Starella Sisters gives Halloween a Jazz Age feel in a city with an ever-original music scene. Tickets to this 21-plus event at the Secret Society are $15.
Photo credit: 15585764@N05/flickr.com

ZOMBIE CRAWL, DENVER

The streets of the Colorado capital will be overrun with the undead (or at least with people clothed and painted to look like the undead) in the 11th year of this free, all-ages event on Oct. 22. Costumed zombie hordes take part in the Organ Trail, solving clues and overcoming obstacles to win cash prizes of up to $300.
Photo credit: fabhillcrest/facebook.com

NIGHTMARE ON NORMAL STREET, SAN DIEGO


This outdoor dance party features an "American Idol"-themed costume contest, live entertainment, food trucks, and bars. The Oct. 29 event costs $15 -- but arrive early and take advantage of a complimentary cocktail hour for the first 300 guests.

Related:15 Desert Vacation Spots to Stave Off the Autumn Blues
PreviousNext
Photo credit: Courtesy of srfballoonfestivals.com

SALT RIVER FIELDS BALLOON SPOOKTACULAR, SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA

Children trick-or-treat for 4,000 pounds of candy as colorful hot-air balloons float overhead at the Salt River Fields Balloon Spooktacular. Tickets to the sixth annual event, Oct. 28 and 29, are $15 for adults and $10 for children. It's an extra $25 for adults and $15 for children to take a tethered balloon ride, but there's plenty to enjoy on the ground, including live music, fireworks, and a haunted trail.
Photo credit: Anoka-Halloween-Inc/facebook.com

GRAND DAY PARADE, ANOKA, MINNESOTA

This town of 17,000 is the self-proclaimed "Halloween Capital of the World" and hosts free or cheap movie nights, scavenger hunts, costume contests, a home-decorating competition, and other events all month long. They culminate in a parade on Oct. 29, when floats and child-friendly costumed marchers take over Main Street after a flyover by the T-6 Thunder team.
Photo credit: Pressmaster/shutterstock

HALLOWEEN ON THE MILE, CORAL GABLES, FLORIDA

Halloween on the Mile activities begin the afternoon of Oct. 31, with businesses along Coral Gables' Miracle Mile hosting events such as trick-or-treating, reading circles, pet costume contests, face painting, live musical theater performances, and a haunted house suitable even for little ones.
Photo credit: AthensHalloween/facebook.com

ATHENS HALLOWEEN BLOCK PARTY, OHIO

A three-block stretch of Court Street crowded with bars and restaurants has drawn as many as 30,000 Athens residents, Ohio University students, and other revelers to celebrate Halloween. Drink specials and trick-or-treat stations are expected on Oct. 29, as well as two stages of live music interrupted only by a massive costume contest.
Photo credit: Teri Virbickis/shutterstock

SILENT HALLOWEEN, INDIANAPOLIS

Silent screen horror is on the marquee at Indiana Landmarks Center on Oct. 28. Local horror TV host Sammy Terry introduces the 1920 classic "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" with live organ accompaniment (along with spooky musical selections beforehand). There's a costume contest with a cash prize for the winner. Tickets are $13.
Photo credit: Courtesy of facebook.com

OAK LAWN HALLOWEEN BLOCK PARTY, DALLAS

All ages are welcome at the Oak Lawn neighborhood's gigantic street party on Oct. 29, but some of the sexier costumes in the parade and the uproarious live commentary may not be appropriate for children. It's free to get in, and there's food, beer, and live music throughout.
PreviousNext
Photo credit: Courtesy of deadwood.com

DEADWEIRD, DEADWOOD, SOUTH DAKOTA


South Dakotans turn the historic frontier town into something scarier Oct. 28 and 29 with a Monster Ball, coffin races, and a $10,000 costume contest. Spooky tours and ghost stories take place all month at the Adams House Victorian mansion.

Related:50 Budget-Friendly Boutique Hotels Across the Country