From Halloweekend to Día de los Muertos, Chicagoland is brimming with eerie events, spellbinding shows, and wickedly fun Halloween-themed parties that give a whole new meaning to the phrase “ghost town.”
But first, a few protips:
1. Explore the suburbs.
2. Embrace the power of the costume, but don’t abuse it.
Halloween is the only time of year that you can walk around dressed like Wolverine or Obi-Wan Kenobi and receive little to no judgment from passersby, so why not seize the opportunity and geek out to your heart’s content? Of course, an ignorant lapse in cultural sensitivity (or downright racism) does not count.
3. Enjoy the holiday while it lasts.
Do the Monster Mash, bake ghost-shaped Pillsbury sugar cookies, and treat yourself to repeated viewings of “Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire,” “Hocus Pocus,” and “Don’t Look Under the Bed.”
Also, make sure that you venture out into the city every once in a while, walk around in the brisk autumn air, and experience all of the Halloweentime joys that Chicago has to offer!
- Chicagoween: Delight in spooky entertainment, hayrides, trick-or-treating, a costume contest, and a fall farmers’ market when Daley Plaza becomes Franken Plaza. Oct. 25-27.
- HallowFest: Head to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe for fortune telling, face painting, a carved pumpkin gallery and more. Oct. 26-27.
- Clark Street Spooktacular: The annual Lincoln Park neighborhood event returns with family friendly games, trick-or-treating, street magicians, jugglers, balloon artists, and a costume contest. Saturday, Oct. 26.
- BatFest: A parade, pumpkin roll, entertainment, trick-or-treating, hayrides, games, and farmers’ market along the Riverwalk in Batavia. Saturday, Oct. 26.
- Halloween Boonanza: Kids ages 14 and under can participate in hayrides, crafts, carnival games, and trick-or-treating at the community center in Schaumburg. Saturday, Oct. 31.
- Spooky Zoo Spectacular. Arrive in costume to enjoy the arts and crafts, trick-or-treating, and live outdoor music at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Thursday, Oct. 26.
- Nocturna All Hallow’s Eve Ball at Metro: The annual music hall extravaganza will feature a costume contest with cash prizes, a photo booth, vendors, and Halloween-themed performances. DJ Scary Lady Sarah spins. Saturday, Oct. 26.
- Boo: A Halloween Ball at the Chicago History Museum: A night of terrifying tales, dancing, and craft cocktails. Thursday, Oct. 31.
- Haunted Yacht Party at Navy Pier: Hop on board! Thursday, Oct. 31.
- Scofflaw’s 2nd Annual Bonny’s Halloween Party: The Ghost of Bonny’s returns! Scofflaw opens the shuttered Logan Square bar for a late-night dance party. Thursday, Oct. 31.
- Dead Celebrities at Enclave: Expect Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, and Marilyn Monroe to make appearances. Also, bring your A-game in the costume department: the winner gets $3,000. Saturday, Oct. 26.
- Costume Party at The Boundary and Old Town Pour House: $100, $50 and $25 gift cards will be awarded to the best dressed. Saturday, Oct. 26.
- The Numbered Days Halloween Loft Party: Head to Logan Square Auditorium for a dance party, trick-or-treat collaborative art, a costume contest, and DJ sets from Clash Gordon, Kyle Garner, and Matt Roan. Thursday, Oct. 31.
- Pumpkin Carving Party at Cafe Mustache: BYOP (Bring your own pumpkin) to the annual night of jack-o-lantern carving, beer drinking, and DJ mix jamming. Thursday, Oct. 31.
- Noche De Muertos: I Put A Spell on You Halloween Party: Celebrate Halloween and the Day of the Dead at Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar. Friday, Nov 1.
- The Fear Haunted House at Navy Pier: This award-winning attraction features both an agressive adult-themed haunted house at night and a low scare, lights-on attraction during the day. Open now through Oct. 31.
- Statesville Haunted Prison & City of the Dead: Located just outside of Chicago, this terrifying institution of horror has been voted Best Haunted House in Chicago, Scariest Haunted House in Illinois, and one of the Top 25 Haunted Houses in America. Open now through Nov. 2.
- More haunted houses in the Chicago suburbs: Fear City in Morton Grove, The Asylum Xperiment in Villa Park, and Basement of the Dead in Aurora.
- Hallowed Haunts: Come in costume for spooky music and pre-concert activities at the Symphony Center. For all ages 5 and up. Saturday, Oct. 26.
- Halloween at Martyrs: A Halloween blowout featuring music from Terrible Spaceship, Diana and the Dishes, and The Lincoln Squares. Thursday, Oct. 31
- Pictureplane at Berlin: Berlin’s Total Therapy event on last Thursdays happens to fall on Halloween this year, and witch house musician Pictureplane is headlining. Thursday, Oct. 31.
- Halloween Spectacular at Emporium Arcade Bar: Advertised as the “Best Halloween Party in Town!” (and it very well might be) the barcade spectacular will include music from Mucca Pazza, Mack the Knife, and DJ Risky Bizness/Sean Doe. Thursday, Oct. 31.
- Halloween at Double Door: The Wicker Park music venue’s 17th annual bash will take place over the course of two spooky nights this year, featuring Slutter as KISS, Sex Therapy as Janis Joplin, and The Dead On as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Oct 31-Nov 1.
- All Hallow’s Eve Eve Variety Show at California Clipper: Get Halloween started early with some shadow puppetry, literary readings, and a raffle to benefit Chicago’s newest literary institution, ChiPRC (Chicago Publisher’s Resource Center). Multimedia performers include Audrey Niffenegger, Chris Hefner, Chris Bower, and Fred Sasaki. Wednesday, Oct. 30.
- Musical of the Living Dead at Stage 773: This musical journey about a zombie apocalypse was named Best Musical in 2012 and Best New Play in 2012 by the Chicago Reader. Playing now through Nov. 9.
- The Belmont Burlesque Revue at Theater Wit: The annual Halloween show will feature the Belmont Bombshells, the Amazing Tomas, and several special guests. Thursday, Oct. 26
- Nightmare on Lincoln Ave 5: B is for Blood and Death Toll: A Drinking Game Performance: 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday through Oct. 31 (“Nightmares”) and 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday through Oct. 31 (“Death Toll”) at The Cornservatory.
- Horror Movie Night at Delish: Indulge in a three course prix fixe meal while watching a horror movie classic in the days leading up to Halloween. Film selections include “The Shining,” “Carrie,” “Night of the Living Dead” and more. Oct 24-31.
- Horror Movie Madness at The Logan Theatre: Watch “Rosemary’s Baby,” Trick ‘r Treat,” “The Shining,” and John Carpenter’s “Halloween” on the titular night. Oct 24-31.
- “Shaun of the Dead” at Woodstock Theatre: The cult British zombie comedy screens at midnight. Friday, Oct. 25.
- Horror Movies at the Music Box Theatre: The lineup includes a “Halloween: Treats and Tricksters” program as part of the 2013 Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, in addition to scary films like “The Wicker Man,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Escape from Tomorrow,” and two midnight screenings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Oct. 24-31.
- Haunted Indoor Drive-In at Wicker Park Fieldhouse: Hate-watch a different film from the “Twilight” series each night at the annual film festival. Oct 24-27.
- Paranormal Brunch at the Empty Bottle: In addition to delicious food and storytelling from the Chicago Paranormal Investigator team, there will be craft-making, Tarot readings, and vintage flicks projected on the big screen. Dress up in costume for extra EB street cred. 12-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26.
- The Haunted Inn at Hubbard Inn: The popular River North bar and restaurant has transformed into a haunted hotel. Stop by for a specialty themed cocktail or three-course harvest menu, if you dare. Now through Nov. 1.
- Halloween Trolley Crawl: Halloween Pub Crawls are kind of a big deal in Chicago, but the “Trolley of Terror” may beat them all. Saturday, Oct. 26.
- Creatures of the Night at the Garfield Park Conservatory: Spooky spiders, owls, and bats are showcased in this Halloween-themed program. Wednesday, Oct. 30.
- Northalsted Halloween Parade: Twisted Circus is this year’s theme. Costume categories are drag, group, original, pet, and scariest. Thursday, Oct. 31.
- Halloween at Navy Pier: The seasonal celebration includes costume contests on Saturday, fireworks Saturday at 9:30 p.m., and trick-or-treating for children ages 12 and under on Saturday, Sunday, and Thursday. Oct. 26-31.
What are your favorite Chicago Halloween traditions and haunts?
Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow Leah on Twitter @leahkpickett.