Halloween isn't just a day in Chicago. And it's not just for trick-or-treating. And it's not just for kids. With so many haunted happenings all across the city, it's a month-long celebration. Scare yourself silly and get ready for multiple costume changes with these top Chicago Halloween events and activities:
SPECIAL HALLOWEEN EVENTS
When the fountains start gushing bright orange in downtown Daley Plaza, you'll know Halloween has crept into town. The Loop's central square transforms into its alter ego and becomes Franken Plaza
. The October 26-30
holiday weekend brings a slew of spooky activities for all ages, from the high-flying acrobatics and daredevil thrills of Midnight Circus
performing each day, a Monster Bash
costume contest, a screening of Little Shop of Horrors
, free hayrides
and trick-or-treat bags
Navy Pier's Really Big Halloween Party
is just that... really big. The top tourist attraction gets a Halloween makeover from top to bottom. On Halloween and on the weekends leading up to it, October 19-31
, check out the fun and frights around every corner: a free petting zoo
and fire dancing
in Gateway Park; costume contests
in the Family Pavilion; fortune telling
on Dock Street; all sorts of oddities on display
in Pier Park; and trick-or-treating
The theme for the 16th annual Northalsted Halloween Parade
is "Apocalypse" but don't let that scare you away! For more adult-oriented fun, don't miss the colorful parade down Boystown's nightlife district on October 31
. There are a number of costume contest categories, but it's all about the revelry so really everyone's a winner here.
The Chicago History Museum knows a thing or two about the city's haunted past. Take your pick from their "Haunted Chicago" happenings throughout October and November, which include Paranormal Pub Crawls through the most chilling of drinking establishments; Creepy Cemetery Tours among famous grave sites like Marshall Field and Potter Palmer; and Eerie Bus and Trolley Tours of Devil in the White City.
Halloween and architecture collide for a ghostly good time with Seadog boats. Haunted Tours will whisk you away to the waters as costumed tour guides reveal stories that plague the famous buildings along the Chicago River. This outing is good for all ages, but dress appropriately – this cruise may leave you with a chill in your bones.
Get into the spirit with a chilling nighttime outing on wheels that zips through the shadows and darkness of downtown. Absolutely Segway Chicago Tours offers a Chicago Haunted Tour and #1 Chicago Tours offers a Haunted Chicago Tour, both of which will lead you deep in to the world of ghouls, gangsters, disasters and unexplainable deaths.
Take to wheels of a different sort with Bobby's Bike Hike. Gear up for Bobby's Fright Hike: Halloween Edition and ride through a former cemetery and pass the Chicago River site of the Eastland Disaster. Your expert guide will also shed light on H. H. Holmes, serial killer during the historic Columbian Exposition, and share tales about Resurrection Mary, Chicago's most infamous ghost.
Or walk – if you dare – through one of Chicago's most historic neighborhoods after dark. The Glessner House Museum presents Shadows on the Street: Haunted Tours of Historic Prairie Avenue, which will delve into the mystery surrounding the death of Marshall Field Jr. and the tragic suicide of Edson Keith, as well as the most haunted site of all, where the Philander Hanford house once stood on Calumet Avenue.
MUSEUMS & ATTRACTIONS
Join the National Museum of Mexican Art for the 26th annual Día De Los Muertos 2012, one of Mexico's most important celebrations and the largest annual Day of the Dead exhibition in the United States.
- Prepare for (not so) frightening fun October 1–31 as Chicago Children's Museum transforms into Chicago Children's Halloweeum, with play spaces for your little ghouls to paint pumpkins and get down during a Monster Mash Dance Party.
- Get hands-on this Halloween October 13-31 with the Museum of Science and Industry and learn to light up your jack-o-lantern using chemistry, create your own ghoulish slime and more with Spooky Science.
- Edgar Allen Poe Readings, a spine-tingling tradition for over 25 years, will have you squirming in your seats as the terrifying tales and poetry come alive during staged theatrical readings in the intimate parlor of the Clarke House Museum on October 27.
- Surround yourself in the sounds of the macabre when Dr. Metronome and the Orchestra of Doom perform their annual Hallowed Haunts concert on October 27 at Symphony Center.
- Throughout Garfield Park Conservatory on October 31, Creatures of the Night like fruit bats, owls, spiders and wolves will pay a visit, while special treats, festive music and a candlelight costume parade add to the Halloween festivities.
And what is Halloween without scary movies? Music Box Theatre – a historic beauty on the city's North Side – welcomes fearless moviegoers October 13-14 for Music Box of Horrors, a 24-hour marathon with classic flicks from Mark of the Vampire and The Invisible Man to all-time great animal attack film Squirm.
A landmark cinema house on the Northwest Side, The Portage Theater presents The Massacre – 24 Hours of Horror Film Insanity on October 20, with films filled with the biggest names in horror: Hitchcock, Karloff, Lugosi, Vincent Price, Michael Myers.
Every weekend in October, Logan Square neighborhood gem The Logan covers all eras during Horror Movie Madness with a lineup that goes from 1931 classics Dracula and Frankenstein, to Rosemary's Baby (1968), The Exorcist (1973), The Shining (1980) Drag Me to Hell (2009) and ParaNorman (2012) among many others.
For even more Halloween action, check out the Chicago Like a Local blog for picks on top family-friendly options and tips on how to costume shop like a Chicagoan.