Update: Halloween in Chicago is going to look a bit different this year. While there are plenty of safe and fun activities planned, many of the below events may be canceled or changed. Check our Halloween 2020 guide for the most up-to-date information.

Halloween in Chicago is so much more than just trick-or-treating. There’s magical nighttime parades, authentic Day of the Dead celebrations, ghosts tours, and more — plus many of the events are free. Here are just a few of the free things to do in Chicago for Halloween.

1. Arts in the Dark

Arts in the Dark ©mollymemisi/Dreamstime

Arts in the Dark brings together artists from around the city for a surreal procession filled with spectacle, puppetry, legions of masked entities, luminous lanterns, and mesmerizing performances. World-renowned institutions, including the likes of the Art Institute of Chicago and Lookingglass Theatre Company, get involved each year.

Oct. 19, 2019
State Street 

2. Spooky Zoo Spectacular

It’s free, fun and in its 33rd year! Lincoln Park Zoo’s Spooky Zoo Spectacular is all about kids and family, with toddler activities, trick-or-treating, and arts and crafts — not to mention the Haunted House and Fall Fest rides.

Oct. 26, 2019
Lincoln Park Zoo

3. Day Of The Dead Xicágo

Light, projection and visual displays will transform the National Museum of Mexican Art’s exterior and the surrounding area for this annual Day of the Dead celebration in Pilsen. What’s more, in Harrison Park, visitors will create their own ofrendas (Day of the Dead altars), transforming the soccer field into a festive community gathering place, just like those you would see in Mexico on Día de los Muertos. Pan de Muerto (Day of the Dead Bread), altar demonstrations, live musical performances, face painting, and art activities will round out the evening.

Oct. 27, 2019
National Museum of Mexican Art

4. Haunted Hearts & Household Ghosts

On Halloween eve, explore Victorian style mourning in a light-hearted look at the rituals and relics of this superstitious era in history — from graveyard gatherings and séances to posthumous portraits, hair art, and spirit photography. Newberry Library Scholar-in-Residence Debra N. Mancoff explores the interconnections of art, fashion, and culture, with a focus on Britain. Mancoff’s newest book, The Face: Our Human Story for the British Museum (London), will be published later this year.

Oct. 30, 2019
Newberry Library

5. North Halsted Halloween Parade

Northalsted Business Alliance Halloween Parade
© Northalsted Business Alliance

The Northalsted Halloween Parade is ranked one of the 10 Best Halloweens in the US by Fodor’s Travel Guide. At this annual event, an exuberant crowd lines the streets of Northalsted (also known as Boystown), one of the nation’s leading LGBTQ+ communities, to check out fantastical outfits during an evening parade. A costume contest judged by a panel of drag queens, and Halloween food and drink specials at restaurants and bars along Halsted Street are a few of the parade highlights.

Oct. 31, 2019
North Halsted Street from Belmont to Cornelia Avenue

Bonus! Trick-or-treating at Navy Pier

Grab your goodie bag and head to Navy Pier for two days of free trick-or-treating. There will be complimentary candy stations set up along the pier, plus more sweet treats from local vendors. On Halloween, the famous Centennial Wheel will transform into the HalloWheel with orange-and-black colors and lights.

Dates TBD
Navy Pier