Halloween in Chicago is for everyone — the arts crowd, kids crew, history buff, and party person included.

Halloween isn't just another day in Chicago. And it's not just for trick-or-treating. The city's month-long celebration includes some great FREE events. Here are just a few.

1. Arts in the Dark 

Saturday, October 20
State Street

Arts in the Dark Halloween Parade in Chicago

October takes on an element of the surreal as dusk falls upon Chicago. Arts in the Dark brings together artists from around the city for a procession filled with spectacle, puppetry, legions of masked entities, luminous lanterns, and mesmerizing performances. This year’s parade, which takes place on October 20, will be led by eight “Illuminaries” recognized as influencers in their respective fields. World-renowned institutions, including the likes of the Art Institute of Chicago and Lookingglass Theatre Company, get involved each year. 

2. Spooky Zoo Spectacular

Saturday, October 27
Lincoln Park Zoo

Spooky Zoo Spectacular at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago

It's FREE, fun and in its 32nd 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 at the Kovler Sea Pool and Fall Fest rides.


Sunday, October 28
National Museum of Mexican Art
1852 W 19th St
Harrison Park
1824 S Wood St

Costumed couple at Day of the Dead Xicago in Chicago

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. 


Monday, October 30
6-7:30 pm
Newberry Library
60 W Walton St

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.


Wednesday, October 31
7:30 pm
North Halsted St from Belmont Ave to Cornelia Ave

Musicians play at North Halsted Halloween Parade in Chicago
© 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 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 Halted Street, are only a few of the parade highlights.

Bonus! Trick-or-treating at Navy Pier

Saturday, October 27 and Wednesday, October 31
1-5 pm on Saturday, 3-7pm on Wednesday
Navy Pier

HalloWheel 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. Free rides are available for the first 1,031 guests to pre-register online.

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