8 great ideas for celebrating Halloween around the city.

Whether you’re a family visiting the city or a grown-up looking to celebrate like a kid again, we’ve got eight great ideas for Halloween fun in Chicago. From trick-or-treating at the free Lincoln Park Zoo to magical nighttime parades and adults-only masquerade parties, there’s sure to be an event to spark ideas for your Halloween festivities.


Costumes at Arts in the Dark Halloween event in Chicago

Harnessing the imagination of Chicago's creative community, renowned institutions that include the Art Institute of Chicago and Lookingglass Theatre Company combine forces to produce a magical evening Halloween parade in downtown Chicago on October 20, 2018 from 6-8pm. Marvel at the large-scale puppets, costumed performers, elaborate floats and art-filled performances as the procession moves north along Columbus Drive from Balbo to Monroe Street in spectacular fashion. Eight of Chicago’s most influential creative leaders, dubbed Arts in the Dark Illuminaries, will act as grand marshals.  


Kids trick-or-treating at Spooky Zoo event in Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago

Lincoln Park Zoo offers a fun, free and safe way for kids to trick-or-treat in the heart of the city with Spooky Zoo, held on October 27, 2018. This annual event draws more than 30,000 families who gather treats as they wander around animal habitats that are home to lions, gorillas, polar bears and more. This year, Spooky Zoo is held in conjunction with the zoo’s five-weekend Fall Fest celebration, which offers Ferris wheel rides, a corn maze, a pumpkin patch with professional carvers and animal-themed activities. 


With its new Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion and festive fall decorations, Navy Pier is a favorite destination for families. But grown-ups can have their own fun here with two adults-only Halloween balls. Witches Night Out Chicago, held on October 19, 2018 from 5-11pm in the Aon Grand Ballroom, is a charity costume party for women ages 21+ that benefits the Fusion Project, an empowering after-school program for junior high girls. Music, dancing, food, shopping and psychic readings are all part of the party fun. The Nightmare at Navy Pier Presents: The Haunted Halloween Ball, happening on October 27, 2018 from 8pm-2am, is an adults-only extravaganza held in the Aon Grand Ballroom. Some 3,000 party-goers will drink and dance the night away to the thumping tracks of multiple top DJs (including DJ Metro, the official DJ of the Chicago Bulls).


Fire performer at the Northalsted Halloween Parade in Chicago

The Northalsted Halloween Parade is ranked one of the 10 Best Halloween Celebrations in the U.S. by Fodor’s Travel. The parade is held on October 31, 2018at 7:30pm in Boystown, one of the nation's largest LGBTQ+ communities. The raucous procession kicks off on Halsted Street (at Belmont Avenue) with the Chicago Thriller flash mob, a troupe of ghoulish zombies performing the full famous Michael Jackson dance routine. Join in the dancing or march along with the fabulous parade to Roscoe Street, where a panel of drag queens will award prizes for the best costumes.  


Day of the Dead decor in Chicago

Experience an authentic Day of the Dead celebration at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen on October 28, 2018from 3-8pm. The museum and nearby Harrison Park will converge to create a homage to dearly departed loved ones. Traditional make-your-own ofrendas (altars), live music, face painting, and art activities transform the park’s soccer field into a festive community gathering place similar to one you would find in Mexico on Día de los Muertos. Festival-goers can also share a photo of a departed relative (submitted by October 15) to be incorporated into a large illuminated ofrenda projected onto the museum’s exterior. The free event will take place rain or shine.


You’re in for a spine-tingling good time with Chicago Hauntings, named one of the Top 10 Ghost Tours in America by Haunted America Tours. The company offers several different tours, but you can’t go wrong with its popular Chicago Hauntings Ghost Tour. This 2.5-hour narrated bus tour whisks guests around the city to some of its best-known haunted locales, including the site of the Eastland ship disaster on the Chicago River; the location of the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, where a group of gangsters met their demise; and the abandoned City Cemetery, the final resting place of some 13,000 unmarked graves.


Nightly Spirits’ two-hour Chicago Ghost Tour appropriately begins at The Red Lion Pub in Lincoln Park, reputedly one of the city’s most haunted bars. A guide takes ghost hunters through dark alleyways and around creepy buildings as they tell tales of murdered Prohibition-era gangsters and ghosts that refuse to leave their dwellings. The approximately one-mile tour includes stops at two or three bars to sample spirits of a different kind. The purchase of drinks is not included or required.


Masked women on Odyssey Masquerade Fireworks Dinner Cruise in Chicago

What’s better than a Halloween masquerade party? How about a masquerade party on an elegant yacht, with light-up-the sky fireworks? Odyssey hosts its Masquerade Fireworks Dinner Cruise on October 28, 2018from 7-10pm. Guests ages 21+ set sail from Navy Pier on Lake Michigan and are treated to a plated three-course dinner, dancing to a live DJ and a complimentary champagne toast. Spectacular skyline views and a dazzling fireworks show are all part of the fantastical experience. Creative costumes are encouraged.

Find even more fun ideas for celebrating Halloween in Chicago.

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