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 throughout October 2016, there's a whole month-long celebration of Halloween events in Chicago.

And if there's any holiday that can be budget friendly it's Halloween. Last minute DIY costumes are how it's done! Here are the top 5 ways to do Halloween in Chicago — all FREE.


1) The Halloween Gathering Festival & Parade

The Halloween Gathering Festival & Parade

Coming back bigger and even better for its second year, The Halloween Gathering on October 22 will bring together Chicago's vast and diverse creative community in a parade filled with large-scale spectacle, music and performance along the Chicago Cultural Mile in the downtown Loop. From tarot card readings to acrobatics to an All Souls Train dj dance party, it's fun for all and completely free.

Millennium Park and Grant Park will come alive with performances all afternoon during the daytime festival from 2-5pm, as well as face painting, mask making workshops, ghost stories and interactive activities. Don your creative costume for the children's costume parade — taking place around "The Bean" no less — and stick around for treats after.

Right after, your eyes are in for a treat! The colorful evening parade from 6-8pm kicks off at Columbus Drive and Balbo Avenue (heading north). World-renowned institutions like The Field Museum and Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as unique local organizations like Young Chicago Authors, Silent Theatre Company and guilds of artists and performers, will unite for this dramatic display to activate Halloween as the "artist's holiday".


2) Halloween at Navy Pier

Halloween at Navy Pier

Navy Pier lights up the night sky with festive holiday fireworks on October 29 at 9:30pm. And that's just one part of their 6-day Halloween celebration. Back to back weekends featuring a "Hotel Transylvania" movie screening October 22, trick-or-treating along the pier October 23, a haunted spin on the visitor-favorite Amazing Chicago Maze October 28.

Then Halloween weekend kicks into full gear with a combo of all the above October 29-31 ("Addams Family" will be the movie of choice) with the Saturday night fireworks display as the highlight.


3) Northalsted Halloween Parade

At the annual Northalsted Halloween Parade, an exuberant crowd lines the streets of Boystown in Lakeview to check out the outrageous outfits for the evening parade. Theme this year? Scream, Queen!

The family-friendly daytime portion (both take place October 31) touts its own parade and festival — for kids and pets alike.


4) Day of the Dead at the National Museum of Mexican Art

Don't miss the annual tradition, Day of the Dead at the National Museum of Mexican Art, September 23 - December 11. It is the largest of its kind in the U.S. and completely free! This anniversary year, #30 Día de los Muertos: Journey of the Soul will feature ofrendas and art pieces from more than 90 artists from the U.S. and Mexico.

Following Halloween, the museum will host an indoor/outdoor Day of the Dead Chicago community festival on October 30 from 3-8pm with an image projection revealing the story of the Day of the Dead, and photos of dearly departed loved ones. There will also be almost a hundred ofrendas outside as well as face painting, live music, sugar skull vendors, and more!


5) Spooky Zoo Spectacular

Spooky Zoo Spectacular

It's FREE, fun and safe at the Lincoln Park Zoo's Spooky Zoo Spectacular with family entertainment, toddler activities, trick-or-treating, and arts & crafts from 10am-1pm on October 29. For its 30th anniversary, the event plans even more Halloween-inspired activities and will return with favorites like the Haunted House at the Kovler Sea Pool and Fall Fest rides.


From 13 Halloween parties to 13 haunted tours, there's so many ways to do Halloween in Chicago. See them all at

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