Here are the five biggest ways to do Halloween in Chicago for FREE, from festive costume parades to trick-or-treating events.

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 2017, 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) Arts in the Dark

Arts in the Dark Jester costume

Held on October 21, 2017, Arts in the Dark is a free family-friendly event that will bring together Chicago's vast and diverse creative community in a nighttime parade filled with fanciful giant puppets, music and performances along the Chicago Cultural Mile in the downtown Loop. 

The Arts in the Dark festivities kick-off at 4pm at Buckingham Fountain, where the Chicago Blackhawks street team will host a pre-parade celebration including music and a Blackhawks-inspired hockey mural. Party-goers can post pictures to social media for the chance to win Blackhawks prizes. Following the parade, DCASE will host a “House Party at the Bean,” and the Chicago Park District will present a Halloween movie and candy giveaways in Maggie Daley Park.

The colorful evening parade kicks off at dusk from Columbus Drive and Balbo Avenue, and is held from 6-8pm. World-renowned institutions like the Art Institute of Chicago and Broadway in Chicago, as well as unique local organizations 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

Navy Pier lights up the night sky with festive holiday fireworks on October 28, 2017 at 9:30pm. And that's just one part of their Halloween celebration. Catch free outdoor Fright Flicks on the Lake Stage in Polk Bros Park October 21 & 28, 2017 and a haunted spin on the visitor-favorite Amazing Chicago Maze October 31, 2017.


3) Northalsted Halloween Parade

Northalsted Halloween Parade Chicago

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 that starts at 7:30pm on October 31, 2017. Set up along the parade route for views of the spectacle: North Halsted Street from Belmont Avenue to Cornelia Avenue.

Highlights include the Chicago Thriller flash mob performing the complete iconic Michael Jackson dance from the classic music video, a costume contest judged by a panel of drag queens, and Halloween food and drink specials at restaurants and bars along Halsted Street.


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 22 - December 10, 2017. It is the largest of its kind in the U.S. and completely free! This year, Day of the Dead: Tilica y Flaca es la Calaca will feature ofrendas and art pieces from more than 90 artists from the U.S. and Mexico.

On October 29, 2017, the museum will host the indoor/outdoor Day of the Dead Xicago community festival  from 3-8pm with an image projection revealing the story of the Day of the Dead, almost 100 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 and crafts from 10am-1pm on October 28, 2017. For its 31st anniversary, enjoy Halloween-inspired activities and 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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