It’s not hard to have fun on Halloween. You can stay in, costumed or plain-clothes, and hand out candy to cute little kids in costumes. There’s haunted houses and corn mazes and harvest festivals to wander, and costume parties aplenty at bars and homes all around the area. If you’re looking for something a little different this year, though, we’ve got a few suggestions, both for families and adults, that will help make your Halloween a unique experience. Take a look at our timeline below and see what spooky spectacles appeal to you.
Saturday, October 22nd, 2pm. Halloween Gathering, Millennium Park.
Millennium Park kicks off the Halloween happenings with the 2nd Annual Halloween Gathering. Hosted by the Chicago Cultural Mile, this is a full calendar of dance, yoga, crafts, music, costumes and more, with multiple stages and an evening parade to finish things off. Best of all, it’s free to attend, so you can trot out your Halloween finest for early viewing.
Sunday, October 23rd, 2:30-5:30pm. Facet’s Boo! Bash at Park West.
First on our list of fun family freakouts is the Facets Boo! Bash at Park West. Facets, a non-profit independent film organization, will host a family Halloween party that will also serve as the kickoff to the 2016 Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. The party venue will be dressed as a live film set with the partygoers serving as cast members, being filmed while they experience contests, relay races, cake walks and a “Monster Movie Séance.”
Friday October 28, 5:30-7pm. Supper with Snakes at Notebaert Nature Museum
If you’re more the creature feature type, you might be interested in Supper with Snakes at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Visitors will enjoy a pizza dinner and a whole lot of education and activities featuring our slithery reptilian companions, as well as a chance to get up close and personal with them. Diners are encouraged to come in full costume and participate in the museum’s annual costume contest as well. Tickets are $20 for members, $25 non-members for adults and $10 for kids 2-18.
Thursday, October 20th-Sunday, October 23rd. 6:30-10:30pm. Night of 1000 Jack-o’-Lanterns at Chicago Botanic Garden.
Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns is exactly what it sounds like, and to us, it sounds like a lot of pumpkin-themed fun. The Chicago Botanic Garden hosts this new Halloween event for four days, with two sessions each evening. There will in fact be over 1000 pumpkins, some of them up to 150 pounds, and the event will include some costumed characters, seasonal foods and even ghost trains in the garden’s popular Model Railroad Garden. Tickets to the event are $12 for members and $14 for non-members, with kids at $10-12 depending on member status. We’re excited to see the artistry and get inspired for our own carvings.
Fridays-Saturdays, October 14-31. 11pm. Death Toll at the Cornservatory.
Death Toll: A Halloween Drinking Game Performance is an adults-only outing that features alcohol and sketch comedy. Held at the Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln Ave., this is a themed night of comedy paired with a classic drinking game. There’s only one rule: drink when someone on stage dies. Better yet, the event is BYOB, so choose whatever spirits make you bright. Tickets for this event are $10-15 and since it’s running every Friday and Saturday from the 15th on, you have plenty of chances to join in.
Thursday, October 27th. 4pm. Skalloween at Mac’s Wood Grilled
One thing you wouldn’t expect to rise from the dead for Halloween? Ska. But, in one of our more unique entries, Mac’s Wood Grilled on Division is hosting Skalloween, a “ska brewing takeover” that promises giveaways, music and even ska-inspired food specials. It’s a throwback Thursday for sure, and could be a good amount of fun. No cover for this event, so just put on your dancing shoes and check it out.
Saturday, October 29th. 10 am-1pm. Spooky Spectacular at Lincoln Park Zoo.
Another family-friendly entry, Lincoln Park Zoo’s Spooky Spectacular is likely to make you pretty popular with your children. Kids will be able to visit the zoo, trick or treat there, participate in arts and crafts and enjoy family entertainment all while in their Halloween finest. There will even be rides. If you wanted to ensure you were the favorite aunt/parent/grandparent, this is a surefire way to secure your position. Best of all, it’s completely free to attend.
Saturday, October 29th. 6 pm-10pm. Howl-O-Ween Bash at Mandile’s in Algonquin.
If you’ve got a soft spot for our furry friends, then enjoy the holiday as Howl-O-Ween at the Howl-O-Ween Bash. It’ll mean a trip out to the suburbs for the fete, held at Mandile’s Italian in Algonquin, but all proceeds from the evenings festivities go to A Heart For Animals, a no-kill local animal rescue. The evening features two hours of open bar time, food, costume contests and a silent auction that includes Hawks tickets, hotel packages and more. Tickets are $45 if purchased in advance or $55 at the door.
Monday, October 31st. 5 pm. Northalsted Halloween Parade.
Halloween purists hate when all the fun is over before the actual day arrives. For those of you in that camp, we suggest the Northalsted Halloween Parade in Boystown. This parade is the cream of the crop for costumes and is celebrating its 20th birthday. There are already 2000 entries in this year’s contest, but you can still sign up to participate as a performer or a contestant in the costume contest on their site. Even if you just take it in from the sidelines, you’re bound to have a good time. For us, it’s a can’t-miss.
Friday, October 28th – October 31st. Haunting History at Evanston History Center.
If another adventure to the suburbs isn’t too frightening, think about attending Haunting History at the Evanston History Center. This event mixes history, magic and the beautiful historic Dawes House. Magician Dave Parr hosts an evening walking through the corridors of this building, learning sometimes unheard history and experiencing ‘supernatural happenings’ as they explore the house. This is a spine tingler meant only for those 13+, because ‘adults love good ghost stories too.’ If you’re interested in these twisted tales, tickets are $25 and can be had here.
That’s our roundup, and we wish you a safe and Happy Halloween, no matter what you do.