Halloween in NYC

Sue Apfelbaum

It’s no secret that New Yorkers like to play dress-up, which is why there’s some truth to the saying that in NYC, every day is like Halloween. It’s also true that during October, the City really goes all out. (All Hallows’ Eve might not be until the 31st, but the five boroughs have a standing tradition of celebrating all month long.) To help you navigate the various spook-taculars, here’s a sampler of some of the City’s best-loved events—many of them appropriate for children—as well as some spooky places and tours to round out the fun. Read on help plan your month, and have a happy Halloween.

Spooky Places
Spooky Tours
More Events

39th Annual Village Halloween Parade
October 31
Every year more than 50,000 folks parade up Sixth Avenue, decked out in some of the scariest, most inventive and most hilarious costumes, while live bands add to the outlandish revelry. Come up with a costume of your own and join the festivities, or cheer for your favorites from the sidelines.

The Amazing Maize Maze
Queens County Farm Museum
September 15–October 28 (weekends) and October 8
The Queens County Farm Museum is a welcome refuge of agrarian bliss. The farm’s annual Amazing Maize Maze finds kids of all ages making their way through a three-acre cornstalk labyrinth. On October 6 and 13, grown-up kids can enjoy Maze by Moonlight, when the maze stays open until 9pm. It’s like The Shining, but dread-free! Kids can also pick pumpkins at the Pumpkin Patch on weekends throughout October.

Ascarium: A Pirate Adventure at the New York Aquarium
New York Aquarium
October 13–14, 20–21, 27–28
It’s the best place for young pirates to celebrate Halloween! Board a haunted pirate’s ship, learn pirate shanties, attend pirate school and more. Kids in costume get in free.

Boo at the Zoo
Bronx Zoo
Weekends in October
Get in the spooky spirit with Boo at the Zoo, every October weekend at the Bronx Zoo. Enjoy family activities such as magic shows, scary stories, costume parades, a hay maze and pumpkin painting, not to mention the chance to see the creepy critters up close.

Dead or Alive: Halloween at NYSCI
New York Hall of Science
October 26–28
In a fun fusion of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos, Mexico’s Day of the Dead, NYSCI will host a science-, technology- and art-filled weekend, complete with indoor and outdoor experiments, workshops, demos, live video, music and food. From bug eating to pumpkin catapulting, there’s something for everyone.

Dread of Night and Halloween in Richmond Town
Historic Richmond Town
October 13 and 26
Explore Historic Richmond Town’s haunted history with Dread of Night, a self-guided storytelling experience. Then, have a retro, where kids and adults can bob for apples and get a taste of small-town life a half-century ago. The usual Halloween fun is also in store, with crafts, games and costumes. Kids can also pick pumpkins at Decker Farm on weekends throughout October.

Enchanted Wave Hill
Wave Hill
October 20–21
Bring your little ones to Enchanted Wave Hill for two days of storytelling and craft making inspired by local folklore and fairy tales. Build tiny houses of sticks, leaves and pixie dust for woodland creatures and take part in a collaborative painting project. Behold the magic of these Bronx woods!

Halloween Celebration
American Museum of Natural History
October 31
Kids of all ages can trick-or-treat through hallways filled with dinosaurs, planets and more at the American Museum of Natural History this October 31. Featuring live performances and arts and crafts, the event at the world-famous museum is a Halloween haven and guaranteed to amaze.

Halloween Haunted Walk & Carnival
Prospect Park
October 27
Zombies, werewolves, witches and headless horsemen lurk in Prospect Park’s outdoor version of a haunted house. Head to Lookout Hill, if you dare (recommended for ages 8 and up). Or enjoy the frightless, all-ages carnival in the Nethermead, including games, activities and edibles.

Halloween Spook-tacular
Top of the Rock Observation Deck
October 28
This Halloween, Top of the Rock welcomes children and families to a fun Halloween scene on Sunday, October 28. Children can celebrate with face painting, magic shows and sweet treats while the whole family enjoys the stunning, 360-degree panorama of New York City. Activities are free with admission.

The Haunted Pumpkin Garden
New York Botanical Garden
October 6–31
The annual Haunted Pumpkin Garden is back, where intricately carved pumpkins fill the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, and kids of all ages can explore the garden’s bugs and bats, joining in parties and parades. Enjoy fun activities every weekend in October.

Meadow Scare & Monster Dash
Staten Island Children’s Museum
October 27
On the grounds of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, the Staten Island Children’s Museum gets into the Halloween spirit with an afternoon of family fun. Enjoy crafts, live music, a costume contest and a costumed fun run (good for when the monsters are chasing you).

Monster Mash
Brooklyn Children’s Museum
October 26–27
The Brooklyn Children’s Museum’s kid-friendly Halloween bash features a costume parade, a DJ dance party, (not too) scary storytelling sessions, slithery animals and much more. This event is appropriate for all ages, and children are encouraged to wear their Halloween finest.

Nights of Horror
Luna Park at Coney Island
October 12–28 (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays)
Coney Island’s Luna Park is getting dressed up for Halloween with nine Nights of Terror. See the amusement park transform into a true scream fest, with ghoulish games, a haunted maze and nonstop chills and thrills.

Spooky Places
The Algonquin Hotel
A literary landmark, The Algonquin Hotel is where Dorothy Parker and friends, known as The Algonquin Round Table, held court in the hotel’s Rose Room in the roaring ’20s. Their spirits remain, as guests report voices and bumps in the night, and rumors of hauntings in the lobby bar abound.

Gravesend Cemetery
With its weathered headstones and twisting trees, the Gravesend Cemetery in Brooklyn looks like something out of a Halloween horror movie, but it’s actually a historic site that dates back to 1643, when English Quakers decided to turn the land given to them by the governor of New Amsterdam into the community’s final resting place.

Green-Wood Cemetery
With 560,000 graves, the Brooklyn cemetery’s population exceeds that of Cleveland. Residents include inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, composer Leonard Bernstein, corrupt New York politician William “Boss” Tweed and abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, as well as more than 3,000 Civil War soldiers.

One If By Land, Two If By Sea
The West Village landmark restaurant in the former carriage house of Aaron Burr claims to be haunted by 20 active ghosts. See for yourself by dining here any night for an evening of romance and history.

Poe Cottage
Edgar Allan Poe spent the last years of his life, from 1846 to 1849, in the Bronx at Poe Cottage, where he penned many of his most enduring poetical works, including “Annabel Lee,” “The Bells” and “Eureka.” Regular tours are offered of the cottage, which has been restored to its original appearance.

St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery
After his death in 1672, historic New Yorker Peter Stuyvesant was buried in a chapel in the present-day site of St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery. His vault was permanently sealed in 1953, though not tightly enough! According to legend, four ghosts live in the church, one of which, like Stuyvesant, has a wooden leg and a cane.

The Woodlawn Cemetery
Musicians Miles Davis and Celia Cruz, composer Irving Berlin, author Herman Melville and suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton are among the more than 300,000 residents memorialized on the 400-acre Bronx property. Established in 1863, Woodlawn is one of the nation’s distinctive “garden cemeteries,” noted for its landscape design as well as its unique architecture.

Spooky Tours
Ghosts & Gangs of Olde New York; Gangsters, Greed, & Gore
Levys’ Unique New York!
New York City’s first family of guides offers customized sightseeing and private tours in all five boroughs. See all the main points of interest—including the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Chinatown, Little Italy, the Brooklyn Bridge and Times Square—or explore the grittier side of New York inhabited by gangsters and ghosts.

Ghosts, Murders, and Mayhem Walking Tours
Ghosts, Murders, and Mayhem Walking Tours are a must for any fear fanatic or amateur NYC historian. Your guide will show you places with tales of bedlam, hauntings and murders—and maybe a few creepy urban legends, too. While the tours are not recommended for kids, they provide great fun for grown-ups.

Macabre Greenwich Village Tour
Joyce Gold History Tours of New York
October 27–28
Lecturer and educator Joyce Gold knows the ins and outs of New York City history, and every year she offers a fiendish Halloween day tour of Greenwich Village, home to some of City’s spookiest stories. Hear tales of murders, hangings, explosions, missing persons, specters and ghosts that haunt the Village’s picturesque streets.

New York Ghost Tours
Take a 90-minute lantern-lit tour of Greenwich Village, where you’ll learn about Washington Square Park and the 15,000 souls buried there, phantoms within the tragic Mark Twain House and mysterious “rappings” heard by occupants at Edgar Allan Poe’s former flat. See for yourself why New York is regarded as one of the nation's most haunted cities.

On Location Tours
Dress up as your favorite TV or movie character and let On Location Tours show you the City through the lens of the most memorable onscreen moments. Take a classic tour to see where Ghostbusters and Rosemary’s Baby were shot, or see sites from The Sopranos and Gossip Girl. The best costumes win a prize.

Stray Boots
Stray Boots, NYC’s premier scavenger-hunt-style sightseeing experience, will be adding a spooky twist to their signature cell phone tours. You’ll navigate some of the spookiest locations and neighborhoods in NYC for a truly haunted adventure.

SusanSez NYC Walkabouts
Susan’s tours receive glowing reviews: credit her insider’s view of the City. Her tours are tailored to fit groups’ specific interests and are usually about three hours long. All through October, her Lower East Side and Astoria tours feature ghost stories, and the Arthur Avenue tour has a special focus on Edgar Allan Poe.

Downtown Halloween Ghost Tours
Wall Street is rife with restless spirits—from the graveyard at Trinity Church, where Alexander Hamilton is buried, to the hallowed halls where investors lost more than their shirts after the Great Stock Market Crash. Wall Street Walks guides separate truth from legend as they recount stories embedded in the neighborhood’s history.

More Events
Apple Festival
Queens County Farm Museum
October 7
How many varieties of apples can you name? Test your apple IQ and taste as many as your heart desires at this fun-for-all-ages event. Enjoy freshly pressed cider and feast your eyes on the nation’s largest apple cobbler, which will be baked on site. Hayrides and games round out the afternoon fun.

Boo at the Zoo
Prospect Park Zoo
October 27–28
Tour the haunted barn, make festive crafts and explore our Spook-tacular Discovery Center as you experience the thrills and chills of the zoo. This event is for all ages and free with zoo admission.

Boo at the Zoo
Queens Zoo
October 27–28 and October 31
Go trick-or-treating with treat stations around the park. Create your own crafts and get close with the animals. On October 27–28, explore a haunted house. Kids in costume get in free!

Children’s Fall Festival
Queens County Farm Museum
October 28
The kids will go hog-wild for the Children’s Fall Festival at the Queens County Farm Museum, home to pig racing, bounces, live music, magic shows and craft vendors, plus hayrides, pony rides and even a petting zoo. Don’t forget to wear your costumes!

Day of the Dead Festival
St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery
November 1–4
After Halloween ends, Dia de los Muertos begins—a multi-day commemoration of loved ones who have passed on. In honor of this annual Mexican tradition, Mano e Mano presents colorful craft workshops, dramatic and musical presentations, and a vibrant procession with elaborate costumes, face painting and puppets to lift the spirit.

Flying Monsters and Spiders Alive!
American Museum of Natural History
Flying Monsters: through January 4; Spiders Alive!: through December 2
Learn about the mechanics of flight in Flying Monsters, director David Attenborough’s exploration into the history of the pterosaurs, flying reptiles that ruled the skies about 220 million years ago. And don’t miss Spiders Alive!, featuring 20 species of arachnids, from the largest to the deadliest.

Giant Pumpkin Carving Weekend
New York Botanical Garden
October 20–21
These are not your garden-variety pumpkins. Witness some of the world’s most talented knife wielders as they sculpt gigantic gourds into amazing, glowing works of art. If you can’t make it for the live event, see their masterpieces on display through October 31.

Halloween Harvest Festival
Socrates Sculpture Park
October 20
Don’t have a costume yet? Never fear. Make one with Socrates Sculpture Park artists at the Halloween Harvest Festival. Live music, harvest foods, art-making workshops, face painting and the annual Canine Costume Contest fill out the day. Also see “The Scarecrows,” an immersive installation by visiting artists Thomas+Guinevere.

Halloween Haunted House
Queens County Farm Museum
October 26–28, 4–7pm
Creaky floors, spider-inhabited cobwebs, spooky ghosts, oh my! The Queens County Farm Museum’s Halloween Haunted House is sure to give you the creeps. While the hayrides, mulled cider, apples and pumpkins are fun for all, this event is recommended for kids ages 4 and up.

Halloween Murder Mystery
Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden
October 26–27, 6:30pm and 7:30pm
A 100-year-old unidentified skeleton has been found hidden in the floorboards of Mount Vernon Hotel. Play detective and crack the cold case of who was killed and how by solving puzzles and collecting clues. This fictional, family-friendly mystery game is appropriate for ages 8 and up.

Hansel and Gretel's Halloween Adventure
The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre
October 3–November 3
Created specifically for the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, Hansel and Gretel’s Halloween Adventure begins with the children safe at home following a ride with their pet swan. They begin to experience vivid dreams, in which Belvedere Castle and Central Park serve key roles. These dreams lead the duo on an adventure that includes mermaids, monsters, pirates and vampires on their way to an unforgettable Halloween night in New York City.

Van Cortlandt Park
October 28, noon
Dress your dog (and yourself) in a killer costume, or just check out all the cuteness being unleashed at Van Cortlandt Park’s Canine Court for its annual canine costume competition. Prizes go to the scariest, funniest and best pet-owner look-alike.

Kooky Spooky Bear Bash
Build-A-Bear Workshop
October 26–28
Do you love teddy bears so much that it’s scary? Deck yourself and your bears in matching costumes and come to the Kooky Spooky Bear Bash at Bearville. Go to Build-A-Bear Workshop’s website for do-it-yourself tips. Fun for kids and fuzzy friends of all ages.

The Masked Parade of the Hairy Insects
Wave Hill
October 27-28
Bug out at Wave Hill’s Masked Parade of the Hairy Insects, the ultimate march of the arthropods. Children will undergo a metamorphosis when they put on masks of their own making and play insect instruments alongside artist and musician Lisa Karrar.

Pumpkin Patch
Queens County Farm Museum
October 6–28 (weekends)
October is a very gourd time to visit the Queens County Farm Museum, the only working historical farm in the five boroughs. Each weekend pumpkins will be ripe for the picking—come select the one just right for you (price depends on size).

Pumpkin Picking at Decker Farm
Historic Richmond Town
Weekends in October
Spend the day at Decker Farm, located in Staten Island’s Historic Richmond Town, picking pumpkins and enjoying hayrides on 10 open acres. The farm is the last private working farm in New York City and is operated by the Staten Island Historical Society.

Raptor Day
Wave Hill
October 8
Wave Hill takes flight in a celebration of birds of prey during Raptor Day. Use your own keen senses to hone in on hawks, eagles, kites, ospreys and falcons in this vista overlooking the Hudson River. The day’s programming includes nature walks, a raptor show, a "predator vs. prey" art-making workshop and much more.

Ripley’s Boo-lieve It or Not! Times Square Slumber Fest
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square
October 27
It’s a sleepover at the Ripley’s museum! Kids ages 6 and up can enjoy costume contests, trick-or-treating, live entertainment, scavenger hunts, a Mission Impossible laser race activity and a family-friendly Halloween-themed movie.

The Ryan Case 1873/The Lombardi Case 1975
Live In Theater
The Ryan Case: Saturdays; The Lombardi Case: Sundays
For a real-life rendition of Law & Order, take an immersive journey into the City’s dark past with a historical murder mystery tour. Go back in time to 1873 for The Ryan Case or 1975 for The Lombardi Case, where you and your team will follow clues, meet fascinating characters and solve the crimes.

St. George Theatre
October 26
Staten Island’s St. George, a beautifully restored former vaudeville theater, presents an extravaganza of magic and illusion. Put some glitz in your Halloween with this lavishly produced show, featuring characters Wacky Dracky and Morgan, Diva of Darkness, as well as a cast of ghouls and ghosts.

Spooktacular Pumpkin Party
New York Botanical Garden
October 6–8
Spooky storytelling and pumpkin parades? Yes, please. Add in live music and face time with the world’s largest bat, the Gigantic Flying Fox of Malaysia, and your little party animals will have an exceptionally gourd time.

Spooky Nighttime Adventures
New York Botanical Garden
October 20–21, 26–28
Grab a flashlight and explore the mazes and sculptures in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden after dark. Listen for critters of the night, dig around for decomposers and decorate gourds, too. Advance tickets recommended.

Zephyr Halloween Ghost Ship Cruise
New York Water Taxi & Circle Line Downtown
October 27
Leave the kids at home for this three-hour tour on a 143-foot yacht, geared up with Halloween-themed cocktails, light bites and treats. Dance to a live DJ, take in City views from the Moon Deck and show off your creativity at the costume contest.