These are the best events to experience Halloween this year in Chicago
Witness a midnight arts parade.
In the Dark Arts
Every October, Arts in the Dark, a popular family-friendly event, celebrates the creative aspect of Halloween. This magical evening procession contains large-scale puppets, costumed performers, beautiful floats, and light lanterns. This bizarre evening in downtown Chicago is brought to you by the city's creative community, which includes famous organizations such as the Art Institute of Chicago and Lookingglass Theatre Company.
State Street between Lake and Van Buren is closed for the Arts in the Dark procession. There will also be an Upside Down Arts in the Dark event (a "reverse" parade in Washington Park with more than 20 performing groups, where dressed family can walk around the route). Visitors to the parade may observe 20-25 performing groups stationed along Russell Drive, a magnificent tree-lined stretch that runs through the center of Washington Park.
The Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns
The Chicago Botanic Garden's Night of 1,000 Pumpkins
Each October, this popular event illuminates the night with hundreds of elaborately hand-carved pumpkins. During the Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns at the Chicago Botanic Garden, visitors may stroll the beautiful grounds at night and observe the spectacular jack-o'-lanterns, each of which has been created for hours by experienced craftsmen. There will also be lots of fall appetizers and drinks available, such as spiked cider and seasonal beer.
The Haunted Halsted Halloween Parade, which Fodor's Travel named one of the ten best Halloween celebrations in the United States, takes place in the center of the Northalsted (formerly known as Boystown) district. The rowdy parade begins on Halsted Street at Belmont Avenue with the Chicago Thriller flash mob, which features a troop of ghoulish zombies performing the iconic dance routine. Follow the parade route north, where a panel of drag queens will award prizes for the finest costumes.
Take a Chicago Halloween ghost tour.
Halloween, Chicago, Seadog, Haunted Tour
The Congress Plaza Hotel, Lincoln Park Zoo, and the old site of H.H. Holmes' Murder Castle are just a handful of Chicago's most (supposedly) haunted locations. Make your own mind up on these haunted and ghost tours of the city.
Seadog Cruises offers Haunted River Tours.
Chicago Ghost Tours with Free Foot Tours
Ghost Tour of Chicago Nightly Spirits' Pub Crawl
Lincoln Park Zoo offers Haunted History Tours.
Glessner House Haunted Tours on Historic Prairie Avenue
Check out our whole guide on haunted Chicago tours. Alternatively, use our list of Chicago's most haunted locations to construct your own DIY walking tour.
Commemorate the Day of the Dead
Mexican Museum of Art National Museum of Mexican Art
Although the Day of the Dead falls on the same day as Halloween, the profound Mexican event is a one-of-a-kind celebration. With an annual display dedicated to Day of the Dead customs and traditions, the National Museum of Mexican Art is the ideal spot to enjoy it. Da los Muertos – A Time to Grieve & Remember is usually held in September and lasts until December.
The museum also organizes the annual Day of the Dead Xicágo festival, in which the museum and surrounding grounds are transformed into a community-wide cultural celebration. They will also hold their annual Da de los Muertos: Love Never Dies Ball. Enjoy a night of cocktail-making, live music, face painting, and other activities.
Don't miss the Da de los Muertos Celebration at Maxwell Street Market, which includes music, a sugar skull workshop, pumpkin carving, and other activities.
Investigate a scary museum
The Medieval Torture Museum in the Loop, billed as the biggest interactive historical museum in the United States, features more than 100 gruesome devices and instruments that symbolize some of humanity's darkest days. If you dare, Halloween is the ideal time to visit the museum's frightening exhibitions. Your ticket includes a computerized ghost-hunting experience as well as an audio tour.
Movie marathons, outdoor movie theaters, and drive-in movies are sprouting up all across Chicago, and there will be plenty of creepy screenings during Halloween season. Check out the best places to see Halloween movies this October.
The Music Box of Horrors is returning for a month of horror movie frenzy at Lakeview's iconic Music Box Theatre. Get your tickets today for horror classics, cult favorites, and movies that are so awful they're fantastic.
In Pilsen, Chi-Town Flicks Drive-In will have a complete slate of eerie movies. Get your tickets for Friday night double films, serial killer Sundays, and other special events.
Horror Movie Madness is a month-long series at The Logan Theatre that includes a selection of classic horror films, a costume contest, free family matinees, and more.
Navy Pier is a great place to celebrate Halloween.
Navy Pier's Pumpkin Lights; photograph by James Richards IV
Famous Chicago landmark For Halloween, Navy Pier goes all out! Pier Pumpkin Lights will convert the outdoor sections of the Pier into a dazzling autumn display. During the month-long seasonal festival, guests will encounter pumpkin pop-up exhibits and enjoy Pier-wide bargains.