Halloween in Chicago: Top Things to Do and Places to Go

Social calendars don't empty once summer’s over. Chicago in October has concerts, football games, the Chicago Open House, Chicago Marathon, and the Chicago International Film Festival to look forward to. Capping off the month’s flurry of activity is Halloween, a holiday for both the young and young at heart.

From parades to pub crawls, and Halloween balls: there’s something for everyone. Here are some of the top things to do in Chicago for Halloween.

Arts in the Dark

October 20, 2018

Kick off Halloween festivities with the Arts in the Dark parade, one of the most highly-anticipated activities in Chicago. An annual city tradition, this nighttime parade brings a diverse mix of the city’s creatives together for a procession filled with lights, floats, masked entities, puppetry, live music, and stunning performances. The parade starts at State Street.

Spooky Zoo

October 27, 2018

Spooky Zoo is a free annual fall festival that attracts over 30,000 kids and families to the Lincoln Park Zoo. Kids and parents that want to forego trick-or-treating can enjoy animal enrichment activities and traditional autumn activities like corn mazes and pumpkin carving. There will also be live entertainment and Ferris Wheel rides. Come in costume and join in on the fun!

Nightmare at Navy Pier: Haunted Halloween Ball

October 27, 2018

Spend your Halloweekend at the Aon Grand Ballroom in Navy Pier. With commanding views over Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline, the Grand Ballroom is the best backdrop for a night of revelry. Come in your most glamorous or scariest costume and dance to the beats of top DJs while sipping drinks from a fully stocked bar. The VIP ticket gives you access to the ballroom balcony. The party starts at 8pm!

Clark Street Spooktacular

October 28, 2018

Now on its 10th year, this might just be Clark Street Spooktacular’s best yet! Drop by Clark Street from Diversey to Armitage, and the south side of Diversey from Orchard to Lakeview, to enjoy trick-or-treating, street magicians, jugglers, stilt walkers, and games galore. Festivities start at 1pm, with the costume contest starting at 2pm.

Day of the Dead Xicago

October 28, 2018

For a culturally immersive kind of Halloween, drop by the National Museum of Mexican Art to celebrate Dia de los Muertos Xicago. Popularized by Disney’s Coco, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is an annual Mexican holiday celebrated to honor deceased loved ones.

Guests can create their own ofrendas (altars), enjoy art and face painting activities, and live musical performances while munching on Pan de Muerto (traditional Day of the Dead Bread). Guests are invited to share a photograph to be included in a large ofrenda.

Northalsted Halloween Parade

October 31

Definitely an event you shouldn't miss, the annual Northalsted Halloween Parade is included in Fodor’s Travel Guide’s list of 10 Best Halloweens in the US. See kids, parents, pets, and drag queens walk the Boystown streets dressed in their most outrageous outfits.

Additional highlights include the costume contest judged by members from one of the country’s leading LGBTQ+ communities, and Halloween food and drink specials from the restaurants along Halsted Street. The parade starts at 7:30pm, with registration beginning a few hours before.