Break out Your Best Costume for These Boston Halloween Events
We’re more than Salem, people. Yes, our North Shore neighbors crush Halloween, but it’s pretty much a contractual obligation when your nickname is “Witch City.” For those without the ways or means to trek upwards, there are loads of other in-town celebrations that prove we can kill it on All Souls Day. From a live performance of Rocky Horror to an overnight scary movie marathon to an in-zoo boo-fest, Boston and its environs are committed to spooktacular distractions. And that’s on top of the all-in holiday decor in neighborhoods like Beacon Hill and the South End (we’re still spooked by the Putin/Trump/Kim Jong-un display we spotted last year). Here are some of the must-do parties and events from now through Day of the Dead, and even a bit beyond.
Spending Halloween outside of town? Check out our guides to the best Halloween parties and events in NYC, LA, Chicago, Las Vegas, Houston, Nashville, San Francisco, New Orleans, Miami, Seattle, Portland, Atlanta, & DC.
Through November 3
Okay, ignore our sniping -- Salem during the Halloween season really is that amazing. The Salem Horror Fest screens gory classics for the first half of the month. Plus, there are trolley ghost tours, psychic fairs, and live mind readers. And on the day itself, prepare for massive crowds, on-street revelry, and end-of-night fireworks. If you can’t get enough of the city that birthed the Salem Witch Trials, check out the creepy-sexy production of The Crucible, happening through October 20 at Central Square Theater.
October 17 - November 2
Back in the day, midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show were de rigeuer at the Harvard Square Theater. The venue may be shuttered, but the tradition returns during a limited-edition, live performance of the revered cult classic. And if you’re wanting to partake but fear being made the butt of the joke during the famously interactive show, you can always purchase a ticket in the “actor-free” zone.
It’s Cirque du Soleil, only far spookier and more interactive. Think evil spirits and possessed acrobats twisting and flipping right above your head as you dance and drink with your fellow freaks. You can even become a part of the act by entering the Instagram costume contest. Just beware of the undead wallflowers lurking on the dance floor’s edge.
Why plop your lil jack-o’-lantern atop your porch if you can send it downstream? Okay, technically, it’s floating atop a man-made pond, but it’s still picturesque. Once you’ve cast off your tiny, pre-carved pumpkin to its watery grave, explore the haunted zombie maze, “Spooky Mansion” slide, LED bean bag toss, and more. PS: The Trustees of Reservation will happily compost your pumpkin for you at the end of the night.
Middle East Downstairs
This is for everyone who cried while watching Coco (you know, all of you). Trade the rubber masks for sugar skulls and marigolds during a Day of the Dead celebration that brings the living a little closer to the dearly departed. Admission earns you a painted face, access to the photo booth, and inclusion in the $100 costume contest -- assuming you’re donning your best embroidered dress.
Franklin Park Zoo
One of the best parts of Halloween is getting to kidnap your niece/nephew/best friend’s kid and indulge the G-rated joys of the season. Let your little Peppa Pig run amok amidst the zoo’s four-leggers (who thankfully get to spend the weekend munching on pumpkins donated by Whole Foods). Once your temporary tykes have hit up the games area, costume contest, and haunted maze, you’ll be able to return them home properly zonked.
Cost: Free with zoo admission
Copley Square to Boston Common
Why Monster Mash when you can costume dash? Join the running of the Meghan Markles, The Tethereds, and the inflatable dinosaurs for a hilarious 5K race, taking place for the first time on the Charles River Esplanade. After collecting your participation medal, join the post-race costume contest and then head to the 21-plus after party.
Cost: $45 to register; $35 for early birds
Coolidge Corner Theatre
It’s a 19-year tradition and a legit excuse to stay up all night, even if you’ll also be up for nights afterwards thanks to all the scary feels. Starting with the timeless terrors of The Amityville Horror, the marathon moves onto the equally enduring Poltergeist and five other movies that are kept secret until showtime. But don’t expect today’s dreadful horror remakes -- the Coolidge prides itself in screening genuinely frightful classics. And for those who need to press pause on all the jumpscares, there’s also a costume contest and live paranormal presentation.
Because costume angst shouldn’t be limited to the two-leggers. Enjoy gussied-up pups parading around the hotel’s plaza garden while owners can hit up the cash bar, munch on a donut, play a little bocce, and wonder how their lives have come to this. Costumed dogs must be accompanied at all times, so be sure to check out all that stuff after your dog wins Best Costume.
Cost: Free to attend (event is weather-dependent)
Curds & Co.
This is absolutely our kind of trick-or-treating: cheese and adult beverages on top of candy. Pregame your night of indulgence with a mid-week snack that lets you play the role of both child and adult.
The Halloween weekend is always awash in epic live shows. But what better time to check out our city’s greatest new attraction than to take in one of our greatest party bands? The Encore is hosting the B-52s for a Halloween show; the 7:30pm start time positions you perfectly for a night out at the casino (we can only guess what Encore’s inaugural Halloween is going to look like).
Cost: Tickets start at $59.50
Innovation and Design Building
Chase your post-costumed blues with some craft IPA and handfuls of candy corn. More than 20 boutique breweries from around the country -- including many a regional house -- give you a great pour (slightly better if you’re costumed) and offer up some sweets as a chaser. Factor in the DJed music and you have yourself an epic post-Halloween blast.
Cost: $60 general admission; $20 for designated drivers
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