11 Spooky Ways to Celebrate Halloween in Denver This Year

A terrifyingly good time.

Magic of the Jack O'Lanterns
Courtesy of Ellis Communications

Not everyone is great at planning ahead. Even those of us who live for spooky season every year sometimes need guidance on where to go and what to do to get our ghoul on—especially since we were robbed of last year’s festivities. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for the deadliest libations, creepiest costume party, or just somewhere you can do the Monster Mash, there are a ton of Halloween happenings you can add to your calendar (despite it being less than a week away). Experience your favorite theme parks and food halls totally transformed, have a spooky cocktail at an underground pop-up bar, or dance ‘til you’re dead in a full-on Halloween bash. Get your fake blood and color contacts ready: Denver Hallowee-kend 2021 is going to be one for the books.

Have the full Halloween experience at “McGregor Scare”

Ballpark, October 29 - 31
Being the new kid on the block isn’t easy, but McGregor Square certainly makes it look that way. As one of the newest and most popular gathering places in Denver (AND with a brand-new food hall), "McGregor Scare" had to set a precedent for all the wicked and wonderful Halloweens to come. This weekend, find tons of spooky and spirited things to do (and eat, and drink), including Jack-o-Lantern cocktails, games, costume contests, a silent disco, pumpkin decorating, tarot card readings. and even a few Halloween flicks. And with a fully stocked food hall within reach, there’s no reason not to boo-gie in the Square all night.

Party at Stanley Marketplace

Aurora, October 30
When it comes to Halloween parties, Stanley doesn’t play around. Its colossal Coloween event remains the top-rated Halloween bash across the state, with a new theme each year. This year’s theme is Multiverse, and since Stanley’s teaming up with event designer extraordinaire, Invisible City, it’s sure to be one hell of a show. Discover a bunch of interactive experiences, a $1,500 costume contest, live performers, and all the dancing your goulish little heart can manage.

Elitch Gardens
Elitch Gardens

Enjoy a twist on your favorite daytime destinations

Various dates and locations
Part of the beauty of Halloween is the total transformation that’s possible: From impressive costumes and makeup to bars, restaurants, and otherwise ordinary locations bringing out the seriously spirited decor, it’s the best time of year to experience things as they typically aren’t. Denver’s Downtown Aquarium, for example, pulls out all the stops to make its Halloween Fest the best around. An especially kid- and family-friendly event, the Fest fills your day with games, animal appearances, trick-or-treating, and a costume contest, and kids in costume get discounted admission. Also family-friendly (during the day) is Elitch Gardens’ Fright Fest, which has plenty to keep the little ghouls and goblins busy while the sun’s out. But after dark is when the scares and shrieks start—big kids only.

Face your fears… then dance them away

X Bar, October 28 - October 31
This is what we’d call a comfortable middle between a scary experience and a fun, Halloween-themed party. X Bar is hosting a three-day soirée of sorts that also cordially invites you to face your deepest fears. Experience a touch of claustrophobia or pyrophobia (just a touch) then head to the bar and dance floor to shake off the scaries. It can’t be that bad… right?

Noble Riot
Photo by Jeff Fierberg

Get as Boo-zy as Possible

Various dates and locations
Halloween seems to make festive drinks just taste better—even without dry ice or floating gummy eyeballs. Looking to sip the scaries away? Good, because there are a lot of places to do so. The recently opened Electric Cure is offering its “Little Tiki Bar of Horrors” through the end of October and into November, i.e., a Halloween pop-up with themed cocktails, a special and limited edition drink menu, and a few additional spooks and surprises. Noble Riot is hosting its Haunted Vines event on Halloween night, which will feature a candlelit tasting of four wines and their haunting and harrowing histories. Of course, there’s also the Halloween pop-up bar in Larimer Square, Spirits, which runs through the end of October and is first-come, first-served.

Get extra creepy and especially crawly

Various dates and locations
Denver’s pretty big, so the opportunity to strut from one bar to the next in your best costume is pretty wide-ranging. Fever is hosting two crawls this year—one on Friday the 29th at 6 pm beginning at Brothers Bar & Grill, and another starting at Icehouse Tavern on the 30th at 12 pm, so you can choose to rally until the event’s end or end your day drinking earlier, if needed. Crawl With Us is hosting a massive Halloween adventure on Saturday, lasting through the night with a boo-zy afterparty planned, too. Enjoy complimentary drinks, waved covers, professional photos, and a $1,000 costume contest prize. The best part about these crawls? There’s no set agenda—choose any one of the participating locations in the area and crawl your way to some spooktacular imbibing.

The 13th Floor Haunted House Denver
The 13th Floor Haunted House Denver

Scare yourself silly at a haunted house

Elyria-Swansea, through October 31
We know you knew this one was coming. If you’re really looking for a good scare, you’ll want to head over to the 13th Floor Haunted House this Halloween weekend for a fright to remember. This year, aside from being a triumphant return post-2020 shutdown, includes some new attractions for the ultimate heart-racing, blood-pumping experience. Plus, if you’re still craving that adrenaline rush post-Halloween, the 13th Floor also has themed scares planned for November, too.

Mix food and fear

Various dates and locations
Not all of us want to be frightened on an empty stomach, so it’s nice knowing there are plenty of options out there for spooky happenings that also serve snacks. Grab your best mask and head to Le French on the 28th for its annual Black and White Masquerade Ball, complete with DJ, welcome cocktail, a mask (if you don’t have one), hors d’oeuvres, and of course, dessert. In the spirit of Día de Los Muertos, Que Bueno Suerte is hosting its Spirits and Celebrations event on Saturday, which means Dano’s Tequila will be flowing alongside face painting, games, a late-night DJ, costume contests, and even a piñata.

Magic of the Jack O'Lanterns
Magic of the Jack O'Lanterns

Light up the dark of the night

Littleton, through October 31
Spanning across the greater metro area is the chance to see some truly unique light installations all in the spirit of Halloween. Littleton’s Hudson Gardens is back to hosting its annual Magic of the Jack O’Lanterns, which features more than 7,000 hand-carved, glowing pumpkins. There are also huge pumpkin displays, a light show, and some pretty artistic creations using the ultimate symbol for Halloween.

Dress up your pup

Union Station, October 27
Who said only humans can have fun on Halloween? Get your furry family in the spirit of the season with a free costume contest at Union Station and maybe even win a prize while you’re at it. Put your best paw forward (for real, make sure your pet plays well with others), and enjoy the spookiness of the Howl-a-Ween and Yappy Hour with your four-legged friend. Just maybe leave Cujo at home.

Max out your monster meter

Central Business District, through October 31
Immerse yourself in the world of—you guessed it—monsters at Distortions Monster World’s limited time Monster to Midnight exhibit. The museum’s after-hours event is open to guests of all ages, inviting you to discover creepy, interactive creations based on your favorite movies, shows, and really anywhere else you’ve fallen in love with a beast or boogeyman. The event runs through Halloween night, and for those who prefer a little less up-close-and-personal spooking, a Monster Repellent sticker is waiting for you so the actors—er, monsters—know to keep a safe distance.

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Erica Buehler is a Thrillist contributor.