With snakes on the L train, a Times Square full of handsy monsters, and . . . whatever this guy is doing, New York can be scary enough to feel like Halloween all year round. Now that October is finally almost here, it begs the question: How do you give a Halloween fright to a city of people who refuse to flinch? Well, we’ve got some pretty good ideas.
If you’ve smelled enough of New York City to think that it’s horrifying year-round, you can attend the campy costumed Tompkins Square Park Dog Parade, get crowned Queen at the Zombie Prom, or see a screening of the PG-rated Hocus Pocus; and if you need a jolt of true fear to feel alive, tag along on a ghost tour of Manhattan’s oldest house, sit in on a seance with a “certified” medium, or take a peek inside Ellis Island’s long-abandoned hospital. Here’s absolutely everywhere to celebrate Halloween this month.
Multiple dates Park Slope and Williamsburg Alert all the witches in your group chat: All month long, Nitehawk’s two locations will celebrate those of us who would, frankly, prefer a broomstick to the F train. Their “All of Them Witches” film series features Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak’s witchy rom-com Bell, Book and Candle, Cher’s star turn in The Witches of Eastwick, and the '90s witch trifecta of The Craft, Hocus Pocus, and Practical Magic. (Might as well start fighting about who gets to dress up like Bette Midler.) Cost: Tickets are $13; food and drink available for purchase
Multiple dates from Friday, October 4 - Sunday, October 27 Williamsburg Celebrate Howl-oween with The Dodo at the Best Dog Day Ever. Your pooch can play dress-up, trick-or-treat for canine-safe ice cream, and traipse through a pumpkin patch made for pups while you capture your fur baby’s hair-raising adventures for the ‘gram. Cost: Tickets range from $15-$79; basic admission for one adult + one dog is $35
Saturday, October 12 and Saturday, October 26 Washington Heights The Morris-Jumel Mansion was built in 1765, making it the oldest house in Manhattan. Explore the history of the mansion and its many former inhabitants -- including George Washington -- with Vincent Carbone and Christopher Davalos, the mansion’s resident paranormal investigators. They’ll walk you through a primer of paranormal theory before taking you on a spooky investigation to meet the mansion’s many Manhattanite spirits. Don’t fear if the tours get sold out -- you can call to set up a private tour. Cost: Tickets start at $35
Every Saturday in October Ellis Island The Ellis Island Hospital, once a bustling, state-of-the-art facility, has been abandoned to the elements for over 60 years -- but you get to go inside. Take a hard hat tour to see the hospital’s autopsy room, the infectious disease ward, and all the other places you’re most likely to see movement out of the corner of your eye. It’s not a ghost tour, but it is an emotional -- and eerie -- look into the famous island’s history. Cost: Tickets are $75
Sunday, October 13 Queens Botanical Garden Sure, you could drive upstate to cut a pumpkin off the vine -- or you could pick one up from the comfort of the five boroughs. The Harvest Fest is a one-day family-friendly party featuring a petting zoo, face painting, and a beer garden. (New rule: Every time your child touches a dirty goat, you get to have a drink.) The pumpkins in the pumpkin patch are already off the vine, so you can save the elbow grease for cutting out your jack-o’-lantern’s grin. Cost: $15 for adult tickets; $13 for children. Pumpkins are $6 each. Food and drinks available for purchase
Every Monday in October Upper West Side Ready to graduate from the Ouija board? Head to a seance at the Spiritualist Church of NYC, where they hold weekly candle-lit “message circles” to speak to those on the other side of the veil. After a prayer for protection (just in case) and a guided meditation, the church’s mediums will begin to relay the messages they hear. If you’re worried about hearing something scary from the other side, relax -- the mediums are explicitly forbidden from relaying messages of “doom and gloom.” Also, they only take cash. Cost: Attendance is $20
Monday, October 14 Gowanus If you’re a true crime podcast junkie, you’re probably afraid of being murdered 24/7. This month, why don’t you take a break from the real dangers of the world and turn to the fictitious ones? NoSleep, an anthology horror podcast, is filming a special Halloween episode live at the Bell House. There’ll be a live score, sound effects, and -- scariest of all -- men who are thinking of starting a podcast and want to tell you all about it. Cost: Tickets are $25; drinks available for purchase
Every weekend in October Bronx Park You can do the Bronx Zoo’s Boo at the Zoo with kids or without -- for little monsters, there are costume parades, halloween-inspired crafts, a magic show, and a candy trail for trick or treating. Grownups can head to Bootoberfest for a beer and lawn games -- just don’t leave your kids in the carnivore cages, okay? If you’re looking for something super scary, there’ll be a meet-and-greet with real vultures and ravens -- or just stop by the animal graveyard to learn about all the species humans have caused to go extinct. Cost: Adult tickets are $39.95; tickets for children aged 3 -12 are $29.95
Saturday, October 19 East River Park It’s the day dogs who hate wearing clothes have been dreading all year: The Tompkins Square Park Dog Parade. Whether you make your own intricate costume or buy off the rack, you can enter your pooch in the runway show. (Honestly, looking cute in a costume for an hour is the least your dog can do for you.) If you don’t have a dog -- or have a dog who plays dead when you come near them with a raincoat -- just watch the city’s best boys and girls strut their Halloween stuff. Note: This year, the parade will be held in the amphitheater in East River Park, and not in Tompkins Square Park. Cost: Free
Friday, October 4 - Thursday, October 31 Tribeca If IT Chapter Two wasn’t scary enough for you, then maybe Blood Manor will do the trick. This haunted house has enough clowns around blind corners to scare even seasoned horror junkies. Taking place over 5,000 square feet of twisting labyrinths and tiny rooms, it’s easy to forget that you’re in the middle of Manhattan. If you get too scared, though, just tell an actor -- they’ll lead you out one of the emergency exits and back into the cold, dark New York night. Cost: Advance tickets start at $35; $40 at the door
Wednesday, October 23 - Saturday, October 26; Tuesday, October 29 - Thursday, October 31 East Village Inspired by the radio plays of the 1930s (think “The War of the Worlds” and Lights Out), Radiotheatre reimagines classic scary stories for voice actors on the stage. With narrators, orchestral arrangements, sound effects, and very limited visuals, their performances let your imagination do the work -- just like in the golden days of radio. The stories -- based on H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, and Saki -- are more pulpy than scary, making this indie theater company a campy cult-classic Halloween destination. Cost: Tickets start at $24
Thursday, October 24 Bushwick Didn’t have a scary enough time in high school? The Zombie Prom at House of Yes (“A night to dismember”) is more horrifying than falling off the rope in gym class. Wear your tattered cheerleading uniform, do your makeup like a zombie stoner, or dress like an undead health teacher; prizes will be awarded for the very best looks. A Zombie Prom King and Queen will be crowned, too -- just goes to show that even death can’t stop popularity contests. Cost: Free to enter; drinks available for purchase
Friday, October 25 Morningside Heights On any day, the echoing Cathedral of St. John the Divine inspires awe; when they screen the iconic 1922 German Expressionist film Nosferatu with a live score on the Cathedral’s 1910 Great Organ, the awe doubles. After the film, the Cathedral will host their yearly “Procession of the Ghouls,” when puppeteer Ralph Lee’s pack of demons, witches, and ghouls roam the aisles. Much like Nosferatu, the spectacle is made spooky by its simplicity: For one night only, you can suspend your disbelief and let yourself be scared. Cost: Tickets are $27.50
October 25, 26, and 31 Williamsburg The McKittrick Hotel -- longtime home of the made-for-spooky-season Sleep No More -- is stepping up its October game with the Hitchcock Halloween Party. Taking inspiration from the man behind Psycho and The Birds, they’ll be transforming the entire hotel with art, installations, stunning costumes, and live performances. Come for a thrilling performance of Sleep No More, then stay to drink and dance away your heebie-jeebies -- there’ll be an open bar all night long. Cost: Hitchcock Halloween Party tickets start at $125 and include an open bar; Sleep No More + Hitchcock Halloween Party tickets start at $250
Thursday, October 31 Maspeth The Haunted Hop Halloween Spooktacular is worth the schlep to Maspeth, Queens -- with DJs, live bands, and multimedia performances, it’s a packed dance party of non-stop spooky stimulation. Much like a bag of trick-or-treat candy, if you don’t like one thing (looking at you, Life Savers), you can just move on and try another. Wear a costume you can sweat in; the costume contest doesn’t start until 1am, and you don’t want to blow your shot. Cost: Tickets are $25 in advance; $30 day-of show
Thursday, October 31 West Village This year, the NYC Village Halloween Parade is “Wild Thing”-themed, so text the friend who’s most willing to wear the back of your horse costume. Pre-game the parade (no alcohol is allowed) and jump into the fray, where you’ll be joined by hundreds of puppets, undergrads in cat ears, and what seems like an impossible amount of uniformed NYPD officers. Only costumed marchers are allowed, so you better start planning how wild your Wild Thing costume is going to be. Cost: Free for spectators and costumed participants; perks like line skipping have their price
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