Halloween is a blessedly low-stakes kickoff to the holiday season. There’s no travel to plan, family to handle, gifts to exchange, or mistletoe to dodge. There is only the blank canvas that is you, and the opportunity to paint it with whatever strokes you wish. Kind of like every other day in New York City, but with more glitter and/or blood.
This year, instead of hunkering down with a bottle of orange wine (free recipe: it’s just chardonnay and Emergen-C), observe All Hallows’ Eve at horrifying haunted houses, spooky film screenings, petrifying parties, and the city’s spectacular night parade. Here is everywhere to celebrate Halloween today, before you start untangling those Christmas lights tomorrow.
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This town is full of purportedly haunted spots. Suspend your disbelief, consult our guide, and keep a keen eye out for long-dead silent movie stars in Astoria, literary legends in the West Village, and an alleged proto-Lizzie Borden in Staten Island... IF YOU DARE.
Cost: From free to the price of a beer
Few things scream ‘Halloween in NYC’ quite as loud as paying money to wait in line for a pack of semi-employed actors to remind you of the terrifying turns your life may have taken had you stuck with that musical theatre major in undergrad. Perennial terrors include jump scares, 3D freakouts, and stalking zombies, werewolves, and monsters of dubious origin.
Cost: Tickets start at $55
Everything is an immersive pop-up experience now, and Nightmare Machine is the Halloween one. Find your most macabre filter, and dive into a "bloody" ball pit, pay your respects at a millennial graveyard, strike a pose in a coffin, and wonder whether existence has become an unending race to illustrate a life, rather than live one.
Cost: Tickets start at $38
That iconic shower scene score (Bernard Herrmann’s string arrangement), that Hitchcock blonde (Janet Leigh’s Marion Crane), and that seemingly unassuming roadside motel and its soft-spoken proprietor (you know the ones) -- even if you haven’t seen Psycho, you’re surely familiar with its finer points. See it again or for the first time at a special Halloween screening at Village East Cinema.
Cost: Tickets are $15
The only viewer who might catch chills from this SVA Theatre screening of Hocus Pocus is Sarah Jessica Parker -- for whom the film could have been a legacy, had her subsequent hit series Sex and the City and eventual fragrance riches never come along. The 25-year-old flick is still a campy hoot, following a blonde (Parker), a brunette (Kathy Najimy), and a redhead (Bette Midler) as they try to retain their youth and beauty in an east coast city. It’s not unlike SatC sans Samantha, though none of the leads are quite as scary as Carrie Bradshaw.
Departs from East 23rd Street and the FDR
Halloween, cruises, and DJ sets are spooky enough on their own. This Wednesday they’ll combine to create a fright night fit for your diary. In spite of the “neat and trendy” dress code, costumes are encouraged. Fulfill the sartorial mandate as a Gen-Z Gilligan -- that cap and collar combo was quite smart in retrospect.
Cost: Tickets start at $30
Costumes are encouraged at the Brooklyn Historical Society’s Halloween Boos in the Borough, where you’ll hear talks on past, present, and future funeral practices, followed by supposedly true ghost stories from around Kings County -- including a few from right inside the society’s century-old building.
Join tens of thousands of folks masquerading as ghosts, goblins, and topical memes that no one will remember this time next year at the 45th annual Village Halloween Parade. All costumed characters are welcome to march, and the uninspired can still enjoy the pageantry on Sixth Avenue between Spring and 16th Street.
Hit a good old fashioned Halloween party
You’re surely too old for trick or treating, and, after the parade, a Halloween party is the next best thing. Admission to the only official Village Halloween after-party at Performance Space New York starts at $75. Your $25 ticket gets you one hour of open vodka bar access at the Jane Hotel Ballroom. Parties at Taj Lounge in the Flatiron District, La Esquina in Nolita, and House of Yes in Bushwick are free to enter with RSVP (refreshments available for purchase). Slake your hangover with some sweet, sweet discounted candy tomorrow morning.
Cost: From free to super spendy
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