Break out Your Best Costume for These DC Halloween Events
From zombie runs to drag queens racing in high heels, Halloween events in DC offer something from everyone. Watch the dead come alive in ghost tours or enjoy a ghoulish Halloween party at an area restaurant. Plus, DC has really mastered the art of the pop-up bar and this season’s ominous offerings don’t disappoint. We’ve rounded up a mix of parties, family-friendly events, and bar crawls to get everyone in the Halloween spirit.
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 & Boston.
Dare to visit a haunted house
October to early November
Nothing gets the heart racing faster than traipsing through a haunted house with dramatic special effects and lighting. Head to Laurel’s House of Horror -- located inside the former Laurel 6 movie theater -- for spooky clowns and zombies, or test your wits in their horror movie-themed escape room. Field of Screams in Olney, Maryland offers five blood-curdling attractions, including a haunted trail that lets you reimagine your childhood camp days as a murder site, and a carnival game that lets you smash zombie brains. Hill High Farm in Winchester, Virginia offers two versions of its haunted house: a daytime one for younger audiences and the full-blown bloodfest at night for horror fans.
Named one of the top five historic venues by Smithsonian Institution, the eccentric Mansion on O Street is the perfect haunted house alternative for folks who want to explore without the gore. Look for Halloween-themed hidden treasures inside the 100-room hotel, filled with secret doors and hidden passages. On Halloween night, the mansion is adding a chocolate fountain to the festivities. Hard to pass that one up.
Cost: $35; $50 on Halloween
An annual tradition for 30 years, the 17th Street High Heel Race always takes place the Tuesday before Halloween and promises to be a wicked good time. Costumed drag queens race down between P and S Streets to the delight of spectators. The race starts at 7pm, so get there early to take advantage of happy hour specials at Dupont Circle restaurants. The Logan Tavern will serve all-night happy hour specials starting at 3pm, with $2 empanadas, and $5 signature cocktail, the Stiletto Doly. American Son 1978 in the swanky Eaton DC hotel is offering an $8 It’s Pronounced Fronkensteen cocktail and a $35 three-course menu with deviled pumpkin eggs and fudge & candy corn cupcakes.
Take a ghost tour
Now through October 30
As an older, historic city, DC is naturally full of spooky stories that come alive during haunted walking tours. Washington Walks offers ghostly tours of Capitol Hill and Lafayette Park, where visitors get the inside scoop on the haunted histories of some of the area’s homes. DC By Foot leads a family-friendly Ghosts of Georgetown Walking Tour that take visitors by the infamous Exorcist steps and shares stories about ghostly sightings. If you want to get spooked even after Halloween, Scary DC conducts year-round, 90-minute Horror on the Hill walks on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Silver Spring, Maryland
Few suburban DC locales get into the Halloween spirit like Silver Spring. Now in its 11th year, the Silver Spring Zombie Walk pre-game starts at Denizens Brewing at 6pm with beer, candy, and DJ-spun music. Then at 9pm, flesh-eating zombies roam the streets of downtown Silver Spring. Feel free to join the fun or simply be a super-scared spectator. Later, head to the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center to catch the sci-fi cult film Let Sleeping Corpses Lie.
Cost: Free to watch the zombies
Take part in Day of the Dead celebrations
October 26 and November 2
The Wharf, Brookland
If you prefer celebrating the October holiday by honoring an ancient Mexican tradition, then head to the Wharf’s Day of the Dead Celebration. Organizers are lining the cobblestoned Pearl Street with beer stations, street food, and a photo booth. Come with painted faces and decorate sugar skulls. Catholic University is hosting a kid-friendly Dia de Los Muertos Fest with face painting, live mariachi and DJ music, and a photo booth where you can snap photos with characters from the movie, Coco.
Get the kids and pets in costume for a family friendly Halloween event
There are plenty of opportunities to take the kids, nieces, and nephews out for some old-fashioned trick-or-treating and a costume party. Kids can encounter Frankenpanda and Count Pandula at one of the area’s best-attended family events, the Smithsonian’s Boo at the Zoo. The event also offers more than 40 treat stations and a dance party with kids’ karaoke, plus a chance to see some exhibits after hours. Buy your tickets soon, as Saturday night is already sold out. The zoo also hosts an adults-only party Night of the Living Zoo, on the Friday before Halloween. A week later, head to Alexandria for the 23rd annual Del Ray Halloween Parade, which features live music, treats, and prizes for the Best Decorated Stroller and Best Pet Costume. Or you can parade your four-legged friends along the Capitol Riverfront for treats at The Yards for Bone Yards event that same day.
Go bar hopping while in costume
One of the most popular things to do is hit up a dozen bars with 1,000 of your closest friends the Saturday before Halloween, with Georgetown, Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle, and H Street being some of the favorite party spots. While you could certainly do a DIY bar crawl in your favorite ’hood, several party promoters make it into an official event with zero-cover charge for the bars, costume contests, and drink specials. Choose from the DC Halloween Crawl, the Nightmare on M Street Bar Crawl in Dupont Circle, or head to U Street for Trick or Drink Halloween Bar Crawl.
Cost: $15 to $25
If you’d rather stick to one bar that really does it up for Halloween, head to Shaw. Known for crafting elaborate fantasy pop-up bars, Drink Company won’t disappoint with its Halloween-themed PUB Grimm, which opens October 17. The Grimms’ fairytale-inspired bar will feature macabre decor and cocktails based on your favorite childhood stories. Get transported to the Black Forest with Hansel and Gretel’s house and the wicked queen’s mirror while sipping the Glass Slipper (gin, vermouth, bitters, and spruce oil).
Or continue celebrating at a bar long after Halloween is over
The Halloween spirit stays alive beyond October 31 at the new year-round Halloween bar and restaurant, Beetle House, on H Street. Much of the decor and menu items are influenced by the mad genius that is Tim Burton. Order the Beetle’s Juice or Big Fish Bowl at the bar, laden with jack-o’-lanterns or try the Edward Burger Hands on the prix-fixe menu ($50 per person).
Now through November 3
Plunging 10 stories on a roller coaster is frightening enough, but uber thrill-seekers can take the experience up a notch by encountering zombies, misfit clowns, and more at Six Flags America’s Fright Fest. Two new features of the park’s annual Halloween event include horror musical about two vampire slayers and Medieval Mayhem, filled with blood-and-flesh-eating creatures.
Cost: Starting at $45.99 for one-day admission
Stop into a local hotel or restaurant for spooky fun
October 25 - November 2
Take your pick of several Halloween parties the Saturday before Halloween. Head to the Hotel Monaco’s Dirty Habit for its Halloween costume party, dubbed Purgatory, for Chambord-infused cotton candy and daring performances from a fire dancer and aerialist. Or head to Nick’s Riverside Grill on the Georgetown waterfront that night for a buffet with finger foods and a costume contest with prizes. The Watergate Hotel’s Next Whisky Bar will decorate six igloos with skulls, skeletons, cobwebs, and other ghoulish decor during its Creepy Chic Soiree. Enjoy spirited sips like the El Diablo made with dry ice.
Cost: Free to $99
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