How to Survive (and Thrive) at West Hollywood’s Halloween Carnaval
Since 1987, West Hollywood has hosted one of L.A.’s best Halloween parties. An estimated 500,000 people converge on this massive street party each year, many of them in the most elaborate costumes you can imagine. Some reference iconic nightmares, pop culture fads, or topical terrors, while others are just plain sexy. It is West Hollywood, after all. And after the spectacle of the Carnaval, there are plenty of nightlife options within walking distance. Here’s everything you need to know in order to make the most of this iconic parade:
When and where is the Carnaval?
Though some people want to change Halloween to the last Saturday in October, West Hollywood's Carnaval will again occur on October 31st, which falls on a Thursday this year. Carnaval officially runs from 6-10:30pm, but those who wish to keep partying will find no shortage of bars within walking distance. West Hollywood Carnaval is located on Santa Monica Boulevard, along a one-mile stretch between N. Doheny Drive and La Cienega Boulevard.
How much does it cost?
The festival is FREE and you don't need to RSVP, but you should definitely bring some cash or a card if you want to get food or drinks. We'd highly advise cash in this case, both for the food trucks and so you don't have to worry about closing out a tab at a busy bar (which you will ultimately forget to do).
What will I be doing?
Everyone at the WeHo Carnaval congregates on the streets for dancing, people-watching, picture-taking, and general revelry. There'll be live music and DJs at stages along the street, and one of the biggest draws of the event is the incredible costumes people put together, so there's a definite see and/or be seen element. Since you're free to duck in and out of the festival as you please, you might also want to check out some of the local nightlife.
What should I wear? What about the weather?
Wear whatever you want. People show up in costumes that range from scandalous to spooky, but dressing up is not required. We would advise wearing comfortable shoes (or at least bringing some along), as you'll probably spend a lot of time on your feet. The current forecast is clear with a high of 78 and a low of 58, which is about average for Halloween in LA.
If you do dress up, you can hashtag your photos #WeHoHalloween -- and the city may feature your look on its social media feeds. Still not sure what to wear? Check out Visit West Hollywood's 2018 Carnaval gallery for some spookspiriation.
What to bring/What NOT to bring
For security purposes, backpacks, camera bags, and totes are NOT allowed. You can, however, carry a clear plastic bag. We'd suggest trying to pack light and bringing only your essentials: phone, keys, ID, cash, debit or credit card, TAP card, etc. Other banned items include weapons, fireworks, and drones. You can't bring your own booze, nor can you drink it on the streets, and while West Hollywood may have LA’s first cannabis cafe, remember you’re not allowed to smoke it in public.
Can I bring my kids or pets?
The City of West Hollywood and the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station strongly discourage bringing children or pets. Carnaval is crowded, noisy, a little rowdy, and often involves a lot of very revealing costumes. Your dog probably won't like it, and it's probably not appropriate for the little ones.
Where else can I party/drink/get food?
There are several places within walking distance to eat, drink and have fun. You'll also likely see several points of interest along the route. As we mentioned previously, you should probably bring some cash in the event of covers charges at clubs and live music venues.
If you prefer planning in advance to spontaneity, you can see Visit West Hollywood's Halloween events calendar. They’ve also compiled a list of nearby restaurants, bars and venues that’ll be open on Halloween, with notes about special extended hours and events.
How do I get to the Carnaval?
Driving would be ill-advised. This event is huge every year, and parking is scarier than every film in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise combined. Plus, if you’re planning to drink, you shouldn't be driving anyhow.
You can always use a ride-sharing app like Lyft or Uber, though prices do tend to be considerably higher on a busy night like Halloween. Also, you won't be able to ask your driver to drop you off at the festival. It's advised that you set your destination a couple blocks away, then walk the rest.
Then there’s public transit, which also happens to be both your greenest and cheapest option.
Okay, so how do I use public transit?
For those of you in Hollywood or who can take the Red Line to the Hollywood/Highland station, there's the free Cityline Commuter. From 5-11:30pm, it'll take passengers from its stop on Highland Avenue south of Hollywood Boulevard to Santa Monica Boulevard and Kings Road. It’s as easy as saying “Bloody Mirror” into a dark mirror three times.
If you're not located near West Hollywood, there are several Metro routes that'll get you there, which you can find via Metro's Trip Planner. (Me? I'm all about taking the 16 west on Third, then walking up to Santa Monica Boulevard.) It costs $1.75 per Metro ride, which includes free transfers for up to two hours. You can pay with a TAP card, which you can buy from the vending machines at any Metro train station or many stores and pharmacies. Use Metro's official website to find the TAP vendor nearest you. You can also pay with cash and coins, but that won't include transfers.
Once you've made it to West Hollywood, you can use its free shuttle, The Pickup; on Halloween, it'll run its usual route down Santa Monica Boulevard between Sweetzer and LaBrea from 7-11pm. At LaBrea, The PickUp will take an express route west on Melrose to the Carnaval. You should get off at Santa Monica Boulevard and Kings Road. From 11pm-3am, the PickUp will only run eastbound from Santa Monica/Kings to Santa Monica/LaBrea. See more info about the PickUp’s route and hours here.
What if I’m still driving? Where do I park?
Okay, fine, but I warned you. West Hollywood will suspend permit parking restrictions from October 31 at 11am until November 1 at noon. All parking meters in the City of West Hollywood will be free on October 31 from 6pm until 2am on November 1. But please be sure that the meter you've picked is actually in WeHo; if it's in LA or Beverly Hills, their parking restrictions are in full effect. If you can't find a free spot, you can use one of these paid lots:
- King Road Municipal Parking Structure, located at 8383 Santa Monica Boulevard ($20)
- La Jolla/Havenhurst Lot, located at 1044 N. La Jolla Drive ($20)
- Orange Grove Lot, located at 1114 N. Orange Grove Avenue ($20)
- Robertson Lot, located at 617 Robertson Boulevard ($20)
- Pacific Design Center, located at 8687 Melrose Avenue ($25)
- Queens Lots, located at 8459 Sunset Boulevard ($20)
- Spaulding Lot, located at 7718 Santa Monica Boulevard ($20)
- Sunset Lot, located at 8775 Sunset Boulevard ($20)
- Hancock Parking Structure, located at 901 Hancock Avenue ($20)
- West Hollywood Gateway, located at 7100 Santa Monica Boulevard ($12)
Again, don't you dare drink and drive. Police set up DUI checkpoints throughout the Los Angeles area every Halloween.
What streets will be closed?
According to the City of West Hollywood, the following streets will be closed for the event:
- San Vicente Boulevard between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue from midnight on Thursday, October 31, 2019, to no later than 7am on Friday, November 1, 2019.
- All alleyways between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue from midnight on Thursday, October 31, 2019, to no later than 7am on Friday, November 1, 2019.
- Santa Monica Blvd. between La Cienega Blvd. and Croft Ave. / Holloway Dr. from 6am on Thursday, October 31, 2019 through 6am on Friday, November 1, 2019.
- Santa Monica Boulevard between Doheny Drive and La Cienega Blvd. from 10am on Thursday, October 31, 2019, through 6am on Friday, November 1, 2019.
- Robertson Boulevard between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue from 10am on Thursday, October 31, 2019, through 6am on Friday, November 1, 2019.
- Almont Drive between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue from 10am on Thursday, October 31, 2019, through 6am on Friday, November 1, 2019.
- La Peer Drive between Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue from 10am on Thursday, October 31, 2019, through 6am on Friday, November 1, 2019.
- San Vicente Boulevard between Santa Monica Boulevard and Cynthia Street from 10am on Thursday, October 31, 2019, through 6am on Friday, November 1, 2019.
- La Cienega Boulevard between Holloway Drive and Melrose Avenue from 4pm Thursday, October 31, 2019, to 6am on Friday, November 1, 2019.
- Sunset Boulevard eastbound and westbound turn lanes onto southbound La Cienega Boulevard from 4pm on Thursday, October 31, 2019, through 6am on Friday, November 1, 2019.
Where can I learn more?
You can check out Visit West Hollywood's info page or you can give the City of West Hollywood's hotline a ring at (323) 848-6503.
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