Halloween in Chicago means crisp air, hot cider and tons of spooky events. Chicagoans go nuts for the macabre! This isn’t new. Some of the events on our list, like Splatter Theater, a live action slasher film, have been around for 30 years. Others, like Recess’ Nightmare Before Christmas anniversary celebration, are fresh and timely. Whether you want to party in costume into the wee hours of the morning, watch Beetlejuice at a drive-in or simply pick out a pumpkin with your kids, there’s something for everyone in Chicago this Halloween.
The 16 Best Halloween Events in Chicago, from Potion-Making to Tarot Readings
- Location: The Annoyance Theater, 851 W. Belmont Avenue
- Dates: Saturdays through 10/28 and Tuesday 10/31, 8 p.m.
For more than three decades, The Annoyance Theater has brought a slasher film to life on stage. Every year, audience members watch as classic horror movie characters (the jock, the ditz, the nosy neighbor) are killed by “some guy in a hockey mask.” The cast commits hard and really sells each murder (and yes, there is fake blood galore). This description on The Annoyance’s website paints a wild picture: “With freshly painted white walls, the stage will be drenched in gallons of blood, horrifying and delighting the audience along the way.” It’s funny, it’s gory, it’s very Halloween—and a Chicago tradition. Get tickets early before they sell out!
- Location: 1612 W. Division Street
- Dates: October 8 through the new year; Halloween Edition on Thursday to Saturday 10/26 to 10/28
Since you can’t visit the real Hogwarts for Potions Class, you should try The Cauldron Chicago! From October 8 through the holiday season, families can sign up for immersive potion-making (cocktails for adults and mocktails for the kids or anyone not drinking alcohol). Located in the basement of a creepy old bank, patrons receive a magic wand upon arrival that changes the lights around the bar and opens potions boxes (after you solve a riddle, of course). This is a hands-on experience for families. Watch potions change color before your eyes then taste the sweet concoctions you’ve created. Adults looking to party by themselves should check out The Cauldron After Dark: Halloween Edition, from October 26 to 28. Sip on Blood Martinis and wear a costume if you want to participate in the costume contest!
- Location: The Eleanor Robinson Countiss House, 1524 N. Lake Shore Drive
- Dates: Wednesday 10/25; Thursdays 10/19 & 10/26; Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays through 10/29; Tuesday, 10/31
This macabre cocktail party takes place at the Eleanor Robinson Countiss House on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive, built in 1917. Today, the house is the International Museum of Surgical Science—and reportedly haunted. This Halloween, roam the mansion during the Haunted Soiree, an interactive theatrical experience with actors dressed as ghosts based on real people. Learn about their stories and the dark forces behind their deaths. Included in the ticket price are four to five hand-crafted mini-cocktails and French chocolates (non-alcoholic options are available upon request and beer, wine and other cocktails are available for purchase). Dress in costume, cocktail attire or period-specific garments to fully embrace the spooky vibes rippling throughout the space.
- Location: Halsted & Belmont to Halsted & Brompton
- Dates: Tuesday 10/31, 6:30 to 10 p.m.
Costume enthusiasts beware! The Haunted Halsted Halloween Night Parade is the place to be if you’ve got a great costume planned (or just want to check out the most creative costumes Chicago has to offer). This is the parade’s 26th year; as always, the event goes on rain or shine (or snow) and concludes with dancing. This year, live entertainment will be provided by musical duo Molly & Alex. Attendance and costume registration is free, and all ages are invited to attend and participate. Fodor’s Travel says the Haunted Halsted Halloween Night Parade is one of the ten best Halloween celebrations in the country, so you definitely don’t want to miss out.
- Location: Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL
- Dates: Wednesday 10/11 through Sunday 10/15; Wednesday 10/18 through Sunday 10/22; 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Advance tickets are already sold out, but you can still purchase tickets at the entrance to the Chicago Botanic Garden if you want to see the Night of 1,000 Jack-o-Lanterns. This family-friendly event features a thousand pumpkins, carved up by artists, that have turned the Botanic Garden into a Halloween wonderland. Check out pumpkin carving demonstrations throughout the space while sipping spiced hot cider and nibbling on cinnamon churro bites with caramel sauce. There are also live entertainers scattered throughout. Get inspiration for your own pumpkins or simply admire the work of the pros.
- Location: National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th Street
- Dates: Sunday 10/29, 3 to 8 p.m.
The National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood is a spectacular place to visit year-round, but on Sunday, October 29, it cranks things up a notch with a Día de los Muertos celebration. According to the museum’s website, visitors can enjoy ofrendas, altars community members have created to celebrate their loved ones, plus “live musical performances, art activities and a large illuminated ofrenda projected outside of the museum.” This event is free to attendees and a perfect family-friendly event for a crisp, fall weekend.
- Location: The Logan Theatre, 2646 N. Milwaukee Avenue
- Dates: Various dates, 10/13 through 11/3
If movies are your thing and big parties are not, get thee to the Logan Theatre for their 11th Annual Horror Movie Madness series. Catch classics like The Shining and The Exorcist at the theater’s late night showings or show up on Halloween night for 1978’s Halloween. The theater will be decked out in spooky decor and there will be speciality cocktails available. For budding horror movie fans, stop by on October 29 for matinee showings of It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Casper Saves Halloween. Real old school movie buffs should make a point to be at the Logan Theatre on October 24 or 25 for the 1920’s silent horror, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, accompanied by a live organist. If you do feel like venturing out for a more social event, show up on October 27 for Beetlejuice and a costume contest. Get tickets early as many of these flicks are expected to sell out.
- Location: 2343 S. Throop Street
- Dates: Various dates and times through Tuesday 10/31
Halloween often means Chicago winter is on the horizon. Get outside as much as you can before we start hibernating! That means catching a horror movie outdoors at the ChiTown Movies drive-in. You can’t bring your own food or drinks, but you can order goodies like pizza, wings and tacos from the ChiTown Grille. You can also bring your dog with you so you have someone to cuddle if things get too scary. Movie options include Beetlejuice, Scream 6, Hocus Pocus (the original and the sequel) and Monsters, Inc., plus many more.
- Location: Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Avenue
- Dates: Saturday 10/28, 12 to 8 p.m.
The Slightly Spooky Saturday at Navy Pier is the perfect Halloween event for families with young kiddos looking for trick-or-treating during the daytime, interactive experiences and lots of costumes. There will be more than 70 candy stations located around Chicago’s infamous pier with goodies from Ferrara Candy (we’re talkin’ Trolli gummi worms, Black Forest gummi bears, Nerds, Gobstoppers and more). Arts and crafts will be available all day, as will Halloween-themed science experiments from the American Chemical Society. Pets are also welcome (in costume if they want) and there will be axe throwing for anyone eager to toss sharp objects at a giant target. The best part? The whole thing is free!
- Location: Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 S. Halsted Street
- Dates: 10/19, 10/20, 10/27; tours at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.
History buffs, assemble! The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum is the perfect place for a Chicago-centric ghost tour this Halloween season. The museum is part of the original house, which was settled in 1889 by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr as a space where immigrants and people in need could go for culture, education and conversation. The Hull-House Museum is known as one of the most haunted places in Chicago and across the country—it was even featured on an episode of Watcher Entertainment’s Ghost Files. Two ghosts to keep an eye out for on the tour are Devil Baby and the Lady in White. Tours are only $10 and available to those 16 years and up.
- Location: Congress Plaza Hotel, 520 S. Michigan Avenue
- Dates: Saturday 10/28, 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.
Another haunted locale in Chicago is the 122-year-old Congress Plaza Hotel, the site of the Haunted Halloween Ball. Hosted by employees dressed as zombies in a giant ballroom, this Halloween party offers the “exclusiveness of a luxury hotel gala” alongside the “terror and chills of a haunted house.” Wear a costume bizarre and risque enough, and you might win a cash prize. Early bird tickets are just $20 (there are group rates available for tables of four or eight if you like). Enjoy cash bars, amazing city views and celebrity DJs throughout the night (which ends at 2:30am, so prep accordingly).
- Location: 1265 W. Le Moyne
- Dates: Daily through 11/5
Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-Up feels like the spooky small town Halloween carnival you’d see in a movie. Go mining for gems, try to find the hidden bar in the corn maze, play carnival games, try axe throwing and more. There are plenty of delicious snacks and drinks available, but if you go on a weekend night you’ll also have the option of local food trucks. There’s hay and lights and pumpkins everywhere at Jack’s (it’s also all outdoors, to be sure to wear weather-appropriate clothing). Unfortunately, no dogs are allowed, other than service animals. Jack’s is also cashless and while walk-up tickets might be available, it’s advisable to purchase entry ahead of time. Choose from a variety of packages that include goodies like donuts, photo ops and drinks. This is a family-friendly space suitable for all ages!
- Location: LG’s Bar and Kitchen, 1525 N. Wells Street
- Dates: Wednesday, 10/25, 7 to 9 p.m.
You don’t have to party late into the night or even wear a costume to get into the Halloween spirit! Indulge your inner creative (and your inner sommelier) at LG’s Bar and Kitchen’s Halloween Sip & Paint event. Choose from five different fine wines, paired with a miniature "Boo"cuterie Board, while you paint a spooky painting. For just $45, participants receive painting supplies, a canvas and bottomless vino. The best part? Sip & Paint runs 7 to 9 p.m., so you can still go out after or be at home in bed by 10. Your call.
- Location: Recess, 838 W. Kinzie
- Dates: Friday 10/27, 9 p.m.
There’s something about Halloween that goes well with Christmas, right? Recess in the Fulton Market District is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas with a party on October 27. There will be drinks inspired by the movie and a costume contest (so get your Jack Skellington suit out of the closet). There are a limited number of tables available for bottle service, so if that’s your thing, snag one quickly. Otherwise, the party will be standing room only (which we think will still be a blast). Get ready for what Recess calls a “whimsically eerie world with larger-than-life interactive installations” and a DJ.
- Location: 3300 N. Halsted
- Dates: Saturday 10/21, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Don’t leave your dog home this Halloween season (and don’t let them eat chocolate). But do show up for Lakeview’s Halloween Pup Crawl on Saturday, October 21. Plop a dog costume on your pup and stroll along North Halsted to show off your pooch and meet other dogs in costume. There will be a photobooth with a professional photographer who can take your pic (and your dog’s, of course) with drag performer Miss Foozie. The $10 entry fee per dog includes a raffle ticket and Miss Foozie will draw winners at 2pm at Lark, whose patio will be open for a dog-friendly brunch (you don’t have to be present to win).
- Location: 1134 W. Washington Blvd., Lower Level
- Dates: Tuesday 10/31, 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Couples looking for a romantic, yet haunting night out on Halloween should head to The Press Room in the West Loop. At one point in time, the building, located in the basement of a vintage Chicago building, used to be a casket factory. Today, it’s a dimly lit restaurant with a unique menu featuring charcuterie, oysters and quail. On Halloween night, sip complimentary champagne while you indulge in free tarot readings from SG, who has been reading tarot cards for years in New York, Texas and Illinois. There will also be Halloween-themed cocktails available for purchase.