Your 2013 Guide To The Best of Halloween in New York City

Image of a field of halloween scarecrows, with pumpkins carved with scary faces as the head.

Here in this great, big beautiful city of ours we definitely don't NEED a big world-wide holiday like Halloween to get dressed up, have fun, and go a little nuts. Mermaid ParadeFigment, Zombie Crawl, Easter Parade, Santacon, Sakura MatsuriIdiotarod, DUMBO Arts Festival…. heck, most weekends around here feature at least one get-creative-and-have-fun thing going on.

That said, like everything else, NYC does Halloween better than anyone, with literally dozens of events, parties, parades and other spooky shenanigans going on over the next couple of weeks. Here's a look at some of our favorites:

The Halloween Village parade in NYC with people dressed up as zombies and other creatures, dancing to Michael Jackson's Thriller

Our Top Halloween Picks of 2013

The Village Halloween Parade is, of course, the most famous of all the city's celebrations, and if you've never been I highly recommend checking it out. Though I will say it is MUCH more fun to be a marcher than a spectator. This will be the parade's 40th year (and my how it's changed!). And after being canceled last year because of Sandy, this year's should be the biggest yet. If you want to really make a night out of it, get tickets now to Webster Hell (at Webster Hall) in the East Village, the official parade after-party that features a $5,000 grand prize costume contest, so you know people will go all out. If you're looking to get all professional with your costume this year, you might want explore this Halloween Prosthetic Make-Up Class near Downtown Brooklyn, taught by "SFX Expert" David Rodriguez: $80, five hours, this Sunday, October 20 only. 

The exterior of Webster Hall, dressed up with a huge inflatable pumpkin sitting on the main entrance way

Family Friendly Halloween Fun in NYC

NYC Halloween family-friendly festivities are legion, headlined by the Central Park Pumpkin Patch party on Saturday the 26th. Among the many activities this year in the Park (haunted house! quidditch matches! carving contests!), is the PUP-kin Zone dog costume parade, which joins long-established and totally silly similar goings-on as the Halloween Howl in Carl Schurz Park on October 20th, and the excellent Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade on the 26th, which our friends at Used York City are also excited about. Other first-rate Halloween fun for kids include:

  • The Haunted High Line (complete with Ghost Train) on the 26th.
  • The month-long Boo at the Zoo festival up in the Bronx.
  • Trick-or-treating inside the Museum of Natural History on October 31st.
  • The Screamin' Green Halloween party at the Winter Garden in Battery Park City on the 27th.

If your focus this year is on candy, the invaluable Mommy Poppins has a terrific guide to the best blocks to bring the kids trick-or-treating in neighborhoods all over the city. 

Image from NYC's Halloween dog costume parade of a pug dressed up in a big dress with microphones sitting in front of it

Haunted Houses of New York

Haunted Houses have gotten unbelievably elaborate, gory, terrifying, R-rated, popular, AND expensive over the years, and though I don't have a personal recommendation as to which ones are the best, I trust the folks at Gothamist , who came up with an awesome list. TimeOut NY also offers some suggestions as to where to get your freak on (so to speak) in this category. For out-of-town Halloween adventures, there's the Haunted Hayride at Headless Horseman in Ulster, New York, running through November 2; the Ghost Ship on the Hudson, which launches out of Poughkeepsie; and the Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze, at Croton-on-Hudson's Van Cortlandt Manor, which uses some 5,000 hand-carved pumpkins to create a magical, strollable Halloween wonderland.

One large carved Halloween pumpkin fixed up to look like it is chewing a smaller pumpkin

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