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American Museum of Natural History Halloween Sleepover (Photo: AMNH)

11 Best Things to Do in New York for Halloween

From the city's storied Halloween parade to a sleepover at one of its most fascinating museums, check out our favorite ways to get into the spirit in the city

It’s time to get thinking about Halloween costumes. Across New York City, events open the door to showcase your creativity with costumes for your kids, your pets, and yourself too. From rowdy parades and nightclubs to educational events for kids, this Halloween has something for everyone — costumes encouraged, but not always required.

 

Greenwich Village Halloween Parade

Greenwich Village Halloween Parade (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Village Halloween Parade
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Village Halloween Parade, an annual showcase of devilish fun scheduled for Oct. 31 at 7pm.  You can watch anywhere along the Sixth Avenue parade route from Spring to 16th streets, but if you’re in costume you can also take to the avenue yourself and march along with puppets, dancers, bands, artists and the crazies. The 2012 parade was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, and this year’s celebration will only happen if its $50,000 Kickstarter campaign is fully funded by Oct. 21 (at publication, it was $7,774 short of its goal). No tickets are required for the free event, but to walk, show up at Sixth Avenue, south of Spring Street and north of Canal from 6:30 to 8:30pm. halloween-nyc.com

 

Webster Hell

Webster Hell (Photo: Courtesy of Webster Hall)

Webster Hell
Webster Hall is the official after-party of the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. After you’ve strutted your stuff along Sixth Avenue, keep the Halloween party going all night long at this legendary nightlife venue. Starting at 8pm Halloween night, all four floors of Webster Hall are transformed into a spooky den of dancing and fire-wielding performers. A huge cash prize of $5,000 will be awarded for the best costume — sexy, scary, or anything in between. The $40 general admission tickets are available online with VIP table packages varying in price depending on bottle service and location within the venue. 125 E. 11th St.; 212-353-1600; websterhall.com/halloween

 

Children's Fall Festival/Haunted House

Children’s Fall Festival/Haunted House (Photo: Courtesy of Queens County Farm Museum)

Children’s Fall Festival/Haunted House
If you’re looking for more wholesome autumn-themed fun, head to the Queens County Farm Museum for its Children’s Fall Festival on Oct. 27, from 11am to 4pm. It includes fun for children of all ages, including a petting zoo, pony rides and games. Kids can wear their Halloween costumes for this festival. The museum is also hosting a Haunted House on Oct. 25-27, from 4pm to 7pm. This spooky encounter is appropriate for kids age 4 through 12, and each evening will also include hay rides and mulled cider. Fall festival admission is $5 with extra fees for animal feeding, pony rides, hayrides, haunted house tours and the Amazing Maize Maze. 73-50 Little Neck Parkway; 718-347-3276; queensfarm.org/events.html

 

Haunted High Line Halloween

Haunted High Line Halloween (Photo: Courtesy of the High Line)

Haunted High Line Halloween
For the fourth year in a row, the High Line will be transformed into the best trick-or-treating destination on the west side. On Oct. 26, from 11am to 3pm, an afternoon Halloween celebration is planned, including music, art and one spooky haunted train tunnel. A big “ghost train” created by local schoolchildren is the background for Halloween photos of kids in costume. This event is spread throughout the High Line Park between W. 14th and W. 17th streets. Free. High Line Park, Tenth Avenue and 14th Street; 212-206-9922; nycgovparks.org/events/2013/10/26/haunted-high-line-halloween

 

Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade

Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade
For 23 years, an important part of the Halloween celebrations in the East Village has been the annual dog parade in Tompkins Square Park. On Oct. 26 at 12 noon, locals from the East Village and dog lovers from all over the city will dress up their pups and compete for the many prizes on offer for dogs in costumes. This event, held in the Tompkins Square Dog Run, is perfect if you’d rather showcase your creativity by dressing up your pooch than donning a costume yourself. Free. Tompkins Square Dog Run, E. Ninth Street between Ave. A and Ave. B; no phone; facebook.com/pages/Tompkins-Square-Halloween-Dog-Parade/132001436897326

 

Blood Manor

Blood Manor (Photo: Courtesy of Blood Manor)

Blood Manor
Often called the best haunted house in New York City, Blood Manor returns in 2013 for another year of creepy fun through Nov. 2. This experience includes almost 5,000 square feet of labyrinth hallways, themed rooms and “actors” in spooky, fake blood-covered costumes. It is recommended only for those 14 or older and is designed as a seriously scary experience — get ready to scream. Groups of six people at a time go through, on foot, for the 20 to 25 minute experience. Tickets are $30 and up, plus $3.50 handling fee online. 163 Varick St.; 212-290-2825; bloodmanor.com

 

Ghost Tour Wall Street Walks

Ghost Tour Wall Street Walks (Photo: jwbenwell/Flickr CC)

Ghost Tour Wall Street Walks
There’s much more to the Financial District than just Wall Street. This historical neighborhood of lower Manhattan has a storied past and, some say, is home to many ghosts. Sign up for the Ghost Tour Wall Street Walks  tourto hear these tales from an experienced guide, leading you along through haunted cemeteries, dark alleys and sites made famous as the backdrop of movies, such as Batman. This 90-minute tour brings history alive by exploring a diverse district of the city on foot. Tickets from $22. Meeting point on Wall Street; 212-209-3370; newyork.com/tours/ghost-tour-wall-street-walks/

 

Central Park Pumpkin Fest

Central Park Pumpkin Fest (Photo: jaydensonbx/Flickr CC)

Central Park Pumpkin Fest
Central Park hosts the yearly rain-or-shine Pumpkin Fest, a celebration of the autumn harvest, at its Bandshell. This year’s free festivities happen on Oct. 26 from 11am to 3pm and encompass pumpkin decorating, pumpkin carving, live entertainment and a farmers market. Kids will also get to take home a free sugar pumpkin from the pumpkin patch (while supplies last). Another highlight of this festival is a haunted house located in Bethesda Terrace, full of zombies on both Saturday afternoon and Friday evening from 4pm to 7pm. Free. Central Park Bandshell (enter park at 72nd Street); no phone; nycgovparks.org/highlights/festivals/pumpkin-festival

 

American Museum of Natural History Halloween Sleepover

American Museum of Natural History Halloween Sleepover (Photo: Courtesy of the AMNH)

American Museum of Natural History Halloween Sleepover
For kids, the best Halloween experience in New York City might be the annual Halloween Sleepover at the American Museum of Natural History. For the sixth year in a row, kids age 6 to 13 will be welcomed into the museum after hours (with their caregivers) for a Halloween-themed night of fun on Oct. 25 from 6pm to 9am. Costume contests, trick-or-treating, and spooky snacks are all planned against the backdrop of one of New York’s most fascinating museums. Kids are encouraged to wear costumes inspired by the museum, and don’t forget your sleeping bags. Tickets are $145 per person; advance registration required online or by phone. Central Park West at 79th Street; get tickets

 

Bronx Zoo Boo at the Zoo

Bronx Zoo Boo at the Zoo (Photo: Courtesy of the Bronx Zoo)

Bronx Zoo Boo at the Zoo
The Bronx Zoo celebrates Halloween all month long, with weekend activities scheduled through Nov. 3. With the theme of “Dragons and Dinosaurs,” you’ll want to check out the zoo’s collection of creepy animals (bats, owls, vultures and Komodo dragons) before hitting the hay mazes, costume parades, magic performances and musical theater. From creepy craft workshops to the curiously named “museum of unnatural mysteries,” the Bronx Zoo has developed an entertaining, yet educational approach to celebrating Halloween. Purchase tickets online to save 10 percent on admission. Full-experience adult with discount $30.56, children $21.56, seniors $26.06. 2300 Southern Blvd.; get tickets to the Bronx Zoo

 

Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Ghouls and Gourds

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Ghouls and Gourds (Photo: Jean-Marc Grambert/Brooklyn Botanic Garden)

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Ghouls and Gourds
Space Kitties, a heavy metal band made up of middle schoolers and a flying flea circus: This is not your ordinary family-friendly Halloween party. Indeed the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s yearly Ghouls and Gourds event, this year on Oct. 26 from 12pm to 5:30pm, always has more than a few surprises up its sleeve. For bookish pursuits, head to the children’s Book Barn, which hosts a slew of Brooklyn-based authors and illustrators (Stephen Savage of Where’s Walrus, Melanie Hope Greenberg of Supermarket and Down in the Subway), and you’ll also find more traditional pursuits like pumpkin carving. Did we mention the giant puppet parade? Adults $15; students 12 and up $12; kids under 12 free. 455 Flatbush Ave.; 718-623-7200; bbg.org/press/ghouls_and_gourds

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