On Tuesday evening, October 31 an expected 70,000 ghosts, vampires, ghouls, goblins, monsters, and zombie Barbies will hit the streets of Greenwich Village for the annual Village Halloween Parade. Now in its 50th year, the event, which holds the distinction of being the nation’s largest Halloween event, is known for over-the-top creativity that includes lavish costumes, enormous puppets, dancers, and performance artists, and is on the list of “100 Things to Do Before You Die.”
“The Halloween Parade, in its 50th year, is a unique celebration of spirit, creativity, and unity. It continues to inspire young creatives in NYC, bringing them together in a procession of imagination and transformation. Simultaneously, the Parade embraces the true essence of Halloween, where the boundary between the living and the dead is the thinnest, allowing spirits to briefly walk the earth,” said Jeanne Fleming, long-time Director of the Parade in press notes.
The Parade traces its beginnings back to an October evening in 1973, when Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee planned an informal parade costumed walk from house to house on his neighborhood’s streets for his kids and their friends. The first Parade was so popular that by its third year, it had a significantly expanded route and was its own non-profit organization.
In its half-century, the Parade has won an Obie Award and was awarded a major grant from The National Endowment for the Arts for Lifetime Achievement. Picked by Festivals International as “The Best Event in the World” for October 31, the Parade was the first major New York City event to take place in 2021 after Covid restrictions were listed.
When is the Parade?
On Tuesday, October 31 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
This Year’s Theme
According to organizers, the Parade’s theme this year will be “Upside Down/Inside OUT,” reflecting on our return to a “new normalcy” after the 2020 pandemic.
“While many spent the lockdown INSIDE, the Parade celebrates the freedom of coming OUT,” Parade organizers say. “But as who we are NOW upon reemergence in a whole new world.”
Carrying on the Tradition of Grand Marshal
This year, revelers will truly walk on the wild side as this year’s Parade will honor the life of rocker Lou Reed, who died ten years ago on October 27. Reed’s song “Halloween Parade” has become an anthem of the Parade over the years. Marching in his stead will be his widow, musician, and avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson.
“The Marshal role is intended to honor the late Velvet Underground musician who will be present through his music performed by Stewart Hurdman on Lous Reed’s very own guitars,” organizers say. Past marshals have included Kiss frontman Gene Simmons, TV’s Kelly Ripa, EGOT-recipient Whoopi Goldberg, and even Audrey 2, the giant man-eating plant puppet from the musical “Little Shop of Horrors.”
Who Can March in the Parade?
Anyone wearing a costume. Just show up at Sixth Avenue at Canal Street between 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Remember, this is the largest public participatory event in the greatest city in the world. There are going to be a lot of people. If you’re going with friends, it’s best to arrive together rather than try finding each other on site. For detailed information and advice on how to line up for the Parade, visit the Village Halloween Parade website.
Where Can You Watch the Parade?
The Parade is broadcast live every year on local news channel NY1. But if you really want to get in on the fun, make the trip down to the West Village and check it out in person.
This year’s route goes up Sixth Avenue from Canal Street to 14th. And with two million spectators expected, things can get a little crowded. We recommend catching the Parade earlier in its route. You’ll have an easier time taking the C or E train at Spring Street to and from the Parade than working your way through the crowds further uptown.
Who doesn’t love to skip the line for crowded events? Parade organizers know this. That’s why they’ve put together several VIP packages that allow marchers to enter the Parade quicker, and give spectators a prime view near the telecast. All VIP packages come with tickets to this year’s after-party at Webster Hall.
For more information on how to purchase this year’s VIP experience, visit the Village Halloween Parade website.