As holidays in New York City go, few rival the scope of Halloween. Our 2019 Halloween Fun Guide overflows with parades, FREE fun, and trick-or-treating spots in each of the five boroughs, and Thursday, October 31 is the main event when kids score all the candy a parent can responsibly "test" once young trick or treaters have collapsed at bedtime.
Some things are certain: Both the trick or treating in Tribeca and the Park Slope Civic Council Children's Halloween Parade will be packed with amazing costumes. The annual BAMboo! block party will again treat kids to dancing and bounce-house jumping, and the Gravesend Inn Haunted Hotel will happily scare your tween or teen. But be sure to check out some new fun stuff, too, like the Monster Mash dance party on Myrtle Avenue or the BioBus Afterschool Science Hour in Harlem.
Whatever you decide to do on October 31, arrive early and expect crowds. For the best ways to plan an epic Halloween night with your NYC kids, scroll on. Most of our picks are FREE or inexpensive.
Best Door-to-Door Trick-or-Treating
Trick-or-treating in New York City's Upper West Side neighborhood. Photo by Sagie via Flickr.
Trick or treating at stores or businesses is commonly accepted in New York City, so you don't have to stick to your own building. You can also leave your direct neighborhood for plenty of NYC neighborhoods with informally structured trick or treating. Our comprehensive trick-or-treat post includes specific blocks to hit in all five boroughs. But we've heard particularly great things about:
Chelsea around Seal Park
Harlem around Marcus Garvey Park
69th Street on the Upper West Side
92nd Street on the Upper East Side
Flushing's 166th Street between 45th and 46th Avenues in Queens
Park Slope, Brooklyn
Jackson Heights, Queens
Find all the details and other options in our trick-or-treating post.
Best Costume Parades
The Cobble Hill Park Association hosts a raucous family parade on Halloween. Photo by Eric Newhart
There are also a slew of Halloween parades on October 31—and we're not even including the you-have-to-see-it-once Halloween parade in Greenwich Village, which celebrates its 46th anniversary! These are all kid-friendly neighborhood processions that deposit you into a stationary outdoor bash or in the vicinity of great door-to-door trick-or-treating. Our Halloween parades post features processions in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, but our top parade picks are:
The Hippo Playground Halloween Parade, which marches right after school, where little ones can enjoy cider and doughnuts. FREE
The Cobble Hill Halloween Parade leads into a fabulous trick-or-treat run on Clinton Street, full of brownstones, decorations, and friendly neighbors. FREE
The Jackson Heights Halloween Parade proudly represents Queens as the second-largest Halloween procession in New York City. FREE
The Park Slope Civic Council Children's Halloween Parade, one of the biggest bashes of the night, ends with a party at the Old Stone House and J.J. Byrne Playground. FREE
The Dumboween festivities in downtown Brooklyn include a costume parade, trick-or-treating at local businesses along the waterfront, and more family fun. FREE
Find all the details and other processions in our comprehensive Halloween parades post.
Best Events on Halloween for NYC Kids
BAM in Fort Greene hosts its annual BAMboo! block party outside of the Peter Jay Sharp Building, featuring a DJ, bounce house, art projects, and treats. FREE
If you've got a tween or teen, why not take in the spectacle at the Gravesend Inn Haunted Hotel, a theme-park-quality haunted house put on by the theatrical troupe at City Tech.
Attend the Spooky City Halloween Party at the Museum of the City of New York with mask making and a mildly haunted trick-or-treat and scavenger hunt through the galleries.
Head to Randall's Island Park, in costume, to collect treats, craft masks or treat bags, and pose for pictures with a fall backdrop.
Visit CMOM for its day-long celebration and costume parade through the museum, ending with a dance party.
Celebrate the opening of Bryant Park's Winter Village by trick or treating through its shops, decorating pumpkins, enjoying story time and a monster mash dance party, and plenty more during an afternoon party!
Hop aboard a haunted hay ride in Prospect Park ... if you dare.
Visit the Sugar Hill Museum of Art & Storytelling for a day-long celebration, with spooky stories, costume crafting, and more.
While these are our top picks, there are plenty of other Halloween celebrations set for Thursday, October 31 in our scarily jam-packed Event Calendar.
A version of this post was published in 2017; it is updated annually.