Why wait until the actual day to celebrate one of the best — no, the best in my book — holidays of the year? Besides the bonuses of getting more mileage out of costumes and having extra excuses to indulge in sweets, Halloween festivities are a treat any day. If you agree, there are loads of ways to get into the spooky spirit during the days leading up to the grand event. From skeletons at the museum to creepy train rides through the woods to costume concerts and dance parties to jack-o-lanterns on the farm, these local events will have Halloween-goers screaming for more.
Boo at the Zoo
Where: National Zoo
When: October 21-23, 5:30-8:30pm
Admission: $20/members, $30/non-members (note: Saturday is sold out)
This annual event is the wildest trick-or-treat in town. Kids ages 2 – 12 can get costumed up for after-hours Halloween fun at the Zoo. Get ready for tasty candy, delicious snack foods, and other goodies from more than 40 treat stations. Plus, animal encounters, keeper talks, and festive decorations are yours to enjoy. And this year Boo guests get to take home a complimentary reusable treat bag. Boo at the Zoo takes place rain or shine.
Halloween at the Medical Museum: Serious Fun with Skulls
Where: National Museum of Health and Medicine
When: October 22, 10:30am – 12:30pm
The National Museum of Health and Medicine invites little ghouls and their families to get into the Halloween spirit by learning about skulls. The theme of the program is Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a holiday that celebrates the human cycle of life and death. Learn about the traditions associated with Día de los Muertos by decorating your own sugar skull (for 1st graders and up); participate in story time with books about Day of the Dead and skeletons; make your own skull mask; and more. Halloween costumes are welcome! The National Museum of Health and Medicine is now located at 2500 Linden Lane in Silver Spring, just outside of the Fort Detrick-Forest Glen Annex. A designated visitor parking lot is located off Linden Lane in front of the Museum (do not enter the Annex gates). Adult visitors will need to present photo ID upon entry to the Museum.
“Eye Spy” Halloween Train
Where: Cabin John Regional Park
When: October 20-23, October 27-30 (see schedule for times)
Admission: $6/person, $5 with canned food donation, free for kids 2 and under
Hop on board the Halloween! Cabin John’s “Eye Spy” features just enough “boo” power for kids age 8 and under. Along the ride through the woods on the train, kids can try to find Halloween friends hiding along the way and mark them off their “Eye Spy” game cards that they receive with admission. Guests can also enjoy Halloween movies every night, face painting on Saturdays and Sundays, and light refreshments for sale.
Haunted Train & Creepy Carousel
Where: Wheaton Regional Park
When: October 20-23, October 27-30 (see schedule for times)
Admission: $6/person, $5 with canned food donation
Wheaton Regional Park’s Haunted Train and Creepy Carousel are back and scarier than ever! This annual Halloween attraction is designed for people 8 years old and above, because they do their best to make it VERY SCARY (and this is the website description, so take their word for it). Admission includes one ride each on the train and carousel, plus entrance to the Hall of Jack o’ Lanterns movie theater presenting scary films every night.
BooStravaganza and Hardly Haunted Hayrides
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park
When: October 28, 5:30-8:30pm & October 29, 12-6:30pm
Admission: $8/child on 10/28, $5/child on 10/29
Make reservations for BooStravaganza on Friday, where children ages 2-8 can dress in their favorite costumes and enjoy fun, games, and a wagon ride. They’ll finish the evening with treats and a small pumpkin. On Saturday, kids of all ages can take Hardly Haunted Hayrides along with other farm fun. Reservation are recommended.
BB2 BOO – Boogie Babes Halloween Happy Hour
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: October 26, 5:15-6:30pm doors open at 5pm
The Boogie Babes are growing up with BB2, musical get-togethers that are cool for older kids, too. They’re kicking off the fun with a Halloween dance party. Kid and parents are invited to come in costume for entertainment, light snacks, and photos taken by Maya’s Eye Photography. Adult beverages will also be available for purchase. An RSVP is appreciated, though not required: email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Halloween Harvest Family Special
Where: Discovery Theater
When: October 27-28 10:15am & 11:30am, October 29, 11am & 1pm
Admission: $12/adults, $10/ages 2 and up, $3/children under 2, $10/resident members
Dress up in a costume and join Oran (“Chef FONZ” and “Professor Wingnut Wants to Fly”) Sandel at the Discovery Theater pumpkin patch for songs, games, and more. He’ll spin an American Indian harvest story; guests will look inside Mr. Jack O’ Lantern (what really makes him tick?) and create a pumpkin face for Discovery Theater. Bring in YOUR design, and they’ll post it on their Facebook page. On Saturday, 10/29, be sure to stop by the Ripley concourse for Discovery Theater’s First Annual Harvest Halloween Festival from 11am-2pm, where families will find lots of fabulous fall fun together.
Halloween Monster Jump
Where: Pump It Up in Lanham, Md
When: October 28-31, various times (See below)
Admission: $13/child, $5/adult
Halloween is simply spook-tacular when you’re at a bouncing, laughing, sliding, howling, so don a costume and jump on over to Pump It Up for freaky fun and frightening food. There will be a prize for best costume and a chance to win a free birthday party. For guest safety, costumes may not include: masks, jewelry, capes or other hanging items, or heavy make-up , and 100% polyester is strictly prohibited. Must include socks. Halloween Monster Jumps will take place at the following times: 10/28 6-8pm & 8-10pm, 10/29 8:30pm-10:30pm,,10/30 is TBD, 10/31 6-8pm & 7:45pm-9:45pm. The admission fee includes 2 slices of pizza and a drink, plus goodies for everyone.
Glow Night – A Magical Evening on the Farm
Where: Great Country Farms
When: October 28-29, 6-9pm
Admission: $10/child, $12/adult, free for ages 2 and under
See a spectacular display of over 2000 lighted jack-o-lanterns carved by local school children. The magical moment when they cut the lights (7pm) will take your breath away. Bring your carved Jack-o-lantern to enter in a carving competitions — Jack-o-lanterns are judged for Best in Glow, Scariest and Funniest. Along with the light show, warm yourself by the bonfire, roast some marshmallows, and enjoy apple cider.
Haunted Halloween Pop-Ups
Where: National Building Museum
When: October 29, 10am-12pm
Admission: $10/members, $15/non-members, adults are free
Celebrate the spirit of Halloween as you design your very own pop-up haunted house. Learn the pop-up architecture technique from guest artist Carol Barton. Decorate a spooky haunted house scene to take place on your window sill. Fun for the whole family, the festivities include crafts, treats, and ghosts stories (more silly than spooky!) about the Museum. Recommended for ages 6 and up. Prepaid registration required. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
Trick or Treat with the Boutiques
Where: Old Town Boutique District in Alexandria
When: October 29 during store hours
Bring your ghosts and goblins for a day of trick or treat in the Old Town Boutique District. The OTBD’s annual Trick or Treat with the Boutiques event is a great way for families to enjoy a safe and fun Halloween day in Old Town Alexandria. All of the participating OTBD stores will offer treats. Some may also offer family friendly tricks. Halloween costumes are encouraged. Tricks and treats will be available during the day and during store hours.
Halloween Fun with the Jimmies
Where: National Geographic
When: October 29, 1pm
Admission: $16/adults, $12/kids 12 and under, $40/family four-pack
“Gimme Jimmies” is the rallying cry of this NYC-based kindie rock band, a Parents’ Choice award winner whose clever, creative music gets kids rocking. The heavy guitar groove hooks in parents as well. Dress in your Halloween costume—maybe a lion, leopard, or tiger, to support NG’s Big Cats Initiative—and get ready to rock-and-roll.
Halloween Festivities in Penn Quarter
Where: MLK, Jr Memorial Library, 8th Street NW, & Calvary Baptist Church
When: October 29, 2-6pm
Save the date for an afternoon of fun Halloween festivities for families of boooys and ghouls living in Penn Quarter and the surrounding DC area. From 2-4pm, costumed children can enjoy Halloween story time, light refreshments, and trick-or-treating throughout the Library. After that, join a costume Parade for a Playground as kids make their way to Calvary Baptist Church for a Creepy Crawly Fun Filled Halloween Party from 4-6pm, where there will be crafts, treats, a costume contest with prizes, a creepy guessing game, a dance party, and a moon bounce.
Where: College Park Aviation Museum
When: October 29, 12-4pm
Admission: $4/adults, $3/seniors, $2/ages 2-18, free for under 2
Wear your costume and enjoy the fun, fall-themed activities. There will be a costume contest and pumpkin bowling. Arts, crafts, hayrides, and spooky fun are waiting for kids and families.
Air and Scare
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air & Space Museum
When: October 29, 2-8pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15 until 7pm
Discover the spooky side of air and space at the Udvar-Hazy Center’s 7th Annual Air & Scare! Arrive in costume for safe indoor trick-or-treating. Participate in creepy crafts, spooky science experiments, and other Halloween-themed activities. Bring the tiniest visitors by the Tot Zone to play dress-up and hear a story. Don’t forget to stop by the face painting station or pose for a photo with your favorite Star Wars character!
Crime Museum Halloween Kids & Candy
Where: National Museum of Crime & Punishment
When: October 30, 1-6pm
Admission: $10/costumes child, $10/adults accompanying children
Batman, Wonder Woman, police officers, and all other costumed characters can enjoy a day of Halloween fun at this Penn Quarter museum. Festivities include a regular museum tour, Police Academy Jr. Activity Sheet, McGruff the Crime Dog appearances, finger print identification cards, candy, and more.
Where: George Washington University
When: October 30, 11am – 3pm
GWU is hosting this event for families to celebrate Halloween in a safe environment. The festival will include activity booths, where kids can play games and complete arts and crafts projects; a trick-or-treating route through a Residence Hall; and a Witch’s Kitchen. Costumes are encouraged, but not required. Kidsfest will take place in the Hippodrome on the 5th floor of the Marvin Center located at 800 21st NW.
Historic Halloween Spooktacular: Trick or Treat at Tudor Place
Where: Tudor Place
When: October 31, 3-6pm
Admission: Members are free, $7/children, $3/non-member adults
Children don their Halloween costumes to trick or treat through Tudor Places enchanting gardens. The fun continues as children of all ages create tasty Halloween treats to take home. Register online.
Where: 7th Street SE in front of Eastern Market
When: October 31, 5:30-7:30pm
Capitol Hill’s annual event is legendary for little ones. The block of 7th Street SE next to Eastern Market will be closed to traffic for one of the best community Halloween celebrations in the city. Hayrides, moon bounces, goody giveaways, and even a mini carousel will add to the excitement. The best part is seeing the masses of jubilant kids in all kinds of costumes indulging in the neighborhood extravaganza.
Where: International Spy Museum
When: October 1-31
Admission: Take $5 off these fees with a disguise – $18/ages 12 and up, $15/ages 5-11
Celebrate Halloween at the Spy Museum all month long. When you wear the right disguise, you get $5 off the regular admission price. Go covert October 17-23 with a pair of glasses, and don a moustache from October 23-31. And if you’re looking for help with a Halloween costume, there will also be a disguise/makeup event in the Spy Museum Store on Saturday, October 29th, from 12-7pm.
16 Responses to Get the Halloween Party Started
This is awesome – I don’t know how we’ll decide!
Thanks! Will look forward to finding out on your blog what you end up doing. 🙂
wonderful list! I had no idea there were this many options! I added it to my fall list (hope that’s okay)!
Thanks, Darcy! Of course it’s okay, honored to be included in your awesome fall list.
This is a great list!
We have a couple of additional free Halloween Festivities in Penn Quarter on Saturday, October 29th!
Thanks, Caroline! Got the Penn Quarter Festivities covered – they sound like a lot of fun.
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We will be visiting DC on business from 10/27 to 11/1 and will be bringing our son (2 years old) with us. We are staying at the Gaylord National Resort and wonder where the best place to take my son Trick or Treating might be? Halloween is one his favorite holidays, and he is so excited about wearing his costume, so we want to find a way to make it special.
Browsing through the web I found this list but since I am not from the area, I have no idea how close/far this activities are from the hotel. So far we don’t have plans for renting a car, just to use the metro, taxi or hotel shuttle.
This list sounds like a lot of fun and for locals must be hard to decide what to do on Halloween. I am wondering if you can help recommending me some Halloween activities, somehow, close from the hotel I mentioned?
I also found some information about Halloween on Lee Street in Old Town Alexandria but it was posted in 2009 so I am not sure if this year they are having all the activities the hay 2 years ago http://gwslepthere.com/2009/10/31/halloween-on-lee-street-in-old-town-alexandria-2009/
And I also found some information about Halloween at Eastern Market. http://www.whatsoncity.net/activities/Default.asp…
Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Hi Monica – You have a several trick-or-treating options for your son, both on Halloween and over this weekend. On Saturday, you can Trick or Treat with the Boutiques in Old Town Alexandria (see details above), which is just across the river from National Harbor. You can actually make an adventure of getting there and go via water taxi (more info here: http://wp.me/pPfjF-TL). There are also events on Saturday at GW University and at the MLK Library in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of DC (again, details on both are above). Both are easily accessible via Metro – take the orange/blue line to Foggy Bottom for GW, and yellow/green or red lines to Gallery Place for Penn Quarter. On Halloween, both Pentagon City & Ballston Common Malls will have trick-or-treating, and Hilloween (details above) will take place at EasternMarket on Capitol Hill. There are fun activities for young children there, but I have to warn that it does get very crowded. Afterward, trick-or-treaters flock to East Capitol Street, where many houses go all out for the holiday. I’d also suggest checking out Go Out & Play! (http://arlingtonmama.com/) this weekend – it focuses on Northern Virginia and will likely have more ideas for activities closer to you.
Hope this all helps. Have fun and happy Halloween!
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Goodness, the list is amazing! Thank you so much! I have small children, so it helps to know where I can take them to enjoy Halloween and still be safe.
Thanks for this list, exactly what we were looking for. Much appreciated!
Anyone out there have scoop on the traffic situation out to Air & Scare. Other sites have warnings about hour long waits on rte 28. it sounds like fun, but not THAT much fun 🙂
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