Halloween may still be weeks away, but its spirit has been pervading for awhile. Mostly in the form of costume catalogs sliding through the mail slot, but also with cobweb covered front yards and, of course, hauntingly endless conversations with the kids about what/who to dress as this year. And we can take that even further with activities and events that celebrate the spirit, some starting as soon as this weekend. Here’s where the treats, tricks, scares, and kicks will be happening, listed in order of start date. Be sure to note that even though some may be weeks away, you can get your tickets now, and some require advance registration. And if there’s anything good that I’ve missed, feel free to mention it in the comments.
“Eye Spy” Halloween Train
Where: Cabin John Regional Park
When: October 6-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-31
Admission: $6/person, $5 with canned food donation, free for kids 2 and under
Hop on board the Halloween Train! 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. The train runs 3-pm on weekdays and 1-8pm on weekends.
Haunted Train & Creepy Carousel
Where: Wheaton Regional Park
When: October 6-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-31
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 best for guests ages 8 and up, 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. The train runs 6-9pm each night.
Where: Kings Dominion
When: Weekends October 6-28, 12-5pm
Admission: Free with park admission
It’s frightful fun for little ones at the Virginia amusement park with all sorts of treats at daytime during Howl-O-Fest’s Boo Blast. Families can enjoy a Halloween treasure hunt, foam pit, pumpkin painting and more! Kings Dominion is located in Doswell, about 90 minutes from DC. Admission to the park starts at $37.99 and you can usually find discounts online.
Nightmare Screamplex Family Night
Where: Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md
When: October 7 & November 2, 5-9pm
Family Night at the haunted venue is a fun and interactive Halloween experience suitable for all ages. Kids going through the haunt will be given magical rings that ward off all forms of ghosts and monsters in case they get too scared. The show will be a “lights on” tour, but guests are welcome to bring flashlights. And on Family Nights only, regular admission gives you free access to tons of games and activities. Certifikid currently has a $12 admission deal.
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park
When: October 18, 6-8pm
Children ages 3-8 are invited to come to the Indoor Arena Barn dressed in their favorite costumes anytime between from 6-8pm. Enjoy fun, games, and a wagon ride. Finish the evening with treats and a small pumpkin. Reservations are required, and space is limited, so go here to sign up (use code #2824862701).
Dia de los Muertos
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: October 20-21
Some consider Day of the Dead the native version of Halloween. At the museum, follow the monarch butterflies home and celebrate the return of the ancestors at the museum’s annual Dia de los Muertos program. This colorful celebration of life includes food demonstrations by the museum’s Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe and a cultural presentation by La Danza de los Tecuanes. Learn how papel picado, sugar skulls and paper mache figures are created.
Operation Undercover: Secrets of Disguise Workshop
Where: International Spy Museum
When: October 20, 10am – 12:30pm
Ditch your Halloween costume and change your whole identity! Go deep undercover for a mission too secret to divulge in print. The intricacies of creating a cover identity complete with “pocket litter,” documentation, and disguise will be shared in this workshop where recruits will be transformed—you’ll learn to look like a different person, and think like one too. A cadre of professional make-up artists, hair stylists, and spy experts will be on hand as recruits prepare to take on the ultimate challenge: a mission to retrieve top secret intelligence while undercover. Will your cover be blown? Will your disguise withstand the test? For kids ages 8-11.
lil omm Halloween Party
Where: lil omm Yoga Studio
When: October 25, 3:15-4pm
Put the BOO into Buddha! Tenley/Friendship children’s librarian Katie Fitzgerald and lil omm’s Pleasance Silicki invite you to a ghoulish good story time and Halloween inspired yoga. Come wearing costumes and get special treat. This free event is for families with children up to 5 years old.
Boo at the Zoo
Where: National Zoo
When: October 26-28, 5:30-8:30pm
Admission: $20/members, $30/non-members
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. Boo at the Zoo takes place rain or shine. Buy tickets through Ticketmaster or in the Zoo’s gift shop between 9am and 4:30pm.
Glow Night – A Magical Evening on the Farm
Where: Great Country Farms
When: October 26-27
Admission: $10/child, $12/adult, free for ages 2 and under
See a spectacular display of over 3,000 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. The farm is open daily 9am – 9pm.
Air and Scare
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air & Space Museum
When: October 27, 2-8pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15 until 7pm
Discover the spooky side of air and space at the Udvar-Hazy Center’s 8th 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. Be sure to pose for a photo with your favorite Star Wars character!
Where: College Park Aviation Museum
When: October 27, 12-4pm
Admission: $4/adults, $3/seniors, $2/ages 2-18, free for under 2
Wear your costume and enjoy fun fall themed activities. Explore the museum’s gallery and all of its hidden haunts. Arts, crafts, hayrides, and spooky fun are waiting for kids and families.
Glen Echo Fall Frolic
Where: Glen Echo Park
When: October 27, 1-4pm
Admission: Free, but small cost for some activities
It’s a safe and fun Halloween event with something for everyone! Explore the arts through hands-on crafts, Halloween activities, and performances at Glen Echo’s annual celebration. There will be pumpkin decorating and face painting ($1 fee for pumpkin; $1-2 for face painting) and other craft activities, including decorating trick-or-treat bags to use in the Park. Don’t miss the Pumpkin Promenade, a simple maze that children may walk through to pick up special prizes.
Where: Market Common Clarendon
When: October 27, 10am – 2pm
It’s a day of fall fun at the shopping center, including trick or treating, a costume parade (for people and pets), a Rocknoceros performance, a petting zoo, face painting, a kids circus, strolling entertainment, balloon creations and much more. Visit the website for the schedule of festivities.
The Spooky Magic of Joe Romero
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts
When: October 27, 1pm
BlackRock celebrates the Halloween season with Joe Romano providing tricks that are a real treat. This skilled and exciting magician will perform jaw-dropping illusions for the whole family. Joe will float on a broom, turn a child into Harry Potter, make a friendly ghost appear, and more! Go early to join the free pre-show party, with arts & craft and a snack. The one-hour performance is recommended for children ages 4 and up.
Halloween Monster Jump
Where: Pump It Up in Lanham, Md
When: October 27, 29, & 31, various times (See below)
Admission: $13/child, $5/adult
Calling all witches, goblins, princesses and superheroes ages 2 and up! You are invited to join Pump It Up in Lanham, Md, for their 4th Annual Pump It Up Monster Jump! Dress in costume for Halloween Jumping. (No makeup, swords or sharp objects allowed). The admission fee includes jumping, goodie bags, fun games, prizes, and more. Jump times are 7:30-9:30pm on 10/27, 5-7pm on 10/29, and 7-9pm on 10/31.
Where: DC National Aquarium
When: October 27, 12-4pm
Admission: $9.95/ages 11 and up, $4.95/ages 3-11, free for 2 and under
Ahoy! There be pirates at the National Aquarium! Enjoy live music from a real band of swashbucklers as Pirates for Sail sets the mood for the Hallowmarine celebration. Plus, participate in fun activities like face painting and a costume contest for kids; explore the mysteries lurking in our waters with a spooky scavenger hunt; and put your knowledge of animals to the test to win prizes.
Trick or Treat with the Boutiques
Where: Old Town Boutique District in Alexandria
When: October 27 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, and some may also offer family-friendly tricks. Halloween costumes are encouraged. Tricks and treats will be available during the day and during store hours.
Haunted… Chocolate House Workshop & Tea
Where: Tudor Place
When: October 27, 1-2:30pm
Admission: $20/members, $25/no-members, $7/accompanying adults
How do you build a chocolate house? Start with some tea – early America’s favorite pick-me-up – accompanied by lovely sandwiches, snacks and sweets and a costumed interpreter full of stories about tea-drinking history and lore. Next, out come delicious ingredients for your individual “haunted home-building” project (one per child), and you will learn how to construct your own three-dimensional chocolate house, decorated with edible wonders.
Westfield Family Spooktacular
Where: Westfield Wheaton Mall
When: October 27
Have a wicked good time at Westfield Wheaton this Halloween season! Join the Westfield Family for some safe exciting fun as they host the annual Family Spooktacular event. Stores throughout the mall will provide treats for all of the ghouls and goblins that attend, so be sure to wear your costume. In addition to a safe trick-or-treating experience around the mall, there will be tons of free activities for families and children of all ages to enjoy, including arts & crafts and more.
NSO Halloween Spooktacular
Where: Kennedy Center
When: October 28
Is it ever cool to “boo” the orchestra? It is on Halloween! And during their Halloween Spooktacular, NSO musicians dressed up as ghosts, ghouls, and goblins just might peek out from behind their instruments to go “BOO” back at you! Go early outfitted in your spookiest ‘ween wear for pre-concert trick-or-treating and a special Haunted Hall Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo.” Recommended for ages 5 and up.
Haunted Halloween Pop-Ups
Where: National Building Museum
When: October 28, 1-3pm
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.
Crime Museum Halloween – Just for Kids!
Where: National Museum of Crime & Punishment
When: October 28, 1-5pm
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.
Halloween Party Smiles for Shira
Where: Potomac Community Center
When: October 28, 3-4:30pm
Dress up in costumes and have some fun…it’s Halloween time, everyone! Join Mamas Link and Mizmarni and the JJs for a crazy party and concert featuring a special musical performance, sweet treats, costume photos, interactive games and activities, a parade and more. Proceeds from this fun for the whole family benefit the Smiles for Shira Foundation.
The Great Zucchini’s Halloween Party
Where: Discovery Theater
When: October 30-31, 10:15am & 11:30am
You’ve heard of the Great Pumpkin. Now meet the Great Zucchini, a vegetable of a very different color—and one of the area’s most entertaining and in-demand kids’ magicians and comedians. There’s a yummy mix of amazing feats, interactive fun, and plenty of laughs waiting in his bag of Halloween tricks. Come in costume!
Where: 7th Street SE in front of Eastern Market
When: October 31, 5:30-7:30pm
Capitol Hill’s annual event is a legendary neighborhood event 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 add to the excitement. The best part is seeing the masses of jubilant kids in all kinds of costumes indulging in the extravaganza.