Not all Halloween events are hell-bent on scaring you straight. Sure, we've stocked our list of festive favorites with plenty of frights, but you'll also find bar crawls, Halloween attractions and family-friendly festivals. Watch theaters stage spooky shows or explore the best things to do this fall—thrill-seekers should check out the best haunted houses and real-life haunted places, too. Whatever you're looking for, there's no shortage of worthwhile Halloween events in Los Angeles.
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Halloween events & attractions
History buffs, make your way to the Heritage Square Museum this Halloween. On the first day of their annual two-day event, learn all about death and mourning etiquette during the Victorian era, including how even the intricate details on clothing played a role in showing the loss of a loved one. You'll also get the scoop on the Spiritualism movement, and can have your fortune told, if you dare. Then, take place in a mock funeral held inside one of the museum's historic homes. On the second, more family-friendly day, children can play period games, make 19th-century harvest crafts and listen to (only slightly) spooky ghost stories.
Far from those kid-friendly rides through a pumpkin patch, this hayride unleashes all sorts of demons, and bogeys on Griffith Park. It's an actual hayride—a long one—paired with a "scary-go-round" for wee ones (and 'fraidy cats), a number of scare zones and a pitch-black maze filled with "demons and maniacs," and probably lots of frisky teenagers. This year's theme, "Secret Society," drags attendees through a trail of nightmarish characters, including an on-foot section.
Lucha VaVOOM brings its unique mix of “sexo y violencia” to the Mayan (plus occasional one-off shows elsewhere) with exuberant spectacles throughout the year, including this Halloween performance. See good vs. evil played out in a sinful circus of masked Mexican wrestling, burlesque stripteasing and comedic commentating. Fill up on tequila and tamales while you watch Aztec dancers and luchadores like Li'l Cholo and Crazy Chickens.
This is the largest Halloween street party in the world, and there's really no better place to be on October 31st. Sure, the crowd is huge (like, a half million people huge) and a bit belligerent, but the amazing display of costumes and general merry-making spirit deem it at least a worthy stop, if not your main destination for the evening. There will be dancing, drinking, and many mid-parade costume contests. Even if you don't plan on entering one, it's best to still come dressed to the nines—no one likes a party pooper in jeans and a T-shirt.
The actors of the Guild of St. George present an evening of chilling drama, enacting some of the most haunting tales of Edgar Allen Poe and Edward Gorey, two masters of the macabre. Expect to see "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Tell Tale Heart" (one of our favorites), and more. Arrive early for free cookies and hot cider, dress warmly and be prepared to walk as the vignettes take place across the sprawling Huntington Library grounds.
Spend a night in an Altadena cemetery as you're led across the grounds for three spooky theatrical productions. Wicked Lit stages classic horror stories and invites a limited number of patrons to experience the immersive performances each night. This year's stories include From Beyond, The Shadowy Third and Anansi and the Demons.
The masters of al fresco rooftop movie viewing wrap up their second season atop the Montálban Theatre on Vine with a string of horror movies. For the week leading up to Halloween, you can catch screenings of Ghostbusters, Carrie, Scream, Psycho, Hocus Pocus and Beetlejuice.
Put on a pair of footed pajamas for this adults-only sleepover with DJ sets, scavenger hunts and a breakfast buffet. The evening also includes a lecture on the steamy mating habits of bats, part of this special "Sex and the Species: You Are NOT the Father" Halloween sleepover.
See Danny Elfman step into the role of Jack Skellington for a live performance and screening of The Nightmare Before Christmas at the Hollywood Bowl. The voice behind the Pumpkin King will bring some familiar characters along with him, including original cast members Catherine O’Hara (Sally), Ken Page (Oogie Boogie) and Paul Reubens (Lock).
Tapas and topless are the first orders of business at this spirited dinner theater show at El Cid. Burlesque dancers and comic cabaret singers are backed by a bumpin' live band that plays original music, giving Sultry Sweet the feel of a unified musical; this month's Halloween show is Asylum, a "A Burlesque InsTiTution."
Family-friendly Halloween activities
The LA Zoo's annual Halloween celebration includes a month of spooky tales, puppet shows, pumpkin carving and up-close-and-personal interactions with some of the zoo's creepiest crawlers. Each day you'll find photo ops, a corn stalk maze and a makeover of the creepy crawler-filled caves of the Winnick Family Children's Zoo, while weekends throw in additional shows and workshops. The animals typically get in on the Halloween action, too, with pumpkin or carcass feedings scheduled over the weekends. Show up on October 29 or 30 for trick-or-treating.
Thousands of intricately hand-carved jack-o-lanterns light up the night at this unique all-ages Halloween event. Families can stroll the scenic trail—now located indoors at both the LA Convention Center and Fairplex—and view pumpkins carved with images of celebrities and arranged in the shape of dinosaurs, dragons and other creatures.
Halloween time can be a bit scary for kids—we've all been there—so for a less frightening affair, head to the Farmers Market for their children-friendly Fall Festival: banjo bands, carnival games and a petting zoo are all mainstays at this annual harvest fest. Come in costume and catch a musical performance, explore the always delicious treats at the market or test your appetite with a pie-eating contest from Du-Par’s.
Disneyland's Halloween spirit materializes before you even have time to catch the post-Labor Day blues. Hundreds of lively jack-o-lanterns begin to dot Main Street and a pair of park staples get a festive treatment: Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy and the Tim Burtonized Haunted Mansion Holiday. But only during the separately ticketed Mickey’s Halloween Party can you trick-or-treat around the park and watch the Halloween Screams fireworks show and the Frightfully Fun Parade. The candy and character lines look daunting, but stick around post-fireworks and you'll be scrambling to find more bags to hold all of those sugary treats. Also, the attraction lines are a breeze; wait times rarely top a half hour and many rides are walk-ons. Tickets are on the pricey side, especially closer to Halloween, but it's a surprisingly sufficient bargain when you consider that it comes with free parking and admission to the park three hours before the event starts.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery claims to host the largest Day of the Dead celebration in California, and we wouldn't doubt it: The cemetery grounds are covered with art exhibitions, dance rituals, musical performances, children's arts and crafts projects and food vendors (and crowds) aplenty. You'll see altars to the dead created by community artists, and can either watch or participate in the calaca (skeleton) costume contest. In honor of the fest's 16th anniversary, this year's theme is "the Tree of Life." It's sure to be a spectacular display, as always. And there's something to be said for a Halloween-time event that respects and celebrates the very (and often forgotten) roots of the holiday. The event becomes exceedingly crowded after sunset; we suggest arriving before 4pm if you plan on parking in the adjacent neighborhoods or the Paramount parking structure.
In the eyes of a young, eager trick-or-treater, there’s nothing better than kicking off an enchanted evening with—you guessed it—sugar before dinner. Embrace the candy-loving holiday and bring out the kiddos for a family-friendly Halloween event at the “Maliboo” Country Mart. Take a stroll through the beach town’s outdoor shopping center and trick-or-treat store-to-store in your best costume. With festive décor, piles of pumpkins, candy galore and a children’s costume contest (winner gets $100 gift card), this is one sweet event you don’t want to miss.
While Downtown may not be the easiest place to go when it comes to trick-or-treating, the locals know how to throw a party. The Annual Halloween Party for Downtown LA Kids at Grand Hope Park continues to thrive as parents celebrate the spookiest night of the year with bounce houses, caramel apples and faux trick-or-treat-doors.
Celebrate Halloween with two beloved Disney flicks: Hocus Pocus and Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (complete with 4-D sensory effects). Show up early to each screening to in-house organist Rob Richards accompany the 1929 classic Disney short “The Skeleton Dance” live on the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. You can also call up the theater and arrange for a special "spooktactular" edition of its backstage tour.
Celebrate the 53rd season of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater's Halloween performances with this monthlong lineup of spooky festivities. The puppet theater will be performing "Bob Baker’s Halloween Spooktacular!" through early November and pairing it with screenings, a pumpkin carcing presentation and a costume fanfare.