This week's Halloween events in NYC get families into the holiday mood with plenty of haunted houses, pumpkin carving and thrilling film screenings. Plus, with tons of alfresco happenings it's the perfect weekend to take your revelries outdoors—head to a harvest festival or check out the eerie transformations underway at the city's zoos and botanical gardens (and the aquarium, too!).
The Haunted Pumpkin Garden
Get a spooky fix in this scary patch, where frightening spirits lurk in between the gourds. Kids can play in the Pumpkin House, stage a show in the Pumpkin Puppet Theater, dissect owl pellets, collect fallen fruits and leaves, and get some extra mileage out of their costumes at a daily parade. Meanwhile, older kids learn the tricks of pumpkin carving from the masters and pot buckwheat seeds to grow at home. Tue Oct 16—Sun Oct 21 10am—6pm. New York Botanical Garden. Free with all-garden pass. All ages.
Hansel and Gretel's Halloween Adventure
In this spinoff of the classic fairy tale, the brother and sister duo find themselves in New York City on Halloween night, where they meet mermaids, monsters and more as they explore Central Park and Belvedere Castle. The production features handmade marionettes by the master puppetmakers of the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre. Tue Oct 16, Thu Oct 18, Fri Oct 19 at 10:30am, noon; Wed Oct 17 at 10:30am, noon, 2:30pm; Sat Oct 20, Sun Oct 21 at 1pm. Central Park Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre. $8, children under 13 free. Ages 3 to 9.
House of Ghostly Haunts
Join Cardone the Magician as he takes audience members for a thrill ride with a classic spook show. Drawing inspiration from favorite cult classics, Cardone induces chills with a magic show full of strange and bizarre happenings. Tue Oct 16 at 7pm. Canal Park Playhouse. $20. Ages 7 and up.
Lumpy Bumpy Pumpkin
Shadow Box Theatre's annual production of this Ugly Duckling—esque musical gets kids hyped for Halloween while teaching lessons about individuality and self-confidence. Young audience members will root for the funny-looking pumpkin hero as they bop along to original guitar music and participate in a Halloween sing-along. Tue Oct 16—Fri Oct 19 at 10:30am. P.S. 3. $15, in advance $10. Ages 3 to 7.
Brave this creepy hotel designed, constructed and operated by City Tech's Theatreworks troupe. The high-tech haunt will thrill the toughest of tweens with jumping skeletons, pirate ghosts and more. Thu Oct 18 1—5pm; Fri Oct 19 10am—3pm, 6—9pm; Sat Oct 20 1—5pm, 6—9pm. New York City College of Technology, Voorhees Building. $6, students $5. Ages 6 and up.
Family Friday Pizza and Movie Night: Monsters, Inc.
Grab a slice and settle in for a screening of Pixar's animated film Monsters, Inc., in which the secret world of bedroom monsters is in turmoil when a little girl comes to visit Monstropolis. Fri Oct 19 6—7:30pm. Charlotte's Place. Free. All ages.
From Peter Stuyvesant to Edgar Allan Poe: The Ghosts of the East Village
On this family-friendly walking tour, little history buffs step back in time to meet the quirky cast of characters who once called the East Village home: writers Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain and O. Henry; journalist Nellie Bly; magician Harry Houdini; Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor; and New Amsterdam leader Peter Stuyvesant. The walk starts at the lion sculpture in front of St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery and is less than one mile in length. Fri Oct 19, Sat Oct 20 7—8:30pm. St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery. $25, in advance online $20. All ages.
2012 Harvest Fest
Embrace the coming of fall with games, face painting, a dress-up photo booth and pumpkin painting. Plus, kids can take apple-picking to the next logical step by making their own applesauce! Sat Oct 20 10am—4pm. Gansevoort Plaza. Free. All ages.
Giant Pumpkin Carving Weekend
Pick up some tips from pros Ray Villafane, Alfred Paredes and Andy Bergholtz as they create sculptures and monsters out of autumn pumpkins in the Haunted Pumpkin Garden. Plus, in Saturday's Mastercard Budding Masters Pumpkin-Carving Workshop, kids ages 8 to 15 will carve their own gourds under the guidance of the garden's creative director, Michael Natiello. Sat Oct 20, Sun Oct 21 10am—5pm. New York Botanical Garden. Free with all-garden pass. All ages.
Brooklyn Bridge Harvest Festival
Head down to Brooklyn for an afternoon of harvest-themed fun. Families can prepare for Halloween by perusing the pumpkin patch, making masks and leaf rubbings, or visiting the face-painting booth. Make sure to stick around for performances by kid-friendly acts like the Pop Ups. Sat Oct 20 10:30am—1pm. Free. All ages.
Jefferson Market Garden Harvest Festival for Children
After scooping up free mini pumpkins, little ones head to a decorating table to adorn their finds with stickers and crafting supplies. Rain date is October 21. Sat Oct 20 11am—2pm. Jefferson Market Garden. Free. Ages 3 to 8.
GrowNYC's Halloween Costume Swap
Still looking for a Halloween costume? Check out GrowNYC's costume swap. Come find a new-to-you costume, or donate your clean, gently used costumes to the swap. Items to bring are limited to clothing, costumes, accessories, decorations and other Halloween-related items. Swapping is free, and you can take or give as much as you like. Sat Oct 20 11am—3pm. Socrates Sculpture Park. Free. All ages.
Halloween Harvest Festival
Kids are invited to craft costumes with park artists, participate in art-making workshops, listen to live music and sample local harvest foods from area restaurants. Plus, creative pet owners can enter Fido in a canine costume contest. Sat Oct 20 11am—3pm. Socrates Sculpture Park. Free. All ages.
Pick Your Own Pumpkin
Get in the Halloween spirit by hunting down the gourd of your dreams in the farm's pumpkin patch. Sat Oct 20, Sun Oct 21 11am—4:30pm. Queens County Farm Museum. Pumpkin prices vary based on size. All ages.
Ascarium: A Pirate Adventure
This annual Halloween fest will be a treasure trove of fun for everyone in the family. After embarking on a Haunted Sea-fari in the "Explore the Shore" exhibit, little swashbucklers can groove to the terrifying tunes of the Brigands, catch a one-man vaudeville show and meet such creepy critters of the deep as goblin sharks and vampire squid. Buccaneer-themed games, collages and trick-or-treating round out the nautical festivities. Sat Oct 20, Sun Oct 21 11am—5pm. New York Aquarium. $14.95, children under 13 and in costume free with purchase of adult ticket. All ages.
Boo at the Zoo
This Halloween celebration takes over the Bronx wildlife spot every weekend in October. Kids can venture through the Haunted Habitat Mansion, hold on tight for a spooky hayride, catch a magic show or Boo Revue concert, and check out demonstrations by professional pumpkin carvers. While brave kids meet live spiders, bats and snakes, more timid guests can check out the extinct-animal graveyard, where they'll learn about endangered and extinct species. Bonus: Kids under 13 who show up in costume receive free admission and can rock their outfits in a Halloween parade. Sat Oct 20, Sun Oct 21 11am—5pm. Bronx Zoo Wildlife Conservation Society. Free with Total Experience pass, children under 13 and in costume free. All ages.
The Brownstone School's Annual Halloween Fun Fair
Enjoy an early Halloween with the folks at the Brownstone School. Munch on some free treats while kids take a turn on the bouncy castle and bouncy slide, decorate a pumpkin or cupcake, and enjoy arts and crafts. While families marvel at the life-size Candyland course, they will also enjoy live musical performances. Admission is free; rides and activities are $2--$4 each. Rain location will be at the Holy Trinity Church (213 W 82nd St). Sat Oct 20 11am—5pm. MS 44. Free. All ages.
Super Sbado! Da de los Muertos
The museum opens its doors for a day of free programming, including concerts, exhibition tours and workshops. Families can check out the ambitious new exhibition "Caribbean: Crossroads of the World," an exploration of the Caribbean's diversity and cultural history, then take part in the 3,000-year-old Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead. Celebrate the far-from-morbid holiday with the Calaveras Callejeras procession through Central Park, skull face painting, pan de muerto and champurradotastings, and more. Sat Oct 20 11am—6pm. El Museo del Barrio. Free. All ages.
Play Lab Workshop: The Great Pumpkin
Before you carve your jack-o'-lantern, learn about the history of the pumpkin and check out gourds from the museum's collection. Stick around for a screening of the classic film It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and a tastebud-tingling treat. Preregistration required. Sat Oct 20, Sun Oct 21 11:30am—12:30pm. Brooklyn Children's Museum. Free with museum admission. Ages 2.5 to 5.
Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade
Get your four-legged friends ready for Halloween! Enter your puppy into the annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade for the chance to win prizes including an iPod. Even if you don't have a dog, this is a fun family event everyone will love. Sat Oct 20 at noon. Tompkins Square Dog Run. Suggested donation $5. All ages.
Just in time for Halloween, a movie screening sure to give you goosebumps. D.J. Walters is a 12-year-old with a wild imagination: He's convinced his cranky neighbor, Horace Nebbercracker, is responsible for Mrs. Nebbercracker's disappearance—but no one will believe him. Be ready for some spooks in this animated adventure. Sat Oct 20 at 12:15pm. Sony Wonder Technology Lab. Free. Ages 8 and up.
Dr. Blood: Losing His Patients
David Kaye, who is perhaps better known as the clown Silly Billy, debuts a show dedicated to his alter ego, Dr. Blood, and it is as gory as it sounds! His show is not for the faint of heart—he performs scary experiments and magic tricks that will keep even the most gore-loving children at the edge of their seats, including arm chopping, eyeball poking and people sawing. At the end, audience members are invited to adorn themselves with fake blood and learn some of Dr. Blood's scariest tricks. Sat Oct 20, Sun Oct 21 1—2:30pm. Times Scare. $10, children under 13 $15. Ages 7 and up.
Boo! An Underwater Halloween Spooktacular
Dress up in your underwater best and enjoy a gala filled with fun and spooky events for everyone in the family. The museum will be decked out with creepy undersea decorations for this year's aquatic theme, inspired by the current exhibition "Caribbean: Crossroads of the World." The activities at this benefit are endless—a shipwreck treasure hunt, coral-reef candy sculptures, sea monster mask-making and a phosphorescent photo booth are just a few options on the list. Bonus: The ticket price includes a one-year family membership. Sat Oct 20 2—5pm. Queens Museum of Art. $75 per family (includes six members), one adult and one child $35. Ages 5 to 11.
Maple Grove's Great Halloween Festival & Carved Pumpkin Contest
Little ones can join a costume parade, listen to ghost stories, create Halloween crafts and play games at this spooky celebration. If your brood wants to enter the carving contest, be sure to drop off your pumpkin (or other carved vegetable) with a candle by 5pm; prizes will be awarded for the cutest, funniest, scariest and most original creations. Once the sun sets, little ones can turn their eyes upward in an astronomy workshop that will examine the crescent moon and the Andromeda Galaxy. Sat Oct 20 3:45—6:30pm. $5. All ages.
The Ghosts of Greenwich Village Family Scavenger Hunt
Kids and grownups join forces as they track down the storied neighborhood's spooky secrets. During the journey families will discover such Village haunts as hidden cemeteries, bat-adorned buildings, and the onetime residences of Mark Twain and Edgar Allan Poe. Sat Oct 20 at 4pm. Washington Square Park. $22, children under 18 $18. Ages 7 and up.
Your tweens will venture into the woods of 18th-century New York to meet Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman in this creepy new musical based on Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Sat Oct 13 at 5:30pm. Players Theatre. $35—$50. Ages 10 and up.
Spooktacular at the Staten Island Zoo
The entire zoo is transformed into a Halloween paradise for thrill seekers and tame trick-or-treaters alike. Rub shoulders with clowns, cave people and aliens at the spooky shows and exhibits before trying your hand at carnival games and competing in a costume contest. Sat Oct 20 6—9:30pm, Sun Oct 21 5:30—9pm. Staten Island Zoo. $17, children under 3 free. All ages.
Spooky Nighttime Adventure
The Everett Children's Adventure Garden gets scary after dark. Brave kids (with flashlights in hand) navigate around the eerie sculptures, listen for creatures of the night, dig for decomposers and go trick-or-treating along the garden paths. After exploring, decorate a pumpkin to take home. Sat Oct 20, Sun Oct 21 6:30—8pm. New York Botanical Garden. $20. Ages 5 to 12.
The House of Ichabod Crane
This experiential production begins as the audience navigates the grounds of the Old Stone House, site of the American Revolution's first battle. Theatergoers will then head indoors to a large banquet table, where they'll conjure the spirit of Ichabod Crane and let their imaginations carry them off to the bewitching glen of Sleepy Hollow. As they weave Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" with real-life history, the actors will reimagine the events leading up to the classic tale, casting nervous schoolteacher Crane as a veteran of the Battle of Brooklyn and the Headless Horseman as a victim of the same clash. Sat Oct 20 at 7pm, Sun Oct 21 at 2pm. Old Stone House. $15, children ages 9 and up $10. Ages 9 and up.
Kids 'N Comedy: The Terrified of Everything Halloween Show
Laugh away your fears as the funniest teenagers in the tristate area wax poetic (and hilarious) about the things they are most afraid of. Tackling topics like subway anxiety, the fatty parts of steak and inappropriate laughter, these teen comics are sure to have your family in stitches. Sun Oct 21 at 1pm. Gotham Comedy Club. $15, plus one food or drink item.Ages 9 and up.
Spooky Spider Webs
Spider-Man mania isn't over yet! In this hands-on workshop, Spidey fiends can learn the science behind the superhero's arachnid powers and the functions of the spiderweb. Then, tots can create their own fly catcher. Sun Oct 21 1:30—2:30pm. Brooklyn Children's Museum. Free with museum admission. Ages 4 and up.