Halloween is on its way, and after shelling out money for awesome costumes and bags of candy for little trick-or-treaters, you might be hesitant to pay for some NYC’s most popular festivities. That’s why we’ve rounded up the best free Halloween events for kids. Why not save some dough where you can?
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Enjoy these cool free Halloween events for kids between trips to corn mazes, pumpkin picking and attractions from our list of free activities for kids in NYC. With so much fun in store for the kiddos, it’s sure to be a spooktacular season!
The best free Halloween events
The annual Park Slope Civic Council Halloween Parade has been going strong since 1986, and it’s perfect for families. Each year has a theme, and this year’s is “Daring Duos, Thrilling Trios and Superb Heroes!” The kickoff is at 6:30pm sharp at Seventh Avenue and 14th Street. The parade ends at the Old Stone House at Washington Park, with a little post-parade dancing at J.J. Byrne Playground. Feel free to gather with your family around 4pm, as many families and merchants begin greeting trick or treaters on Seventh and Fifth Avenues (yippee!). You never know what kind of spooks you’ll see at this festive celebration, and the costumes get increasingly inventive with each passing year-—so bring your A-game. All ages.
We love a good circus theme—and good thing, because this year’s Halloween Harvest fest is bringing the spooky to you with jugglers, clowning, acrobatics and clowning! There will be costume-making with Socrates artists, plus a cool large-scale sculpture workshop hosted by Free Stule Arts Assocition and Face Painting by Agostino Arts. Pooches are welcome too—there’s even a puppy costume contest! All ages.
For those who love nothing more than a cute pooch decked out in a Halloween costume, there’s nothing like the annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade. It’s one of the biggest Halloween costume contests for dogs in the world! See spooktacular spectacles like a pack of corgis dressed as Minions, a doggie Marty McFly, a Big Bad “wolf” and a pup as Donald Trump. Each year the costumes grow exponentially more creative. You can spot your favorite pop-culture icons in canine form, as well as loads of owners dressed to match their pet. In case you’re interested in adopting a new family member, Petfinder is on-site with pet adoption opportunities. All ages.
Get over to Sixth Avenue to see thousands of costumes, dancers and floats, including giant skeletons that dance above your head and hordes of zombies jamming out to “Thriller.” Each year the parade has a different theme (this year’s is still under wraps) that adds extra inventiveness and fun. See creative costumes you’d never glimpse anywhere else, since some people spend all year making theirs! Such a spectacle doesn’t come without crowds, though; partygoers are advised to get there early and stake out a spot. If you can’t make it in person (or don’t feel like braving the masses), never fear: The parade is broadcast live for all to see on NY1 from 7:30 to 9:30pm. Sixth Ave from Spring to 16th Sts. All ages.
Prepare for ghoulish happenings all over Prospect Park! Gather the goblins for a truly hair-raising Halloween Haunted Walk and Fair (noon to 3pm) at Lookout Hill and Nethermead. At the Audubon Center, there’s Creepy Crawly Halloween, where kids can learn about all sorts of shiver-inducing creatures, find bitty bones during an owl pellet dissection (1 to 2pm), or take a Creepy Crawly walk (3 to 4pm) in search for park-dwelling critters. Over at Children’s Corner, visit Lefferts Historic House for scary storytelling and crafts (2 to 4pm; suggested donation $3), then spin to spooky music on the Haunted Carousel (noon–5pm; $2 per ride or five tickets for $9). Various locations in Prospect Park. All ages.