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Central Park Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Sail
Photograph: Filip WolakCentral Park Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Sail

Five outdoor Halloween festivals to hit up this weekend

Written by
Lauren Rothman

Halloween isn’t here quite yet, but this weekend, parks all over the city are giving us great excuses to start celebrating early. From haunted forts to dogs in costume, these five festivals will get everyone in the mood for tricks and treats.

Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade
Just as NYC’s artists and characters have their Village processional, so too do the area’s cuddly canines. The 25th annual dog costume show at Tompkins Square Park will pit hound against terrier in a serious contest. All you need to do to enter your pet is dress it up, but know that competition will be fierce. (Tompkins Square Park Dog Run, Sat 24 noon–3pm; suggested donation $5)

Fort Trotten Park Haunted Lantern Tour
Perched on the edge of Queens’ Little Neck Bay, Fort Totten Park’s preserved Civil War fortress sits abandoned and empty. On the evening of Friday 23, park rangers will lead thrill seekers (Union Army greatcoats optional) on a spooky, lantern-guided tour of the haunted historic fort. A day of rides, crafts and pumpkin carving follows on Saturday for those who scare easily. (Enter on Totten Ave off the Cross Island Pkwy, Fri 23 6:30–8:30pm; free)

Halloween Haunted Walk at Prospect Park
At Prospect Park’s annual Halloween blowout, families and the young-at-heart can take a semi-spooky walk (scaredy cats will be fine!) through wooded Lookout Hill, where zombies, werewolves and witches will surprise them. The park’s Nethermead (that’s the big meadow in the center) will host a Halloween fair, featuring crafts and treats from top food trucks such as Gorilla Cheese and Kimchi Taco. This year, the park will also celebrate the release of The Peanuts Movie with an in-person ( Snoopy. (Prospect Park, Sat 24 noon–3pm; free)

Halloween Harvest Festival at Socrates Sculpture Park
Long Island City’s waterfront sculpture park offers an eclectic mix of fall fun (and stunning Manhattan views). Check out the park’s sculpture exhibitions, then pick between artist-led costume-making workshops, face painting, a traditional Nepalese harvest festival performance and a pet-blessing ceremony led by an urban shaman. (32-01 Vernon Blvd, Sat 24 11am–3pm; free)

Central Park Pumpkin Flotilla
After carving your masterpiece at home, bring your pumpkin to the Harlem Meer. As you wait for the sun to set, listen to spooky stories and watch a Halloween costume parade. As darkness falls, your illuminated pumpkin (with candles provided) will be sent sailing on the water along with hundreds of orange friends. It’s a beautiful sight, but be warned: You won’t get that pumpkin back. (Enter on 110th St, Sun 25 3:30–7pm; free)

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