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The best Halloween events for 2020 in NYC

Check out the spookiest and coolest Halloween events NYC has ever seen including parties, parades, and haunted houses
Written by
Shaye Weaver
Collier Sutter

2020 has been scary enough, but we're throwing the spookiness into high gear with events for Halloween in NYC. Typically, October is filled with costumed parties, jump scares at haunted houses, corn mazes and parades, but this year will be a little different. For one, the Village Halloween Parade is canceled, and it's likely most of the city's regularly scheduled scary haunts will be as well given the current pandemic. That being said, there are still quite a few things still taking place, and with Halloween (finally) taking place on a Saturday, it'll be easier to celebrate. Don't bother breaking out your sewing kit, New York's greatest Halloween stores have plenty of options to make you look really spooky. Make sure to check out our NYC events in October too for even more activities to finish off the month in killer spirits. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Halloween in NYC

Halloween events 2020

  • Things to do
  • City Life

The spirit of Halloween isn't dead—it's dangling off the side of the Jefferson Market Library Tower.

On Halloween night, from 7pm to 10pm, a giant, sparkly spider will be hanging off the tower as it does each year during the Village Halloween Parade. The parade is canceled this year, but the spider will still make an appearance.While the parade is canceled, organizers are bringing a mini-parade to those of us at home. At noon on Saturday, will stream the 15-minute baby parade featuring toy-sized puppets and tiny floats that'll pass by NYC's iconic buildings. The grand marshal is "Pinocchio" and actor Donald Corren will provide live commentary set to music by On The Lam Band.

There's also a special "tricky treat" organizers are planning in the Village that is under special wraps until it happens.

Fleming says the event "will happen on Halloween night and it will be Covid safe! Keep tuned for hints…but just like the child who comes to your door on Halloween, you won’t know who it is or what it is till you see it! BOO!"

Make sure to check the parade's social media to keep on top of when and where it'll take place.

  • Nightlife

In lieu of an in-person Halloween party, House of Yes is teaming up with Artery and Bramble for a "psychedelically seductive," virtual spectacle within a spooky "haunted" cyber realm teeming with immersive live performances, dancing, a fancy dress costume contest, prizes, and intimate experiences including tarot, astrology and sound healing. Attendees will have their own customized avatars they can use to wander through multiple rooms with friends and try for secret prizes and surprises. As always, costumes (on your avatar this time) are always encouraged. Inspiration is listed as: "psychedelic seduction, club kid candy flipped clown, magical monster or best bad trip." Tickets are offered as part of a fundraiser for House of Yes by Patreon supporters, which can be for as little as $5 per month.


Dress up in your best costume and submit photos to Coney Island's virtual Halloween costume contest now through October 28. Children and adults are invited to participate either by dressing up or simply voting for their favorite costumes. The top 3 highest rated photos will receive four tickets to a Brooklyn Cyclones game, Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, Luna Park in Coney Island, meal vouchers for Nathan's Famous, and enjoy a $25 gift card to the boardwalk's newest eatery, La Tombola, all for the 2021 season.

You can vote up until Halloween night at 11:59 pm. Winners of the contest will be announced on Monday, November 2.

The Scientist is In: Day of the Dead Special Edition
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Mark Ryan

4. The Scientist is In: Day of the Dead Special Edition

Join Mexican archaeologist Veronica Perez and Director of the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation Ana Porzecanski on Sunday at noon (in English) or 1pm (in Spanish) for an online family-friendly Day of the Dead celebration. Learn about the Mexican holiday as AMNH honors the Earth and the extinct animal species, such as the monk seal, golden toad, and the O'ahu Akiaola. A link to join the live program will be provided in advance here.


Don a costume and tune into I LOVE NY’s Facebook Live, where three storytellers will talk about the hauntings of locations across New York State, including Rolling Hills Asylum, Sylvan Beach Amusement Park and Historic Palmyra. There will also be a dramatic video reading of Washington Irving’s "Legend of Sleepy Hollow," the tale of the headless horseman who terrorizes the village of Sleepy Hollow.

It all begins at 6pm on Facebook.

Pumpkin carving & trick-or-treating at Chelsea Market
Photograph: Courtesy Chelsea Market

6. Pumpkin carving & trick-or-treating at Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market will be a hive of Halloween activity this year with live pumpkin carving by the Maniac Pumpkin Carvers on Thursday, from 10am to 4pm. Then on Saturday, vendors will be handing out treats all day.

Costume Contest & Día de los Muertos at Cantina Rooftop
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Cantina Rooftop is celebrating Halloween on Saturday with a costume contest, giving diners a chance to win a $100 gift card. But all weekend, it'll celebrate Día de los Muertos with a traditional altar to honor the dead and pay tribute to those who have passed during the pandemic. 


  • Things to do
  • Queens

The Queens-Drive-In is screening a series of scary movies, including some double features, this Halloween.

Oct. 24: Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho & The Birds
Oct. 25: Nosferatu (with live music) & Young Frankenstein
Oct. 28: Get Out & The Babadook
Oct. 30: Halloween & The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Oct. 31: Little Shop of Horrors & Beetlejuice

There will also do a preview screening of the horror-comedy Bad Hair, from Dear White People director Justin Simien, on Wednesday, Oct. 21, and a free Day of the Dead screening of the Oscar-winning Pixar film Coco on Sunday, Nov. 1.

Tickets will be priced starting at $35 per car (up to 4 passengers per car). Doors will open each night around 7:30pm, shows will begin at 8:30pm and end by 11pm. For double features, doors open at 6:30pm, shows will begin at 7:30pm.

  • Attractions
  • Arcades and amusements
  • Tribeca

Garish zombies, monsters and other ghoulish creatures await in this 5,000-square-foot labyrinth of horrors, deemed too scary for children under 14 to enter without supervision.

The haunted house warns: "Former survivors of the Blood Manor experience can count on an all-new and extreme level of fear, paralleling 2020 — a year no one could have predicted nor imagined!  For newcomers - be afraid, be very afraid! The residents of Blood Manor are excited to return and are thirsting for the aroma of fear!"

A trio of spell-casters calling themselves the Sanderson Cousins show you every witch way in an interactive virtual musical inspired by the movie Hocus Pocus, which you may love if you loved it when you were a child. The script is by Sara Beil; the cast consists of Caitlin Ary, Fatima El-Bashir, Janaya Jones and Harrison Meloney. To make the experience more of a special event, each $69 ticket includes a kit with limited-edition candles and the instructions and ingredients to create custom cocktail “potions” during the show. The live performances are on Fridays and Saturdays in October, but you must order your tickets by Monday so that these extra elements can be sent to you on time.


Suzanne Barsch and Ariana’s brother Frankie Grande host "END TIMES," a blow out party at Eschaton. Organizers say it'll be like "The Box meets Studio 54, with a hint of Sleep No More." The experience uses a series of Zoom rooms filled with vignettes and performances for guests to explore. It'll be frightening, though, but there will be a special room where Frankie and Suzanne will hold an after-party. It'll be held on Friday at 5pm and Saturday at 10pm. Learn more here.

  • Things to do

One of the best things to do in the fall in New York is check out The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze in Hudson Valley, New York. Trust us, it’s worth the trip. Witness an army of more than 7,000 glowing, intricately carved pumpkins shining along the riverside near Van Cortlandt Manor. This is the tristate area’s most spirited Halloween happening, and also one of the best fall day trips from NYC. Ogling pretty gourds isn’t the only draw. There are also "stargazing" opportunities inside the Pumpkin Planetarium, flying ghosts and a special appearance by Sleepy Hollow’s Headless Horseman. This year there is a second location popping up for the first time ever, too, at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration on Long Island. 


Universal’s YouTube channel The Shows Must Go On! began by rolling out a different Andrew Lloyd Webber musical every week, then moved on to NBC’s live broadcasts of musicals. After a 10-week break, the series has now returned. Jingle writer Jeff Wayne's 1978 debut album, a full-length musical adaptation of H.G. Wells's space-invaders novella The War of The Worlds, was a smash hit in the U.K., where is remains one of the 50 best-selling albums of all time. A 2006 stage version spawned a series of touring productions around the world. This video employs more than 20 cameras to capture a performance of the show's 2012 iteration, The Next Generation, at London's giant O2 Arena. A hologram of Liam Neeson plays the spoken-word role of the Journalist (performed on the album by Richard Burton); also in the cast are Jason Donovan, Ricky Wilson, Marti Pellow, Will Stapleton and Kerry Ellis. The real star, however, is a 35-foot flying saucer that blasts heat rays over the audience.

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  • Weird & Wonderful

Ulster Park's Headless Horseman Haunted Hayrides and Haunted Houses is replacing its hayrides with an experience, "Dare to Ride The Horseman's Trail," that'll give New Yorkers an opportunity to roll down the window and scream this Halloween, starting October 2.

Drivers and their passengers will pass through horrific scenes like "the butcher shop" and see the headless horseman himself all while staying in their cars. 

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  • Events & Festivals

The Angel's Share live music series is coming back to Green-Wood Cemetery this fall to celebrate and ruminate on America through song, poetry, dance and storytelling.

The highlight of the series, To America, will allow visitors to walk through the cemetery and hear the stories of those buried there, including Margaret Pine, the last slave in New York state; Clarence MacKenzie, a 12-year-old drummer boy who was Brooklyn’s first casualty in the Civil War; and others. As distanced visitors walk through the gravestones, they'll also see live dance, hear classical covers of songs written by Carlos Simon, H. Leslie Adams, Caroline Shaw, Leonard Bernstein, and George Walker, and take in the poetry of James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, and Terrance Hayes.

The experience is inspired by the poetry of James Weldon Johnson, in particular. The poet, who is buried in the cemetery, is best known for his anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which is widely known as the "Black National Anthem."

This immersive, cemetery-wide performance is meant to be "a lament, a love song, a plea, and a prayer to a nation in a time of deep uncertainty," organizers say. 

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Lions, tigers and bears—oh my! The Bronx Zoo goes all out every Halloween season, and this weekend kicks of its month of spooky festivites. Drop in to take a hayride through a haunted forest, watch live performances, get wowed by a mentalist, participate in a costume parade and lots more.


Celebrate México’s beloved 3,000-year-old tradition by commemorating friends and relatives who have passed away through a day of performances by the Calpulli Mexican Dance Company and a series of virtual programs on both Sunday and Monday. Visitors can share a name and memory of a loved one who has passed away at a set-up altar and see an installation by Libby Paloma and Ace Lehner, "Sweet Blue," of "Por Vidx," a series of sculptures inspired by altars often found within Latinx domestic spaces constructed to remember passed ancestors.

Other things to do for Halloween

  • Theater

Halloween is the most theatrical of American holidays. Each year, people of all ages put on costumes and makeup and bring the world of make-believe to the streets—and the theater world, for its part, is happy to join the fun with a range of Halloween shows to celebrate the season. Even amid the theater shutdown in 2020, that tradition goes on: Isn't everyone wearing masks the days anyhow? The usual array of haunted houses may be out of the question, but we’ve scared up this list of horror-themed theater events—some streaming online, others performed in person in New York City for socially distanced audiences—to help you get in the spirit.

RECOMMENDED: Our day-by-day roundup of the best theater, opera and dance to stream online

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It’s the freakiest time of year, and we couldn’t be more excited to scream our guts out at the scariest haunted houses NYC has to offer. Haunted houses may bring plenty of frights, but if you’re looking to get shaken to your core this season, check out these immersive experiences that will bring out your darkest, deepest fears from killer clowns to claustrophobic. To get you in that creepy mood, or if immersing yourself in the world of goblins and ghouls is too much for you, try prepping with one of the best horror movies on Netflix beforehand.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Halloween in NYC

  • Bars

Halloween in 2020 is scary in ways we've never known before. But come October 31st, New Yorkers will more than likely want to include a stop at some of the Halloween bars NYC has to offer. Whether you’re looking for pre-game drinks before one of the city’s best Halloween parties or spooky haunted houses, you can still slap on a costume and check out these festive pubs and bars come Halloween.

RECOMMENDED: All coverage of Halloween in NYC

  • Things to do

In the city that never sleeps, there are haunted places in NYC whose inhabitants might keep you up at night or heading home early. From historic haunted houses to long-time taverns, the tenants at these venues might give off an eerie feeling or prompt a sudden urge to change your plans. Fact or fiction, these personas of paranormal activity will put you on high alert if you’re brave enough to pay a visit or take ghost tours. So keep your eyes wide open while reading about some of the spookiest places in NYC.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Halloween in NYC

  • Things to do

Get ready ghouls and girls for an epic Halloween in NYC! The city is bursting with terrifying haunted houses, Halloween parties and more pumpkin-packed events. Whether you enjoy getting seriously spooked while watching the scariest horror films of all time or prefer to celebrate Halloween by leaf peeping while visiting some of the greatest fall getaways from NYC, we’ve got you covered.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in fall

Don’t miss the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze!

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