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If you ask us, there’s no place better than Gotham to celebrate Halloween. The hardest part is deciding what to do first. We asked our fellow New Yorkers for their favorite haunts, and here’s our edit of the best ways to spend Halloween season in NYC. From outdoors to underground, museums to malls, family-friendly to freaking-out terrifying, we’ve rounded up 20 of the best Halloween happenings and events in New York City this year, including NYC outdoor pumpkin displays, pumpkin patches and haunted houses.

halloween highlights: the 20 best events in new york city this year

1. “fall-o-ween” at the new york botanical garden

The New York Botanical Garden is a special place to visit all year, and Halloween is no exception. The NYBG’s Fall-O-Ween celebration begins in mid-September and continues through October 31.

There’s something here for almost everyone. The grounds are filled with beautiful displays of pumpkins and gourds, and master pumpkin carver Adam Bierton will demonstrate his craft on select weekends. There are sessions devoted to mini pumpkin decorating, 3D pumpkin carving, food and beverage talks, craft beer tastings and more. Two family-friendly Spooky Garden Nights on the last two Saturdays of October will feature dancing skeletons, live shadow puppets, plant potting and arts-and-crafts activities.

It’s a perfect way to spend an autumn afternoon or evening in the countryside without actually leaving NYC. Get the full schedule and purchase tickets here.

The best Halloween events and activities in New York City this year, including NYC outdoor pumpkin displays, patches and haunted houses.

The best Halloween events and family activities in New York City this year, including NYC outdoor pumpkin displays, patches and haunted houses.

2. pumpkin nights at the bronx zoo

If you’ve been to the magical Holiday Lights festival at the Bronx Zoo, you know how marvelous the grounds are when night falls and the lights begin to twinkle. This year, Halloween gets in on the act with the debut of Pumpkin Nights.

The family-friendly evening event will showcase more than 5,000 carved, animal-themed pumpkins along a jack-o’-lantern trail. There will also be pumpkin-carving demonstrations, games, seasonal treats and food trucks.

Pumpkin Nights will be held Thursdays through Sundays, 6:00P to 10:00P, though October 29. Get the full schedule and purchase tickets here.

Boo at the Zoo, the family-friendly holiday parade and costume party, will also be held during the day on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the season.

3. the great jack o’lantern blaze

For spectacle and dazzling displays, it would be hard to beat the incredible sights at The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. It’s become a legendary event, featuring more than 7,000 illuminated jack o’ lanterns—all designed and hand-carved on site by a team of expert artisans. There’s a coordinated light and sound show, as well as food and drink – and treats, of course.

In addition to its traditional location in the Hudson Valley at Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, there’s a Long Island edition at Old Bethpage Village Restoration.

Get full details and purchase tickets here.

The best Halloween events and family activities in New York City this year, including NYC outdoor pumpkin displays, patches and haunted houses.

4. halloween house at the oculus

The promise of Halloween House is “more fun, less fear.” The array of immersive, intricate Halloween-themed rooms includes a Glow in the Dark space; a Vampires’ Lair; a Horror Movie Graveyard; and an indoor pumpkin patch.

Unlike traditional haunted houses, this is a “not-too haunted” house appropriate for all ages and temperaments. The website promises that there will be no actors or jump scares. It’s all happening at the Oculus this year. Get the operating schedule and purchase tickets here.

5. green-wood cemetery tours

There’s no time like Halloween for a visit to a historic and beautiful cemetery. And Green-Wood cemetery in Brooklyn is one of the best. You can visit by day, of course. But come Halloween season, there are midnight and after-hours tours where you can explore the grounds after dark.

We’re keen to attend one of the Concerts in the Catacombs. This year, there’ll be a large-scale altar installation honoring Dia de los Muertos. And Nightfall, a 21-and-over evening of music and moving images.

See the schedule of events and purchase tickets here.

6. pumpkin point at governor’s island

Governors Island hosts an annual free pumpkin patch with over 10,000 gourds within historic Nolan Park. “Vis­i­tors are invit­ed to pick out their own pump­kins (free with sug­gest­ed dona­tion) on the week­ends of Octo­ber 21 – 22 and Octo­ber 28 – 29, 2023, from 10am to 5pm.” It’s one per family, and you should come early for the best selection.

Any leftovers will be com­post­ed by Earth Mat­ter, which runs a Com­post Learn­ing Cen­ter at the Urban Farm on Gov­er­nors Island.

There are lots of Halloween-themed activities to join once you’ve found your perfect pumpkin. Including pumpkin painting, trick-or-treating and performances from the Brooklyn Magic Shop. There will be food trucks and vendors onsite for grabbing a bite to eat. Learn more and get the ferry schedule here.

The best Halloween events and activities in New York City this year, including NYC outdoor pumpkin displays, patches and haunted houses.

The best Halloween events and family activities in New York City this year, including NYC outdoor pumpkin displays, patches and haunted houses.

7. central park pumpkin flotilla

For pure Halloween magic, we think the annual Pumpkin Flotilla in Central Park wins the prize. Each year at twilight, a procession of illuminated jack-o’-lanterns floats across the Harlem Meer (west of Fifth Ave. and south of 110th St). In addition to this grand finale, there will also be crafting, storytelling, scavenger hunts, and a spirited Halloween parade. Visitors are encouraged to come in costume for this family-friendly event.

This year’s event is scheduled for October 26, from 4:00P to 7:00P (the flotilla itself is at 6:00P).

8. south street seaport pumpkin arch

Attention photogs and social media masters: this one’s for you.

The Seaport Arch at Pier 17 is a free art instillation made up of over 500 pumpkins designed to perfectly frame the view of the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s open 24/7 at the Heineken Riverdeck from now through November 7.

9. domino park pumpkin patch

Williamsburg’s Domino Park is hosting a popup for Greg’s Great Pumpkin Patch again this Halloween season. In addition to the great photo ops along the river with the Manhattan skyline behind you, expect a costume contest, a great corn maze, and pumpkin picking. Pretty much “everything from hay to z” . . .

The best Halloween events and activities in New York City this year, including NYC outdoor pumpkin displays, patches and haunted houses.

The best Halloween events and family activities in New York City this year, including NYC outdoor pumpkin displays, patches and haunted houses.

10. the color factory’s haunted hues

The Color Factory, a Soho immersive art installation, will celebrate the season with Haunted Hues, a Halloween-themed takeover. The limited time event “features tasty fall treats, spellbinding photo ops, a monstrously fun scavenger hunt, and a pumpkin patch like you’ve never seen before.” Get your tickets here.

11. ghost stories: halloween edition at the metropolitan museum

While the “Ghost Stories” tour at the Met is available almost year-round, there’s a special Halloween-themed edition available for just a few weeks.

“Participants will travel across cultures and across time to see Flying Dutchmen and fearsome plaques, puzzling paintings, and fearful forests . . . we’ll look at how different cultures depict the fearsome and the gruesome, in pursuit of what scares us…and why. For the spooky season, we’ve added new tricks and new treats, from works of art we only visit during Halloween season, to new activities and giveaways.”

The 2-hour tours are appropriate for ages 9 and up, and they’re held on select Fridays at 6:00P and select Saturdays at 11:00A. Learn more here.

12. blood manor haunted house immersion

Blood Manor, in SoHo at 359 Broadway is the real deal: a professional-level haunted house intended to generate true terror. The designers from iconic Manhattan costume shop Abracadabra work to create a convincing immersive experience alongside professional actors, set designers and makeup artists. You’ve been warned. Get your tickets here.

The best Halloween events and activities in New York City this year, including NYC outdoor pumpkin displays, patches and haunted houses.

The best Halloween events and family activities in New York City this year, including NYC outdoor pumpkin displays, patches and haunted houses.

13. terrorvision haunted house

Across town, there’s another haunted house for those who just can’t get enough. In Times Square at 300 West 43rd Street, you’ll find “heart-pounding” immersive experiences designed by the pros at “Horrorwood Studios”. Expect 140 actors and 20,000 square feet of chills and thrills. Said to be the largest haunted house in all of NYC, the plot behind this experience is that visitors are behind the scenes at the filming of an upcoming TerrorVision Halloween episode.

Our favorite touch? A “chicken ticket” provides you with an amulet so the monsters won’t target you. Yes, please! Get your tickets here. Oh, and there’s a 31% discount if you dare to take your tour before October 9th.

14. black lagoon pop-up halloween bar

If you love “Miracle On . . . “ the pop-up nostalgic holiday themed bars that appear in major cities each year, you may also be up for their evil Halloween cousin, Black Lagoon.

The immersive Halloween pop-ups in cocktail bars will launch in 19 cities, including New York. Pretty Ricky’s (101 Rivington Street) will offer a curated cocktail menu – and also decor transforming the bar “into a macabre den festooned with frightfully fun decor.” Guests are encouraged to come in costume – learn more here.

15. the village halloween parade

The Village Halloween Parade is a Gotham tradition, and it’s scheduled for Halloween night, Tuesday, October 31. Expect more than 50,000 people in costumes of every possible type to take to the streets for a night of fun. The free event starts at 7 p.m., rain or shine, and runs on Sixth Avenue from Canal Street to 15th Street. Making this year even more special? The parade marks its 50th anniversary this year, with the theme “Upside/Down : Inside/OUT”.

16. new york historical society’s historical hallowe’en party.

There’s fun to be had uptown on October 31, too. The New York Historical Society is hosting a family-friendly Halloween costume party on Halloween night that’s meant to be both educational and fun. Among other things, guests will “learn about Victorian-era mourning jewelry . . . and discover the many ways clothing and accessories were used to show remembrance. They’ll also help create a special offering to take part in a communal ofrenda (altar) as part of Día de los Muertos.”

There will also be games, Hallowe’en bingo, spooky stories, historical Hallowe’en crafts and buckets of candy. It all takes place from 4:00P to 6:00P on Halloween night. Learn more  and purchase tickets here.

17. Dreams of Dracula: An Immersive Masquerade Experience

Sure, there’s Twilight. And Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But Dracula was the OG vampire. We all know that.

This Halloween, Never More Immersive, Bucket Listers and Musica (the largest nightclub in New York City) team up to present Dreams of Dracula: An Immersive Masquerade Experience. The installation will feature two floors and six rooms across 25,000 square feet, offering a choose-your-own adventure journey. Previews began in late September, and the show’s now open in the totally appropriate Hell’s Kitchen. Musica NYC is at 637 W 50th Street, and shows run through November 7. 

Learn more and purchase tickets here.

18. Murder Mystery Sleepover + Witch Spells

The James Hotel in New York opened in 1901. And it has long been rumored to be haunted. Leaning into this macabre history, the boutique property features an onsite Resident Witch year-round.

For Halloween this year, the hotel is transforming into a proper Haunted Mansion with a Stay Spooked package. Including a true crime mystery solving box; a spell sachet session with the Witch; a deck of tarot cards; and a suite converted into a horror movie scene with a floor-to-ceiling projector and selection of true crime documentaries.

For the faint of heart, throughout the month of October the hotel will convert its lobby every afternoon into Horror Hour, serving boozy witch’s brew. There will also be a Cocoa Bar Station with treats exclusively provided by Mariebelle Chocolates. 

19. NYC Bucketlister’s rooftop Cityside Pumpkin Patch

Nothing says Halloween like a good ole pumpkin patch. But who has room for one in NYC? Happily, Cityside Pumpkin Patch is popping up in Long Island City, Queens with locally-harvest gourds from upstate New York.

The rooftop of the Summer Club (8-08 Queens Plaza S) is a Halloween wonderland, complete with pumpkin picking – and a pumpkin-smashing zone (for you real New Yorkers). Buy your tickets here.

20. Loreley’s Halloween Haunted Beer Garden 

We close our list of Halloween events in New York City this year with an outdoor haunted beer garden. Because what’s a holiday without beer?

At Loreley’s at 7 Rivington Street, the second half of October will see the arrival of over-the-top Halloween décor, cocktails, daily specials, and kegs made of hollowed out pumpkins. They’re filled with 60 or 120 ounces of Southern Tier Brewing Company’s Imperial Pumpking Ale, natch. These are best enjoyed in the heated outdoor garden, which will be transformed into a haunted spot filled with witches, zombies, ghouls, cobwebs, ghosts, corpses hanging from the ceiling, possessed babies and other bone-chilling surprises.

There are also specialty cocktails, including the Magic Potion Margarita (which combines butterfly pea flower-infused tequila, triple sec, lemon, and lime in two potion bottles). The Bloody IV Bag (rum punch and cherry juice), which is served in an actual IV bag. A Pumpkin Spice Cold Brew Martini. And Pumpkin Sangria with spiced rum, chardonnay, apples, pears and pumpkin. If it’s really chilly out, warm up with hot cocktails like the Hot Bourbon Cider and German Glühwein (mulled wine).

The Day of the Dead Party is on October 27. All staff will be wearing skull makeup, and guests will be able to get their own  makeup done (first come first served). The next day and on Halloween night, guests can show off their best looks for the Costume Contest. On Halloween night, happy hour will last until 10P and pumpkin kegs refills are $29 all night.

halloween highlights: the best events in new york city this year

Those are our picks for the can’t miss Halloween happenings and spooky events in New York City this year: the best Halloween family friendly and truly scary activities in NYC, including outdoor pumpkin displays and haunted houses. Have fun out there, dear reader.

Pamela Thomas-Graham

Pamela Thomas-Graham is the Founder & CEO of Dandelion Chandelier. She serves on the boards of several tech companies, and was previously a senior executive in finance, media and fashion, and a partner at McKinsey & Co.