Whether it be a Halloween-themed electronic music festival, a choreographed group performance of the "Thriller" dance, or a haunted scavenger hunt geared towards kids, Seattle puts on parties aplenty for the spooky season. The eerie air of Halloween will creep into every museum, shopping mall, and bar, making it easy to find revelries wherever you go. So, celebrate with a festive jello shot or a costumed romp around MoPOP, or take the kids for science experiments and candy at the Museum of Fright (aka the Museum of Flight).
In 2020, many events have been canceled or altered. Check the websites of organizers for updated information.
Thrill the World
Every year, improv groups around the world coordinate a simultaneous dance to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" in public places from Texas to Norway. The dancers call themselves Thrillers and there are nearly 2,000 of them in Seattle. Free rehearsals typically start in September and on the Saturday before Halloween—October 24, 2020—the Thrillers, dressed in their most convincing zombie attire, come together for a reproduction of the famed music video at Occidental Park in Pioneer Square. Thrill The World takes place universally at 10 a.m. GMT, which is 3 p.m. Seattle time.
This year, there will be no in-person rehearsals, but prospective Thrillers can learn the moves via online tutorials. Instead of congregating in one large group, Thrillers will be split into smaller groups for the 2020 performance. Another Thrill The World event takes place at the Redmond Town Center, 15 miles east of Seattle.
Families looking for PG-rated Halloween fun will find games, crafts, autumnal food, and a kid-friendly root beer garden at the West Seattle Junction shopping center's Harvest Festival. Kids, adults, and pets alike come in costume to revel along California Avenue, closed to traffic for the annual 10-day affair. In 2020, the Harvest Festival (October 21 to 31) will include a haunted scavenger hunt allowing little ones to search the Junction for the hidden treasures using a map, a hot cocoa and cider trail, a pumpkin walk showcasing decorative jack-o'-lanterns, a virtual concert on Halloween night, and trivia at Pegasus Book Exchange. You can also purchase a Harvest Fest Box (available for both kids and adults) and celebrate the season with treats, crafts, and cozy things at home.
Museum of Fright
The Museum of Flight's Museum of Fright will feature a ghoul hunt, mad scientist experiments, and a witchy twist on the trick-or-treat tradition in 2020. Virtual volunteers will tell spooky tales and take-home treat bags will keep the kids entertained even after they leave. Costumes are encouraged and will earn you a 20 percent ticket discount, but they must adhere to the museum's code of conduct. In 2020, the fun will take place on October 31 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Great Pumpkin Beer Festival
Elysian Brewing Company hosts an autumnal boozy bash at the Seattle Center each October. With both one- and two-day passes available, craft beer connoisseurs can spend a day or weekend enjoying pumpkin-flavored libations produced by this famous Seattle brewery. The seasonal elixir is served festively from a giant, hollowed-out pumpkin. The Great Pumpkin Beer Festival also acts as a fundraiser for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, for which it raises more than $100,000 a year. Guests are encouraged to wear orange, and many show up in pumpkin-themed costumes for the occasion. The 2020 festival was canceled.
Haunt at the MoPOP: The Ultimate Halloween Bash
The Museum of Pop Culture—aka MoPOP—carries the legacy of throwing one of the best 21-and-over Halloween celebrations in the city. Known as Haunt at the MoPOP: The Ultimate Halloween Bash, this beloved gathering includes contests for sexiest, group, and most elaborate costumes (in which the winner receives $1,000), live DJs spinning danceable tracks, a never-ending stream of drinks, and a singles lounge for mingling. It's usually held on Halloween night, and has in the past been postponed for a year when the holiday falls mid-week, but in 2020, it was canceled.
Halloween Bar Crawl
Partygoers may also want to consider joining in on the Halloween Pub Crawl, a nationwide tradition involving six Seattle institutions. The fun begins at 4 p.m. at the ever-stylish Box Club, then bounces from Fuel Sports (for jello shots), Merchant's Cafe and Saloon, Shawn O'Donnell's American Grill and Irish Pub, and Stage Seattle, before closing at Xtadium. Attendees are encouraged by a $1,000 best costume prize to get creative with their outfits. Although the organizer, Crawl With Us, will be hosting masked pub crawls throughout the country, the Halloween edition will be skipping Seattle in 2020.
An EDM music festival paired with a creepy circus theme, FreakNight is an adults-only Halloween tradition featuring games, dancing, carnival rides, DJs, sideshows (think: contortionists and flame throwers), and a bounty of killer clown attendees. It is, in fact, the longest-running Halloween-themed dance festival in the U.S., showcasing both national and internationally acclaimed artists on several stages at the WaMu Theater. Anyone over 18 is allowed entry, but the bars are strictly 21+. In 2020, FreakNight Festival was canceled.