Halloween parades and costume contests are a seasonal tradition for many communities in the Capital Region; participants enjoy showing off their costumes and it’s a great photo opportunity for families visiting northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.
These events are a fun way to get in the spirit of the holiday and to check out the season’s most popular and creative costumes. Paired with one of the many other great Halloween events and attractions coming to the D.C. area this October, these extravagant community parades can help make your holiday trip to the region memorable this year.
Many of the parades in the Capital Region allow residents and visitors alike to participate in the fun of their Halloween parades. Although many require registration in advance, all you need to do is sign up online, get a costume, and show up at the designated meeting point in time for the parade to start. However, you may want to find a great spot along the route instead so that you can see all of the costumes since you'll just see the same ones all day if you choose to walk in the parade with them.
Although it began as a joke between a group of friends in the 1980s, this annual event in Dupont Circle now attracts a large crowd of costumed revelers each year on the Tuesday before Halloween.
Known as D.C. 17th Street High Heel Race, the event involved participants dressed in creative drag outfits that race from JR's to Annie's Paramount Steakhouse on 17th Street between P and S streets in northwest Washington, D.C. The race begins at 9 p.m. and only lasts a couple of minutes, but you can enjoy drink specials at both bars (and several others in the area) all night to celebrate another successful run.
Northwest of Arlington, Virginia, in Fairfax County, the small town of Vienna brings its entire community together each year to celebrate Halloween with a festive parade. Children are welcome to walk in the parade to show off their Halloween costumes. Although you do not have to register your child to participate, children must be accompanied by an adult and you will need to meet in the parking lot of the United Bank (374 Maple Avenue East) at 6:30 p.m. The town of Vienna recognizes parade winners at a Town Council meeting in November.
Located in northwest Maryland about an hour outside of Washington, D.C., the town of Hagerstown hosts one of the largest Halloween parades in the Mid-Atlantic each year known as the Alsatia Mummers' Parade. This fall event features local floats, bands, and costumed mummers and brings the whole community together to celebrate the Halloween season.
The 93rd Annual Mummers' Parade will takes place at the end of October. Spectators can either stand along the parade route or purchase tickets for arranged bleacher seating at the Maryland Theatre Box Office.
On the last Sunday in October, special dignitaries, elected officials, children, and pets will march down Mount Vernon Avenue in Alexandria, Virginia, for the annual Del Ray Halloween Parade. The route starts south of East Bellefonte and continues along Mount Vernon Avenue to Commonwealth Avenue, and awards will be given for the Best Pet Costume, Best Decorated Business, Best Decorated Home, and Best Decorated Stroller. Judges include local city and community officials.
The Northern Virginia community of Leesburg has held an annual parade every year since 1957. It's typically held on Halloween Day from 6 to 8 p.m. The event features high school and music school bands, decorated floats, classic cars, police, fire, and rescue units, and animals marching one mile down King Street from Ida Lee Park to Catoctin Circle (Fairfax Street) in Leesburg. While the largest crowds gather north of Market Street, the best viewing area is near Loudoun Street. You can participate by lining up at the park 30 minutes before the parade begins.