Halloween parades and costume contests are a seasonal tradition for many communities in the Capital Region of northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Participants enjoy showing off their costumes and it’s a great photo opportunity for families visiting the area.
Paired with one of the many other great Halloween events and attractions coming to the D.C. area in October, these extravagant community parades can make your holiday trip memorable and are a fun way to check out the season’s most popular and creative costumes.
Many Capital Region Halloween parades allow residents and visitors alike to participate in the fun. Although some 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 view all of the costumes—if you walk in the parade you may end up seeing the same costumes repeatedly all day.
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 the 17th Street High Heel Race, the event involves participants dressed in creative drag outfits that race on 17th Street, between P and S Streets NW near Dupont Circle in northwest Washington, D.C. The evening race only lasts a couple of minutes, but you can enjoy drink specials at several area bars all night to celebrate another successful run.
The small town of Vienna in Fairfax County northwest of Arlington, Virginia, unites its entire community each year to celebrate Halloween with a festive parade including youth and adult bands, floats, and classic vehicles. Children are welcome to walk in the parade to show off their Halloween costumes. Although your child does not need to be registered to participate, they must be accompanied by an adult—meet in the parking lot of the United Bank at 374 Maple Avenue East. Parade winners will be honored by the town of Vienna at a Town Council meeting in November.
Located in northwest Maryland about an hour outside of Washington, D.C., the town of Hagerstown has hosted one of the largest Halloween parades in the Mid-Atlantic each year since 1921, known as the Alsatia Mummers' Parade. This fall event features local floats, bands, and costumed mummers (typically actors in masked mime) and brings the whole community together to celebrate the Halloween season.
The 94th Annual Mummers' Parade will takes place at the end of October. Spectators can either stand along the parade route or purchase tickets at the Maryland Theatre Box Office for bleacher seating.
On the last Sunday in October, elected officials, special dignitaries, children, and costumed pets 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. Awards are 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, typically on the night of Halloween. 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. To participate, line up at the park 30 minutes before the parade begins.