When it comes to kid-friendly frights, autumnal adventures, and events the whole family can enjoy, every corner of Columbus, Ohio, comes alive to celebrate Halloween with pumpkin patches, hayrides, and haunted houses galore.
There is, of course, also a fair share of Halloween happenings geared toward adults—from pub crawls to heart-pumping haunted houses—but families with children will enjoy this Midwestern capital's abundance of not-so-scary debauchery. For safety reasons, adults are generally discouraged from wearing costumes that cover their faces.
In 2020, many events have been canceled or altered. Check the websites of organizers for more information.
All Hallow's Eve
An old-fashioned All Hallow's Eve awaits at the historic Ohio Village on the second and third Saturday in October. Here, kids get a taste of 1890s fun—listening to a retelling of Washington Irving's classic tale, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," by the bonfire, pumpkin carving, playing old-timey games, and partaking in crafts throughout the evening. In 2020, the event will be a Sleepy Hollow Drive-in featuring a different not-too-scary movie like "Ghostbusters" and "Beetlejuice" each Friday night. Ohio History Connection will also hold a virtual Boohio Village with webinars about Victorian mourning rituals. Advanced registration is required.
Boo at the Zoo
The Columbus Zoo—part zoo, part theme park, part waterpark—is one of Ohio's greatest attractions. During weekends in October, costumed kids funnel through the gates of the Columbus Zoo dressed as superheroes and princesses for the annual Boo at the Zoo event. Candy stations will be scattered throughout the park, and the staff will be dressed up for a "merry-not-scary" good time. In 2020, the event will take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and feature Tommy C. Turtle’s Trick or Treat Trail, Zoo Boo Choo-Choo train rides, screenings of "Aquaman," and more.
North Market Halloween Family Funday
A Sunday afternoon at North Market is a Sunday afternoon well spent, especially during Family Funday, when the lively downtown public market comes alive with music, fall crafts, indoor and outdoor vendors, and trick-or-treating. Face painting and a petting zoo are staples of the Halloween jubilee, too. The event is free and will take place (rain or shine) on October 25, 2020, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Creekside Park and Plaza in the Columbus neighborhood of Gahanna hosts an annual, family-friendly Creepside Festival featuring live music, firemen meet and greets, a mad science lab, a "not-so-scary trail," trick-or-treating, pumpkin painting, escape rooms, and Ghostly Games courtesy of Gahanna Parks & Recreation. The free festival has been a community Halloween staple for more than 15 years, but in 2020, it has been canceled.
Halloween Pet Parade and Fall Festival
For 20 years, Easton Town Center has been welcoming four-legged family members for a costume party (and competition) in Fenlon Square. Prizes are awarded for the best dressed, including "Best Group" and "Best Duo," so make sure you and pooch are both ready for the fun. Homemade dog treats and caricature artists would normally be included, but in 2020, the parade and fall festival have both been canceled.
HalleBOOia! Halloween Concert
If a stage full of costumed singers and musicians seems like a fantastic way to kick off Halloween weekend, head to Hughes Hall for the Ohio State University School of Music's HalleBOOia! concert. Guests are encouraged to come in costume and admire a variety of musical styles, from contemporary pop to folk and classical. In 2020, the concert has been canceled.