How to Celebrate Halloween in New York City

Halloween in New York City is an all-out celebration, featuring the world's largest Halloween parade, spooky haunted houses, ghost tours, cursed bars, and many other places to celebrate the holiday in each of the city's five boroughs.

Whether you're staying in Brooklyn's hip Williamsburg neighborhood or right in the center of the city near Times Square, Halloween in NYC is a delightfully haunting and hellish affair. Be sure to stop by one of the many costume shops in the city so you can dress to impress your fellow ghouls and goblins and slip right into the fright night fun.

Keep in mind when planning your trip this year that Halloween falls on a Wednesday in 2018, so celebrations will take place on the Saturday and Sunday before the holiday, October 27 and 28.

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    Participants in costume attend the 42nd Annual Village Halloween Parade in 2015

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    Everyone loves a parade, and ghosts, goblins, and other assorted ghouls are no exception. Nowhere in the world does Halloween bigger and better than NYC thanks to Manhattan's legendary Village Halloween Parade. The 45th annual Village parade will take place on October 31 in 2018, and the theme will be "I AM a Robot." You can either walk in the parade or watch along the sidelines, but either way, you're in for an extravagant display of some of the best costumes in the world.

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    Ricky's Halloween New York City

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    If you're heading out to the parade, you'll want to get into the "spirit" of things and dress to impress your fellow hell-raisers on Halloween night. Fortunately, there are a number of great Halloween costume stores in NYC, so that you can undergo your scary, silly, or sexy transformation stat. The Abracadabra Superstore, Early Halloween store, and multiple locations of Ricky's NYC are great places to pick up everything from wigs to fangs to full-on costumes.

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    Dakota Apartment Building

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    While some haunted houses only operate from September through October, there are also a number of haunted buildings you can visit any time of year. The popular seasonal haunted houses happen in converted warehouses around the city and include Blood Manor (moving to a new location for 2018) and the "This Is Real" immersive theatrical horror experience. 

    If outright scares aren't your cup of tea, there a quite a few haunted spots around the city that you can visit including the Empire State Building.

  • 04 of 07
    The Campbell Apartment at Grand Central Terminal

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    Speaking of local establishments with a history of frights, there are a number of bars and restaurants in Manhattan that are reportedly haunted. You can visit the ghost of the sailor named Mickey at the Ear Inn in SoHo or the ​specter of the poet Dylan Thomas at White Horse Tavern, where he reportedly died after taking 18 whiskey shots. All of the establishments are set in historical buildings, and give a whole new meaning to the term "neighborhood haunts."

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  • 05 of 07
    Morris-Jumel Mansion Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan

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    If you're looking for a more curated experience, you can encounter ghostly gangs and uncover Manhattan's hair-raising history while out on a spooky ghost tour of NYC. You can investigate paranormal activities at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, explore the "Island of Lost Souls" on Roosevelt Island, or take a candlelit tour of the Merchant’s House Museum, Manhattan's most haunted house.

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    Dogs Dress Up For Annual Tompkins Square Park Halloween Parade
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    Humans aren't the only ones who like to undergo transformation and howl at the moon on Halloween night! To check out some of these adorable and creepy canine critters at their costumed best, hoof it to the annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade, now in its second decade. Cited as "the largest dog costume parade in the world" by CNN, this is a great way to spend the afternoon on Halloween.

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    If you feel like getting out of the touristy areas of New York City to experience a more local-oriented Halloween celebration, consider heading to one of these parades and events in Brooklyn. From Greenpoint's family-friendly festival and parade to the raucous Coney Island Halloween parade, there's no shortage of events happening in NYC's other boroughs, especially Brooklyn.