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Haunted house in downtown Chicago | © Josh Evnin / Flickr
Haunted house in downtown Chicago | © Josh Evnin / Flickr

10 Things to Do for Halloween 2017 in Chicago

Picture of Kelsey Grace Pfeifer
Updated: 8 September 2017

The spooky season is just around the corner, and the Halloween queens and kings are surely filling up their itineraries with wonderful things to do in each city. And for those queens and kings of All Hallow’s Eve, Chicago is a must-visit for some of the coolest events around. So carve a pumpkin, find a haunted house, or simply get scared—here are 10 things to do in the Windy City for Halloween.

Take a short drive to Fright Fest

For Chicagoans, Fright Fest is both a right of passage and an un-missable event. Though a bit of the drive from the city in Gurnee, Illinois, it is one of the greatest ways to spend Halloween ever. Held at Six Flags Great America, Fright Fest runs from September 16th– October 31st. The theme park completely transforms, with actors running around in full zombie or ghost costumes and specialized haunted attractions for the event. If you’re a night owl, the best time to get to the park is about two hours before closing; the lines on all the rides are practically non-existent, and the haunted houses are nightmare scary with only a few people to protect you.

Six Flags Great America, 1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee, IL, USA, +1 847 249 1776

#FrightFest was a delightful success 🎃👻

A post shared by Kelsey Grace (@route.road.roam) on

Hit up one of Chicago’s most haunted spots

This activity is definitely not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. Chicago is an old city, with lots of history behind it, so why wouldn’t there be ghosts? The 1920s alone probably provided the city with enough spirits for decades. So if ghost-hunting sounds intriguing, look into visiting a supposed haunt in the city, such as the site of the Valentine’s Day Massacre or Lincoln Park. While the park looks idyllic, some people believe that it houses somewhere around 10,000 unmarked graves. Yikes!

Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL, USA

Grab some classy candy from one of Chicago’s candy boutiques

While Zillow named Chicago as one of the best places to trick-or-treat in the nation, sometimes grown-ups want candy as well. Luckily, Chicago’s got it covered with its many cute candy shops. Amy’s Candy Bar is the place to go for a retro vibe, with adorable candies in jars and to-die-for house-made caramels. If upscaling is the name of the game, head over to Candyality at Water Tower Place, which has an honest-to-goodness licorice bar.

Amy’s Candy Bar, 4704 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 773 942 6386

Candyality, 835 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL, USA, +1 312 867 5500

Did you know we have more than 200 different types of #candy? We certainly have something for everyone! 🍬🍭🍫

A post shared by Amy's Candy Bar (@amyscandybar) on

The Spooky Pooch Parade

This event is entirely as wonderful as its title makes it seem. Loving dog owners dress up their dogs in delightful costumes and parade them through the Chicago Botanic Gardens—this is a bucket-list event if ever there was one. At the end of the parade, awards are given out, and the hilarious categories include Best Dog/Owner Costume; Best Puppy in Costume for dogs ages one and under in people years; Best Senior in Costume for dogs ages 10 and older in people years; and Best Horticultural Interpretation. So for a dose of cuteness this Halloween, make sure to check out the Spooky Pooch Parade.

Chicago Botanic Gardens, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL, USA

Loki and Winston rocking it as a Ghostbuster and Slimer for the #spookypoochparade

A post shared by Noelle Champagne (@bubblynoelle) on

Freaky Deaky

Sometimes, raging to some electronic music with lots of glow lights is exactly what Halloween is about. The Freaky Deaky concert series is taking place all over the Midwest, but the Chicago events will feature amazing artists such as Kayzo, Oliver Heldens, Gorgon City, and Dillon Francis. Show up in the weirdest get-up possible and get ready to rage until dawn with some ghoulish people.

Concord Music Hall, 2047 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL, USA

Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago, IL, USA

Night of 1,000 Jack O’ Lanterns

And yet again, the Chicago Botanic Gardens do not disappoint when it comes to the Halloween season. Families and acquaintances alike can wander around the gardens marveling at some expertly carved pumpkins. Yes, there are actually pumpkin carving experts. The New York-based company Rise of the Jack O’ Lanterns uses power tools and scalpels and will spend up to 15 hours carving a single pumpkin. The overall spectacle is certainly a sight to be seen during Chicago’s Halloween season.

The night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns opens tonight! Almost sold out but a few tickets are still available. #🎃

A post shared by Chicago Botanic Garden (@chicagobotanic) on

Spooky Zoo Spectacular

The Lincoln Park Zoo is a staple for Chicagoans looking to spend a weekend watching adorable animals for free. But during the Halloween season, the zoo transforms itself into a fun and safe family environment to collect some treats and show the animals how great this holiday is. As a kid, spending the day trick-or-treating in a live zoo does not get any better.

Fear our little Dark Lord. #Lucien #LincolnParkZoo #spookyzoospectacular

A post shared by Mandi Mayhemm (@missmayhemm) on

Northalsted Halloween Parade

When it comes to outlandish costumes and throwing a fun-for-hours event, no one does it better than Chicago’s Boystown. The year 2017 will be the 21st year that the Northalsted Halloween Parade has taken place, and it is sure to be just as fantastical as the many years before. The outrageous costumes and characters make this event a staple in Chicago during Halloween.

The Nightmare at Navy Pier presents the Halloween Ball

Watching Casper and The Haunted Mansion always provides audiences with amazing scenes of spooky, scary Halloween Balls. Now live out the dream of dancing ‘til dawn with a mysterious masked figure, or getting down with a ghoul. The ball occurs in Navy Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom, and it is guaranteed to be the party of the century, with over 3,000 guests in attendance. So grab the best costume, drink some punch, and dance like there’s no tomorrow.

Most amazing reception evaaaa! #navypierballroom #dosamins

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Midnight Haunted Ghost Ship

Any time of year, the best way to do a Chicago tour is by boat. But Halloween? The boat tours really step up their game for a fun and eerie experience on the Chicago River. The Spirit of Chicago is a multi-level yacht that provides a non-stop party experience for those wanting to do Halloween a bit differently. On board is a DJ providing the night with killer jams from Top 40 to EDM, so the fun never stops.