The Ultimate Guide to Halloween in Washington 2011

Haunted houses, crazy parties, family-friendly events—it’s all here!

By: Melissa Romero, Samantha Miller, Carrie Schedler

We'll bet you your weight in candy corn that there's a place for you to wear that great costume to in this list. Photographs by Chris Leaman

What Kind of Halloween Fun Are You Looking For?

Bar/Club Parties

Haunted Houses

Museum/Gallery Events

Family-Friendly Fun

Film & Movie Specials

Other Spooky Good Times

Restaurant Specials

BAR/CLUB PARTIES

Pastieville Horror at Red Palace
Thursday, October 27
The Red Palace promises a fun time with its burlesque show Pastieville Horror, featuring acts by Mourna Handful, Spanky Roundbottom, Stella Sweet, and more. The 21-and-over party is $10. Doors open at 8:30 PM.

Town Tavern
Friday, October 28, through Sunday, October 30
Town Tavern in Adams Morgan has a bunch of Halloween specials planned for the weekend. On Friday, enjoy an open bar from 10 to 11 PM for $10. Saturday’s $10 open bar runs from 8 to 10 PM, and you have the chance to win $100 for showing up in the best costume. On Sunday, head to brunch between noon and 3 PM and get unlimited bloody marys for $12.

Elliot in the Morning’s Halloween Bash at Clarendon Ballroom
Friday, October 28

Elliot in the Morning of DC101 will host an all-night bash at the Clarendon Ballroom, featuring live music from JunkFood and sets by The Naked and Famous and DJ Lil Fos. The winner of the party’s Halloween costume contest will go home with $3,000. $15 before 10 PM, $20 after. Doors open at 5 PM. Music starts at 8 PM. 21 and up.

See Also:

What Washington Restaurants are Serving This Halloween

Brightest Young Things’ Night at the Newseum
Friday, October 28

BYT will host its fourth Night at the Newseum—Halloween Edition—in 3D. Party-goers will receive free 3D glasses to view a 40-foot animation (and will get a discount off their next Newseum visit if they bring the glasses back). A live performance by DJ Questlove, drinks and food by Wolfgang Puck Catering available for purchase, and bars on three floors—and in elevators—add to the fun. Costumes are encouraged. $25 presale; $30 at the door. 9 PM. 18 and up.

BlackFinn Halloween Weekend
Friday, October 28

Start off your Halloween weekend the right way with spooky themed drinks at BlackFinn. Try the $5 Bloody Rum Punch or Freddy Krueger shooters. Those who like a little less “boo” in their booze can stick with $3 Bud Lights and $4 SoCo-and-lime shots. Enter the costume contest for a chance to win $250. The event is cosponsored by Southern Comfort.

Nightmare on M Street
Saturday, October 29
Can’t commit to just one Halloween party this year? Then the 12th annual Nightmare on M Street is the place to go. Bar hop among the Rumors, Public, Mad Hatter, and 13 other watering holes. Register between 5 and 10 PM at the Front Page DC, McFadden’s, or Mackey’s Pub. Take advantage of drink specials including $2 Coors Lights, $3 Blue Moons, and $4 to $5 Bacardi drinks; and dress to impress for the midnight costume contest at McFadden’s. Tickets ($17.50) can be purchased through Xorbia Tickets. 5 PM to 1 AM. 21 and up.

Twisted Circus Annual Halloween Bash at Eden
Saturday, October 29
Three DJs, circus clowns, and performers on stilts party at Eden's yearly bash, which starts at 10 PM. Admission is free until 11; after that, it's $20 at the door. And take note: you must sign up for the guest list at Eden's Web site to attend. To reserve a table, call 202.403.4343.

Halloween Boo Cruise
Saturday, October 29
For a twist on the typical Halloween celebrations, hit the waters for Spirit Cruises’ “Boo” cruise, featuring Halloween munchies (mummy hummus, anyone?), music, and dancing—plus great late-night views of DC. Costumes are encouraged. $44.90. 9 PM to midnight. 21 and up.

Town Dancebtoutique GhostTown Party
Saturday, October 29
At Town's GhostTown party, costume-clad men will have the chance to vie for the costume contest’s grand prize of $1,000. The drag show begins at 10:30 PM; rail drinks are $3 until 11. $8 from 10 to 11 PM, $12 after. 21 and up.

Vermilion Party
Saturday, October 29

Vermilion will host a Halloween party featuring live music from Don’t Panic, and a new lineup of comic-book-themed drinks, including the Captain America, the Green Lantern, and the Fantastic Four. Prizes will be awarded for the most original costumes. No cover. 9 PM.

EatBar
Saturday, October 29
Arlington’s EatBar is getting into the Halloween spirit with a live performance by Parliament Funkadelic. The person who dons the best costume will receive a special prize. No cover. 9 PM.

The Mansion on O Party
Saturday, October 29
The Mansion on O promises a fun time at its Halloween Costume Party, complete with a live DJ, a cash bar, and prizes for the best-decorated pumpkin or costume. On Monday, the Mansion will host another costume party that will include dinner. $30 on Saturday, $40 on Monday. 7 PM.

Halloween Graveyard Jam at Hard Rock Cafe
Saturday, October 29
Hard Rock Cafe predicts more than 1,000 souls will attend its Halloween party, geared toward young professionals. There will be prizes for the scariest, prettiest, and most original costumes—including a weekend trip to Mexico. You can also bob for apples, play drinking games, try to snag one of the door prizes, or just hit the dance floor. Hard Rock Cafe asks you to bring a can of food for the homeless. $14. 9 PM to 2:30 AM.

Tilted Torch: Spook-o-rama at Red Palace
Sunday, October 30
Head to the Red Palace for a night of magic tricks, games, and spooky performances. The variety show will feature hula-hoopers, belly dancers, and magicians. “Hot” Halloween attire is encouraged. $10. Doors open at 8:30 PM.

Maxim Masquerade Party
Monday, October 31
If you belong to the “less is more” school when it comes to how much a costume should cover up , head to Maxim magazine’s Halloween party at the Park at 14th. Hosted by Maxim models, the event will feature DJ Reach, giveaways, and costume prizes. $40 general admission, $75 VIP. 5 PM.

One Lounge Haunted House Party
Saturday, October 29

Go all out at One Lounge’s Haunted House Party this year. One Lounge is accepting table reservations for its party, with specials like two bottles of premium vodka plus candy for $300; add a bottle of Spanish cava for $50 more. “Witches’ Brew” cocktails will be $5, and DJ Blackbeard will provide the soundtrack as you sip and munch. Admission is free, but tables are by reservation only. $300. 8 PM.

Spooky! 2011 at Fur Nightclub
Monday, October 31
One of DC’s biggest nightclubs is hosting one of the few Halloween parties this year open to the 18-and-older crowd. The night will include a costume contest for a $300 first prize (group costumes are encouraged), six different DJs, and lots of dancing on the 4,000-square-foot dance floor. $10 presale; $13 at the door. 9 PM to 2 AM.

 

HAUNTED HOUSES & FORESTS

Markoff’s Haunted Forest
October 20 through 22, and October 27 through 31

Maryland’s spookiest haunted forest is back with terrifying surprises around every corner. Hop on a haunted hay ride, escape a spirit-infested bus, fly through the air on the forest’s zipline, hunt for ghosts, and more. Tickets ($25) can be purchased at the door.  

Haunted Scavenger Hunt
October 29 and 30
Leave the kids at home for tonight’s Haunted Washington scavenger hunt. Armed with only a flashlight, participants will visit spook-infested buildings near Lafayette Park while hearing ghostly tales. You might even glimpse of the spirit of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, or Abigail Adams. Tickets ($22.50) must be purchased in advance at the event Web site. 5 PM.

Ghost Tours of Frederick
Weekends in October, 7:30 PM
Take a stroll through Maryland’s most haunted city with a 90-minute tour by candlelight. You’ll hear the stories of several poltergeists—including a man who was executed in 1780 for his loyalty to King George III, the original owner of an 1814 mansion, and deceased actors of Frederick’s historic Tivoli theater. Tickets ($5 for children, $8 for seniors and active-duty military, $10 for adults) can be purchased before the tour.

Haunted Hallow
October 1 through 31
Legend has it that the Farm at Maple Tree Lane in Warrenton, Virginia, has been haunted since the late 1900s. Explore the grounds for yourself, but beware—it could be the last thing you ever do. Recommended for children 13 and older. Tickets ($15) can be purchased at the door. Gates open at 6:30 PM.

Creepywoods at Huber’s Farm
Weekends in October, plus Halloween night
Come face-to-face with terrifying creatures, gory scenes, and tortured souls along this Maryland haunted trail. Tickets ($20) can be purchased at the door or through the Creepywoods Web site. The ticket booth opens at 7:30 PM.

Bennett’s Curse
Thursdays and weekends in October, plus Halloween night
Voted one of “Americas Best Haunts,” this medieval castle features film-quality special effects, mind-boggling costumes, and paranormal illusions. Guests can wander through three attractions, including the House of Vampyres and the Sanctuary of Insanity. Tickets (starting at $25) can be purchased through the castle’s Web site. The ticket booth opens at 7 PM.

 

MUSEUM/GALLERY EVENTS

Fright at the Museum: Dead Men Walking
October 21, 22, and 27 through 31
Get spooked at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment’s Fright at the Museum night, where you can get a haunted house tour while in costume (masks prohibited). The museum houses the Tennessee electric chair, in which 125 men were executed from 1916 to 1960. $25. 7 PM. 17 and up.

Halloween at the Medical Museum: Serious Fun with Skulls
Saturday, October 22
The National Museum of Health and Medicine invites families to learn about skulls from an anthropologist in honor of the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Kids can decorate sugar skulls, make masks, or participate in story time. Halloween costumes are encouraged. Free. 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM.

ArtJamz Session at Lamont Bishop Gallery
Thursday, October 27
If you’re looking to feed your creative side this Halloween, don a silly costume and head to ArtJamz’s session at Lamont Bishop Gallery for a night of painting and music. Participants are encouraged to dress up like their favorite deceased painter. A $65 ticket gets you a 22-by-28-inch canvas; all-you-can-drink wine, beer, and VitaminWater; and hors d’oeuvres. A second session will be held the following day. $65. 6:30 to 10 PM.

Rock Paper Zombies at Strathmore Mansion
Friday, October 28
Head to a night of art, music, and costumes at Strathmore Mansion for Rock, Paper, Zombies! Artwork by John Foster and Itty Bitty Press will be featured, and Mittenfields, Devin Ocampo, and Bellflur will perform. Costumes are encouraged. $10 in advance, $12 at the door. 8 PM.

Track of Terror Halloween Bash at Laurel Park
Friday, October 28
Laurel Park will be transformed into a haunted house for its Track of Terror Halloween Bash, hosted by the Maryland Jockey Club. Two local DJs, Toby Knapp of DC’s Hot 99.5, and Staxx of Baltimore’s Z104.3 will host the 21-and-over party. A ticket includes access to an open food, beer, and wine bar from 8 to 10 PM. And don’t worry about driving—taxi services will be on-site from 11 until the event is done. $25. 8 PM to 1 AM.

 

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FUN

Enchanted Forest at Calleva Farm
October 21, 22, 28, and 29
Recommended for children 8 and younger, this well-lit, interactive trail features a winter scene from Narnia, a magical encounter with a friendly witch, Mr. McGregor's garden, and more. Best of all, patrons leave the Enchanted Forest with a complimentary pumpkin. Tickets ($10) can be purchased at the door. 7 to 8:30 PM.

Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival
Weekends through October 30

Every weekend this month, Washingtonians can stop by for the farm’s 31st annual Pumpkin Festival. Pick the perfect pumpkin, meet fuzzy friends at the petting zoo, compete in the rubber ducky derby, and catch a hay ride. Groove to live music between noon and 4 PM while enjoying seasonal treats including caramel apples, kettlecorn, and cider, which will be available for purchase. Tickets ($10, free for children 2 and under) can be purchased at the door; some activities cost extra. 10 AM to 5 PM.

Six Flags Fright Fest
Saturdays and Sundays through October 30, plus October 21 and 28
There’s something for everyone at the Baltimore Six Flags’ Fright Fest. Young children can hop on a Loony Tunes–themed hayride and trick-or-treat with their favorite characters. Kids under 54 inches are encouraged to come in costume, although masks aren’t allowed. Older kids (13 and up) can rock out to ghoulish music, ride in a haunted train, catch a performance of Hyde School Musical, and more. Tickets (starting at $28.50) can be purchased through Six Flags’ Web site.

Wheaton Haunted Train and Creepy Carousel
October 20 through 23, and October 27 through 30

Wheaton Regional Park’s wooded train is taking a frightful turn this month. The spooky ride is geared toward children 8 and older, but younger kids can hitch a ride on Cabin John’s “Eye Spy” train. Other activities include a creepy carousel (ages 8 and up), free Halloween movies, and face painting. Light refreshments will be available for purchase. Tickets ($6, $5 with donation of canned food, free for children 2 and under) can be purchased at the door.

Boo at the Zoo at the National Zoo
October 21 and 23

Washington’s wildest Halloween party is back with haunted trails, animal encounters, zookeeper presentations, and more than 40 treat stations. Participating venues include Dolci Gelati, Newman’s Own, Whole Foods, Mars, Dole Fruit, and Honest Kids, to name a few. Tickets ($20 for members, $30 for nonmembers) can be purchased through the National Zoo’s Web site. 5:30 to 8:30 PM.

Story Time at Barnes and Noble
Saturday, October 29

The Bethesda Barnes and Noble is hosting a spooky story time featuring Michael Rex’s Goodnight Goon—a “petrifying parody” of the beloved childhood book Goodnight Moon. Pint-size readers are encouraged to wear costumes. Free. 5 PM.

Haunted Halloween Pop-Ups
Saturday, October 29
Architects-in-training can create their very own pop-up haunted house at the National Building Museum. Kids can also enjoy treats and ghost stories about the museum. Tickets (free for adults, $10 for members, $15 for nonmembers) can be purchased through the museum’s Web site. All children must be accompanied by an adult. 10 AM to noon.

Trick-or-Treat in Old Town Alexandria
October 29
A bunch of our favorite Old Town shops—including Fibre Space, Hysteria, and the Shoe Hive—are joining forces for the Boutique District’s annual Trick-or-Treat. Goblins of all ages can make Halloween masks at the Christmas Attic, munch on cider and cookies at the Sugar Cube, and of course, trick-or-treat. Free. During business hours.

Glen Echo Park’s Fall Frolic
October 29
Bring the whole family to Glen Echo Park for an afternoon of Halloween-themed activities—including pumpkin decorating ($1), face painting ($2), live performances, a pumpkin promenade, and more. Adults can peruse the park’s open studios and galleries, including Glen Echo Pottery, the Art Glass Center, and Photoworks. 1 to 4 PM.

Little Boo: Scary Stories for the Whole Family
October 29
SpeakeasyDC will host an afternoon of spooky storytelling at Dance Place, featuring tales by Bill Mayhew, Ellouise Schoettler, Michael Cotter, Kristala Pouncy, and Emily Ruskowski. Tickets ($8 for children under 12, $10 for students, $22 for adults) can be purchased through SpeakeasyDC’s Web site. 4 PM.

Tea and Pumpkins at the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner
Saturday, October 29, and Sunday, October 30
For a Halloween celebration that's more fancy than frightening, the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner has two kid-friendly events. On Saturday, the hotel's executive chef leads two pumpkin-carving classes for kids ages six and above, complete with a light lunch and treats. Sessions start at both 10 AM and 1 PM and cost $50 per person. On Sunday, there's a Halloween tea with a live magician and a lunch of ham-and-cheese sandwiches, pumpkin cupcakes, and hot chocolate and cider. Seatings at both 11 AM and 2 PM are $65 per person. To make a reservation, call 703-917-5498..

 

FILM & MOVIE SPECIALS

AFI’s Halloween on Screen
Through October 31
This year, AFI Silver Theatre’s film festival will pay tribute to horror legend Vincent Price. The center picked eight of Price’s freakiest films, including The Last Man on Earth, The Raven, The Masque of the Red Death, and The Pit and the Pendulum. You can check out our review here. And if you’re looking for something more modern, the festival will also be showing zombie flicks Shaun of the Dead and Dead Snow. Tickets ($8.50 for members, $11 for nonmembers) can be purchased through AFI’s Web site.

October Spooktacular
October 19 and 28
The Japan Information and Culture Center (1150 18th St., NW) will celebrate All Hallow’s Eve with spooky Japanese cinema. Films include Fine, Totally Fine on October 19 and The Great Yokai War on October 28. The events are free, but attendees must RSVP by calling 202-238-6900. 6:30 PM.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer at the Black Cat
October 29
Fans of Joss Whedon and Sarah Michelle Gellar can catch episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer at the Black Cat. For those not in the know, Gellar plays a woman who fights vampires, demons, and other evil forces with the help of her friends Xander (Nicholas Brendon) and Willow (Alyson Hannigan), and her watcher, Giles (Anthony Stewart Head). And let’s face it: Buffy still beats Ringer. Drink specials will be available. Free. 7 PM.

Rocky Horror Picture Show
October 29
Cult classic the Rocky Horror Picture Show will be screening at the Workhouse Arts Center. Costumes are encouraged, and singing along is a must. The first 100 customers will get a complimentary bag of props to use during the movie. Tickets ($10) can be purchased at the door. 9 PM.

 

OTHER SPOOKY GOOD TIMES

Dog-friendly Halloween Happy Hour at the Park Hyatt Washington DC
Wednesday, October 19
Dress up Fido for this Halloween-themed, dog-friendly happy hour benefiting the Washington Animal Rescue League. Both owners and pups can dress up for the costume contest (judged by NBC 4's Tracee Wilkins) and the chance to win prizes. For $12 you'll get admission for you and your pooch, two drink tickets for beer or wine, festive candy, and dog treats. 6 to 8 PM. 

The Belly Horror Show at the Birchmere
Friday, October 21
The sixth annual Belly Horror Show at the Birchmere in Alexandria kicks off a weekend festival for artists, complete with dance workshops and an artist bazaar. The event will showcase ten acts, including belly, burlesque, and vaudeville dancers hailing from as far as California and London. Comedy and vaudeville act the Slomski Brothers will host. $29.50. 7:30 PM. 18 and up.

Fourth Annual Silver Spring Zombie Walk
Saturday, October 22
For an early scare this year, join thousands of participants in the Silver Spring Zombie Walk. The route starts at the intersection of Georgia and Sligo Avenues and ends at the AFI Silver Theatre. So don your scariest costume and painted face and join the walk, starting at 8:45 PM.

DC Drag Queen Race
Tuesday, October 25
This year, check out one of the most popular (and unconventional) Halloween events in town: the DC Drag Queen Race. Costumed queens will race down 17th Street between P and S streets, Northwest, in high heels. The race starts at 9 PM, and the block party lasts for hours after.

Pumpkin Carving at Helix Lounge
Wednesday, October 26
All you need to compete in Helix's seventh annual carving contest is an idea; the lounge will provide pre-scooped pumpkins and tools, as well as prizes. Happy hour specials on wine, beer, and cocktails fuel the creativity. 6 to 8 PM.

BOO: A Night of True Stories About Things That Are Scary
Saturday, October 29 and Sunday, October 30

SpeakeasyDC will host a weekend full of spooky storytelling, featuring stories by Stephanie Garibaldi, Derek Hills, Cindy Kane, and more at the Dance Place. The Saturday performance, at 7:30 and 10 PM, is not recommended for children under age 16. Sunday’s performance at 4 PM, Little Boo, is perfect for children six and older. $22 for adults, $10 for college students, $8 for children 17 and under. Adults can reserve one free ticket for a child 12 and under with purchase of a full-price ticket.