Few cities do Halloween better than New York—and with countless frightful gatherings going on across the five boroughs all week long, the possibilities can be overwhelming. So we’ve culled this year’s best shindigs, from free, fun-filled events for the whole family to the most over-the-top, hedonistic parties in town. Proceed with caution; costumes optional but encouraged.
Prom From Hell Halloween Party
Dare to dance until you drop dead? Put on your Frightday’s best and bust a move at Brooklyn’s Littlefield, where the Skint’s Prom From Hell promises to be a rollicking night fueled by spiked drinks and 100 pounds of candy. Horror film projections by Music Video Time Machine will serve as a backdrop for the debaucherous event, which will feature a photo booth and music from the 1980s–2000s spun by DJs Brendan & Bianca. Enter the costume contest for a shot to win some prizes. (Wilted corsage and blood-stained tuxedo optional.) Friday, October 26,10:30 p.m.; 635 Sackett Street, Gowanus; $7 in advance, $10 at the door
AMNH’s Halloween Celebration
Not many kids can say they trick-or-treated with their favorite cartoon characters, but the American Museum of Natural History is delivering more than just candy this Halloween. Curious George, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and more will make an appearance at the famed museum’s annual spooktacular, along with the Big Apple Circus, Louie Miranda, and the Gazillion Bubble Show, which are set to showcase their best kid-friendly performances. More than 30 museum halls will open their doors for the magical event, where guests are bound to encounter “ferocious” dinosaurs, “eerie” elephants, balloon artists, and stilt walkers. Saturday, October 27; open during museum hours: 10 a.m.–5:45 p.m.; Central Park West and 79th Street; $16, reservations recommended
The Madonnathon Halloween Party
Calling all Material Girls and Boys: The 15th edition of Highline Ballroom’s Madonna-themed social—hosted by Cathy Cervenka of Cathyland—will present live performances by NYC’s hottest musicians, from rock-cabaret artist Tammy Faye Starlite to multi-instrumentalist Lane Moore. Come dressed as your favorite Queen of Pop–inspired persona for a chance to win prizes and sing onstage with the band. Wednesday, October 31, 8:30 p.m.; 431 West 16th Street (between Ninth and Tenth Avenues), Chelsea; $25 in advance, $30 day of show, $50 for VIP reserved seating
Head to the House of Yes for a bacchanal bash filled with magic and mischief, headlined by techno DJ duo Chopstick & Johnjon. Party all night under festival lights alongside snake charmers, bearded ladies, and “creepy, sexy go-go clowns.” Play carnival games, nosh on popcorn and cotton candy, and get your pantomime on at the Harlequin Makeover Station while watching Siamese trapeze twins and aerial acrobats defy gravity. RSVP online and arrive before 11 p.m. for free admission—and don’t forget the circus-themed dress code. (Think: sinister clowns, ringmasters, and sideshow performers.) Friday, October 26, 10 p.m.–4 a.m.; 2 Wyckoff Avenue, Bushwick; tickets are free until 11 p.m. with RSVP
13th Annual NY Night Train Haunted Hop
Get on board Jonathan Toubin / New York Night Train’s psychedelic hoodang. The vampire-themed event will take place inside a labyrinthian haunted house, but watch out for cobwebs and creatures of the night. You won’t even notice the creepy-crawlies as you monster-mash to a live set by the 13th Floor Elevators frontman Roky Erickson and cover band performances by Animal Show, Baby Shakes, Bloody Holly, and more. Wednesday, October 31, 8 p.m.–2 a.m.; Knockdown Center, 52-19 Flushing Avenue, Maspeth; $25 online or $30 at the door
Grown-ups and kids alike will revel in the Halloween spirit at Asphalt Green’s yearly after-school gathering. Attendees of all ages can gather around for scary storytelling or partake in a game of Spooktacular Soccer Shootout. Come in costume, and get there early: The first 500 kids to arrive will be treated to a bag of goodies! Friday, October 26, 4–6 p.m.; 555 East 90th Street, Upper East Side; free
The Rub: Halloween
For those looking to toast the occasion sans costume, this down-to-earth wingding in Gowanus—dubbed by The Village Voice as “the best party in Brooklyn to dance sweatily to smart music”—is for you. You won’t find bottle service or celebrity DJs here, just a bunch of cool carousers blissfully immersed in a mix of hip hop, disco, house, reggae, and funk. Saturday, October 27, 10 p.m.; Bell House,149 7th Street, Gowanus; $15 at the door
All Hallows’ Seance
Want to get in touch with the spirit world (without the Ouija board)? Connect with the dearly departed at this divine gathering hosted by the only-one-name-needed Dakota, Catland co-owner and one of Brooklyn’s premier witches. Each attendee will have the chance to send messages to the other side during the paranormal powwow, taking place during the most mystical time of the year (when the veil between realms “is at its thinnest”). To take part in this chilling experience, be sure to bring a single white candle—and an extra pair of pants. Sunday, October 28, 7–9 p.m.; Catland, 987 Flushing Avenue, Williamsburg; $50
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