Family-Friendly Things to Do in This Season of Spooky Fun


With October’s arrival, the spooky fun can begin! If your family loves Halloween, you will be happy to find there are tons of Halloween events that are not-too-scary for even the youngest kiddos happening all around New York City all month long. Today, I am highlighting the many different ways New York City families can celebrate Halloween during October.

Trick or Treat

The first (and most obvious) way NYC families can celebrate Halloween is to get dressed up in costumes and go trick or treating. If your neighborhood or apartment building isn’t Halloween-friendly, take your kids to a trick or treat event such as Trick or Treat at the Terminal at Grand Central Station.

Halloween Parties

Throughout the month of October, there are several Halloween parties for kids, including the Hip Hop Halloween Celebration (October 12th, Rockaway Queens) and the Halloween Boo Bash (October 31st, Randall’s Island).

Halloween Parades

New Yorkers love parades, so we take any excuse to throw one – including Halloween! There are numerous Halloween-themed parades beginning this weekend and continuing until October 31st. Families can enjoy the 34th Annual Bronx Halloween Parade or the Coney Island Children’s Halloween Parade.

Harvest Festivals

With the cooler temperatures, the autumnal colors, and the pumpkins, the month of October is the ideal time to celebrate fall. And what better way than a traditional fall festival? NYC families will have their pick of harvest festivals in their communities. Typically, these festivals include food, entertainment, and kid-friendly activities.

Pet-Friendly Halloween Events

If you have a dog, then you definitely should take advantage of the dog-friendly Halloween events happening around NYC, such as the Halloween Howl & Healthy Hound Fair and the 21st Annual Great PUPkin Dog Costume Contest. Even if you do not have a dog, these events are fun to attend because you get to see all these adorable dogs in costumes.

Events All About Pumpkins

If your favorite thing about Halloween is all the jack o’ lanterns, then take your kids to check out the intricately carved and decorated pumpkins at the Spooky Pumpkin Garden at the New York Botanic Gardens taking place all month long. PS. This is the perfect place for Insta-worthy pics! If you are a pumpkin carving pro, then consider entering your carved pumpkin in the 5th Annual Carved Pumpkin Contest in Tribeca.

Boo at the Zoo

An annual family favorite is Boo at the Zoo happening at Bronx Zoo weekends all month long through November 3rd. This fun event includes a little of everything – trick or treating, pumpkin carving, entertainment, storytime, and more.

Host Your Own Kid-Friendly Halloween Party

Last but not least, consider hosting your own kid-friendly Halloween party. I think these are one of the easiest parties to host because the kids are happy just to be dressed up in costumes, so you don’t have to do too much entertaining! Plus, the rules about healthy eating are forgotten for one night only.

For more specific NYC events for families, check out Mommy Poppins Halloween Event and Activities Guide.

Things to Do in New York for Halloween with Your Family and Kids


Now that the Halloween season is upon us, I love to find family-friendly Halloween events in New York. This means I look for events that are not too spooky and are mostly geared at encouraging costumes, fun, and treats without too many tricks.

Part of the fun of having kids is that you get to celebrate Halloween all over again as an adult! My girls love any opportunity to dress up, and I love any excuse to celebrate festively. Honestly, there are so many fun, family-friendly Halloween events in New York that the hardest decision I have to make each year is deciding which ones to put on my family’s calendar.

Well, I have done my research and I am happy to share the Halloween events in New York my family is most looking forward to in 2018.

Boo at the Zoo

Photograph - Julie Larsen Maher

Photograph - Julie Larsen Maher

We absolutely love Boo at the Zoo held each weekend through October at the Bronx Zoo. The combination of zoo animals, Halloween decorations, trick-or-treat, and costumes make this event that cannot be missed by families! Add in a spooky hayride, pumpkin carving, and a costume parade and this event will have everyone in my family cheering “Happy Halloween!”

Annual Halloween Festival and Great PUPkin Dog Costume Contest

Photograph: Jasmin Chang

Photograph: Jasmin Chang

Mark your calendars for October 27, 2018, for the super fun and silly Great PUPkin Dog Costume Contest at the annual Halloween Festival at Fort Greene Park Conservatory. In addition to giggling at all the adorably costumed pups, your kids will have a blast since the festival also includes live music and other Halloween festivities.

Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla

Photograph: Filip Wolak

Photograph: Filip Wolak

You know what is even better than a family-friendly Halloween event? A FREE family-friendly Halloween event! On October 28, 2018, from 4 PM – 7 PM, families can celebrate Halloween in Central Park (near the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center). In addition to the main event (the charming pumpkin flotilla), families can also listen to spooky stories, do some Halloween crafting, carve pumpkins, and march in a costume parade.

The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze

Photograph: Jennifer Mitchell

Photograph: Jennifer Mitchell

Families must plan a trip to Hudson Valley, New York this fall season to experience The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze running select dates from September 28th – November 24th. A quick explanation – this is the Halloween version of going to look at exquisite Christmas light displays. The long explanation – see over 7000 glowing, intricately carved pumpkins as well as seeing flying ghosts, Sleepy Hollow’s Headless Horseman, and stargazing in the pumpkin planetarium. It will be the highlight of the fall season for your family.

The Village Halloween Parade

Photograph: Filip Wolak

Photograph: Filip Wolak

An event that both kids and families will enjoy on Halloween night (beginning around 7 PM) is the Annual Village Halloween Parade through Greenwich Village. Costumed families can march in the parade or view it as spectators. Want to look your best? 2018’s theme is I AM a Robot! Expect to see elaborate costumes and have some delightfully spooky fun with the family!


Which family-friendly Halloween events in New York are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!