"Let the kids show off their costumes while painting pumpkins, creating crafts, watching movies or (don’t tell them) learning about science at one of these Halloween parties.
Saturday, Oct. 22
Halloween Family Day at the Library of Congress: Millions of kids have been scared silly by R.L. Stine’s creepy yet amusing Goosebumps series, and those who grew up reading “A Night in Terror Tower” and “Stay Out of the Basement” under the covers with a flashlight are now old enough to share the books with their own children. Stine and Mary Pope Osborne, the creator of the wonderful time-traveling “Magic Tree House” fantasy series, are the guests of honor at the Library of Congress’s Halloween Family Day, where they’ll participate in a special event in the Coolidge Auditorium at 2 p.m. and sign books afterward. Doors open at 10 a.m. for “spooky art activities,” a reading corner and other creepy things to do. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free; timed tickets required.
Fall Fest on West in Annapolis: Annapolis’s West Street regularly closes to traffic to allow art festivals and Dinner Under the Stars events to expand into the middle of the pavement. The Fall Fest features pumpkin decorating, games and art activities for kids, while adults enjoy live music — including the 17-piece Bayside Big Band — and browse pumpkins painted by artists to raise money for Light House, a local support center for the homeless. The festival runs from 1 to 5 p.m., followed by dining at tables in the street in front of restaurants like Tsunami and Stan and Joe’s until 9 p.m. Pro tip: Make dinner reservations in advance. 1 to 9 p.m. Free.
Wednesday. Oct. 26
Vienna Halloween Parade: “Time Machine: Vienna in the Past, Present and Future” is the theme for the town of Vienna’s Halloween parade, which has been held since 1946. Costumed children and their parents are welcome to march in the procession down Maple Avenue, which also features floats from local organizations and businesses. 7 p.m. Free.
Thursday, Oct. 27
PumpkinPalooza at Alethia Tanner Park: Explore a pick-your-own pumpkin patch right in the city at the NoMa Business Improvement District’s annual PumpkinPalooza, taking place on the Thursday before Halloween at Alethia Tanner Park. Stick around for popular children’s entertainer the Great Zucchini, a themed scavenger hunt, music from the Too Much Talent Band and a screening of the Halloween classic “Hocus Pocus.” For adults, NoMa’s Red Bear Brewing Co. will be pouring glasses of All Hallows pumpkin lager and Gourd Riddance pumpkin ale in a beer garden. 4 to 9 p.m. Free.
Halloweekend at Yards Park: A two-part event begins Thursday night with an outdoor screening of the original “Ghostbusters.” Bring a picnic blanket to Yards Park, where the film begins at 7 p.m. Then, on Saturday, head to Canal Park for Pumpkins in the Park, with pumpkin decorating, a moon bounce, live music and a magic show. Pumpkins are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. Thursday at 7 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free.
Friday, Oct. 28
Boo at the Zoo at the National Zoo: In 2020, the National Zoo turned Boo at the Zoo into a drive-through event. Last year, the popular Halloween tradition was canceled entirely, not long after nine lions and tigers became infected with the coronavirus. But D.C. parents will be excited to hear that Boo at the Zoo is back in its regular format this year. Kids can follow haunted trails to visit “around 30 trick-or-treat stations” and stop in for after-hours animal demonstrations at the Great Ape House, the Elephant Community Center, the Small Mammal House and other facilities. Note that parking passes are sold out for all three nights. Friday and Sunday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. (Saturday tickets sold out). $35; children younger than 2 admitted free.
Hilloween at Eastern Market: Eastern Market will be Capitol Hill’s pre-Halloween headquarters thanks to Hilloween, a family-friendly party first held in 2000. Expect activities like face painting, pumpkin decorating, karaoke and, of course, trick-or-treating. 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Free.
Saturday, Oct. 29
Air & Scare at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Dressed-up kids can collect candy while learning about telescopes and space exploration at Air & Scare, the Smithsonian’s annual Halloween event at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly. The party will happen both outside and inside at the Udvar-Hazy Center, built around two large airplane hangars packed with thousands of artifacts (take a Halloween scavenger hunt challenge to see some spooky highlights from the collection). Outside, activity centers for kids will span everything from temporary tattoo stations to a chance to create their own James Webb Space Telescope space art. While all advance passes for outdoor activities have been claimed, the museum says it does “expect to allow for some walk-ups,” so early arrival is suggested. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets are not necessary for indoor Air & Scare activities or the museum exhibits. Free.
Takoma Park Monster Bash: A DJ-led dance party and a magic show kick off Takoma Park’s annual Monster Bash, which begins in the parking lot of Takoma Park Middle School — and this year, there’s a new “trunk or treat” event where kids can scoop up candy from local businesses. Then costumed children parade through the streets before a winner is crowned at the award ceremony and celebration. 1 to 4 p.m. Free.
Lil’ Pumpkins Festival at BlackRock Center for the Arts: If your family doesn’t have a pumpkin yet — or you want to add to your collection — Germantown performance venue BlackRock Center for the Arts is giving free pumpkins to kids younger than 11 at its Lil’ Pumpkins Festival. This Halloween party includes activities like pumpkin painting, trick-or-treating and a costume parade, while adults can visit a beer garden or, after the family event wraps up, watch a screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” with a live cast at 6 or 9 p.m. 2 to 6 p.m. Free.
Día de los Muertos Family Day at Smithsonian American Art Museum: The Smithsonian American Art Museum celebrates Día de los Muertos with crafts for all ages and face painting for little ones, too. The festivities include live performances from the local musicians and dancers of Ballet Folklorico Mi Herencia Mexicana, Mariachi Aguila DC and Sol y Rumba. 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free.
Glen Echo Park Fall Frolic: Children are invited to create and decorate a loot bag before trick-or-treating at Glen Echo’s galleries and artist studios. Participate in a costume parade, try crafting, and even take a 10-minute private piano or violin lesson with the Washington Conservatory of Music. 1 to 4 p.m. Free.
Sunday, Oct. 30
Del Ray Halloween Parade: Del Ray’s 26th annual parade through the neighborhood takes over the busy Mount Vernon Avenue strip between East Bellefonte Avenue and the Mount Vernon Recreation Center, passing festively decorated businesses along the way. The festivities include stroller and pet costume contests — the latter has a category called “how could you do this to me?” while the stroller competition has divisions for “best group or family” and “less is more.” Classic rock band Mars Rodeo performs at the parade’s end. The parade is the culmination of events around the Alexandria community, including a Halloween scavenger hunt, which begins Oct. 22, and the Boos and Brews bar crawl on Mount Vernon Avenue on Oct. 29, with participants including Evening Star Cafe and Barkhaus. 2 p.m. Free.
Spooktacular Halloween at Mosaic District: Shops at Mosaic District will be handing out candy to trick-or-treaters all day, while the green space Strawberry Park plays host to a face painting station, courtesy of the royal characters at Vienna Singing Princesses, from 2 to 7 p.m. and an outdoor viewing of the animated film “The Addams Family” on a big screen at 6 p.m. 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free.
Harbor Halloween at National Harbor: Kids who wear a costume to National Harbor’s Halloween party can get a free ride on the Capital Wheel from noon until 2 p.m. with the purchase of an adult ticket. That’s in addition to trick-or-treating at nearly 30 businesses throughout the waterfront development and happenings like a pet costume parade, a pumpkin carving contest and an outdoor screening of “Hocus Pocus.” 12:30 to 3 p.m. Free."