The Top Halloween Events and Activities in Philadelphia for 2016
Haunted houses, historical frights, spooky soirees, hayrides and more
While rumors persist year-round of real ghosts inhabiting some of Philadelphia’s most historic sites, it’s during Halloween season when other-worldly creatures emerge from all corners of the region to make it a happily haunted time of year.
For serious thrill-seekers, several of the area’s haunted houses (like famed Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary) have earned acclaim for their Hollywood-quality special effects, animatronics, pyrotechnics and teams of horrifically talented professional actors. Meanwhile, families with wee ones can reap gentle thrills at Boo at the Zoo at the Philadelphia Zoo, the Scarecrow Walk at Morris Arboretum or the not-too-scary Count's Halloween Spooktacular at Sesame Place.
Below, you'll find a few spots that offer Halloween tricksters some delightfully frightful treats all October long.
Haunts & Scary Attractions
Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary
Through November 5, 2016 (select dates)
Celebrate the upcoming Halloween season by testing your nerves at Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind the Walls, a spooky haunted house inside a history-rich, abandoned prison. Designed to be high-startle, Terror Behind the Walls includes Hollywood-quality special effects and lighting, digital sound, animatronic creatures and custom props. Over 200 performers participate in six separate attractions on the 11-acre complex, creating one scary experience.
Eastern State Penitentiary is spooky enough on its own, but during Halloween it's downright frightening with Terror Behind the Walls, the largest haunted house in the country. (M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia)
Through October 30, 2016 (select dates)
Some say the dilapidated halls of the historic Pennhurst Asylum are genuinely haunted, making the high-tech haunted house even more frightening. Crawl through the Tunnel Terror, wander the labyrinth in the Dungeon of the Lost Souls and explore the new props and changes made to the hospital-themed walkthrough of the actual asylum.
Wander the halls of the historic Pennhurst asylum for a genuinely frightening experience. (Photo courtesy Pennhurst Asylum)
Through October 30, 2016 (select dates)
Housed inside an over century-year-old factory building in South Philadelphia, this year’s Fright Factory is set to summon screams galore. Last year marked the haunted house's 15th-anniversary of creating nightmares and with it came huge renovations that have turned the Fright Factory into the ultimate scare. Get ready to explore a ton of dark passages and hidden corners where professionally made-up monsters and high-tech horrors await to torment their visitors.
The Bates Motel
Through October 31, 2016 (select dates)
With professional performers and hair-raising animatronic effects and pyrotechnics, it’s no wonder that The Bates Motel has been called one of America’s scariest haunts by the Travel Channel. In addition to exploring the motel, the grounds' other spooky attractions include a Haunted Hayride and Haunted Corn Maze.
Visit one of America's scariest motels this Halloween. (Photo courtesy Bates Motel)
True Tales From The Tombs: Mischief Night By Firelight at Laurel Hill Cemetery
Friday, October 28, 2016
As if a cemetery at night weren't already creepy enough, Laurel Hill ups the scare level each year with True Tales From The Tombs: Mischief Night By Firelight. Pack a flashlight and prepare for an evening of bone-shivering, spine-tingling eerie tales when Laurel Hill Cemetery’s most provocative and memorable “residents” return from the dead to tell their stories.
Celebrate Halloween at Laurel Hill Cemetery with creepy tours filled with its residents tales. (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)
Ghost Tours of Philadelphia
Discover what may be lurking behind the shadows throughout America’s Most Historic Square Mile. Ghost Tours of Philadelphia uncover haunted spots throughout Society Hill, Independence Park and Washington Square, telling chilling tales of Benedict Arnold and Founding Fathers along the way.
Wander through the allegedly haunted U.S.S. Olympia during a special Halloween ghost hunting adventure. (Photo courtesy of the Independence Seaport Museum)
Spirits of '76 Ghost Tour
Tiptoe carefully through multiple cobblestoned Philadelphia streets as the Spirits of '76 Ghost Tour guides tell tales of history and hauntings, stopping at more than 20 scary sites in some of the city's most historic neighborhoods. As an added, less unnerving bonus, tour-goers will be taken to see where scenes of several big screen thrillers such as The Sixth Sense, Shooter and National Treasure were filmed!
Check out Philly's most haunted spots along the Spirits of '76 Ghost Tour. (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)
Grim Philly Riverboat Cruises
Set sail on a Grim Philly Riverboat Cruise, which will have you traversing over spooky waters. The irreverently uncensored cruise features an evening full tales of Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, pirate ghouls and the region’s favorite fiend, the Jersey Devil.
Even more scary attractions in Greater Philadelphia
Looking for even more frights? Click the button below for our guide to the scariest attractions in Greater Philadelphia that include playing laser tag against zombies, riding a haunted ski lift and more...
Other Halloween Activities
Harry Potter Festival in Chestnut Hill
October 21-22, 2016
Muggles and wizards turn out in costume for the Harry Potter Festival when the shops and restaurants in Chestnut Hill get a total Hogwarts makeover. The magical weekend features wizardry workshops, Quidditch tournaments, Dumbledore’s Maze, sorting hat demos and more.
Ride the Hogwarts Express to Chestnut Hill for the Harry Potter Festival. (Photo courtesy Chestnut Hill Business Association)
Scarecrow Competition and Display at Peddler's Village
Through October 30, 2016
Not all scarecrows are scary — especially those that are part of Peddler’s Village annual Scarecrow Competition and Festival, displaying dozens of creative scarecrow creations. Do-it-yourselfers can opt to get creative during the scarecrow-making workshops, while others can sign up to compete in pie-eating contests. All are invited to join in pumpkin-painting activities and enjoy live entertainment set to serenade the village's grounds.
Discover dozens of creative scarecrows during the annual Scarecrow Competition and Display in Peddler's Village in Bucks County. (A. Sinagoga for Visit Philadelphia)
Halloween at Franklin Square
Through October 29, 2016 (select dates)
Family-friendly Franklin Square welcomes October with an array of special Halloween happenings. Tee up at Spooky Mini Golf, featuring fog, lights, music and surprises all month-long. On October 22, Franklin Square hosts a Pumpkin Patch, inviting kids (10-years-old and under) to pick out and decorate a pumpkin to take home. On October 29, bring your costume-dressed kiddos out to the park for the Fox Rothschild Trick-or-Treat Trail, a sweet scavenger hunt that promises treats at locations all throughout the park.
Little ones can pick a pumpkin, decorate it and take it home during Franklin Square's annual Halloween celebration. (G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia)
Hayride to the Witch's House at Linvilla Orchards
September 23 - October 30, 2016 (select dates)
Hop aboard the Hayride to the Witch’s House, where the friendly witch who lives in the woods at Linvilla Orchards regales families with stories, followed by apple cider and marshmallow roasting around a bonfire.
Bring the family to Linvilla Orchards this fall for hayrides, fall treats and more. (R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)
Straw Maze: The Serpent of Woodmere at the Woodmere Art Museum
Through October 30, 2016 (Select Dates)
Made from massive straw bales, the Straw Maze: The Serpent of Woodmere at Woodmere Art Museum invites kids to come out for an all-afternoon climbing session. On Saturdays, a visit also includes craft activities and, on October 30, a Halloween parade is in store.
Find (or climb) your way through a giant maze at Woodmere Art Museum. (Photo courtesy Woodmere Art Museum)
Boo at the Zoo
October 22, 23, 29 and 30, 2016
Kids get to trick or treat with lions and tigers and bears during Boo at the Zoo at the Philadelphia Zoo. Beyond scoring candy, kids can set out on a scarecrow scavenger hunt and take a walk through the not-so-scary Extinction Graveyard detailing extinction around the world and more.
Celebrate Halloween with all your favorite furry friends at Boo at the Zoo. (J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia)
The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular at Sesame Place
September 24 - October 30, 2016
Celebrate silly, not-too-spooky fun at The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular at Sesame Place®. On weekends through October, the park is transformed into a family-friendly Halloween haven! Come in costume and enjoy themed shows, a Halloween maze and everyone’s favorite Sesame Street® friends. Rides, a Halloween parade and other special activities are all part of the annual fun.
Enjoy fun-filled events for the whole family at Sesame Place this fall. (Photo courtesy Sesame Place)
Morris Arboretum's Scarecrow Walk
Through October 23, 2016
This autumn, more than 30 scarecrows are decked out in the “Sense of Adventure” theme at Chestnut Hill’s Morris Arboretum. Vote for your favorite and afterward take a stroll through the beautiful, fall-foliage-filled grounds surrounding the contest.
Trick-Or-Treating in Philly's Neighborhoods and Towns
Black Magic Bash Halloween Party at Philadelphia Magic Gardens
October 29, 2016
The 9,000-square-foot mosaicked Philadelphia Magic Gardens gets even more decked out at the Black Magic Bash Halloween Party. Come costumed to this 21-plus party, where the West Philadelphia Orchestra will play Balkan beats and South Philly Barbacoa will serve up tasty Mexican cuisine. Barefoot Wine and Bubbly and Saint Benjamin Brewing Company will provide the libations and Poseybooth will enable you to capture your creative costumed self and take home a photo to remember the night.
Fall Festival and Spooky Saturday in East Passyunk
October 29, 2016
Kids, adults and even Fido can enjoy Fall Festival and Spooky Saturday in East Passyunk. While youngsters are painting pumpkins, trick or treating at local shops and showing off during a kids’ (and dogs’) costume contest, the adults can hit up food trucks and local restaurants for tasty bites and seasonal beverages, rock out to live bands and shop for crafts.
Philadelphia Costume Dash
October 29, 2016
Put on your craziest costume and get ready to rock it in a 5K or 10K run down Martin Luther King Drive (West River Drive) against the iconic backdrop of Boathouse Row and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Following the run, keep that costume on for the after-party starting at the Schuylkill Banks Pavilion and continuing as a pub crawl.
Run through the city in costume during the Philadelphia Costume Dash on October 29. (Photo courtesy Costume Dash)
Halloween in Manayunk
October 22, 2016
Manayunk celebrates Halloween with trick-or-treating along Main Street and a festive costume parade.
Spruce Hill Halloween Parade
In the tree-canopied West Philadelphia neighborhood of Spruce Hill, an annual kid-centric Halloween parade resumes its march on Halloween. Along its route, residents welcome costumed paraders with treats, cider and festive Halloween decorations.
Head to Spruce Hill for a festive Halloween parade, treats, cider and more. (Photo courtesy Spruce Hill Community Association)
A Mud Island Halloween at Fort Mifflin
October 14-29, 2016
From candlelit ghost tours to a costume party to a trick or treating celebration, there's all sorts of frightening fun at Fort Mifflin — cited as one of the most haunted sites in America — this October. For a full schedule of events, click the button below.
Visit Fort MIfflin, one of America's most haunted sites, for some ghoulish fun this October. (Photo courtesy Fort Mifflin)
Ardmore Halloween Spooktacular
October 29, 2016
Each year, the Ardmore Business Association businesses gather together with excitement to serve out sweets to costumed trick-or-treaters. Click the button below to stay up to date on location and event details as they are released.
Halloween at the Rosenbach
October 29, 2016
The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia gets all dressed up in its spookiest decor for a special Halloween soiree. Put on a costume of your own and meet in The Rosenbach's Rare Book Library, where participants will gather to explore the most arcane books of the library's collection and experience the mystic arts with vintage fortune cards and palmistry.
Put on your Halloween best for The Rosenbach's spooky soiree. (Photo courtesy The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia)
Gravedigger's Ball at Laurel Hill Cemetery
October 21, 2016
Go black-tie glam or stylishly ghoulish to the Gravedigger’s Ball, the annual fundraising event supporting activities at the historic Laurel Hill Cemetery. Costume contests, silent auctions, music and dancing add a touch of glitz to the evening’s unearthly celebrations.
Fall Ball Masquerade Fundraiser
October 15, 2016
There’s no such thing as too much bling at the Fall Ball Masquerade Party, benefiting the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus. Expect dancing, dining, drinking and more. This year's theme: Prohibition!