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, find a diverse selection of spots celebrating the Halloween holiday by means of frightful tours, delightful treats, boozy parties and more.
Through November 11, 2017 (select dates)
Celebrate the 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 – including the new Blood Yard – on the 11-acre complex.
Through November 4, 2017 (select dates)
Some say the dilapidated halls of the historic Pennhurst Asylum are genuinely haunted, making this high-tech haunted house even more frightening. Meet asylum patients in a new-for-2017 gauntlet underneath the Pennhurst complex, wander the labyrinth in the Dungeon of the Lost Souls and more across four attractions.
Housed inside an old factory building in South Philadelphia, Fright Factory summons screams galore. Encounter escaped inmates, giant spiders and more at three new attractions for 2017: Industrial Nightmare, Silent Scream Asylum and Fright Factory Unearthed.
Through October 31, 2017 (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.
Discover what may be lurking behind the shadows throughout America’s Most Historic Square Mile. Ghost Tours of Philadelphia uncover haunted spots throughout the secret gardens of Independence National Historical Park and back streets of Old City, telling chilling tales of Benedict Arnold and Founding Fathers along the way.
Tiptoe carefully through multiple cobblestoned Philadelphia streets as the guides of the Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour 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 (and less-unnerving bonus), tour-goers will be taken to see where scenes of several big screen thrillers — including The Sixth Sense, Shooter and National Treasure — were filmed!
Grim Philly offers a variety of tours that are fitting for this time of year. From the Serial Killers and Cemetery Tour to the Haunted Pub Crawl to the Ghost Hunting Tour, spooky options abound full of Philly frights and sites.
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.
October 20-21, 2017
Adding to the magical fun of the Halloween season, Chestnut Hill’s massive (and massively popular!) Harry Potter Festival returns to fill 12 full blocks in the charming Northwest Philadelphia neighborhood this October. The biggest Harry Potter Festival in Chestnut Hill to date will feature Wands and Wizards Night on the Avenue, Magical Make and Take Zones, the Eighth Annual Philadelphia Brotherly Love Cup Quidditch Tournament at Chestnut Hill College, Harry Potter quizzo, a Deatheater’s dance party, potion making, wizarding demonstrations, a muggles read-a-thon, the popular straw maze at Woodmere Art Museum and so much more.
Select Dates Throughout October
On select days in October, The Schmidt’s Commons hosts a Halloween movie series that includes free screenings of Halloweentown, Insidious, Dracula, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Hound-o-ween. Bring a blanket or chair and get ready to settle into night of spooky film fun!
More about halloween movie series at the Schmidt’s Commons
Halloween spirit? West Philly’s The Woodlands is full of it! Here, events include a Halloween movie double feature (Ghostbusters and Poltergeist), a night of cocktails and tours highlighting the “wicked woman” buried at The Woodlands, a Halloween Family Fun Day and more. Click the button below to discover all of the seasonal events at The Woodlands this year.
October 21-31, 2017 (select dates)
Dress to impress — and score a deal — this Halloween at the Museum of the American Revolution, where costumed attire gets kids $2 off admission during Halloween weekend. Leading up to the holiday, events of all sorts are scheduled to unfold, ranging from Revolutionary-inspired pumpkin-carving demos to a history discussion on what happened to the bodies of soldiers after dying in battle.
October 27, 2017
Come out for the Mütter Museum‘s third annual Mischief party, where costumed guests are invited to enjoy drinks from an open bar and view the museum’s scientifically creepy collections. Upgrade to the VIP experience for a night that includes a sampling of 13 tasty courses of food.
Ring in the holiday with the Philadelphia Orchestra, which hosts its annual Halloween Organ Extravaganza on October 27. The night of music features a powerful lineup of songs including Funeral March of a Marionette and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. After the show, you’ll be invited to lie down on the Verizon Hall stage to feel the vigor of the instruments as they are played.
October 31, 2017
Come out to The Bellevue Hotel for a special screening of the 1930s classic Dracula. Before the movie begins, Halloween-themed cocktails will be served, and a dinner for two at XIX Restaurant will be awarded to those dressed in the best Dracula or 1930s costume.
From candlelit ghost tours to a paranormal investigation night, all sorts of frightening fun is set to go down 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.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Kensington Quarters is throwing a slightly unconventional, costume-free Halloween party where boozy ciders take centerstage over sugar-filled candies. A variety of ciders will be available on tap and by the bottle, as will eats cooked up by a handful of guest chefs who hail from across the city. The pay-as-you-go event unfolds from 6 p.m. to midnight.
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A post shared by East Passyunk Avenue (@eastpassyunk) on Oct 26, 2016 at 6:44am PDT
October 25, 2017
Hop on your broomstick and fly around to 17 different East Passyunk bars during this year’s Witch CRAFT Beer Crawl. Tickets for the three-hour event are $6.66 and include $4 beer specials from Victory Brewing Company and Troegs Brewing Company at participating bars, like Bing Bing Dim Sum, POPE, Garage and Stateside. Bar-crawl-goers will also receive a complimentary witch hat to add to the festive evening on the Avenue.
XFinity Live! is hosting a mega Halloween celebration featuring six different rooms to party inside starting at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 27 and continuing until the wee hours of the morning the next day. General admission is $10 and includes one free drink as well as entry into the night’s costume contest.
October 28, 2017
The Devil’s Crawl in Center City is a treat for the adults. Venture to 40 different bars and restaurants, where drink specials, costume contests and other special festivities await. Click the button below for ticketing info.
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A post shared by Shane Confectionery (@shaneconfectionery) on Sep 26, 2017 at 12:03pm PDT
Old City’s Shane Confectionery hosts Consumed: Tales from the Candy Crypt, an event that will guide you through the nation’s oldest continuously operated confectionery while introducing you to tormented villains along the way. Opportunities to trick-or-treat for magical candy cures will present themselves at multiple moments, and at the end of the 45-minute experience, you’ll walk away with bounty of delicious treats to take home.
October 21, 22, 28 and 29, 2017
For two weekends in October, the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion hosts performances of the classic Victorian melodrama Sweeney Todd. The murder mystery begs you to question: Who killed the man found dead at the start of the show? It’s up to you to find out during a night of theatrical fun.
October 21, 22, 28 & 29, 2017
Kids get to trick-or-treat with lions and tigers and bears during Boo at the Zoo at the Philadelphia Zoo. Beyond scoring candy, little ones can also look forward to a haybale maze, the not-so-scary Extinction Graveyard detailing extinction around the world, pictures in front of a giant pumpkin wall and more.
Through October 29, 2017
Over 5,000 hand-carved pumpkins call West Fairmount Park home this month as part of The Glow: A Jack O’Lantern Experience. Each weekend through the end of October, lanterns — ranging from famous Philly icons and sports figures to superheroes and princesses — will illuminate a trail for visitors to stroll along throughout the park adjacent to the Mann Center for Performing Arts. Advanced tickets are required and start at $16.
Through October 30, 2017 (select dates)
Franklin Square welcomes October with two special Halloween happenings. On Pumpkin Patch day (October 21), those with kiddos can pick out a pumpkin for free and dive into an afternoon of decorating. Then, on October 28, Franklin Square hosts a Halloween treat-filled scavenger hunt throughout the park.
A number of merchants at the massive Reading Terminal Market will hand out treats on Saturday, October 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Stop by the Book Nook (behind Miller’s Twist) between 9:30 and 10 a.m. for a Halloween-themed storytime and enjoy caramel-apple-making and pumpkin-carving demos at City Kitchen from 11 a.m. to noon.
From Parc to El Rey to the The Bellevue to TD Bank to Sweat Fitness, businesses and restaurants all throughout the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood welcome costumed trick-or-treaters to come inside for treats. The Rittenhouse Row Annual Halloween Celebration takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is free for those of all ages. Click the button below during the week of the event for a complete list of locations and activity stations.
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 neighborhood food vendors and local restaurants for tasty bites and seasonal beverages, rock out to live bands and shop for crafts.
South Street’s Pumpkin Fest takes over Headhouse Plaza on October 28 for an afternoon of music, shopping and plenty of other entertainment and hands-on activities for the whole family. Scary movies will also be screened during the five-hour event, set from noon to 5 p.m.
The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education invites families to come meet friendly nocturnal animals — including bats, opposums, foxes and more — who’ll share tales and treats during a candlelit hike. Also available for attendees: hayrides, crafting, food trucks and s’mores. Tickets are $10 per person.
Through October 30, 2017
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. The 15-to-20-minute ride is followed by apple cider and marshmallow roasting around a bonfire.
Through October 29, 2017 (select dates)
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 Halloween haven fit for those of all ages! 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.
Not all scarecrows are scary — especially those that are part of the annual Scarecrow Display in Bucks County. Throughout Peddler’s Village, 150 larger-than-life scarecrow creations are on display, including everything from classic scarecrows to intensely creepy ones.
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A post shared by Kristen Bower (@daffodilsanddaydreams) on Oct 10, 2015 at 10:57am PDT
Through October 31, 2017
This autumn, more than 30 scarecrows are decked out in the “Halloween Spooky Favorites” 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.
October 21, 2017
Enjoy an afternoon spent outdoors in Ardmore at the Fall Festival at Suburban Square. The three-hour celebration (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.) features a live concert by Shot of Southern, an array of kid-oriented crafting activities, pumpkin carving and opportunities for family photos. All activities are free!
Manayunk celebrates Halloween with trick-or-treating along Main Street and a festive costume parade for both kids and dogs. Other activities include a corn maze at Venice Island.
Made from massive straw bales, the Straw Maze at the Woodmere Art Museum invites kids to come out for an all-afternoon climbing session. On Saturdays, a visit also includes craft activities for the whole family.
Historic Germantown gets in on the harvest fun with its Halloween Harvest Festival at the Stenton House on Germantown Ave. The free event will have crafting activities, pumpkin painting, a spooky cellar tour and more to keep the entire family entertained.
The Portside Arts Center hosts an evening full of Halloween fun for both kids and adults on Saturday, October 28, including dancing, food, beer, spiced cider and an array of children’s activities.
In the tree-canopied West Philadelphia neighborhood of Spruce Hill, the annual Spruce Hill Halloween Tot Parade unfolds, inviting those six years old and under to collect treats galore. Along its route, residents welcome costumed paraders with candy, cider and festive Halloween decorations.
More about Spruce Hill Halloween Tot Parade
On the corner of Forrest and Haverford avenues, the annual Witches of Narberth Scavenger Hunt kicks off, taking kids through downtown Narberth on a search for 13 of the witchiest witches around. Treats are to be found along the way and a prize awaits at the end.
From 5 to 7 p.m. on Halloween, several blocks of Cecil B. Moore Avenue become a haven of free treats for the kiddos. Taking place between Broad and 16th streets, the annual Avenue of Treats, hosted by Beech Community Services, also features face painting and other hands-on activities.
Head to the Upper Main Line YMCA in the shadow of the 110-year-old Cassatt Mansion for the Great Halloween Festival this October. Activities of all sorts await, including the Treat Trail, Witchy Workshops, Zombie Archery, Horseman’s Haunted House and Escape Room and more. Attendees should come dressed in disguise for the costume contest, and consider bringing their best carved pumpkin for the jack-o’-lantern competition!
Halloween in Philly means costume parties, imaginative events and even trick-or-treating on roller skates! From science-infused Halloween fun at The Franklin Institute to retro revelry at North Bowl, there are tons of delightfully frightening ways to enjoy the holiday spirit (and spirits) in Philadelphia. Click the button below for our top picks for Halloween celebrations in Philly.
October 14, 2017
Go black-tie glam or stylishly ghoulish to the Gravedigger’s Ball, the annual fundraising event in support of activities at the historic Laurel Hill Cemetery. Tickets include a one-and-a-half-hour open bar, full dinner service, live music and more.
More about Gravediggers’ Ball
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 get ready to explore the library’s Frankenstein & Dracula exhibition, an exploration of mad science and medical oddities. Light refreshments will be served.
Book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for stays through November 30, 2018 and get FREE hotel parking as well as free tickets to the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art, a $25 gift card to the must-visit Reading Terminal Market, free Philly-themed mini-golf at Franklin Square and a $10 Lyft credit.