By Anne Taylor Hartzell, on October 27, 2015

Top 5 Halloween festivals for families

As the leaves begin to fall and the cool nip of autumn fills the air, our family can’t wait to celebrate Halloween. It has become one of our favorite family traditions to go all out for Halloween. This includes exploring the best Halloween festivals both in our own backyard and across the country.

The excitement of the season in our hometown is almost palpable. Pumpkin patches are filled to the brim with soon-to-be jack-o’-lanterns ready for the picking. Neighborhoods fill the streets with festivals of every size and theme as young kids dress up in costumes, eager to sink their teeth into a cool caramel apple, ride on a hay wagon, or warm up with some hot apple cider.

If you are on the hunt for Halloween gatherings that are fun for the whole family, consider these five spooktacular Halloween festivals and tours around the United States.

1. Halloween Time at the Disneyland® Resort (Anaheim, CA). Halloween kicks off early at the Disneyland Resort, as the park gets all decked out for the holiday from mid-September to around the first of November. There is no shortage of ways to celebrate Halloween at the Disneyland Resort, where every day is a festival.


Halloween Time at Disneyland


Check out the giant Mickey pumpkin on Main Street, get tickets early for the often sold-out Mickey’s Halloween Party, or cruise with a “Ghost Host” at dark on Disney’s Happiest Haunts Tour, an evening of spooky haunts in the park. The Haunted Mansion also shines for the season, adorned in decorations from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

2. Haunted Happenings (Salem, MA). For a trip that is both educational and fun for older children, consider a visit to Salem, Massachusetts, during October. Salem, a historic town infamous for serving as the backdrop to the Salem witch trials, puts on numerous Halloween festivals for visitors. In addition to historic Salem tours, check out Haunted Happenings, a local family-friendly festival featuring a parade, costume ball, family film nights, and more. 

3. Seattle Market Ghost Tour (Seattle, WA). If you are looking for a more ghostly way to celebrate the season, consider the Pike Place Market Ghost Tour in Seattle. Half of our family members (the other two are too scared) have made this tour a Halloween tradition for the last few years, and the stories they tell after they return spook us every time. The Market Ghost Tour is a 75-minute walking tour of Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle, and is conducted in small groups at night with an expert guide knowledgeable on the history of the market and the souls said to haunt the market’s buildings. Spooky and fun, right?

Viewfinder Tip: You don’t have to travel far to celebrate the season. Look for spooky Halloween activities in your hometown or nearby cities.

4. NYC Parks Halloween festivities (New York, NY). If you are in New York City in October, be sure to check out the New York Parks and Recreation website for an abundance of family-friendly Halloween festivals and events around the city. One family-friendly event that caught my attention was the annual Halloween Pumpkin Parade and Flotilla, where your jack-o’-lantern can set sail at twilight at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center in Central Park. 

5. Spirit of Halloweentown (St. Helens, OR). Finally, if small-town fun is more your speed, consider a trip 45 minutes northwest of Portland to St. Helens, Oregon. This town celebrates Halloween each October with lots of family fun all month long. Little ones can dress up and march in the Little Spooks Parade, and teens can dance the night away at the Teen Halloween Costume Party and Dance. The city also offers a Halloween cruise by boat to nearby Sand Island.

No matter where you are this Halloween season, you can be sure that there will be ample places to celebrate and create great family memories.

What are your favorite family events for Halloween?

Halloween Time image courtesy of Disney.