It’s safe to say that the last few years struck a tone of fear in our lives. Horror movies, haunted houses, and fake-blood-soaked events are thus a refreshing dose of staged, not-existential fear that’s all the more welcome this year.
The witching hour is close at hand, soon the ghosts will come out to play, cackling witches will soar into the skies and ghoulish creatures will creep out from their lairs. Spooky season is upon us and we’ve already started planning for the scariest nights of them all. Here’s what you shouldn’t miss this year!
1. Be captivated by a spooky Candlelight Concert
Chicago’s sublime Candlelight Concert series offers breathtaking spectacles throughout the year but it is in the crisp air of autumn when the concerts reach their peak and this Halloween some extra-special concerts are taking place.
This October and November, let the ominous yet melodic sounds possess you for a Haunted Evening of Halloween Classics at the Wicker Park Lutheran Church in Chicago and at the Oak Park Arts Center, or attend an extra special Día De Los Muertos candlelight concert celebrating the Day of the Dead at the iconic Salvage One.
See the full list of candlelight concerts taking place in Chicago here.
2. Attend Chicago’s 2022 Vampire Ball
Resurrecting an American tradition, the infamous Chicago Vampire Ball returns this Halloween offering Chicagoans a fang-tastic evening of live entertainment! Get your capes on, your fangs out, and get ready for a vampire party like never before. From 8 pm – 2 am on October 15th, a vampirical night will possess the Rock Bottom Brewery in Chicago.
The eclectic evening will begin with a Vampire Queen Pageant and the coronation of Chicago’s newest Queen Vampire before an array of exhilarating entertainment will offer patrons of all shapes and sizes something to sink their teeth into. Including live burlesque performances, projected vampire movies, petrifying photo ops, and a live DJ to keep blood pumping throughout the night.
You can grab tickets to the 2022 Vampire Ball here.
3. Celebrate Halloween with a purple twist at The Prince Experience
Dearly Beloved, enjoy the legendary musical icon who brought us hits like “When Doves Cry” and “Purple Rain” by stepping into the Prince immersive experience in Chicago. Celebrate Halloween with a purple twist this year at Prince: The Immersive Experience.
The limited-time, multisensory celebration of the Purple One is hosting two nights of pop-up costume parties on October 29 and 30, complete with seasonal specialty cocktails and a soundtrack of nonstop Prince music.
Each night, the attendee with the best Prince-inspired costume will take home a supercharged prize pack of exclusive merch from the Experience, so be sure to snag your tickets now!
4. Head over to Jack’s over-the-top pumpkin pop-up
With fall’s arrival comes a plethora of pumpkin patches. Our pick of the bunch, and one of Chicago’s most popular Halloween time events, is most certainly Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-Up.
This celebration of fall is one of Chicago’s most popular October events. It’s also the only one that takes place 100% outside. This year guests will find Chicago’s largest corn maze, carnival games, photo opportunities, axe throwing, various bars, food trucks, and over ten thousand pumpkins all spread out over 2 acres in Goose Island!
5. Lose yourself in Richardson Farm’s ‘world’s largest corn maze’
While at Jack’s Pumpkin Pop-Up you’ll find the largest corn maze in the Windy City, you only need to travel a little outside of Chicago itself to enjoy the world’s largest corn maze. Richardson Farm in Spring Grove, Illinois, is home to a 28-acre labyrinth holding the title of the world’s largest corn maze, and this year it’s paying homage to none other than the world’s most famous spy.
As well as the 9-10 miles of maze trails, Richardson Farm is also home to a huge pumpkin patch where you can eat, carve, or smash giant pumpkins as well as throw them off of a giant 50-foot observation tower. You’ll also find plenty of Halloween thrills this month in addition to a zip line, zorbing, a petting zoo, a giant slide, and much more!
6. Brave the Old Joliet Haunted Prison experience
For those interested in a real thrill ride, another short journey outside of Chicago courageous Halloween enthusiasts will find the huge Joliet Correctional Center, known colloquially as Joliet Prison. Last year the prison opened as a haunted house for the first time and this season it has returned for its second year with two utterly terrifying Halloween experiences.
If you are fascinated by the tales of purportedly haunted places, get a buzz from exploring abandoned buildings, and wish to celebrate this Halloween with more than a costume party, this is for you. For there will be few Halloween experiences spookier than a trip to what is Chicagoland’s first and only haunted house inside a real abandoned prison.
Read more about this frightening experience here.
7. Check out the award-winning 13th Floor Haunted House
The team behind the aforementioned haunted prison experience is in fact the same team behind Chicagoland’s 13th Floor Haunted House Chicago which is rated as one of the Top 5 Haunted Houses in the U.S.A. by USA Today.
Set amongst forty-thousand square feet of fun at 5050 River Road in Schiller Park near the Rosemont entertainment district, the new site features two all-new, scary-as-hell exhibits entitled Bad Blood and Spirit of Halloween.
You can read the full article here.
8. Battle zombies with lasers at the Forge
The Forge: Lemont Quarries just outside Chicago is loaded top-down with action-packed entertainment for anyone and everyone to enjoy. In addition to an exhilarating mix of extreme sports, yoga courses, zip lines, nearly 300 aerial elements, climbing and bouldering walls, and a bike pump track — and many more awesome activities — the Quarries offers a series of tactical laser tag games.
With Halloween around the corner, the park has now resurrected its Zombie Apocalypse Tactical Laser Tag experience offering immersive zombie survival games every weekend in October.
“You’ll find yourself immersed in a post-apocalyptic world where a zombie outbreak has run rampant and wreaked havoc on the world,” the park writes. “The game will consist of two teams battling against each other while simultaneously fending off flesh-eating zombies. The team to earn the most points in the battle will survive to see another day.”
Read the full article here.
9. Celebrate all things nocturnal at The Hallows at Chicago’s Navy Pier
Ready to show off your alter-ego for a unique way to celebrate the spooky season? The Aon Grand Ballroom at Chicago’s Navy Pier will become an unrecognizable enclave for “all things nocturnal” at The Hallows. The night brings together theater, iconic aerial acrobatic performances, an electrifying light show, and musical sets by Drezo and Laidback Luke.
Grab tickets to The Hallows at Navy Pier here.
10. Celebrate Halloween with tricks and treats at the Museum of I-Scream
Chicago’s Museum of Ice Cream has transformed for a month-long October celebration leading up to Halloween. The immersive experience, which spans 13,500 square feet of The Shops of Tribune Tower, opened in July of this year and features 14 interactive installations reimagined just for the Windy City.
In addition to the famed sprinkle pool, a mini-golf course, and a plethora of ice cream-themed features and snacks the museum is now offering limited-time activations, exclusive festive flavors, and trick-or-treating including “the most shocking, unexpected tricks and the absolute sweetest, magical treats.”
11. Enjoy an after-hours experience at the Museum of Illusions
The Museum of Illusions and its many mind-boggling installations have been given an extensive makeover for the Halloween season offering guests an even more disconcerting experience than before. Well-known exhibits including Head on a Platter, Vortex Tunnel, Infinity, and Anti-Gravity Room have been converted with Halloween-themed décor making the Museum of Illusions one of Chicago’s most immersive and mysterious go-to destinations for the Halloween season.
The museum is also now throwing exclusive after-hours parties every Thursday. Tricks, Treats, and Beats at the Museum of Illusions will let guests roam the museum and its eerily enhanced experience while enjoying beats by the appropriately named DJ Mayhem and drinks by Left Coast.Read the full article here.
12. Immerse yourself in an alternate universe at The Art of the Future at Holographic Art Gallery
Another place offering an other-worldly experience this Halloween is Navy Pier’s Verse: The Art of the Future. Art and technology come together allowing you to step right into the metaverse in this digital art exhibition featuring augmented reality holograms and artwork by top-selling artists from the burgeoning world of NFTs.
With the help of an AR headset, smartphone, or tablet, each guest will experience their own reality in the same activation area (like a silent disco for holograms!). Verse provides an introduction to the people, technology, and stories that are shaping this disruptive evolution of the art world.Get your tickets for Verse: The Art of the Future in Chicago here!
13. Peruse Navy Pier’s Pumpkin Lights event
In fact, there are a number of reasons to head down to Navy Pier this month. Chicago’s iconic lakefront destination has transformed for its month-long Pier Pumpkin Lights event.
The experience returned last year after it was canceled in 2020 due to the global pandemic and is now once again covered in hundreds of Jack-o’lanterns and towering light displays for its spectacular fall transformation. Enjoy fabulous fall deals and snap some October memories at the “insta-worthy experiential fall spectacle”.
There will be Halloween festivities throughout the month and it is once again completely free to roam the pier and enjoy the creative installations with no additional admission fees.
You can read the full article here.
14. Enjoy an eerie aquatic experience on Chicago’s waterways
A creepy cruise is taking place this Halloween if you dare jump on board. On October 28th, you can join the Halloween Weekend BOO Cruise for a spooky adventure on the Chicago River.
Ghosts, vampires, goblins, werewolves, and more will join you on your journey along the Chicago River and out into Lake Michigan. If you’re all about Halloween, this is the place to be!
15. Dress up and drink up at a Halloween-themed bar crawl in Chicago
Are you ready to paint Halloweentown red? Calling all costume wearers, pop culture icons, and doppelgangers, take your crew on a spooky adventure all through Chicago and make it a night to remember. From dance parties, DJs, live bands to costume contests, there is something for everyone on this escapade that will leave you wanting more.
Get together with a group of your friends and grab your tickets for the 2022 Chicago Halloween Bar Crawl or the Drink or Treat Halloween bar crawl in Wicker Park today.
Another Chicago landmark you’ll find illuminated with carved pumpkins and Halloween installations is Chicago’s beloved botanic garden.
This year, the Chicago Botanic Garden is going full Tim Burton with their Halloween event, Night of 1,000 Jack-O-Lanterns, for 10 spooky nights starting Wednesday, October 12!
If you’re like us and just can’t get enough pumpkin in your life — whether it’s pumpkin spice latés, pumpkin beer, or pumpkin pie — then this October you’re in for a treat. Even though you won’t be able to eat any of the pumpkins on display at Chicago Botanic Garden’s Night of 1,000 Jack O’Lanterns, you can still admire the brilliant intricateness of the many many hand-carved pumpkins — with some weighing up to 150 pounds!Read more about it here.
17. Head to the zoo for Lincoln Park Zoo’s unique after-hours experience
Feeling frighteningly festive this year? Be sure to mark your calendars for Adults Night Out: The Great Pumpkin Glow at the Lincoln Park Zoo, October 28, where adults can (trick or) treat themselves to a hauntingly good time!
“Guests will enjoy unique animal chats, educational entertainment, a live DJ, and multiple bars throughout the zoo at this after-hours event. No kids. No crowds. Strolling among wildlife with a beer, cider, hard seltzer, or glass of wine in hand. Sound fun? Join us!”
Enjoy seasonal activities such as a corn maze, a pumpkin walk, a haunted trail, themed food, and seasonal cocktails at this unique after-hours experience.
18. Plan your visit to Harry Potter™: Magic at Play to be unveiled in Chicago in November
Calling wizards and witches of all ages! You’re invited to go on a magical interactive journey to Hogwarts™ at this immersive Harry Potter™ experience opening in Chicago on 11/11! The highly-anticipated experience, created by Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment and Superfly X, will be unveiled in downtown Chicago, taking over 30,000 square feet at the Water Tower Place at 835 Michigan Avenue. Potterheads are snagging their tickets at lightning speed—so grab yours now!
19. Visit The Roar: A Prohibition Era Speakeasy
Break out your best flapper dresses and linen jackets because you won’t want to miss this 1920s-style cocktail party at The Roar: A Prohibition Era Speakeasy. Spend an intimate evening in Chicago’s Prohibition times at this swanky speakeasy now open in downtown Chicago. This interactive speakeasy takes guests on a journey through the roaring 20s throughout 4 different rooms led by figures from these times. If you have ever felt enamored of Prohibition Era tales from the times of Capone, you can get your tickets here! Enjoy delicious cocktails, food, and live music with special performances.
20. Be taken on a terrifying tour of Chicago’s backstreets
Talking of gangsters, the Gangsters and Ghosts Tour in Chicago visits the locations frequented by some of Chicago’s most notorious gangsters along with many of the most haunted locations in Chicago! You can get the best of both worlds with this 2-in-1 tour or alternatively focus on learning the ghosts and ghouls of Chicago with an added element in the immersive Ghosts of Chicago: City Exploration Game.
Of course, you can also take matters into your own hands and roam the city for lost spirits at your own pace. Chicago is an enchanting city, perhaps, more enchanting than you might hope. With a complicated history rife with tragedy, the city’s spiritual underbelly finds a way to show its ghostly face to unsuspecting witnesses.
Click here for a list of the 10 most haunted places in Chicago and get yourself into the spooktacular spirit!
[Featured image from Shutterstock]