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12 Frightful Ways to Experience Halloween in Washington, DC

Halloween at The White House - Washington, DC

Hit up these Halloween destinations for fun, fear and spooky fashion

Looking for a creepily good time? The DC area has a wealth of Halloween activities for all ages and preferences. If you’re eager to do a little more than trick or treating to honor the spookiest of holidays, we’ve got plenty of options for you this month.

1 Fright Fest presented by Snickers®
Fright Fest presented by Snickers® Six Flags America

This annual spooky celebration at Six Flags America draws crowds from all over the DMV area every year. The 2016 edition runs every weekend through Oct. 31, with haunted attractions, magic shows and roller-coaster thrills. Buckle up!
Six Flags America, 13710 Central Avenue, Upper Marlboro, MD 20721

2 Night of the Living Zoo
Night of the Living Zoo Friends of the National Zoo

The National Zoo’s 21-and-over complement to Boo at the Zoo, Night of the Living Zoo transforms the animal haven into a devil’s playground. You’ll have after-hours access to numerous Zoo attractions while enjoying live entertainment, including frightfully amazing oddities and the annual costume contest. Enjoy grub from local food trucks and craft brews, and enter the event’s Day of the Dead Altar Contest for a chance to win special prizes.
Smithsonian National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

3 18th Annual Nightmare on M Street

Get ready for a roaming costume party that is a monster mash of epic proportions. You and your friends can get decked out and cruise to more than 30 participating bars and restaurants in DC, in both the Downtown and Dupont Circle neighborhoods, during the Nightmare on M Street (Oct. 29, 12 - 7:30 p.m.). There will be food and drink specials at each stop along the way. Now in its 18th year, the station-to-station Halloween bonanza is sure to be far from a nightmare.

4 The Halloween Circus
The Halloween Circus Julian Ortiz

Halloween thrills are on tap for The Black Cat’s annual creepy concert (Oct. 28, 8 p.m.). Enjoy the electric Jonny Grave & the Tombstones and their roaring take on Americana folk, complete with Halloween costumes and paegantry. Opener Color Palette will energize the crowd with their irresistible take on synth-pop. The 21-and-over event always draws a big crowd at this top music venue, so grab your tickets quickly.
The Black Cat, 1811 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009

5 Halloween Hunt at The Mansion on O

The wondrous Mansion on O is quite the experience, especially when you journey through the historic venue on a scavenger hunt. View the Mansion in its finest Halloween attire as you search through its many themed rooms and secret doors for seasonal and Halloween-themed prizes. You can also bring along your own shopping bag and purchase goodies from the mansion.
The Mansion on O Street, 2020 O Street NW, Washington, DC 20036

6 2016 Day of the Dead Festival at Oyamel

Oyamel - Day of the Dead Halloween Celebration

Honor the ancient Mexican tradition of “Dia de los Muertos” for nearly two weeks at José Andrés’ Oyamel (Oct. 24 – Nov. 6). The celebration includes tequila and mezcal-themed dinners, a late night event featuring Andrés and Anthony Bourdain and a number of food and drink specials that align perfectly with the holiday.
Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, 401 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004

7 Dia de Los Muertos Cooking Class at Del Campo
Dia de Los Muertos Cooking Class at Del Campo Del Campo

Award-winning Chef Victor Albisu will share his cooking expertise at this special cooking class at Del Campo held in celebration of the Day of the Dead. The first 30 minutes feature hors d’oeurves and a delicious cocktail, then it’s down to the business of cooking some of Albisu’s favorite dishes. The three-hour event is capped off by a lunch featuring the items demonstrated.
Del Campo, 777 I Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

8 Scream City
Scream City

Got a friend who claims they can’t be scared? Take them to Scream City, designed by the 2014 winners of A&E’s “Haunted House Design/Build Competition,” and they’ll be screaming for days. Seriously, leave the kids at home – Scream City is appropriate only for the bravest 13-year-olds and up. This year, the haunted site is open from Oct. 7 - Nov. 5 on Friday and Saturday nights, and most Thursdays and Sundays. Grab tickets now.
2400 E Capitol Street SE, Washington, DC 20003

9 17th Street High Heel Race
17th Street High Heel Race Ted Eytan

An epic DC tradition for 30 years, the 17th Street High Heel Race (Oct. 25, race at 9 p.m.) turns one Dupont Circle neighborhood street into a raucous, Halloween-flavored spectacle. Heel hobblers, most of whom are decked out in full drag and makeup, are cheered on by screaming fans for the full quarter-mile race. Photo ops, chuckles and plenty of fun are sure to ensue. Quick note: no chairs or animals allowed, as these intense competitors need as much space as possible to strut their stuff.
Free, 17th Street NW

10 Boo at the Zoo
Boo at the Zoo

The National Zoo’s annual family oriented Halloween evening event is now an essential part of the holiday in DC. Geared toward wholesome fun, the three-day celebration (Oct. 21-23) features more than 40 treat stations, as well as after-hours access to many of the Zoo's animal houses and exhibits. Halloween-themed trails will be fun for a stroll, and the whole crew can get creative during the pumpkin decorating competition. Make sure to come in costume! The event is suggested for kids between the ages of 4 and 12.
Smithsonian National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

11 Air & Scare at the Udvar-Hazy Center

Air & Scare at the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Have some spooky fun with a trip to Air & Scare (Oct. 22, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.) at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. The annual indoor romp asks that you rock your Halloween attire and get ready for an intense round of trick or treating. But the fun doesn’t stop there: crazy science experiments and creepy crafts are on the ledger as well.
Free, National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, VA 20151

12 Costume Carnival at Gateway DC

Free, family-friendly Halloween fun courtesy of Events DC? Sounds great to us. The Costume Carnival wants the whole family to dress up in their favorite costumes, automatically entering to win a special gift card. Numerous community partners will decorate the Gateway DC pavilion to create an awesome trick-or-treating environment for kids. There will also be a live DC, family-friendly Halloween movies, a video game lounge, pumpkin decorating, an inflatable maze, face-painting, food and more!
Free, Gateway DC, 2700 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard SE, Washington, DC 20032

Looking for more scary thrills in the nation’s capital? Check out these tours that are sure to spook you in the District.