Your Smarter Halloween in NYC

By Alison Durkee

It’s October, and along with the cooling temperatures and changing leaves, that means one thing: Halloween. Those looking to celebrate the ghoulish holiday will find plenty of choices in New York City, as the city’s institutions offer their own spooky festivities. Whether you’re looking to party, head out with the kids, or just discover NYC’s more haunted spots, here are some upcoming talks and events to get you in the Halloween spirit.

Perhaps New York’s most famous Halloween activity is the Village Halloween Parade, which will take place once again this year on October 31 starting at 7pm. Outside of Manhattan, Bronx residents can also head to the borough’s own Halloween parade October 27, a community celebration for the whole family complete with costume contests and candy and balloons for children. The parade will also bring the community together to stand in solidarity for peace and pay tributes to victims of violence and other tragedies. Families can also head to the American Museum of Natural History’s Halloween Celebration on October 27, which will feature characters, trick-or-treating, and special performances.

Man lighting a cigarette for showgirl Rosemary Williams, 1946. Stanley Kubrick for Look magazine/ Museum of the City of New York. © SK Film Archives and Museum of the City of New York.

Adults have plenty of opportunities to party themselves at the city’s museums this Halloween. The Museum of the City of New York will offer a film noir-themed Halloween bash celebrating Stanley Kubrick October 26, while MoMA PS1’s Cirque du Musee Halloween ball on October 27 promises vaudevillian magic and some of the most elaborate costumes in the city. Literary lovers can head to the New York Public Library, whose Halloween masquerade October 26 will feature a costume contest judged by Tim Gunn, or celebrate at the New-York Historical Society October 30. The historical society’s adults-only Halloween celebration will offer a bit of magic, including activities inspired by the museum’s current Harry Potter exhibition.

On Halloween itself, MoMA will celebrate the holiday with Hallowscreen III: FrankenMoMA, which will include drinks, dancing, costumes, art making, and a screening of the 1969 film Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed. Across the East River, the Brooklyn Historical Society will mark Halloween evening with Boos in the Borough, a celebration of the macabre that includes looks at Brooklyn’s own ghosts and the chance to win the title of the Best Dressed Ghoul in Brooklyn.

New Yorkers can also keep in the Halloween spirit this fall with upcoming talks on spooky subject matter. The American Museum of Natural History will offer a frightful look at the cosmos October 30 at Spooky Space, and the Explorers Club will examine death imagery in art from the early Mayan site of Chichén Itzá at a talk November 5. The New York Public Library’s Mid-Manhattan library will mark Halloween with a panel discussion on writing mystery novels October 31, while Caveat will give women the chance to tell stories of their own October 24 at an evening taking back the word “witch” and celebrating history’s unruly women. Of course, given the city’s long history, NYC is also home to some pretty spooky sites in itself. Discover one of the city’s loveliest final resting spots this fall at Green-Wood Cemetery, which is offering weekly trolley tours throughout the fall exploring different areas of the vast space. On October 19, the cemetery will also offer a special moonlit exploration that gives visitors the chance to wander the candle-lit cemetery after hours and see unique site-specific performances.

Another haunted spot in the city is the Merchant’s House Museum, which will mark October and early November with a full slate of events including candlelit ghost tours and an illustrated talk on postmortem and memorial photography (November 1). Those hoping to catch a glimpse of paranormal activity can also head to the Morris-Jumel Mansion, which offers bimonthly paranormal investigations of the haunted home. New Yorkers wanting to discover the spooky stories behind New York’s streets, meanwhile, can join Boroughs of the Dead for walking tours exploring the city’s haunted histories; upcoming tours include walks through the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, and Brooklyn Heights.

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