Are you ready to celebrate Halloween in 2013? Philadelphia venues, attractions, bars and clubs embrace the spooky spirit on Thursday, October 31. (Photos clockwise from left by G. Widman for GPTMC, courtesy The Trestle Inn, by Darryl W. Moran, by Randall Wise)
Whether you’re a trick-or-treat chaperone or a tippling bar-goer, a serious Halloween-haunt enthusiast or a debauch-desiring diva, this city has an All Hallows’ Eve event you.
From an over-the-top costume ball to a haunting modern dance performance, we’ve rounded up a wide variety of the best events happening on Halloween night, Thursday, October 31.
If one event catches your eye, be sure to make reservations or secure tickets, if it’s required.
And here’s an idea: Stay over and avoid the hassle of getting home after the halloween parties end. There are several awesome Center City hotels offering some awesome deals on Halloween night. Click here for Halloween hotel options.
For even more ideas on trick-or-treating, tours and events, check out our guides to trick-or-treating in neighborhoods of Philadelphia and how to experience haunted Philadelphia.
Read on for our guide to events on Thursday, October 31, and have a happy Halloween!
• Stratus Rooftop Lounge’s Halloween Prom Party: Celebrate Halloween with a throwback prom party at Stratus Rooftop Lounge at the Hotel Monaco on Thursday, October 31. From 6 p.m. to midnight, show up at the swanky lounge in your best prom dress or tuxedo to groove to ’80s and ’90s tunes, sip cocktails and reminisce. Admission is free, but RSVP here to attend.
• Henri David Ball at the Sheraton Philadelphia Center City Hotel: On October 31, the annual Henri David Halloween Ball will be back at it again. With more than 40 years of experience throwing this smashing event, these guys don’t mess around when it comes to providing the most fabulous Halloween ball in Philadelphia. Expect hundreds of over-the-top, glamorous and eccentric costumed party-goes storming the Sheraton Downtown.
• Sigma 54 Celebrity Halloween Ball: Forget the fake blood and ghoulish getups. The Sigma Sound Sigma 54 Halloween Ball is all about dressing up as recording stars and Hollywood celebrities. From Kanye West and Justin Bieber to Audrey Hepburn and Lindsay Lohan, guests to this stylish bash should pick the star to emulate and sign up here. The Sigma 54 guest list will only hold one of each star so don’t wait. Tickets, $20, are available online.
Halloween Celebrations at Bars & Restaurants
• Dementia Halloween Dance Party at The Trestle Inn: On Thursday, October 31, The Trestle Inn fetes the 50th anniversary of Francis Ford Coppola’s cult horror movie, Dementia 13. Show up for a free screening of the film at 7:30 p.m., then stick around for the whiskey bar’s Halloween dance party with DJs, killer cocktail specials and more.
• Geekoween at Tattooed Mom: The good people of local brain trusts Indy Hall and Geekadelphia team up for the fifth year in a row to throw a Halloween bash at Tattooed Mom. This year, the theme is “movie characters,” so be sure to look to the silver screen for costume inspiration. The party starts rocking at 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 31 and RSVPs are requested here.
• Nerd Nite No. 31 at Frankford Hall: In a mash-up of the regularly scheduled Nerd Nites at Frankford Hall — during which brainy speakers present on a given theme while folks drink beer — and traditional Halloween costume parties, “Halloween of the Living Nerds” comes to Frankford Hall on Thursday, October 31 starting at 8 p.m. Hear from scientist Kimberlee Moran who will speak on “Tales from the Crypt,” enjoy Halloween candy, happy-hour pricing until 11:59 p.m. Plus, prizes for top costumes will be awarded in six categories, including Best Cosplay, Best Gore and Best Nerd.
• Mercury Radio Theater & Miss Rose Present: The Death and Life of The Undead: At Johnny Brenda’s, this Halloween brings out a three-part show of live music, burlesque and theater. At 9 p.m., catch upbeat tunes by Big Skull. At 10 p.m., Full Blown Cherry takes the stage with rockabilly sounds. Finally at 11 p.m., the full orchestra band of Mercury Radio Theater will be joined on stage by burlesque performer Miss Rose to perform a musical star-crossed vampire love story. Tickets, $10-$12, are available online or at the door.
• The Huna Hut at Emmanuelle: Skeletons of the Deep: At Bar Emmanuelle in Northern Liberties, head bartenders Phoebe Esmon and Christian Gaal trick out the bar in creepy tiki style with help from Carla Goncalves and David Gilberg, formerly of the now-shuttered Portuguese restaurant KooZeeDoo. Goncalves and Gilberg guest star with custom cocktails and snacks just for Halloween.
• Fright Night Fiesta at La Calaca Feliz: In the Fairmount neighborhood, La Calaca Feliz hosts its second annual Fright Night Fiesta on October 31 from 10 p.m. to midnight with an afterparty at Lemon Hill from midnight to 2 a.m. The fiesta includes passed food, margaritas, Tecate, Dos Equis, sangria, a Day of Dead face painter and raffle for anyone wearing a costume. Tickets, $20, are available in advance online and are and $25 at the door.
• Halloween Beer Dinner at World Cafe Live: On Thursday, October 31, World Cafe Live invites beer lovers to a costume party and five-course beer dinner at 7 p.m. Diners will enjoy pumpkin and fall ales paired with creative fare. Brews include Great Lakes Oktoberfest, Dogfish Punkin 2011 and more. Plus, dinner ticketholders are automatically admitted to other events that night. Tickets, $45, are available online.
• Halloween Night at Sassafras: In Old City, Sassafras interprets the Gaelic version of Halloween, known as “Samhain,” a traditional harvest celebration and a night to ward-off evil fairies. Decked out in 1920s-style costumes, bartenders are set to keep the evil spirits at bay with potent spirits in five new Halloween-themed cocktails — think The Scarecrow and The Banshee — on special for $8 a piece. Plus, drink a freshly tapped Big Gruesome Peanut Butter Stout from Spring House Brewing Company. Gift cards and t-shirts will be awarded to patrons with the top three costumes and Tal and Company will play period jazz from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
• Halloween Night at McGillin’s Old Ale House: Known to be one of the oldest still-running bars in America, McGillin’s is a haunt with tons of history dating back for centuries. Who knows, it might even be really haunted with some old drunken spirits? So this is a pretty appropriate place to spend Halloween. To celebrate on October 31, the bar pours pumpkin beers, pumpkin martinis and other Halloween “spirits.” Wear your costume, and maybe even meet the bar’s resident ghost.
• Halloween Extravaganza at Yakitori Boy: Eat, drink, dress up and sing your heart out at karaoke bar Yakitori Boy this Halloween. From 6 to 9 p.m., snag a $30 ticket to take part in an open bar and costume party, with first prize taking home $100. After 9 p.m., it’s come one, come all for a costume party until 2 a.m. with drink specials all night and a live DJ. Tickets for the open bar, $30, are available online.
• Howl-O-Ween Bash at Howl at the Moon: The dueling piano bar gets in on the Halloween party action with drink specials, plenty of live piano music and a costume contest that includes up to $2,000 in cash and prizes. The party starts at 5 p.m. on Thursday, October 31.
• Witches Brew at Manayunk Brewing Company: Visit Manayunk’s craft brewing company to party down with a costume contest, DJ, drink specials and prizes — including a $500 Manayunk Brewery gift card, Flyers tickets and more. And no tricks — there is no cover charge to attend.
• Philly Halloween All-Access Pass: Interested in hitting six Halloween parties for one ticket price? Purchase an all-access package through JoonBug and you can enjoy discount drinks at six parties of Halloween brew-ha-ha. On October 31, the club crawl runs from 5 p.m. until close, hitting Johnny Utah’s, G Lounge, McFadden’s, Tavern on Broad, Whisper, and XFINITY Live!
Many more Halloween night events, below.
Haunted Houses & Halloween Tours
• Terror Behind the Walls: There’s probably no better Halloween night destination than Philadelphia’s premier haunted adventure. Eastern State Penitentiary is already scary and haunted without the theatrics, but this haunted prison will scare the living daylights out of you when it transforms into Terror Behind the Walls. As you stand in line inside the 30-foot-tall stone walls being forced to watch the chilling Ghost Hunters television show episode, you’re already scared. Once you walk into the creepy prison cells, you’re really scared. By the time you make it past the psychotic ghosts of dead inmates, you’re ready to run for the exit. One of the country’s biggest, most elaborate and top-rated haunted attractions takes you (and the other 100,000 visitors from around the world who attend each year) on a spooky adventure through six haunted attractions, each more frightening than the last. Use ticket code VISITPHILLY13 online for a scary good deal!
• Fright Factory: Fridays through Sundays throughout October, Fright Factory scares the pants off of people in what the Travel Chanel featured as one of America’s Scariest Haunted Attractions. There are four parts to this fright fest — iChem’s evil subterranean laboratories, guided tours of the Philadelphia Haunted Asylum where former hospital Chief of Staff Dr. Robert T. Brash experimented on and tortured patients, then a walk with the dead that leads to the creepy stone mausoleum hiding out in the shadows. Are you creeped out yet? Just wait.
• Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride: Open daily through October 31, The Bates Motel is one of the freakiest Halloween haunted spots in the region. The horror house was officially named as one of America’s scariest haunts by Hauntworld Magazine, USA Today and the Travel Channel. If your venture through the inside doesn’t give you your proper frightful fix, try a ride on the hellish haunted hayride or take a walk through the zombie-plagued corn maze.
• Pennhurst Asylum: The reportedly haunted Pennhurst Asylum offers terrifying tours including The Pennhurst Haunted Attraction, a hospital themed attraction; the Dungeon of Lost Souls, a labyrinth of old cells and halls; and Tunnel Terror, a tour underneath the grounds.
• Ghost Tours of Philadelphia: You can take this tour year-round, but things get extra spooky around Halloween on this Philadelphia ghost adventure. You’ll be geared up with some basic ghost hunting gadgets, led by a costumed tour guide and get to investigate the mysterious stories behind all of the hidden cemeteries, haunted mansions and unexplainable mysteries of the city. Brave souls have three options: take the 90-minute candlelight walking tour of Independence Park and Society Hill, take the ghost hunting tour of Society Hill and get an inside look at colonial era haunted mansions, or ride a 90-minute Victorian-era style, open air trolley that loops around the most historically haunted parts of town as you listen in on the eerie stories and legends that make Philadelphia the most haunted city in America.
• Spirits of ‘76 Ghost Tour: Experience the ominous aura of the 20 most haunted places in Philadelphia including Carpenters’ Hall, the Benjamin Franklin Rush House and Old Pine Street Church and Cemetery as you walk the creepy cobblestone streets at night. Plan a Spirit of ’76 Tour any day you dare.
• Mt. Airy’s Trick-or-Treat on the Avenue: Fresh off its title of the best neighborhood for trick-or-treating in Philadelphia, Mt. Airy pleases the masses with tricks-and-treats along Germantown Avenue. Local businesses open their door to costumed trick-or-treaters beginning at 5 p.m. Click here for the list of participating businesses. Bonus: Halloween diners receive 10 percent off their bill at Wine Thief.
• Trick-or-Treat on West Girard Ave: On All Hallows Eve, the 2500 to 2900 blocks of West Girard Avenue welcome costumed guests for an evening of trick-or-treating. Participating businesses are slated to provide free candy for children and invite all guests in to explore the shopping offerings of the avenue.
• Spruce Hill Halloween Parade: Thursday, October 31, 4:30 p.m. On October 31 at 4:30 p.m., a kid-centric Halloween parade departs from 45th Street and Baltimore Avenue in Spruce Hill and wraps around the neighborhood. Along the route, residents will welcome paraders with treats, cider and eerie Halloween decorations. The Penn marching band will lead children and their parents, around the course. After the parade, stay put in Spruce Hill for some eats. Our picks? Honest Tom’s Tacos and Desi Village.
Halloween Concerts, Theatre & Film
• Drexel Co-op Theatre Company presents Godzilla: This Halloween night, the Drexel Co-op Theatre Company opens its version of Yasuhiko Ohashi’s Godzilla, a campy, comic take on the Japanese cultural icon, at the URBN Center Annex’s Black Box Theater at 8 p.m. Continuing through November 9, the opening night celebrations include a costume contest and attendees who come dressed in costume will receive free admission! Tickets, $15 for general admission, are available online.
• Boo! A Jazz Concert at the Painted Bride: Old City independent arts venue The Painted Bride hosts trombonist and arranger Steve Tirpak of The Roots to lead a group of costumed performers in a show of Halloween sounds, from avant garde jazz to experimental spooky soundscapes. The haunting show runs both Thursday, October 31 and Friday, November 1 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 the day of show and available online.
• Gunnar Montana’s Drag Me To Hell: Straight off of a captivating show during the 2013 Fringe Festival, choreographer and dancer Gunnar Montana brings a show of modern dance, gore, aerials, drama and dark imagery to The Black Box at Underground Arts in the Callowhill neighborhood. Performances run nightly Monday, October 28 through Thursday, October 31, and the $10 tickets are available online.
• Halloween Movie Marathon at the Free Library: Join the literary folks at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Central Library on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for a continuous screening of short (30 minutes or less) horror movies from a variety of time periods and genres. Audience members may come and go as they please throughout the event. The screenings are free and open to the public, and start at 3 p.m. Note that the movies are intended for an adult audience.
• Halloween Double Feature at PhilaMOCA: This Halloween night could be scary movie night, if you head to PhilaMOCA. The Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art screens a double feature of two obscure cult darlings: Black Devil Doll From Hell (1984) and Tales from the Quadead Zone (1987). Director Chester N. Turner, whose entire directorial career consists of these two films, will be in attendance at the Halloween bash. Doors open at 7 p.m., with the films running back-to-back at 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tickets, $12, are available online.
• Touch Me Philly Productions Halloween at Walking Fish Theatre: In Fishtown, bring the wee ones for fun, films and frights fit for the whole family as Touch Me Philly Productions takes over the theater for Halloween night. From 5 to 8 p.m., the theater hosts trick-or-treating and screens Monster Goo , a locally made short film every half hour.
• Splintered Sunlight at The Blockley: Philadelphia’s favorite Grateful Dead cover band will embrace the deadness on All Hallow’s Eve and please Dead Heads and non at The Blockley. Tickets, $8-$10, are available online or at the door.
• Bitby Halloween Party at Ortleib’s: Don a costume and head to Ortleib’s bar and music venue in Northern Liberties for a night of 90s videos and live music from Faux Slang and Christina Nietzsches. Tickets, $7 ($5 for those in costume), are available online.