Allan Tannenbaum Studio 54 Halloween New York City Downtown

Grandlife guide

Scary Good: Halloween Must-Dos in NYC & Beyond

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Whether you’re looking to get down or get out of town, we’ve rounded up the best NY events to celebrate Halloween.

October is a magical time in the city. The temperature drops, the leaves change, and for one glorious day, every dachshund in the tri-state area transforms into a hotdog at the Tompkins Square Howlaween Parade.

From NYC’s historic brownstones to the haunting grandeur of its most storied apartment buildings, the city lends itself particularly well to the spooky season—perhaps one of the reasons it’s served as a backdrop for horror films from Rosemary’s Baby to American Psycho. 

Whether you’re looking to get down or get out of town, we’ve rounded up the best NY events to celebrate Halloween. 

Haunted Hop Halloween Spooktacular presented by Jonathan Toubin & New York Night Train

The Knockdown Center in Queens is hosting the 2019 Halloween Haunted Hop, the 14th incarnation of Jonathan Toubin and New York Night Train’s enormously popular annual event. The 50,000 square-foot venue will become a labyrinth of cobwebbed rooms, dancing and horror cinema, with live performances from underground rock ’n’ roll legends The Make-Up, Quintron and Miss Pussycat, Protex, and Three Brained Robot. Of course, Toubin himself will hit the decks with his signature mix of obscure 1950s and 1960s blues, soul, and rock and roll. 

“It’s the kind of party where a variety of subcultures escape from NYC’s typical Halloween madness to come early and stay late and choose their own adventure as they wander through an action-packed, tightly-curated party,” says Toubin. “Essentially it’s nonstop unique, supreme quality art and music all night long and a party like no other anywhere in the world.”

The winner of the 1am costume contest takes home $500.

October 31 from 7pm until late at The Knockdown Center, Queens. Tickets available—here

McKittrick Hotel Hitchcock Halloween Party

New York inspired many of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, from the voyeuristic apartment in Rear Window to the upscale haunts favored by Cary Grant in North by Northwest, so it’s fitting that the city pay homage to Hollywood’s master of suspense. 

The McKittrick Hotel is best known as the home of Sleep No More but on October 25, 26 and 31, the venue will host a different kind of immersive experience. They’re not giving much away, but expect live performances, DJs and an open bar to keep the party kicking on. 

Each evening has an early or late-night option and is costumed, so come dressed as your favorite icy blonde, dashing anti-hero, or peeping tom. BYO crow. 

Tickets available through events.mckittrickhotel.com.

Sleepy Hollow

This quaint, Hudson Valley settlement famously served as the muse for Washington Irving’s gothic tale about a ghostly horseman who terrorizes the townspeople in the search for his missing head. This year marks the 200th anniversary of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, so expect the hamlet to go all out transforming into the eerie village of folklore.

Pay your respects at Irving’s final resting place in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, but don’t rush; businessman William Rockefeller and beauty mogul Elizabeth Arden are among the other NY characters buried here. (A guided lantern tour will point out notable residents while providing maximum ambiance.) 

Programming highlights include an outdoor performance at Washington Irving’s own cottage, Sunnyside; an immersive haunted house on the grounds of Philipsburg Manor; haunted hayrides through the surrounding woods; and a screening of the tale’s first big (silent) screen adaptation accompanied by live music from the town’s church organ. 

If you’re more into the literary side of things, local storyteller David Neilsen brings to life Irving’s best-loved ghost stories in the author’s namesake memorial chapel, while An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe animates the macabre work of another iconic writer who spent the last years of his life in the area.

Events are hugely popular, so it pays to do some forward planning and book ahead of time. 

An express service from Grand Central Terminal gets you to Tarrytown in around 35 minutes on the Metro North Railroad Hudson line, and it’s just a little longer to Sleepy Hollow’s Philipse Manor stop (or a short walk or car ride from Tarrytown).

Hudson Valley Jack O’Lantern Blaze

There’s pumpkin carving and then there’s pumpkin art. The Hudson Valley’s most impressive display of gourd-based sculpture includes more than 7,000 illuminated jack o’lanterns that are carved on-site and arranged around the grounds of the 18th century Van Cortlandt Manor.

In addition to the usual Halloween fodder, this year’s display features a pumpkin windmill, 25-foot-tall jack o’lantern Statue of Liberty and a glowing celestial-themed pumpkin tunnel, along with a new ‘Museum of Pumpkin Art’.

It’s so popular that coveted Friday and Saturday night tickets are already going for inflated prices on StubHub, so it’s best to get in quick.

Van Cortlandt Manor, Croton-on-Hudson, every day of October and then November 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 22-23, 29-30. Tickets through hudsonvalley.org.

Further afield: Salem, Massachusetts

If you’re willing to put in the hours (6 by train and around 5 by car), the New England town of Salem provides plenty of real-life horror. The site of the legendary 17th-century witch trials is a natural choice for those who like their ghouls grounded in history. 

WORDS Anne Fullerton

PHOTOGRAPHY The third annual Halloween party at Studio 54, New York, 1978. Allan Tannenbaum/Getty Images 

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