13 Halloween Events to Get Your Family in the Spooky Spirit
From outdoor movies to haunted houses, these activities will help you and your kids celebrate the holiday all month long.
After the incredibly cruel tricks 2020 played, Halloween is sure to be a treat this year. Area businesses and organizations are getting into the spirit with events ranging from Halloween-themed movies to costume contests, crafts and candy giveaways. We round up 13 that are kid-friendly, plus two for furry friends, too.
Grab a blanket to spread on the lawn at Gateway Park, and settle in for a Halloween-y movie on the first three Fridays of October. The kid-friendliest showing is Coco on Oct. 8; children can also get Day of the Dead-themed face paint and see a performance by Synetic Theater before the movie starts. If that date doesn’t work for you, The Nightmare Before Christmas, showing on Oct. 22, is also rated PG. Head on over starting at 5 p.m. to purchase food from two onsite food trucks and drinks from a beer, wine and sangria bar. No reservations are required (though you can sign up on EventBrite for reminders), and space on the lawn is first-come, first-serve. The movies start at sundown, around 7 p.m. // 1300 Lee Highway, Arlington
The National Landing Business Improvement District is hosting movies at Softball Field 3 at Virginia Highlands Park every Friday night in October. Catch Monsters University on Oct. 8, Akeelah and the Bee on Oct. 15, Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone on Oct. 22, and Hocus Pocus on Oct. 29. Food trucks are onsite starting at 6 p.m., and the movie starts at sundown, between 7:30 and 8 p.m. Tickets are required for each movie. // 1600 S. Hayes St., Arlington
Gather your paintbrushes, water, sponges and newspapers (to protect the sidewalk), and head to Mr. Brown’s Park on Oct. 9, 10, 11 or 16 for the Halloween Window Painting Festival. Local stores provide the windows and Falls Church Arts provides black, blue, green, orange, red, white and yellow paints. Registration is required to get a window assignment, and kid-friendly design sketches must be submitted beforehand. This outdoor event is free but suggests a $5 donation to help cover the cost of supplies. // 100 block of W. Broad St., Falls Church
The Rosslyn Business Improvement District and the Rosslyn Dog Owners Group will host a Halloween celebration that’s gone to the dogs. So, bring your dogs to this event, which features local pet-themed vendors, a social media dog costume contest (you must enter between Wednesday, Oct. 6 and Sunday, Oct. 17) and giveaways. Happening Friday, Oct. 22 from 3 to 7 p.m., participants can go from here to the movie at Rosslyn Cinema (The Nightmare Before Christmas). // 1300 Lee Highway, Arlington
Enjoy a Halloween-themed outdoor story time from 10:30 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 23. Children and adults are encouraged to wear costumes, and masks are required for everyone ages 2 and older. Registration is required, along with a $5 fee per child. With the registration, each child will receive a craft kit to take home. // 5380 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria
You and your family can celebrate the flavors of fall at the Fall for Autumn Fest at Ballston Quarter on Saturday, Oct. 23 from 1 to 4 p.m. Gussy up your ’gram by striking a pose in front of Halloween- and fall-themed backdrops, including giant pumpkins and a movable portrait that will be painted live at Ballston Quarter the week before. Music, doughnuts, hot cocoa, cotton candy and other treats will be available. // 4238 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Learn more about the Latin American holiday that celebrates the dead with parties and activities they enjoyed while alive. On Saturday, Oct. 23 from 6 to 7:30 p.m., you can make calaveras (decorative skull masks), hear holiday lore, and see live animals. Those activities will be followed by a fun candlelit walk in the woods. Reservations are required for both children and adults. // 625 S Carlin Springs Road, Arlington
Watch people in costume, floats and other entertainers march down Maple Avenue from Branch Road to Center Street in this annual event that’s been held since 1946. The theme for this year’s parade, happening on Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. rain or shine, is “The Roaring Twenties.” Pro tip: One thousand Halloween goodie bags will be distributed at the end of the parade route near Vienna Elementary, while supplies last. // Maple Avenue, Vienna
Bring your bag, pillowcase, or plastic orange pumpkin to collect candy from Shirlington restaurants and shops between 10 a.m. and noon on Saturday, Oct. 30. Tickets are required for entry. Then put a leash—and a costume, if you can—on your pooch and head to Dogma Bakery for Puppy Trick-or-Treat from 2 to 4 p.m. (No tickets needed for the dog-friendly event.) // 700 S. Quincy St., Arlington
The Little City’s annual Halloween celebration will take place outside on Saturday, Oct. 30 with games, inflatables, crafts, entertainment and fall-themed snacks. Kiddos ages 2 to 11 can attend during one of two 2-hour timeslots (1 to 3 p.m. or 3:30-5:30 p.m.). Costumes are encouraged, as are masks for adults in crowded areas. Masks—and not just the Halloween kind—are required for children 12 and younger. Registration is not required, but attendees will need to buy a $1 (cash only) wristband to gain entry. // 312 Park Ave., Falls Church
Trick-or-treaters ages 2 to 17 can register to hop from decorated car trunk to decorated car trunk, collecting candy at this free, walk-through event at the Quincy Parking Deck near Washington-Liberty High School. Adults must accompany children, and everyone is welcome to wear a costume. Registrants get a 30-minute window between 3 and 5 p.m. on Oct. 30. //15th St. N. and N. Quincy St., Arlington
Kids ages 3 to 12 can do some crafts, participate in a “ghost” hunt, and march in a costume parade on the Alexandria property that celebrates the people who lived there between 1785 and 1969. Timed tickets, which cost $15, must be purchased in advance to enter the hourly sessions, which run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 30. // 614 Oronoco St., Alexandria
A satellite site of the McLean Community Center, the former fire station welcomes children of all ages on Saturday, Oct. 30 to scrounge outdoors for candy from themed vehicles from 6 to 9 p.m.—no reservations required. For the brave set, the Old Firehouse will serve as the House of Terror from 5 to 7 p.m. with no scares (meaning the path is lighted and actors and actresses won’t jump out). From 7:30 to 10 p.m., though, the lights go out and the frights begin. The cost per person for the haunted house is $5 and reservations are recommended. // 1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean