It’s Halloween Month: a month devoted to tricks, treats and weeks of planning costumes. In our household, it also includes a birthday, so the month feels like one giant cavity. It also feels like the last time to get out of the house before the cold comes, although these days that may not happen until February. Between pumpkin picking, hayrides and making homemade Halloween costumes, here are nine ways get the most out of the month.
GO: Catch some barnyard vibes
Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White’s touching story between a sweet pig and an intelligent spider, hits all the autumnal touchstones—hay, pumpkins, farms and country fairs, so it would be a perfect way to start your month. If you haven’t read the book to your kids, do that now. Then see Theaterworks USA’s one performance of the story, on October 6th at 11am, that your kids will most likely adore. I’m betting this will be a “Radiant” show, and they recommend it as best for kids ages 5 through 12. BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers St., Tribeca. Tickets: $30. Buy advance tickets here.
GO: Time travel
If you’ve always been curious about The Henry Street Settlement, the nonprofit in the Lower East Side, that was founded in 1893 by social work and public health pioneer, Lillian Wald, then this is a good time to go. It has an interesting history, and now through October 7th, you and kids (ages 8-and-up) can get up close with the story. For the 125th anniversary of the Settlement, Trusty Sidekick Theater (which includes actors as young as nine) presents “Gumshoe,” an interactive performance inspired by the founder’s history. The year is 1956 and you’ve been invited to a garden party, where a time capsule is discovered. You’ll help a detective crack the historical code. Henry Street Settlement Headquarters, 265 Henry St., Lower East Side. Performances 11am and 2pm. Tickets: $20 ($15 if you buy three or more.) Purchase tickets online here.
BUY: DIY Halloween costumes
One of my Halloween pet peeves is all the store bought muscle costumes that are exactly the same from one another. Instead, it would be great to spend the month hand stitching an intricate idea, but who has the time for something so Pinterest perfect? Kiwi Co. heard our complaints, and they’ve come out with some DIY Halloween Costume kits that allow your kids to put their own spin on their favorite costumes. Plus, every costume has its own working mechanical or electronic element. A Glowing Horn Unicorn costume ($29.95) or a Light-Up Alien Spaceship costume ($29.95) are just two of the customizable choices that are designed to inspire your child’s interests in STEAM and might be just the happy medium between store bought and handmade.
GO: Get artsy craftsy
Looking to get some crafty handmade decorations? Artist Jaclyn Carter, aka the woman behind the greeting card company Love Jac, teaches little ones (ages 2-4) about famous artists and how to create masterpieces of their own. Artists & Crafts is an age-appropriate art class that incorporates songs, sensory play-doh, and messy art projects. Plus, at the end of each class, kids will make their very own card to mail to a loved one. The classes take place in Fort Greene and Brooklyn Heights. (Register here for the Thursdays 10am-10:45am at Treasure Trunk Theater, 141 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn Heights.) Sign up for the entire semester or drop in: $30/ class.
GO: Attend a harvest festival
If I was to create a mind map for October, basically the entire thing would have to do with Halloween, but there would be some crossover with the idea of a harvest festival. Pumpkin patches, face painting, falling leaves all are October staples, without the fears of a pagan holiday. Join Brooklyn Bridge Park for a gentle Harvest Fest at Pier 6 on Saturday October 20th from 11am-2pm, which will include live music and arts & crafts. Harvest Festival, Pier 6, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Atlantic Avenue & Furman Street, FREE. For more pumpkins (and photo opportunities), board the ferry to Governors Island for the second annual Pumpkin Point which runs from October 20th through October 28th. The patch is free to visit, and small and medium pumpkins can be handpicked and purchased. To set the mood there will be live music, and hot cider, mini pumpkin pies, and a fall beer garden. Governor’s Island.
GO: Immerse yourself in Trolls
If your kids are superfans of the Trolls movie franchise, then they are going to be thrilled to enter an Instagrammable Immersive Experience of their favorite movie. Join Poppy for her “Best Day Ever” celebration, at Trolls: The Experience, which will include a troll primping station, a dance party in a forest, a Caterbus ride, and a gem pool (i.e. ball pit.) Also, you can expect that after your $20 per person admission charge, there will be no shortage of retail opportunities that will delight your kids and lighten your wallet. Starting October 22nd. Trolls: The Experience, 218 W. 57th St., Midtown.
GO: Take a deep dive into Potterworld
If your kids are superfans of the Harry Potter movie and book franchise, then they are going to be thrilled to visit a museum exhibit dedicated entirely to this magical world. “Harry Potter: A History of Magic” looks at the inspiration and research behind J.K. Rowling’s creations. Rare books, manuscripts, costumes and cover art allow families to recreate the extensive education that Rowling delved into in order to create Harry Potter. There is no ball pit here, but for kids who can’t dive deep enough into Potterworld, this will almost be as fascinating as a semester as Hogwarts. Also, there are special family days which include classes, events and trivia afternoons. From October 5th through January 27th. Harry Potter: A History of Magic, New York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, Upper West Side. Tickets: $21 adult, $16 Senior, College or High School Student $13, Kid (5-13) $6, Child (0-4) free.
CELEBRATE: Halloween with the animals
Dressing up and eating candy are most kids’ favorite hobbies, so it makes sense that kids would love Halloween. But some children get freaked out by masks, scary costumes, or just the sheer amount of crowds that take over the streets. Luckily, there are many sweet child-friendly trick-or-treating and celebrating options that don’t include too many frights. Boo at the Zoo is the yearly festival at the Bronx Zoo, where kids have the chance to celebrate with the animals. A Haunted Pirate Hayride will feature skeletons, underwater creatures and a corn maze. Also, the extinct animal graveyard, expert pumpkin carving and magic shows will give just the right amount of spooks. Finish up the day with costume parade and a walk down the candy trail. Wear your costumes! Weekends through October 28th. Bronx Zoo, 200 Southern Blvd, Bronx. Tickets: Adults $36.95, Kids $26.95, Kids under 2 are free.
CELEBRATE: Halloween at the Park
The yearly Halloween Haunted Walk at Prospect Park, put on by the Prospect Park Alliance, is many families’ favorite way to celebrate the holiday, and is appropriate for kids ages 7-12. Take a haunted walk through Lookout Hill on Saturday October 27th from 12pm-3pm and encounter zombies, werewolves, and witches that is festive and frightful. Plus, a Halloween Fair will include family friendly activities, food trucks and other festivities. It’s like an outdoor version of a haunted house and keep in mind that this happens rain or shine. Wear your costumes! Prospect Park, Lookout Hill, Park Slope, FREE.