13 frightfully fun Halloween experiences in the suburbs

Ghosts, gore, ghouls and gourds are staples of the frightfully fun experiences found throughout the suburbs this fall.

Residents can get in the Halloween spirit with frightening festivals, intricate jack-o’-lanterns, spooky shows and post-apocalyptic adventures. Many activities are geared toward kids and families, while others are designed for thrill-seekers and more mature audiences.

Here are 13 events and experiences to set the mood for Halloween:

1. Howlin’ at the Moon

A food truck graveyard, a “Boooze Bar,” live music and a slew of special performances will make up a new adults-only Halloween event on the Naper Settlement grounds in Naperville. The inaugural Howlin’ at the Moon is limited to guests 21 and older, all of whom are encouraged to dress in costume and enjoy a range of entertainment, including cover and regional rock bands, the Carnival of Curiosities, an illusionist, fire dancers and liquid lights. Admission is free for Naper Settlement members.

Info: 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, and Saturday, Oct. 23, at 523 S. Webster St., Naperville. (630) 420-6010 or towncrier@naperville.il.us. For details or to purchase tickets, visit www.napersettlement.org/627/Howlin-at-the-Moon.

2. Little Park of Horrors

A spooky drive-through event is returning to Wing Park in Elgin for eight nights this fall, featuring new Halloween-themed areas and a variety of horror props, lighting and audio effects. Visitors to the Little Park of Horrors could find themselves in a spider’s lair, among a crew of skeletons or in the presence of a dancing clown. Last year’s inaugural event drew more than 25,000 attendees. A new ticket and reservation system will help alleviate traffic issues this year. The event is rated PG-13.

Info: Oct. 21-24 and 28-31. 1010 Wing St., Elgin. www.cityofelgin.org/2422/Little-Park-of-Horrors.



3. Dungeon of Doom

The Dungeon of Doom haunted house in Zion is celebrating its 25th season with giveaways, new experiences, returning fan favorites and changes to attractions such as Mercy General Hospital, The Getaway and The Temple. Walking through the roughly 45,000-square-foot building takes about an hour and features dozens of dynamic animatronics, more than 100 frightening events and spooky characters known as the “Killer Crew.” Tickets cost $30 for general admission, $45 for a fast pass and $55 for VIP status. The Buried Alive attraction is a $5 upcharge for general admission on certain dates.

Info: Opens at 7 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and some Sundays from Sept. 25 through Oct. 31, plus Thursdays, Oct. 21 and Oct. 28, at 600 29th St., Zion. (847) 262-3666 or dungeonofdoom@msn.com. www.dungeonofdoom.com.

4. All Hallow’s Eve

The Arlington Heights Historical Museum is promising a “ghoulishly good time” for one afternoon in October, featuring entertainment, games and family-friendly activities. All Hallow’s Eve returns this year with Halloween fun for all ages. The museum’s historic houses will be open, and kids are encouraged to dress in costume. Tickets cost $6 per person, though children under 3 are free.

Info: 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at 110 W. Fremont St., Arlington Heights. (847) 255-1225 or www.ahmuseum.org. Preregister at apm.activecommunities.com/ahpd/Activity_Search/51092.



5. Wheaton Haunted Halloween Flea Market

Dress in costume, carry props, browse booths of treasure and encounter ghoulish creatures during a night of spooky fun at the DuPage County Fairgrounds. The 10th annual Haunted Halloween Flea Market offers late-night entertainment, shopping and activities for all ages. The event costs $9 per person. Kids 12 and younger are free.

Info: 3 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Oct. 30, at 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton. Free parking. (715) 526-9769 or zurkopromotions.com/wheaton-illinois-haunted-halloween-flea-market.

Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns is returning to at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe from Oct. 13-17 and 20-24.
– Courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden

6. Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns

More than 1,000 hand-carved pumpkins will light up a “boo-tanical” trail during the Chicago Botanic Garden’s annual Halloween event. Artists from New York-based Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns spend up to 15 hours sculpting a single pumpkin, each of which will be lit with LED lights and staged along a festive pathway. Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns also features snacks and beverages, including spiked cider and ale.

Info: Gates open to ticketholders at 6 p.m. Oct. 13-17 and 20-24 at 1000 Lake-Cook Road, Glencoe. Parking is free for garden members; nonmembers must pay a $20 fee in advance. (847) 835-5440 or www.chicagobotanic.org/halloween.

Kids are encouraged to wear costumes at the annual BatFest in downtown Batavia.
– Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

7. BatFest

Thousands of ghouls gather in downtown Batavia each year for a free event filled with trick-or-treating, a pumpkin bowl, a parade, contests, art and games. The annual BatFest, hosted by Batavia MainStreet, is held in conjunction with a Halloween-themed Bat Race 5K and 10K, which serves as a fundraiser for Batavia United Way. Costumes are encouraged.

Info: Saturday, Oct. 30, in downtown Batavia. (630) 761-3528 or downtownbatavia.com/event/batfest. The Bat Race 5K/10K kicks off at 8:30 a.m. at River and State streets, followed by a Kids’ Fun Run at 9:30 a.m. bataviaunitedway.org/bat-race. BatFest activities to follow.

8. ‘The Jigsaw Bride’

First Folio Theatre presents the suspenseful tale of scientist Maria von Moos, who decides to excavate a ruined castle deep in the Geneva woods and makes a startling discovery 100 years after the death of Victor Frankenstein. Inspired by the work of novelist Mary Shelley, Joseph Zettelmaier continues the electrifying legend of Frankenstein in “The Jigsaw Bride,” featuring Heather Chrisler and directed by Hayley Rice. Tickets cost $49 Wednesdays and Thursdays, and $59 Fridays through Sundays, with a discount for seniors and students. Preview tickets are $29.

Info: The two-hour show previews Oct. 13-15 and runs on select days from Oct. 16 to Nov. 14 at 1717 31st St., Oak Brook. (630) 986-8067 or firstfolio.org.

Downtown Aurora is expected to transform into “Sugar Skull City” again this fall in honor of the traditional Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
– Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

9. Sugar Skull City

Colorfully painted storefronts and intricate window displays are expected to transform downtown Aurora into Sugar Skull City to honor a Mexican holiday reuniting the living and the dead. For three weeks this fall, visitors can see festive artwork and participate in daily activities, business specials, videos and shopping excursions. A First Fridays event Nov. 5 will celebrate Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Sugar Skull City is free and open to the public.

Info: Oct. 15 to Nov. 7 in downtown Aurora. marissa@auroradowntown.org or auroradowntown.org.

Spiders climb up the side of the American Eagle roller coaster at Six Flags Great America. Fright Fest is returning to the Gurnee amusement park this fall with new scares and twists.
– Daily Herald report

10. Fright Fest

Haunted attractions, spooky shows, creepy creatures and roller coasters operated in the dark have attracted thrill-seekers to Six Flags Great America each fall for decades. The annual Fright Fest is scheduled to return to the Gurnee amusement park this year with new nighttime twists and scares.

Info: Select days this fall at 1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee. Once finalized, dates and ticket information will be available at www.sixflags.com/greatamerica.

11. Haunted Hoffman Family Fest

Crafts, costumes, trick-or-treating and more spooky family fun are available one October afternoon at Fabbrini Park. Hosted by the Hoffman Estates Park District, the Haunted Hoffman Family Fest is free with the exception of a Trick-or-Treat Path for $5 per child. Advance registration is required.

Info: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at 1704 Glen Lake Road, Hoffman Estates. www.heparks.org/event/haunted-hoffman-family-fest.

12. Zombie Apocalypse

Find out if you have what it takes to survive the zombie apocalypse during an outdoor laser tag game this October at The Forge. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, two teams will battle against each other while also fending off zombies on the grounds of what was once a science lab — until it was overrun by the undead.

Info: The Forge: Lemont Quarries, 1001 Main St., Lemont. (630) 326-3301. Times, dates, tickets and other details will be available at www.forgeparks.com/zombie-apocalypse.

13. Naperville Hauntings Ghost Walks

Longtime area resident and author Diane Ladley leads a haunting and historic excursion through Naperville. Founded by Ladley in 2004, the walking tours last up to two hours and are about 10 blocks round-trip through the historic district. Three roads within that area hold distinction for being haunted — and each is featured on her ghost tour, which costs $25 per ticket.

Info: 8 p.m. on select dates through Oct. 31. The tours depart outside Quigley’s Irish Pub, 43 E. Jefferson St., and continue through part of downtown Naperville. (833) 446-7813, info@americanghostwalks or chicagohauntings.com.


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