For many, Halloween is a favorite time of year. It’s easy to see why, what with all the candy, costumes, parties, and themed food and drink at local restaurants and watering holes. Philly eateries, bars, and neighborhood organizations get into the spooky spirit with pop-up bars, haunted pub crawls, costume parties, and family-friendly fun leading up to Halloween.
Halloween pop-up bar Nightmare Before Tinsel, set in the same space that houses Christmas pop-up Tinsel, is decked out top to bottom in creepy decor, from scary clowns and zombies to severed baby doll heads. The bar serves themed cocktails, including a blood-red concoction in what looks like an IV bag. It’s open at 116 S. 12th Street through October 31.
Above Tod Wentz’s new restaurant Pearl Tavern find his Halloween-themed Haunt. GM Alison Hangen, also founder of Arts in the Industry, put together this month-long pop-up with a horror movie theme throughout its decor and bar offerings. Find it upstairs at 1123 Walnut Street through November 3.
Fergus Carey of Center City standby Fergie’s Pub created the Strange Spirits Lounge for eerie attraction Dark Passage in Callowhill. His speakeasy-themed bar is the first stop during this haunted house-style experience, where entry is $35. It’s at 1004 Buttonwood Drive through November 2.
Halloween may as well be all year long when it comes to Grim Philly’s pub crawl ghost tours — they run year-round, but kick into high gear in October. The tour includes a haunted history walk with stops at two taverns, where a light snack and two drinks come with the price of the ticket.
Friday, October 25, and Saturday, October 26
Is there anything better than spooky tales and piles of candy to celebrate Halloween? Shane Confectionery, from the owners of Franklin Fountain, combines the two with a tour that takes you through America’s oldest continuously operated confectionery to learn about “the magic that lurks in Penn’s Woods,” all while sampling themed sweets. It’s $28.
Friday, October 25
Reading Terminal Market’s vendors have joined forces for this new Halloween costume party happening after hours. A portion of each $80 ticket goes to support City Kitchen and includes food from market vendors like Bassetts Ice Cream, Fox & Son, Sang Kee Peking Duck, DiNic’s, and Beiler’s Bakery, plus drinks from Molly Malloy’s.
The rooftop bar at Old City’s Hotel Monaco (433 Chestnut Street) is going fancy with a Veuve Clicquot takeover. Glasses of the champagne will go for $15 at the Halloween party, which features a DJ. The next night (October 26), Stratus is throwing a Day of the Dead theme party with tequila cocktails. Costumes are encouraged for both.
Saturday, October 26
The stores, restaurants, and hotels surrounding Rittenhouse Square open up their doors every year for a free all-ages day of trick-or-treating. Local restaurants participating — including A. Kitchen, Blume, Rouge, and Spice Finch — will post a sign in their window to let costumed visitors know there’s candy waiting inside.
Those looking for a big party the Saturday before Halloween can head to Morgan’s Pier for the waterfront venue’s open bar costume party hosted by Brittany Lynn, “The Don of Philly’s Drag Mafia.” It’s an all-you-can-drink affair for $55 (or $65 at the door). This event tends to sell out.
Trestle Inn (339 N. 11th Street) is always up to something fun. This year, the bar has a vampire-themed Halloween dance party with a DJ, drink specials, a costume contest, a screening of Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu, and, as always, go-go dancers. It’s $10 in advance or $15 (cash only) at the door. On Halloween night, Trestle is part of a “Horror on the Hill” bar crawl that includes nearby Wood Street Pizza and Love City Brewing.
South Street Headhouse District is throwing its annual family-friendly Halloween festival with pumpkin decorating, face painting, wagon rides, a hay bale maze, seasonal bites from local restaurants, and trick-or-treating at neighborhood stores. It’s pay as you go.
This family-friendly event takes over East Passyunk Avenue with Halloween activities for the kids, a costume contest, trick-or-treating at neighborhood shops, live music, and fall-themed food. It’s pay as you go.
Three University City venues from the same owners are teaming up for a Halloween bar crawl. Expect a carnival atmosphere at rooftop spot Sunset Social with a “Freaks Come Out at Night” cocktail, a Stranger Things party at The Post with “RIP Barb” and “Scoops Ahoy” cocktails, and a jungle safari motif at Walnut Street Cafe with “Into the Wild” and “Earn Your Stripes” cocktails. A $29.95 ticket includes an open bar from 8 to 11 p.m. There are cash prizes for best individual and group costumes.
In the FringeArts building, La Peg is part of the annual Halloqweens bash that features queer DJs and drag, and burlesque performers. More than 700 people are expected. It’s $15 a person ($13 for FringeArts members). This shindig doesn’t start until 10 p.m., so grab dinner beforehand or visit the onsite, outdoor Haas Biergarten on its last night of the year — it has a great view of the eerie ghost ship projection on the Delaware River.
Sunday, October 27
On Headhouse Square, the Twisted Tail’s family-friendly Halloween-themed brunch includes free pumpkin carving and face painting to keep the littles entertained while the whole family digs into specials like red velvet pancakes, fried chicken and pumpkin waffles, and hot apple cider with cinnamon whipped cream (adults can add bourbon).
Bring the family to 23rd and South streets for pumpkin painting and an ice cream pumpkin pie from The Igloo for $2.99. The treat comes with a graham cracker crust, pumpkin ice cream, and whipped cream.
Thursday, October 31
The bar that celebrates every holiday with themed drinks and decorations is going with a Ghostbusters motif for the big night. Look for drink specials like Slime Punch, Ghostbuster bombs, and the Stay Puft (spiked hot chocolate with jumbo marshmallows). There’s a costume contest with prizes awarded at midnight. Get in the spirit: It’s rumored the ghost of Ma McGillin shows up to check on her bar from time to time.
The cider-themed Halloween event at Kensington Quarters (1310 Frankford Avenue) was such a good time for the last two years that it’s back for another round. The bar will pour local ciders, while guest chefs from six restaurants — including Michael Ferreri of Res Ipsa and Ari Miller of Musi — serve $5 small plates. Expect a costumed catwalk contest and bobbing for crabapples. All-you-can-drink cider passes will be available.
In addition to a pre-Halloween costume party on October 26, Garage Passyunk (1231 E. Passyunk Avenue) is holding a ’90s-themed Halloween party celebrating TV shows like The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Also on tap: music from the same era, cocktail specials, and costume prizes. Sister bar Garage Fishtown has a Halloween costume party planned with a DJ and costume prizes.
German biergarten Frankford Hall in Fishtown is teaming up with Mainstay Brewery for a Halloween costume party. The best costume wins a $150 gift card to Stephen Starr’s restaurants. It’s free entry and pay as you go for food and drink.
Chef Nick Elmi’s Old City’s brasserie (52 S. Second Street) is stripping things down for Halloween night with a burlesque show featuring Lulu Lenore, Violet Outburst, Fagl Roq, and Ginger Leigh. A $40 ticket includes eight burlesque performances, one drink, and door prizes.
Bring pets and kids to this South Philly bar from 4 to 7 p.m. for a pet costume contest with prizes, plus candy and games for the little ones. At 8 p.m., it’s grown-up time with spooky trivia, costume prizes, drink specials, and Halloween-themed food like sweet potato tacos with black caramel and mini-marshmallows.
Put on some layers and head to Jet Wine Garden — next door to South Street’s Jet Wine Bar — for an outdoor costume party where the drinks are on-theme, including an orange wine flight ($16) and a candy and wine pairing flight ($15) that matches brut cava with Twizzlers, viognier with candy corn, and port with dark chocolate-covered nuts. Not into wine? Go for a Michael Myers mule ($10) or a black widow smash ($10) with smoked tequila, rosemary, and blackberries. Bonus: both wine flights will be available October 28 to November 3.