11 Halloween Events in NYC Perfect for the Preschool Set

Over the years, I’ve learned that NYC really knows how to celebrate Halloween. There are a dizzying number of FREE Halloween celebrations, kid-friendly costume parades, and close-knit communities that dole out copious amounts of candy to trick-or-treaters.

We’ve put together a list of 11 Halloween events perfect for the preschool set. Ease them in and enjoy the holiday fun while it lasts; they’ll be celebrating at the Village Halloween Parade before you know it.

For more Halloween happenings, be sure to check out our Halloween Guide and our events calendar, which is continually updated with new, fun events as we find out about them.

 

The ongoing Boo at the Zoo in the Bronx is the perfect way to enjoy the season with preschooler fun like daily costume parades and hay mazes
The ongoing Boo at the Zoo in the Bronx is the perfect way to enjoy the season with preschooler fun like daily costume parades and hay mazes. Photo by Sonia Gonzalez.

Boo at the Zoo — the Bronx
Weekends October 1-30, plus Columbus Day
Head to the Bronx Zoo for its annual fright fest. Kids can peep a not-too-scary jack-o’-lantern installation in the World of Darkness, craft felt pumpkins, collect treats, watch pumpkin-carving demos, musical performances, magic shows, and enjoy storytime. Come in costume to participate in the twice-daily parades. See plenty of zoo animals, many of which are gifted pumpkins full of treats to enjoy. Want more Boo at the Zoo fun? The Prospect Park and Queens Zoos celebrate with smaller fests the weekend of October 29-30. All Boo at the Zoo festivities are included in admission, which varies by location.

Hansel and Gretel’s Halloween Adventure — Upper West Side
Thursday, October 13-Monday, October 31
Head to the adorable Swedish Marionette Theatre for the annual re-imagination of this classic tale. Join Hansel and Gretel in a puppet dreamland featuring NYC landmarks and larger-than-life characters, including mermaids, pirates, and (not-too-spooky) monsters on an unforgettable Halloween night adventure. Plus, it’s a budget-friendly show: just $7 for children ages 18 months to 12 years.

Halloween Picture Book Bonanza — Flatiron
Sunday, October 16
Books of Wonder, one of our favorite Manhattan kid-lit spots, has a special Halloween-themed story hour on tap. A trio of authors and illustrators are on hand to share their Halloween stories, including Quit Calling Me a Monster! FREE

The Not So Spooky Ghost – Astoria, Queens
Friday, October 28
Neighborhood tot spot Raising Astoria hosts a preschool-friendly puppet performance of The Not So Spooky Ghost by city-based troupe the WonderSpark Puppets. The show runs 40 minutes, sending you home just in time for baby’s nap.

Halloween Fun at the Staten Island Children’s Museum — Staten Island
Sunday, October 30
Costumed tots take over this outer borough children’s museum for an afternoon of fun, including creepy, cool glow-in-the-dark oobleck, spooky storytimes, face time with (not-so) spooky animals and, of course, a costume parade and Monster Mash-themed dance party. Free with museum admission.

Halloween at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum — Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Sunday, October 30
Dress to impress and head to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum for its annual Halloween party, where kids can decorate their own trick-or-treat bag, and learn about creepy creatures, including bats and spiders. There is a costume contest and plenty of festive photo-ops, plus access to the museum’s usual attractions. Free with museum admission.

Mini Parade – Park Slope, Brooklyn
Sunday, October 30
Park Slope knows how to throw a Halloween parade. In fact, its main event on Halloween proper is one of the oldest kiddie parades in the country. Preschoolers appreciate this Sunday-afternoon affair, the day prior to Halloween, as costumed little ones parade around the grounds of the Old Stone House and the ever-popular J.J. Byrne Playground while competing for best-dressed honors. FREE

Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Flotilla — Harlem
Sunday, October 30
Head to the Harlem Meer on the northern edge of Central Park for this annual favorite. There is live music by Aly Sunshine and Funkytown Playground, arts and crafts, pumpkin-carving demonstrations, a live bat presentation, and a pair of read-alouds. The event ends with a leisurely costume parade around the Meer, with treats to collect along the way. As the sun sets, illuminated jack-o’-lanterns take float on the water for a magical photo-op. You can even set yours a-sail, but visit our event listing for details. If you have any downtime, there’s a spectacular playground nearby. FREE

 

Costumed characters roam the halls during the Natural History museum's Halloween
Costumed characters roam the halls during the Natural History museum’s Halloween. Photo by R. Mickens/courtesy of AMNH.

Annual Halloween Celebration — Upper West Side
Monday, October 31
It’s practically a right of passage for Upper West Side tots to hit this big shindig at the American Museum of Natural History. There are crowds aplenty, but also tons of room to roam in the museum’s vast halls. Preschoolers delight not only in the free treats, but also in the friendly costumed characters roaming the halls—think preschool pleasers such as Curious George and Clifford the Big Red Dog. There are live musical performances and plenty of arts and crafts to enjoy. If you don’t get your fill of treats inside, we hear the streets around the museum offer great trick-or-treating.

Hippo Halloween Parade — Upper West Side
Monday, October 31
Speaking of Upper West Side institutions, the Hippo Playground Halloween Parade draws tiny trick-or-treaters from miles around. Children line up at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and follow into the playground for treats, games, and plenty of playtime before that sugar crash hits. It can be crowded and overwhelming, but some kids revel in the excitement. FREE

BAMboo! — Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Monday, October 31
This annual fete from BAM has all the trappings of a preschooler party, from the bounce house to arts and crafts. Of course there’s a too-cool kids’ DJ, costume contest, and candy, too. The late afternoon start time is just right for those with earlier bedtimes. Brooklyn families to toddlers and preschoolers can hit this outdoor party and call it a night. FREE