By Caroline Davis
Halloween. A top contender on my list of favorite American “holidays” – mainly because it provides a ready excuse for me to indulge in as many tricks and treats as possible. The coming of October 31 means an inevitable raid on the colorful candy aisles of every D’Agostino and Duane Reade in a five-block radius of my apartment.
But Halloween is more than just a cavities-in-waiting, excuse for a sugar-high. New York’s bars, clubs, and restaurants are prepared to roll out the fun, with costume contests, free drinks, and dance parties oh-my. If you’re like me, you’ll have your costume picked out well in advance of the date – But if you’re not, here’s a host of handy tips to making the most of your Halloween in NYC:
Halloween Around Manhattan
Village Halloween Parade – Don’t miss the nation’s largest public Halloween celebration! The 36th annual parade features 53 bands, dancers, artists, and thousands of New Yorkers strolling in their Halloween-best. Get creative with your costume and join the throng. Make sure to head to the parade after-party at Webster Hall (Webster Hell for the occasion). Doors open at 8 p.m. – tickets are $50.
Village Halloween Parade, 6th Avenue South of Spring Street and North of Canal Street; Show up between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. in costume
Webster Hall, 125 East 11th Street
Haunted House at the Vortex Theater – If you’re in for a scare – and I do mean scare – head to the Vortex Theater on Halloween night. Here there are three main rules: 1) You must wear a protective mask and carry at flashlight at all times, 2) You must walk through the Haunted House alone, and 3) There is absolutely no speaking allowed inside – you can, however, scream as loud as you like. Scared yet? You should be.
When you’ve done your fair share of shrieking, head over to the Half King Bar & Restaurant around the corner. Purchased tickets to the Haunted House will earn you one $4 draft beer – a necessity in bringing that heart rate down a smidge post-Haunted House.
164 Eleventh Avenue @ the Vortex Theater; $14 tickets at the door, $12 tickets online
Half King Bar & Restaurant @ 505 West 23rd Street
Nightmare at the Dream Hotel – Another of New York’s longest-running Halloween events and oft-considered one of the chicest and sexiest events of the year. If you’re willing to fork over the $30 cover charge, make sure to show up from 9 to 10:30 p.m. to take advantage of the open bar. Prepare to dance the night away on multiple floors and to multiple DJs. And don’t forget those stilettos – the sexiest costume wins a three-month membership to the David Barton Gym.
The Dream Hotel, 210 West 55th Street; 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Blockheads – I know, I know it’s a chain. And yes, the mascots are sock puppets. But for the wallet-conscious, Blockheads is always a must-go. Who can beat $3 margaritas? Start your night at the Mexican restaurant chain where they are hosting a Most Creative Costume contest on Halloween – free tequila shots for the winners. Ay Caramba!
Blockheads, 1563 Second Avenue between 81st and 82nd Streets and various locations around the city; 11:30 a.m. to midnight
Tips For Throwing a Spooktacular Halloween Party
Mandatory Costumes – It’s no fun for everyone else when Susie Smith or Mike Michaels shows up not wearing a costume (hey, If I have to look dumb in this costume, so do my guests!) Halloween attire is therefore mandatory.
Costume Awards – Announce costume awards mid-way through the party (i.e. Most Creative Costume, Best Couples Costume etc.) Winners will receive a variety of funny, cheap joke gifts – this is a recession, after all.
Alcohol (plenty of it) and Specialty Halloween Cocktails – The most important element of hosting a successful party (that isn’t for five-year-olds). If you’re strapped for cash, ask guests to bring a favorite beverage of choice. For the overachieving host: mix up a hefty bowl of festive Halloween punch, some orange JELLO shots, and dust off that blender for seasonal Pumpkin Spice Margaritas.
Halloween Playlist – Second most important element of a party (right behind the cocktails of course) are the tunes. Good rule of thumb: make sure they’re loud enough to make your neighbors jealous, but not so deafening as to inhibit party conversations. Ultimate playlist tip: Michael Jackson’s Thriller and The Monster Mash from Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett and the Cryptkickers.
Plentiful Bowls Filled With Candy – A happy host means happy guests.