Get an Early Start to Halloween in LA

Terrifying haunts to family-friendly events

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood
Halloween Horror Nights | Photo: Universal Studios Hollywood

If there’s one thing that can be said about Los Angeles, it’s that this city loves Halloween. There is no shortage of events to take locals and visitors through the weeks leading up to the fall holiday, from family-friendly trick-or-treating to terrifying haunts for teens and adults. In between, there are horror movie screenings, themed garden strolls, spirited cocktails and spooky puppets.

The party has already started, so get your tickets as soon as possible, since many events will sell out.

Halloween Horror Nights - Universal Studios Hollywood (through Oct. 31, 2023)

Pop culture frights abound at Universal Studios Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights. Step inside The Weeknd’s mind, get up-close to classic Universal Monsters, and relive the terror of films from Halloween to Nope in addition to live shows and scares throughout the park. Purchase your tickets online, where there are various different packages available, and download the theme park’s app before you visit to keep tabs on wait times for attractions.

Boney Island - NHM (through Oct. 31, 2023)

The Natural History Museum (NHM) presents Boney Island, an interactive light-up experience that transforms the Nature Gardens into an illuminated wonderland of fun and frights.

The bone-chilling highlights include:

  • Festively fiendish animals celebrating Halloween in the Deadwood Forest
  • Talking and singing plants in the Hauntington Gardens
  • Prehistoric creatures in the Prime Evil Pass
  • Haunted Hallowe’en Light Trail
  • Skeleton orchestra
  • Haunted mansion cauldron water show
  • Magic Theater performances
  • Demos from NHM’s Live Animals team
  • Neighborhood Grill by Post & Beam and rotating local food trucks
  • Family-friendly photo ops

Boney Island takes place at NHM Thursday–Sunday, plus October 30 and 31. Tickets are $25 per person ($20 for Members). Entry times are 6–8pm and 8–10pm.

Costumes are encouraged with some basic guidelines:

  • No functional props or weapons
  • No masks that cover the entire head and face
  • Costumes of realistic depictions of American law enforcement, current American military uniforms, first responders, EMTs or any official government agent are prohibited
  • Costumes must not obstruct or impede the flow of traffic or entryways

Boney Island is an all-ages / family-friendly event and costumes must be respectful of all guests.

Fright Fest 2022 at Six Flags Magic Mountain
Fright Fest | Photo: Six Flags Magic Mountain

Fright Fest - Six Flags Magic Mountain (through Oct. 31, 2023)

For the after dark crowd, Fright Fest at Six Flags Magic Mountain offers five haunted houses, multiple scare zones and three shows, including the new pirate-themed production “The Rising,” as well as the all-you-can-eat “Spirits with Spirits” happy hour from 6 to 9 p.m. Note that the haunted houses and happy hour both require separate tickets from your regular entrance pass and there are several ticket packages to choose from online. Looking for something a little more child-friendly? The daytime Kids Boo Fest offers creepy bites and a trick-or-treat trail through Bugs Bunny World.

Los Angeles Haunted Hayride (through Oct. 31, 2023)

Celebrating "15 Years of Fear" in 2023, the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride once again transforms Griffith Park into Midnight Falls, ruled by the Witch of the Woods and her army of spirited minions.

New for 2023, Hellbilly Halloween is hidden deep in the backwoods of Midnight Falls - a long-rumored cannibalistic family has taken in the spirit of Halloween by dishing out diabolical tricks filled with horrifying treats. Other attractions include the ghoulish residents of Trick or Treat; the Midnight Mortuary, Midnight Falls Axe Throwing and the Monte Revolta Show.

Ticket options include General Admission, VIP (shorter wait) and Platinum for immediate access to all attractions. Group rates are available for 20+ guests. Producers note that the Haunted Hayride may be too intense for children 12 and under.

Bob Baker Marionette Theater Hallowe’en Spooktacular
Hallowe’en Spooktacular | Photo: Bob Baker Marionette Theater

Hallowe’en Spooktacular - Bob Baker Marionette Theater (through Nov. 5, 2023)

For a whimsical Halloween outing with the kids, head to Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Highland Park. Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2023, the beloved puppet theater keeps the entertainment spooky yet family-friendly for its annual Hallowe’en Spooktacular, filled with more than 100 puppets, including glow-in-the-dark skeletons and an appearance from Frankenstein’s monster.

Costumes are strongly encouraged. Costume parades will be held at every Spooktacular performance beginning in October - you might even be asked to join the show!

Tickets are now on sale for the show’s run through November 5.

Shaqtoberfest - Queen Mary (through Oct. 31, 2023)

Shaquille O’Neal puts his stamp on this year's Halloween festivities at the historic Queen Mary with Shaqtoberfest, a month-long celebration that includes events tailored for both kids and adults. During the daytime, Diesel’s Pumpkin Patch will offer trick-or-treating and play areas for the kids. At night, it’s home to a light show and a dance mix from Diesel, Shaq’s DJ alter ego. Similarly, areas like the Lost City Boardwalk and Shipwreck Graveyard will be open for trick-or-treating during the daylight hours before the freaks come out at night. Tickets are selling fast, so snatch yours online before they're all gone.

Downtown Repertory Theater presents "fangs!" at the Mountain View Mausoleum
"fangs!" | Photo: Downtown Repertory Theater

"fangs!" - Mountain View Mausoleum (through Nov. 12, 2023)

From the creators of WITCH!, fangs! is an immersive experience presented by the Downtown Repertory Theater at the Mountain View Mausoleum in Altadena.

Experience a village’s descent into darkness as an infestation of vampires threatens to wipe it off the map. Prepare to be separated from the people you came with and have a unique experience as you meet the class-divided people of Strigoia and the mysterious stranger who has come among them. You may vote on your favorite candidate for Harvest Queen; you may encounter performers one-on-one; you will traverse the world of a haunted mausoleum and an abandoned chapel.

Tickets are on sale at Eventbrite. Note that audience sizes are limited and fangs! involves a lot of walking, so dress accordingly.

Carved - Descanso Gardens (Oct. 6-29, 2023)

Fall’s bounty takes shape at Carved, a family-friendly event taking place at Descanso Gardens for three weeks in October. Highlights include hundreds of carved pumpkins lining the Camellia Forest; the IG-ready pumpkin house, hay maze, black light experiences, artists sculpting pumpkins, and a special Día de los Muertos installation at the Amphitheater.

Timed entry tickets are available online, with discounts for Descanso Gardens Members. NOTE: Carved tickets do not include daytime entry to Descanso Gardens.

Christina Ricci in “Addams Family Values”
“Addams Family Values” | Photo: Paramount Pictures

“Addams Family Values” 30th Anniversary - Hollywood Forever (Oct. 7, 2023)

Is there anything more seasonally appropriate than watching a Halloween-themed movie in a cemetery?

On Saturday, October 7, Paramount Scares and Hollywood Forever present a special 30th anniversary screening of Addams Family Values. The Addams welcome a new addition to their household, a baby boy named Pubert. While Gomez (Raul Julia) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston) dote on their new son, Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) are less enthusiastic about their new sibling and plot ways to get rid of him. Meanwhile, a nanny (Joan Cusack) is hired to help and ends up capturing the heart of Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd). When the nanny’s true intentions are revealed, the Addams family must come together to stop her evil plans.

Tickets are $18. Gates open at 5:45pm and the movie starts at 7:30pm. Guests may bring blankets, pillows, low chairs and picnics including beer and wine – NO distilled spirits. There will also be food and beverage available for purchase on-site.

"Santa Sangre"
"Santa Sangre" | Photo: Severin Films
Halloween Magic Lantern Show: "The Raven" at the Philosophical Research Society
Halloween Magic Lantern Show: "The Raven" | Photo: Philosophical Research Society

The Philosophical Research Society (October 2023)

The October calendar for Los Feliz esoteric knowledge institution The Philosophical Research Society is packed with screenings, lectures and events digging into horror, magic and tradition.

Movie highlights include Hocus Pocus on Friday the 13th; Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre, presented by the RENDEZVOUS DJ collective (Oct. 14); "Road House as Folk Horror" lecture and screening (Oct. 20); and a family-friendly Sunday matinee on October 22 featuring Roger Corman's Attack of the Crab Monsters and a book signing with the authors of Giant Beast Cinema.

On Friday, October 27, Matt Schnittker presents "The (Somewhat) Sinister, (Mostly) Supernatural and (Completely) Pre-Cinema Halloween Magic Lantern Show," featuring a vintage projector, hand-painted slides and live piano accompaniment by Matt's son Benjamin. The next night, PRS hosts "Another Night in Hell with Martin Olson," an evening of music, magic and comedy described as a "wonderfully crazed Satanic Vaudeville show."

Tickets for all events are on sale at the PRS Eventbrite page.

Photo of Edgar Allan Poe circa 1849
Edgar Allan Poe circa 1849 | Photo: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe - Heritage Square (Oct. 7, 2023)

Heritage Square, the living museum of LA's 19th and early 20th century architecture and history, presents An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe on Saturday, October 7. Experience Poe's incredible stories and haunting poems with dramatic readings, surrounded by the lingering memories of the museum's historic houses.

Edgar Allan Poe brought grotesque tastes to the horror genre throughout the 19th century. Poe's work had a profound impact on American and international literature - he's widely regarded as one of the originators of both horror and detective fiction.

Tickets are $55 and on sale at Eventbrite. Gates open at 4pm with a reception that includes refreshments. Readings begin promptly at 5pm and guests will rotate between five houses for the storytelling.

Heroes and Villains 2023 at Brain Dead Studios
Heroes and Villains | Brain Dead Studios

Masked Murderers - Brain Dead Studios (Oct. 14, 2023)

Located in the former Silent Movie Theatre space in the Fairfax District, Brain Dead Studios is a repertory arthouse cinema showing an eclectic lineup of films from the silent era to modern day.

Part of the month-long Heroes and Villains lineup, Masked Murderers is a six-feature marathon of 16mm horror movies that starts at 2pm. Join Secret Sixteen founder Mike Williamson, Josh Miller (Friday Night Frights) and Bret Berg (Museum of Home Video) for a 12-hour blast of cutthroat comforts. Titles aren’t revealed until they unspool onscreen — you’ll thrill to a mask lookbook full of leather sacks, taut bandages, Chanel-like numbers, dreamlike skullwork, military camo and surrealist art. Have a knife night!

Haunted Soiree 2023
Haunted Soiree | Photo: Meyer2Meyer Entertainment

Haunted Soiree - Nocturne Theatre (Oct. 6-31, 2023)

Formerly known as House of Spirits, Haunted Soiree: A Macabre Cocktail Party is a free-roam experience that invites guests to enjoy the events of the evening at their own leisure. Indulge in the included mini-cocktail tastings; catch the live shows and roaming entertainment; or dig a little deeper and uncover the surreal ghost story that lies at the heart of it all.

Guests are encouraged to dress up for the evening - be it in costume, cocktail attire, or your favorite time-period clothing. Haunted Soiree is taking place on select dates through Halloween Night at the historic Nocturne Theatre in Glendale. Tickets are on sale at the Haunted Soiree website. 21 and over.