Looking for somewhere safe to trick-or-treat? Want to hear some ghost stories in a haunted, old West setting? Hankering for a spot where the whole family can dress up and enjoy a little (mildly) scary entertainment? From Día de los Muertos celebrations to parties offering unlimited trips to the bouncy castle, here are twenty of the most family-friendly Halloween events in the area.
In addition to a haunted maze, the decorated-for-Halloween Heritage Square features a spooky, scarecrow-themed train ride and a pick-and-paint pumpkin patch. This Saturday, October 27, the park will also host a trick-or-treat street. Bring a canned food item to donate and receive $1 off admission.
Decorated in haunting style, Elitch Gardens Amusement Park is now the perfect place for ghoulish fun. With two haunted houses and multiple live shows, the park keeps things family-friendly during the day, and terrifying for adult audiences at night. For the kids, "gross-out milkshake" drinking contests, ghost sightings and a trick-or-treat trail will be offered daily, as well as costume and screaming (yes, screaming) contests. For a list of scheduled Fright Fest events, visit the Elitch Gardens' website.
The eight-plus-acre maze is shaped like a basket of produce and lit up throughout. There's a mini-version of the maze for kids; after 11 p.m., the field becomes haunted. Food and hayrides are also part of the fun.
Chatfield not in your neck of the woods? See our listing of corn mazes throughout the state.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26
This outdoor mall invites kids of all ages to come dressed for Halloween, at a night of safe trick-or-treating with various participating merchants. The Addams Family will be on hand to meet and greet guests, who can also enjoy a "Thriller" dance party in the park. A pet contest encourages families to bring furry ones in costume, too.
Arvada's massive recreation center hosts an early evening fun fest for kids and adults alike. Halloween-themed games, ghost stories, a maze, a hayride and a bouncy castle are set to entertain at this popular family-friendly event.
In this alternative to traditional trick-or-treating, Foothills Community Church invites visitors of all faiths to gather sweets from the trunks of decorated cars. A scavenger hunt will also be part of the night's Halloween festivities, and costumes are encouraged (but please, keep them PG).
STARTING FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26
The Children's Museum of Denver goes all-out this weekend, with a three-day Halloween extravaganza. Each day begins with a spooky story time, followed by a create-your-own "dirty" dessert station. Magicians, musicians and more will be performing throughout the weekend, and rides on the museum's mini-train will be available. For a full list of activities, visit the museum's website.
The Denver Zoo will have more than 25 spots for trick-or-treatings, but kids can not only gather candy -- they can catch creepy-crawly animal demonstrations during a night of live entertainment and costumed fun. Advance tickets only, through the Zoo's website. A daytime version of the Halloween extravaganza will be offered from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on October 27 and October 28; it's included in the price of regular park admission.
The Gilpin Historical Society takes ghost hunters on a trip through time -- 150 spooky years of it. This walking tour evokes legendary spirits of the Wild West with stories and reenactments, while showing off architecture preserved in the historic mining town of Central City. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27 Mile High Freedom Band's Spooktackular! Spooktackular! Double Feature Kim Robards Dance (Saturday, October 27, 3 p.m. for family-friendly and 7:30 p.m. adults-only, $10-20)
Colorado's Mile High Freedom Band puts together an amazing symphonic performance with a Halloween theme, playing music from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 2001: A Space Odyssey and more. Both editions will be hosted by Ms. Eda Bagel, and feature a rendition of Michael Jackson's "Thriller," complete with a dance-along (dance lessons provided). Costumes are encouraged, and both the adult and kid-friendly versions of the show will be accompanied by the GLBTQ-centered non-profit's Bizarre Bazaar, a market of food, beverages, candy and costume accoutrements.
Highland Haunt on 32nd Avenue (between Clay and Zuni) in Denver (Saturday, October 27, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., free to $5)
Now in its fifth year, the Highland Haunt is a combination block party and Halloween celebration. With food, music, trick-or-treating and costume contests, this free party covers both kids and their parents (there's an adults-only costume contest, too!). $5 gets participants a pumpkin from the on-site patch and an all-access pass to unlimited hay rides and trips to the bouncy castle.
Loveland invites families to celebrate the spooky holiday at Peters Park (next to the museum) at a free party with craft stations and games hosted by Beetlejuice himself. There's a costume contest at 12:30 p.m., with categories for different ages; there are prizes for each age group. (Participants must be register for the contest by 12:15 p.m.) Local businesses around the museum will also be hosting trick-or-treating for the kids.
Part of the district's massive Día de los Muertos celebration that has been running for more than two decades, this event gives artists of all skill levels a chance to make art-for-trade. With the haunted holiday in mind, visitors can stop by galleries along the block and create works with paint, glue, glitter and more that can then be traded to other budding artists for fun, or left as decoration for Denver Arts Week in November. To see some of the trading-card art that will be on display, check out our photo preview of the event.
Día de los Muertos traditions will be honored at the Denver Botanic Gardens today, starting with a celebratory procession at 5 p.m. (kids' face-painting for the procession begins at 4 p.m.) Crafting activities will then commence, with stations for creating sugar skulls, paper flowers, skeletons and other Day of the Dead-inspired art. A costume contest and pumpkin carving are also scheduled, and there will be sugary treats from local vendors.
See our "Eight Ways to Celebrate Dia de los Muertos" list for more information on this event and seven others around the city.
Costumes are encouraged as the Men's Division Glendale Raptors host a friendly match with the Air Force Academy on their home turf. A costume contest will spotlight the best get-ups and candy will be given out to kids. SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28 Hauntings at the Hangar Wings Over the Rockies (Sunday, October 28, noon to 4 p.m., $6-11)
The Air And Space Museum goes spooky for this all-ages Halloween party. Pose with your favorite Star Wars character, check out the Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine and get inside some of the museum's historic plane cockpits. Robots and liquid nitrogen demonstrations will entertain, and kids will get goody bags. Dressing up is encouraged, with everyone invited to show off their costumes in the Hangar's parade.
The Aurora History Museum will host a family-friendly event complete with a scavenger hunt, arts and crafts, plenty of sweets, a costume contest and a show featuring live, creepy-crawly entertainment hosted by the Jungle Lady.
Colorado Symphony Orchestra presents: Halloween Spooktackular Boettcher Concert (Sunday, October 28, 2:30 p.m., $13-26)
There's no better way to expose kids to Denver's vibrant symphony orchestra than at this Sunday afternoon presentation that captures spirit of Halloween -- musically. A costume contest for kids and adults will be included in the matinee show.
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TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30 Molina Speaks Poetry Burial Su Teatro at the Denver Civic Theater (Tuesday, October 30, 7 p.m., $5)Come celebrate the life (and symbolic death) of local hip-hop artist and activist Molina Speaks as he lays to rest some of his best spoken word. The poet will be performing a handful of pieces for what he says is the last time during this ceremonial celebration, and all ages are welcome. WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31 Free Cookies The Curtis Doubletree Hotel (Wednesday, October 31, free)
Following in the Doubletree Hotel tradition, The Curtis will be giving way free chocolate chip cookies today to everyone, no costume needed. Stop by the hotel anytime through midnight on Wednesday and pick up a warm treat -- no trick involved.Follow @WestwordCulture