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13 terrifyingly fun Halloween experiences in the suburbs

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Ghosts, blood, ghouls and gourds are staples of the terribly fun experiences found in the suburbs this fall.

Residents can get into the spirit of Halloween with spooky festivals, intricate pumpkins, spooky shows, and post-apocalyptic adventures. Many activities are aimed at children and families, while others are designed for thrill seekers and a more mature audience.

Here are 13 events and experiences to set the mood for Halloween:

1. Howl at the moon

A food truck graveyard, “Boooze Bar”, live music and a host of special shows will be a new adults-only Halloween event at the Naper Settlement grounds in Naperville. The inaugural Howlin ‘at the Moon is reserved for guests 21 and older, all of whom are encouraged to dress in costume and enjoy a range of entertainment, including regional cover and rock bands, the Carnival of the curiosities, an illusionist, fire dancers and liquid lights. Admission is free for members of Naper Settlement.

Info: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday October 22 and Saturday October 23 at 523 S. Webster St., Naperville. (630) 420-6010 or [email protected] For more details or to purchase tickets, visit www.napersettlement.org/627/Howlin-at-the-Moon.

2. The little park of horrors

Scary Drive-Thru Event returns to Wing Park in Elgin for eight nights this fall, featuring new Halloween-themed areas and a variety of horror props, lighting, and audio effects. Visitors to the Petit Parc des Horreurs could find themselves in the lair of a spider, in the midst of a crew of skeletons or in the presence of a dancing clown. Last year’s inaugural event drew more than 25,000 attendees. A new ticketing and reservation system will help ease traffic problems this year. The event is rated PG-13.

Info: Oct 21-24 and 28-31 1010 Wing Street, Elgin. www.cityofelgin.org/2422/Little-Park-of-Horrors.

3. Cursed Dungeon

The Dungeon of Doom haunted house in Sion is celebrating its 25th season with freebies, new experiences, the return of fan favorites, and changes to attractions such as Mercy General Hospital, The Getaway, and The Temple. Walking around the approximately 45,000 square foot building takes about an hour and features dozens of dynamic animatronics, over 100 spooky events, and spooky characters known as the “Killer Crew”. Tickets cost $ 30 for general admission, $ 45 for a fast pass, and $ 55 for VIP status. The Buried Alive attraction is an additional $ 5 for general admission on certain dates.

Info: Open at 7 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and select Sundays from September 25 to October 31, as well as Thursday October 21 and 28, at 600 29th St., Zion. (847) 262-3666 or [email protected] www.dungeonofdoom.com.

4. All Saints’ Eve

The Arlington Heights Historical Museum promises a ‘macabre good time’ for an October afternoon, with entertainment, games and activities for the whole family. All Hallow’s Eve returns this year with Halloween fun for all ages. The historic houses of the museum will be open and children are encouraged to dress up. Tickets cost $ 6 per person, but children under 3 are free.

Info: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, October 23 at 110 W. Fremont St., Arlington Heights. (847) 255-1225 or www.ahmuseum.org. Pre-register on apm.activecommunities.com/ahpd/Activity_Search/51092.

5. Wheaton’s Haunted Halloween Flea Market

Dress up in costume, wear accessories, browse treasures and meet ghoulish creatures during a night of spooky fun at the DuPage County Fairgrounds. The 10th Annual Haunted Halloween Flea Market features nightlife, shopping, and activities for all ages. The event costs $ 9 per person. Children 12 and under are free.

Info: 3 p.m. to midnight Saturday 30 October 2015 at Manchester Road, Wheaton. Free parking. (715) 526-9769 or zurkopromotions.com/wheaton-illinois-haunted-halloween-flea-market.


The Night of 1000 Jack-o'-Lanterns returns to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe from October 13-17 and 20-24.

The Night of 1000 Jack-o’-Lanterns returns to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe from October 13-17 and 20-24.
– Courtesy of Chicago Botanical Garden

6. Night of the 1000 Jack-o’-Lanterns

Over 1,000 hand-carved pumpkins will light up a ‘boo-tanic’ trail at the annual Chicago Botanic Garden Halloween event. Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns New York artists spend up to 3 hours carving a single pumpkin, each lit by LED lights and staged along a festive trail. Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns also offers snacks and drinks, including cider and beer.

Info: Doors open to ticket holders at 6 p.m. October 13-17 and 20-24 at 1000 Lake-Cook Road, Glencoe. Parking is free for garden members; non-members must pay a $ 20 fee in advance. (847) 835-5440 or www.chicagobotanic.org/halloween.


Children are encouraged to wear costumes during the annual BatFest in central Batavia.

Children are encouraged to wear costumes during the annual BatFest in central Batavia.
– Brian Hill | Staff photographer

7. BatFest

Thousands of ghouls gather in central Batavia every year for a free event filled with goodies, a pumpkin bowl, parade, contests, art and games. The annual BatFest, hosted by Batavia MainStreet, is held in conjunction with a Halloween-themed 5K and 10K Bat Race, which serves as a fundraiser for Batavia United Way. Disguises are encouraged.

Info: Saturday, October 30, in Batavia city center. (630) 761-3528 or centrevillebatavia.com/event/batfest. The 5K / 10K Bat Race starts at 8:30 a.m. on River and State Streets, followed by a fun race for the kids at 9:30 a.m. bataviaunitedway.org/bat-race. BatFest activities to follow.

8. “The puzzle bride”

First Folio Theater presents the suspenseful story of scientist Maria von Moos, who decides to excavate a ruined castle in the heart of the Geneva woods and makes a surprising discovery 100 years after the death of Victor Frankenstein. Inspired by the work of novelist Mary Shelley, Joseph Zettelmaier pursues the electrifying legend of Frankenstein in “The Jigsaw Bride”, starring Heather Chrisler and directed by Hayley Rice. Tickets are $ 49 Wednesday and Thursday and $ 59 Friday through Sunday, with a discount for seniors and students. Preview tickets are $ 29.

Info: The two-hour show premieres October 13-15 and runs select days October 16-November 14 at 1717 31st St., Oak Brook. (630) 986-8067 or firstfolio.org.


Downtown Aurora is expected to transform into

Downtown Aurora is set to transform into “Sugar Skull City” again this fall in honor of the traditional Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
– Brian Hill | Staff photographer

9. The City of the Sugar Skull

Colorful storefronts and intricate storefronts are expected to transform downtown Aurora into Sugar Skull City to honor a Mexican holiday bringing together the living and the dead. For three weeks this fall, visitors will be able to view festive artwork and participate in daily activities, business specials, videos and shopping trips. An event on the first Friday of November 5 will celebrate Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. Sugar Skull City is free and open to the public.

Info: October 15 to November 7 in downtown Aurora. [email protected] or auroradowntown.org.


Spiders climb the side of the American Eagle roller coaster at Six Flags Great America.  Fright Fest returns to Gurnee Amusement Park this fall with new scares and twists.

Spiders climb the side of the American Eagle roller coaster at Six Flags Great America. Fright Fest returns to Gurnee Amusement Park this fall with new scares and twists.
– Daily Herald Report

10. Feast of fear

Haunted attractions, spooky shows, spooky creatures, and dark-ridden roller coasters have drawn thrill seekers to Six Flags Great America every fall for decades. The annual Fright Fest is set to return to Gurnee Amusement Park this year with new twists and nightly scares.

Info: select days this fall at 1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee. Once finalized, dates and ticket information will be available on www.sixflags.com/greatamerica.

11. Haunted Hoffman Family Day

Crafts, costumes, treats, and other spooky family fun are available on an October afternoon at Fabbrini Park. Hosted by the Hoffman Estates Park District, the Haunted Hoffman Family Fest is free with the exception of a Trick-or-Treat Path for $ 5 per child. Prior registration is compulsory.

Info: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, October 23 at 1704 Glen Lake Road, Hoffman Estates. www.heparks.org/event/haunted-hoffman-family-fest.

12. Zombie Apocalypse

Find out if you’ve got what it takes to survive the zombie apocalypse during an outdoor laser tag game this October at The Forge. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, two teams will battle it out while pushing back the zombies on the grounds of what was once a science lab – until it is overrun by the living dead.

Info: La Forge: Carrières Lemont, 1001, rue Main, Lemont. (630) 326-3301. Times, dates, tickets and other details will be available on www.forgeparks.com/zombie-apocalypse.

13. Naperville Hauntings Ghost Walks

Longtime resident and author of the region, Diane Ladley leads a haunting and historic excursion through Naperville. Founded by Ladley in 2004, walking tours last up to two hours and are approximately 10 blocks round trip through the Historic District. Three roads in this area stand out for being haunted – and each features in its Ghost Tour, which costs $ 25 per ticket.

Information: at 8 p.m. on certain dates until October 31. Tours depart outside Quigley’s Irish Pub, 43 E. Jefferson St., and continue through part of downtown Naperville. (833) 446-7813, info @ americanghostwalks or chicagohauntings.com.

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