Where to celebrate spooky season in Philadelphia

spooky season in Philadelphia
Founding Footsteps

Halloween may be at the end of the month, but Philadelphia is celebrating spooky season all fall long. 

Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary 

Every year before Halloween, spooky season officially kicks off in Philadelphia with the opening of Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary. 

Halloween Nights in 2023 will ultimately feature three new reimagined experiences, on top of all of the fan favorites coming back from last year. A huge part of the activation is the haunted houses—five to be exact—plus historic tours, museum experiences and seasonal activations in the form of a s’mores lounge, themed bars and performances. 

When inside of the ESP, those brave enough to participate can make their way through the Big Top Terror, Nightmares, The Crypt, Machine Shop and Delirium. With Big Top, which was new last year, Philadelphians will find themselves behind the scenes at a sinister carnival, and for Nightmares, also new last year, the scares come in the form of sleep paralysis demons and The Sandman.

However, as a release states, Halloween Nights has also expanded several scare zones throughout the festival for the 2023 season, including a courtyard in the northwest corner of the Penitentiary complex that now allows two paths for visitors to choose from with scary, or less scary as choices. 

The Bizarre Bar features some off-the-clock performers from the Big Top, while also sporting carnival-themed food and drinks. At The Bloodline Lounge on the other hand, guests can indulge in vampire-themed food and drinks in this darkly styled watering hole. There’s also the Fair Chance Beer Garden, and it features interactive/educational programs, Detroit-styled pizza from Down North, beer from Triple Bottom Brewery and soft drinks.

For a full list of offerings for Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary, visit their website. 

spooky season in Philadelphia
Eastern State Penitentiary

2027 Fairmount Ave., easternstate.org

Philadelphia True Crime Trolley Tour

Back for another spooky season in Philadelphia, Founding Footsteps is once again launching its fourth season of “The Philadelphia True Crime Tour”—which features live music and storytelling performances on their signature haunted BYOB trolley. As a release states, topics covered range from our nation’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes, whose misdeeds began and ended in Philly, to an alarming number of serial killers that once called our city home. 

Less dark topics include the debate over the city’s famed Barnes Foundation and more.  The tour runs Thursdays through Saturdays throughout October. Tickets are $55 and the tour starts and ends at 601 Walnut Street.


Fall Fest & Spooky Saturday

On Saturday, Oct. 28, Fall Fest & Spooky Saturday on East Passyunk will be in full swing from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. According to a release, this all-ages festival is filled with costumed fun for children, adults and pets, in addition to trick or treating and sidewalk sales at various locales, mini grab-and-go pumpkins, 80+ craft vendors, square dancing lessons, live music, spirited fare, libations, and much more.    

If you can’t make it out on the 28th, another highlight for the area however is the Witches of East Passyunk Bar Crawl, which is set to take flight across the night skies of South Philly on Wednesday, Oct. 25, from 5 to 8 p.m., the release also cites. More details will pop up for a list of participating businesses, beverage specials, and one interactive broom race soon. 

spooky season in Philadelphia


Xfinity Live! Halloweekend 

Just in time for the spooky season, Xfinity Live! recently announced the return of its annual Halloweekend activation featuring two back-to-back masquerades later this month. “Screams in the Stadium District” will be first up on Friday, Oct. 27, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., and then “A Haunting on Pattison Ave.” will then follow on Saturday, Oct. 28, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. as well. 

Both nights will include costume contests with over $1,500 in cash prizes, plus a variety of entertainment spanning live music, DJ sets, a silent disco, karaoke, bull riding, and more. Plus, Philly’s Drag Mafia will be back at the venue beforehand with a HallowQueen Drag Brunch on Sunday, Oct. 15 to kick off the season on an energetic note.

For the two nights  on Halloweekend however, each of the five venues will offer different tricks and treats all under one roof, including karaoke in Broad Street Bullies Pub, silent disco in 1100 Social, bull riding and buckle bunnies in PBR Philly, live music in Victory Beer Hall (Engine #9 on Friday night and then Split Decision on Saturday night) and DJs in the NBC Sports Arena, a release states. Tickets are $10 for each event and they are available for purchase now online, or, Philadelphians can purchase tickets for $5 more ($15) at the door on Friday or Saturday. 

But before, Drag Mafia’s Brittany Lynn will be at the Xfinity Live’s Outdoor Plaza on Sunday, Oct. 15, at noon. While there, guests can enjoy a specialty brunch menu, themed cocktails and an highly energetic show. Doors open at 11 a.m. on that date, and note, any patrons must be 21+ to enter.

spooky season Philadelphia
Xfinity Live!

1100 Pattison Ave., xfinitylive.com