Chicago events, festivals, things to do – October 2018

October 2018
best events in Chicago

Pumpkin patches & corn mazes

October 1 - 31, 2018

Chicago area

Visit pumpkin patches at local farms for fun family activities, or romp through the cornfields in corn mazes.

Food truck fest

October 5 - 6, 2018

3 miles NW

West Town Food Truck Social features a dozen trucks selling food and beverages with live music on Noble Street (from Chicago Avenue to Chestnut Street). Free. [Also consider the nearby West Town Art Walk.]

Oktoberfest in Naperville

October 5 - 6, 2018

32 miles SW

Enjoy live music from classic German to classic rock, German beer and food, and family-friendly activities at Oktoberfest.
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Flower bulb festival

October 6 - 7, 2018

24 miles north

Find 250 varieties of bulbs, gourmet foods, beer, wine, cider, gardening demonstrations, live music, and kids’ activities at the Fall Bulb Festival at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. Free except parking.

Pumpkin festival

October 6 - 8, 2018

28 miles north

The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival has trick-or-treating Fri., a 5K run/walk Sat., costume contests Sun., carnival rides, vendors, pumpkin carving, and a wall of lit pumpkins in Highwood. See schedule.

Columbus Day Parade

October 8, 2018

1.3 miles south

The Columbus Day Parade of 150 floats, bands, and marching units celebrates the voyage of Christopher Columbus to America and Italian-American culture on State Street (from Wacker to Van Buren). Free.

Spirits tasting

October 9, 2018 (4:30 to 9 p.m.)

1.2 miles south

Sample handcrafted spirits and meet the distillers at Chicago Indie Spirits Expo at Hilton Chicago for age 21+.

Beer tasting in the garden

October 11, 2018 (6 to 8 p.m.)

24 miles north

Sample seasonally selected beers and then purchase them by the bottle, with light food for sale at Autumn Brews at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.

Film festival

October 11 - 25, 2018

0.5 mile east

The Chicago International Film Festival features 150 short and full-length films from 50 countries, free panel discussions, and an opening night party. Films screen at the AMC River East 21.

Family Halloween

October 12 - 13, 2018

36 miles SW

Halloween Hollow has carnival rides, hayrides, pony rides, music, contests, treats, entertainment, and a food court at 10925 W La Porte Road in Mokena.

Architectural open house

October 13 - 14, 2018

Chicago locations

Get a rare behind-the-scenes look at 200 of the city’s finest buildings during Open House Chicago. Free.

Bloody Mary festival

October 13 - 14, 2018

3.8 miles north

A ticket to Bloody Mary Fest gets you samples of competing Bloody Mary entries and other specialty drinks, two full-sized drinks or beers, and passed brunch bites at Theater on the Lake for age 21+.

Pinball Expo

October 17 - 21, 2018

32 miles north

Pinball Expo has a game hall, tournaments, vendors, speakers, and a banquet at the Westin in Wheeling.

Israeli film festival

October 18 - 28, 2018

multiple locations

Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema screens new films about Israeli culture at ArcLight Cinemas in Glenview and a few other locations.

Aquarium show

October 19 - 21, 2018

27 miles NW

Visit the sea lions, join a seminar, shop the vendors, and see fish on display at the Aquatic Experience at Schaumburg Convention Center.

Halloween parade

October 20, 2018

1.1 miles south

Arts in the Dark is a Halloween parade of artistic creatures at 6 p.m. on Columbus Drive (from Balbo Avenue to Monroe Street). A pre-parade show starts at 4 p.m. at Buckingham Fountain. A post-parade dance party starts at 7:30 p.m. in Millennium Park. A family movie & treats is 8 p.m. in Maggie Daley Park. Free.

Halloween parade for dogs

October 20, 2018

24 miles north

Dogs in costume are allowed to enter the Chicago Botanic Garden for two hours each year during Spooky Pooch Parade and costume contest.

Halloween flea market

October 20, 2018

31 miles west

Come in costume to the Wheaton Haunted Halloween Flea Market for live music, food vendors, and antiques & collectibles for sale at DuPage County Fairgrounds.

Wearable art show

October 20, 2018

47 miles west

Uncommon Threads is a luncheon, a runway show, and a boutique featuring fine textile works at Q Center in St. Charles.

Ideas conference

October 24 - 25, 2018

0.9 miles north

Hear dozens of “inspiring and thought-provoking presentations by people who are passionate about designing a better future” at the Cusp Conference at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

Halloween festival

October 25 - 28, 2018

24 miles north

Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe is full of spooky sights for children and adults during Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns.

Trick or treat in Crystal Lake

October 26, 2018 (6:30 to 8:30 p.m.)

49 miles NW

Bring kids in costume to Trunk or Treat, where they get candy from decorated car trunks, with hayrides, face-painting, a bonfire, an outdoor movie, and Halloween games at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ. Donate three canned goods per family.

Halloween party

October 27, 2018

0.8 miles south

Nobody Sleeps: A Monsters’ Ball is a costume dance party that includes treats, savory bites, and an open bar at the Palmer House.

Halloween concert

October 27, 2018 (7 and 9 p.m.)

9.1 miles south

Witches, Winds, and Whirls! is “a one-hour, family-friendly concert with costumes, storytelling, and special effects” performed by the University Symphony Orchestra and the Hyde Park School of Dance in Mandel Hall at the University of Chicago. Donation.

Family fest in Batavia

October 27, 2018

44 miles west

BatFest has trick-or-treating, a pumpkin roll, entertainment, hayrides, games, an 11:45 a.m. parade, and a farmers’ market in Batavia. Free.

Coffee festival

October 27 - 28, 2018

4.7 miles NW

Taste coffee, see exhibits, and hear presenters at the consumer CoffeeCon at Revel Global Events.

Clark Street Spooktacular

October 28, 2018 (1 to 4 p.m.)

3 miles north

Clark Street Spooktacular has family-friendly games, trick-or-treating, street magicians, jugglers, stilt walkers, and a costume contest. Free.

Halloween parade

October 31, 2018

4 miles north

Register and wear a costume to join the Northalsted Halloween Parade followed by a costume contest, or watch from the sidewalk on Halsted Street (from Belmont Avenue to Cornelia Avenue). Free.

Halloween carnival

October 31, 2018

32 miles NW

Kids will enjoy crafts, inflatables, trick or treating, a costume contest, a haunted train ride, carnival games, and entertainment at Halloween Boonanza in Schaumburg.

Children’s film festival

October 2018 (undated)

Chicago locations

Billed as North America’s largest film festival for children, the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival showcases the best in culturally diverse, non-violent, value-affirming new cinema for children and offers interactive workshops.

Circus in the park

October 2018 (undated)

Chicago locations

Midnight Circus in the Parks [slow website] is a series of daytime shows on weekends at eight parks, which is perfect for families.

Culinary events

October 2018 (undated)

Chicago downtown

Taste Chicago includes a cocktail reception and dinner by celebrity chefs at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel on Friday, plus free cooking demonstrations.

Expand your mind

October 2018 (undated)

Chicago locations

Chicago Humanities Festival is a series of talks and events that explore the human condition and feature exciting thinkers, artists, and performers.

Foodie event

October 2018 (undated)

multiple locations

Promising “amazing chefs, restaurants, and cultural figures,” Taste Talks Chicago includes a Friday night party, a Saturday conference with a brunch and dinner, and a Sunday cookout and closing party.

Ideas Week

October 2018 (undated)

Chicago locations

Attend talks, labs, and dinners with inspirational thought leaders (artists, scientists, musicians, inventors, and explorers) during Chicago Ideas.

Latin classical music

October 2018 (undated)

multiple locations

Chicago Latino Music Festival offers concerts of classical music from Latin America and Spain.

Beer tasting

October 2018 (undated)

0.3 miles south

A ticket to Harvest Hopdown includes unlimited seasonal beer tastings from 25 local breweries, passed beer bites, and live music at Millennium Park Plaza.

Dumpling tasting

October 2018 (undated)

0.5 miles south

Taste dumplings from 10 local restaurants at World Dumpling Fest “an afternoon of cultural performance, art, and food” at Millennium Park. Free admission.

Whisky tasting

October 2018 (undated)

1 mile south

The Whisky Extravaganza includes unlimited tastes of more than 100 whiskies, culinary pairings, and master classes at the Union League Club for age 21+.

Street festival

October 2018 (undated)

1.4 miles west

Fulton Market Harvest Fest promises “cooking demos, live music, booths from the city’s best restaurants, and family friendly fun” at N. Halsted Street & W. Fulton Market. Children age 10 and younger are free.

Book fair

October 2018 (undated)

1.5 miles south

Chicago Book Expo features local publishers and authors, with a pop-up bookstore, panel discussions, and readings at Columbia College on Wabash. Free.

Wine tasting

October 2018 (undated)

1.7 miles west

A ticket to Wine Riot includes unlimited tastes of hundreds of wines at Revel Fulton Market for age 21+.

Home movies

October 2018 (undated)

1.8 miles north

Get a glimpse of adorable pets, questionable fashions, long-departed loved ones, and neighborhoods in transition at Chicago Home Movie Day, and bring your own to be shown at Chicago History Museum. Free.

Beer festival

October 2018 (undated)

1.9 miles west

Festiv-Ale offers Midwest beer and cider, snacks, food-cart vendors, DJ music, and a silent auction for charity at Revel Fulton Market.

Art fair indoors

October 2018 (undated)

3.2 miles NW

West Town Art Walk includes visual art, music, and fashion in restaurants and shops along Chicago Avenue (from Milwaukee Ave. to Western Ave.). Free. [Also consider nearby West Town Food Truck Social.]


October 2018 (undated)

3.2 miles NW

Cheers & Drink Fest promises “cocktails, wine, and beer” from distilleries, breweries, and wineries, plus food vendors in beautiful Concord FiftyFive.

Cheese tasting

October 2018 (undated)

3.4 miles NW

Taste cheesy foods like pizza, grilled cheese, poutine, and macaroni & cheese from restaurants and cheese vendors during Say Cheese Fest at Concord FiftyFive. Held in April and October.

A taste of Korea

October 2018 (undated)

3.6 miles SW

A ticket to Eat for North Korean Refugees gets you “an evening of phenomenal food, adult beverages, and music” from a dozen restaurants at Lacuna Lofts.

Drink beer for the beasts

October 2018 (undated)

5 miles NW

Enjoy unlimited appetizers and five house beers during Pints for Pets to protect animals at Revolution Brewing on Milwaukee Avenue for age 21+.

Short films

October 2018 (undated)

6 miles north

A ticket to Shortcut 100 International Film Festival includes a reception followed by 14 “quality independent short films” at the Music Box Theatre.

German Oktoberfest

October 2018 (undated)

7 miles north

German American Cultural Center promises authentic German food and drinks at its Stammtisch Open Haus Oktoberfest, with “plenty of yodeling, dancing, and pretzel eating” at Dank Haus. Free admission.

Andersonville Arts Week

October 2018 (undated)

8 miles north

Andersonville Arts Week starts Friday evening with receptions in galleries and shops, followed by scheduled exhibits, readings, shows, and art walks.

Campfire festival

October 2018 (undated)

8 miles north

Chicago Camp Fire Festival has a pumpkin patch, a corn maze, a bounce house, tractor rides, arts & crafts, games, live music, campfires, marshmallow roasting, professional ghost stories, treats, and food vendors at Chase Park.

Beer tasting

October 2018 (undated)

17 miles SW

Taste 150 craft and import beers live entertainment and food for sale at the indoor Brew Moon Beer & Band Festival in McCook for age 21+.

Sample 12 plays

October 2018 (undated)

17.5 miles south

See a scene from six different plays per day for $20 at A Taste of Theater at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy.

Farm festival

October 2018 (undated)

22 miles west

Heritage Day celebrates fall with arts and crafts, a bluegrass band, demonstrations (spinning, weaving, candle making), and colonial soldiers who fire a cannon on the hour at Fischer Farm in Bensenville. Free except pony rides, petting zoo, and food items.

Oktoberfest in Roselle

October 2018 (undated)

30 miles west

Oktoberfest at Lynfred Winery includes a pig roast, grape stomping, cork tossing, a lederhosen contest, wine for sale, and crowds.

Scarecrow festival

October 2018 (undated)

37 miles west

Vote for your favorite handmade scarecrow at Scarecrow Fest, which includes live entertainment, arts and crafts, food, a carnival, a petting zoo, and vintage cars in St. Charles. Free.

Street party in Elgin

October 2018 (undated)

37 miles NW

Nightmare on Chicago Street is a zombie-themed party with two entertainment stages, bands, booze, food vendors, a costume contest, and graffiti artists on Chicago Street (from Douglas to Villa). Anyone under age 17 must be with a parent or guardian.

Woodstock ale festival

October 2018 (undated)

61 miles NW

Woodstock Ale Fest features 80 craft beers, bacon, and bluegrass music.

Aurora haunted house

October 2018 (undated)

38 miles west

Basement of the Dead has creative special effects and entertaining characters. See schedule.

Intense haunted house

October 2018 (undated)

45 miles NW

The Realm of Terror Haunted House promises “the craziest, most intense, extreme Halloween experience” located halfway to Milwaukee in Round Lake Beach..

Family Halloween

October 2018 (undated)

Chicago area parks

Enjoy parties, dances, movies, pumpkin patches, haunted houses, craft-making, and fall festivals during Halloween in the Parks.

Freaky Halloween concert

October 2018 (undated)

multiple locations

Freaky Deaky Halloween is a music concert with artists playing hip hop and electronic music for age 17+.

Halloween party - Hard Rock Hotel

October 2018 (undated)

0.2 miles south

Haunted Hotel Bash features celebrity DJs playing top 40, EDM, house, and hip-hop, plus a costume contest and cash bars at the chic Hard Rock Hotel for age 21+.

Halloween party - Lucky Strike

October 2018 (undated)

0.6 miles NE

Saints & Sinners is a costume party with a cash bar, open bowling, a costume contest, and dancing to top 40, EDM, hip hop, and house music at Lucky Strike.

Halloween party - Hard Rock Cafe

October 2018 (undated)

0.8 miles NW

Party Like a Rockstar will have you dancing to music by the Chicago Bulls DJ, surrounded by legendary rock and roll memorabilia in the Hard Rock Cafe.

Family brunch cruise

October 2018 (undated)

1 mile east

Halloween Brunch Cruise is a two-hour cruise aboard the Spirit of Chicago with a brunch buffet, Halloween candy, and a DJ “spinning a spooky playlist” departing from Navy Pier. Costumes welcome.

Halloween at Navy Pier

October 2018 (undated)

1 mile east

Halloween at Navy Pier includes two outdoor movies per day, plus fireworks one evening. Free.

Halloween party - Congress Plaza

October 2018 (undated)

1 mile south

Haunted Halloween Ball turns the giant ballrooms of the Congress Plaza Hotel into an abandoned hotel run by zombies, with entertainment, a costume contest, and DJ dance music for age 21+.

Halloween party - Navy Pier

October 2018 (undated)

1 mile east

Join 3,000 revelers at The Haunted Halloween Ball in the Grand Ballroom on Navy Pier, with DJ dance music and cash bars for age 21+.

Halloween party - opera house

October 2018 (undated)

1 mile SW

Halloween Masquerade includes live music, dancing, an open bar, appetizers, and a costume contest at the Civic Opera House.

Halloween at Lincoln Park Zoo

October 2018 (undated)

2.5 miles north

Kids can wear costumes, trick-or-treat, hear music, make crafts, and see a haunted house at Spooky Zoo Spectacular at Lincoln Park Zoo. Free.

Halloween party for charity

October 2018 (undated)

2.5 miles west

Illumination offers an open bar and “immersive light art experiences, captivating live performances, and a late night dance party with Chicago DJ Matt Roan” at Moonlight Studios. Optional dinner at 7:30 p.m.

Halloween dance class

October 2018 (undated)

6.4 miles NW

Wear 1980s clothing to the Stranger Things ’80s Halloween Party, including a beginner level Hustle (smooth swing) dance class, a costume contest, open dancing, and BYOB at Duet Dance Studio for age 21+.

Alternative dance party

October 2018 (undated)

7.2 miles north

Nocturna All Hallows’ Eve Ball by American Gothic Productions has DJ dance music (goth, industrial, post-punk, deathrock, ethereal, ebm, new wave, darkwave, dark indie), games, vendors, and a costume contest at Metro on Clark Street for age 18+.

Halloween dance class

October 2018 (undated)

10.6 miles NW

Learn the spooky routine inspired by Michael Jackson at Thriller Dance Class at “May I Have This Dance.”

Green Halloween

October 2018 (undated)

11 miles west

The Green Pumpkin Trail begins at Oak Park Visitors Bureau and includes healthy snacks and activities in local shops for kids 3 to 8. Costume optional. Free.

Halloween at Brookfield Zoo

October 2018 (undated)

14 miles SW

Boo at the Zoo has games and activities for kids, a hayride, animals chats, and a 1 p.m. costume parade at the Brookfield Zoo.

Halloween farm

October 2018 (undated)

32 miles SW

The Haunted Barn at Bengtson’s Pumpkin Fest in Homer Glen is fine for mature kids. The Fun Barn will entertain even the youngest children. Also enjoy kids’ rides, pig races, a pumpkin chucker, and a petting zoo.

Halloween for kids

October 2018 (undated)

32 miles west

Kids 10 and under will enjoy fun activities, games, fairytales, and treats at Halloween Happening at Naperville Riverwalk’s Grand Pavilion. Free.