People are rarely blasé about Halloween – love it, hate it, revere it, scorn it – it is an occasion that brings out strong opinions from all walks of life. New Orleans is one of the rare cities in which adults arguably get more excited about Halloween than children, and that sentiment is reflected in the wealth of entertainment options available to the discerning Halloween partygoer. This is the rare “holiday” that different sub-cultures can look forward to; goths, rockers, frat boys, ravers, yuppies, medievalists and even families can get their kicks by pursuing alternate identities through costumes silly, scary and all points between.
Halloween falls on a Sunday this year, which means a lot of events will be scattered throughout the weekend. Below you’ll find New Orleans Magazine’s recommendations for maximizing your fun.
The Krewe of M.O.M.’s can always be counted on to put on a doozy of a ball – this year their Halloween party at the Howlin’ Wolf (Sat., Oct. 30) features Papa Mali, Chris Mulé, and Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes. This is a costume party with the theme Camp Pain Retreat, although people who don’t want to dress up or who are just cheap can get into the party at 2 a.m. for half-price. Galactic makes its first local appearance since Jazz Fest at Tipitina’s on Friday (Oct. 29), although we’ll have to see whether the band still has what it takes to go all night, as it did with great frequency in the good old days of the late ’90s. Classic rock fans and Busch-beer swillers, Lynyrd Skynyrd beckons you at UNO Arena (Sat., Oct. 30).
For those folks who don’t want to commit to any one music event, heading down to Frenchmen Street on Saturday or Sunday night is a great option. Last year, the street was jammed as midnight approached on Halloween night, and clubs like Snug Harbor, Café Brasil and Café Negril were pulsating while high quality local bands churned out their interpretations of funk, jazz and Latin jams.
Don’t forget that two weekends before Halloween is the Voodoo Music Festival in City Park. While not really ghoul- and goblin-related, the festival still merits mention for its thickly stacked musical lineup (including headliners Beastie Boys, Velvet Revolver, A Tribe Called Quest and Green Day).
The Municipal Auditorium is taken over on Saturday (Oct. 30) for the Halloween 21: Freaks, Follies and Sideshows Costume Extravaganza. This is a mega-party with DJs, a light show and even magic performances. A costume of plastic glasses, funny nose and fake mustache won’t cut it here – expect to see outfits as elaborate as the partying at this production. Endless Night 2004 – The New Orleans Vampyre Ball is another titan of an event that will be churning all night Saturday (Oct. 30) at Club 735 Bourbon. For Anne Rice disciples, their destiny on Saturday night will land them at Rosy’s Jazz Hall for the Les Temps des Vampires Costume Party. Coven-related attire is strongly encouraged for this shindig. Finally, the most colorfully named event of the 2004 Halloween season: Vampire Stripper Sluts from Outer Space (Sat., Oct. 30, State Palace Theatre). If raving all night to all-star DJs from Philly, LA and San Francisco is in your tarot card reading, then this is the place to be. Expect lots of glitter, a booming sound system and a mind-melting light show.
The Audubon Zoo, Six Flags New Orleans and the Aquarium of the Americas will all feature child-related Halloween programming in October. The brand of family-friendly fun at each of these establishments includes on-site trick-or-treating, arts and crafts, stage shows and mild haunted houses. Of particular note at Six Flags is a new magic show called Fantasy, while the Zoo touts its Ghost Train as the experience that will garner high marks from hyperactive little gremlins. What is the Aquarium’s ace in the hole? Try animal presentations with a Halloween theme, as if the sharks weren’t scary enough on their own.
The two haunted houses listed here are not for the faint of heart, the squeamish, the undernourished, the weak-minded … Yeah, these houses are designed to scare the ever-loving bejesus out of every visitor who puts their mental well-being on the line to traverse through some seriously sick and twisted visions of fright. The House of Shock in Jefferson has a big reputation in this realm of entertainment, and every weekend in October they will be showing the intensity and extremes it takes to become known as a nationally ranked heart-stopper. Chinchuba’s Haunted House is celebrating its 17th year of promoting nightmares. Located in Marrero, Chinchuba’s is open nightly from October 15-31.
As the Louisiana Carnival’s biggest parade, which starts in New Orleans' Mid-City neighborhood and heads through the Central Business District toward the Superdome, the magic happens on the floats, in the streets and beyond.