Halloween for Kids in the French Quarter and Beyond

Boo at the Zoo
Photo courtesy of the Audubon Nature Institute

Celebrating Halloween in New Orleans could be a decidedly grownup affair, with spectacular balls, parties, parades, and Voodoo Fest. We are thankful for the variety, but that’s not to say that kids don’t get a parade and at least two weekends of themed activities leading to the holiday. Here are our picks for how to celebrate in a family-friendly way, starting a couple of weeks before Halloween, which falls on Wednesday this year.

 Krewe of Boo

Saturday, October 20; 6:30 p.m.

This lively affair has become the “official Halloween Parade” in New Orleans in 2007, and has been going strong since, only growing in popularity. The parade is brought to you by Kern Studios, so expect the usual 3-D fiberglass and papier- mâché extravaganza with all of your favorite spooky characters. You’ll see werewolves, ghosts, vampires, and other Halloween-themed monsters, but all the monsters on the floats are PG-13 and not too scary even for the youngest parade-goers. The parade-goers had been known to don their favorite, family-friendly Halloween gear as well, and you’re encouraged to do the same. There’ll be plenty of plush toys throws and candy for the little ones too. The parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Decatur St. and Elysian Fields Ave. in the Marigny, rolling through the French Quarter and passing by Jackson Square.

 Boo Carré Halloween Haunt

Saturday, October 20; 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

This is an opportunity for the kids to trick-or-treat starting in Dutch Alley between St. Philip and Dumaine Streets, and throughout the French Market District — from the Shops at the Upper Pontalba to the open-air French Market. Many vendors and shops along Decatur Street and at the farmers’ market will be participating. The annual celebration features live music, kid’s activities, and more.

 Boo at the Zoo

Friday, October 26 – Sunday, October 28; Fri.-Sat. 5-9 p.m., Sun. 4-8 p.m.

This annual Halloween event at the Audubon Zoo is for kids up to 12. It features haunted-house games, entertainment, Ghost Train, and more. The kids will hear stories, trick-or-treat, and meet some of the zoo’s animals. Tickets are $20 (free for children under 12 months). The Zoo will be closing at 3 p.m. on those days.

 Crawloween

Saturday, October 27 – Sunday, October 28; 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

 Crawloween at the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium is an educational, Halloween-themed event that will feature “scary” critters like spiders, scorpions and roaches. The kids can “meet” the insects and go trick-or-treating in the exhibit area. Kids under 12 in a bug-themed costume get a $2 discount (and $3 off for adults). Crawloween is free with admission ($22.95 for adults, $17.95 for children ages 2-12).

Ghosts in the Oaks

 Friday, Oct 19 – Sunday, October 21; Fri.-Sat. 7-10 p.m., Sun. 6-10 p.m.

This three-day family-friendly extravaganza in the magical City Park has become a tradition for many locals. During the event both the amusement park and Storyland open their doors to kids of all ages for trick-or-treating, rides, a pumpkin patch, arts and crafts, and a DJ dance party. Entertainment also includes face painting and balloon animals. Proceeds from this fundraiser support the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park and Storyland. Tickets are $15 ($12 for Friends of City Park members; $20 early admission). You might want to get your tickets in advance as this event usually sells out quickly.

Scout Island Scream Park

 Friday, October 5 – Saturday, November 3; times vary (schedule)

 The New Orleans City Park, in partnership with the folks behind The Mortuary haunted house, presents a brand new outdoor Halloween attraction on the 14-acre Scout Island (1034 Harrison Ave.). The Scout Island Scream Park cost about $2 million to produce and includes a self-guided walk through the haunted island replete with creatures of the night, animatronics, and all kinds of special effects.

Scout Island, a woody patch of land surrounded by lagoons, makes a perfect spot for the spookfest with leaping zombies and swamp things. The attraction is billed as family-friendly, but families with small children are advised to attend on the earlier side as the after-dark haunted attractions are designed for kids ages 13 and up. The “scare-free” Kid Zone on the island is designated for smaller children and has a hay maze, pumpkin patch, bounce house, and more. Tickets are $15 with extra a la carte prices for individual activities (all-access passes are $49).

Louisiana Children’s Museum Mash

TBA

The Louisiana Children’s Museum presents music, crafts and activities during its Halloween-themed “Museum Mash.” The kids are encouraged to come in costume. They’ll get to trick-or-treat in the exhibit area and enjoy a dance party. Please note that in line with the Museum’s Health & Wellness Initiative candy will not be available during trick-or-treating. Free with admission ($10, kids under 12 months free).

 French Quartour Kids Spooky Tour

By appointment

Tricks, treats, stories, and a ghost hunt await during this walking tour specifically designed for kids ages 5-10. The tour touches upon the history of the French Quarter and its well-known residents, but leaves the gore out, focusing instead of the legends and the hauntings. The whole family is encouraged to participate and ask questions ($17 for adults, $20 for kids ages 4-18).

Lafreniere Park-A-Boo Halloween Festival

Friday, October 26 – Sunday, October 28; Fri. 5-8:30 p.m., Sat. 1-8:30 p.m., Sun. 1-5:30 p.m.

This three-day festival gives children an opportunity to costume and participate in Halloween activities such as a haunted house, trick-or-treating, costume contests, and more. The food booths will dole out kid-friendly fare like pizza and hot dogs, and cartoons characters will be on hand to mingle. Tickets are $6 for kids ages 3-12 and $8 for adults (kids under 2 free).

“Haunted Houses”

There’s no shortage of haunted houses this time of year around New Orleans, but not all are child-friendly. So, while parental discretion is always advised, these fabulous haunted houses are set up in and around private homes every year, and they’re as thrilling as they’re safe for at least the older kids. You can check the listings in the newspaper for more Halloween displays set up in private homes as the dates get closer.

 St. Charles Avenue and State Street

Local resident Louellen Berger has been arranging her 50-plus krewe of skeletons on the front lawn of her mansion every Halloween, drawing appreciative crowds and an occasional local celebrity. While some of the puns are too satirical for the little ones to get — as Berger’s installations spoof local politics and play on the only-in-New-Orleans themes — the whole setup is a spectacular treat for all ages.

 Magazine and Second Streets

A spooky-fabulous display featuring music, holograms, lights, and projections that would awe anyone passing by. Expect a story with a plot, dancing ghosts, creepy apparitions, and dazzling lights.

 State and Claiborne Streets

One of the most elaborate skeleton-pirate ship displays in town, skillfully lit and exquisitely arranged. There’s no music and no projections, but it’s well worth a peek.

 

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