To hear my dad tell it, on Halloween night, they used to grab a sheet, cut out some eye holes and head out for trick-or-treating without a parent in sight. When I hear this, my heart stops – as much for the lack of costume preparation and planning as the lack of parental supervision. I may not have my priorities in order, but I take Halloween seriously.
And I’m not alone. These days, we tend to spend a fair bit of time – and money – getting our kids ready for Halloween. And with good reason. There’s nothing cuter than a tiny, toddling bumblebee or a pint-sized princess. Also, candy. But the main point is that it can sometimes feel like we spend more time getting ready for Halloween than actually doing it. Sometimes it’s nice to have more than one Halloween event to go to. Sometimes it’s nice to get out and about before Halloween and give those costumes you worked so hard to put together a trial run. Or maybe you just want to try trick-or-treating in in new territory. Whatever the case, organized events that offer trick-or-treating can make the Halloween experience that much more fun for everyone.
Fortunately, there are a number of organized trick-or-treating events throughout the Richmond area that will not only give you a chance to take your kids out in all of their costume finery, but will also promise safety, structure, and fun for the whole family.
We’ve take a look at some of the area’s best organized Halloween events to bring you our six favorites. To make our top six list, each event had to offer:
- Inclusion for all ages and groups, while remaining kid-friendly
- Plenty of trick-or-treating opportunities
What we found is events, from formal to informal, that offer a little bit of structure to your Halloween trick-or-treating experience. And because they don’t all fall on Halloween, chances are you can make it to more than one and keep the Halloween fun going for days.
If you know of a great trick-or-treating event that we may have overlooked, let us know. We would love to hear about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Starting at 4pm
Yep, that’s right. The Executive Mansion. As in where the governor lives. Now, before you stop reading, think about it. How cool is that? I mean, it’s not the White House, but it’s the center of our state’s government – and there’s candy…lots of it. In 2015, Governor Terry McAuliffe opened the Executive Mansion for the first time for trick-or-treating. In the years since then, he has continued to welcome costumed kiddies into the mansion, handing out candy and other Halloween treats. Even if your kids are too young to know or care who or what a “governor” is, it’s pretty cool to have the chance to be up close and personal with our highest state leader. Besides, how often do you get to claim that you spent Halloween at a mansion? I mean, if you’re going to trick or treat, you might as well do it in style.
Why we love it: In the midst of our busy lives, it’s easy to forget that Richmond is the capital of Virginia. But if you stop and think about it, it’s actually pretty amazing that we live in a city that houses the highest executive power in the state. That being said, we not only like the idea of getting to check out the governor’s digs up close and personal, we really like the idea that this event is open to the entire community, offering everyone a chance for a little bit of Halloween fun in a truly unique setting. Also, we predict that they’ll have the best candy. Just saying.
Virginia Capitol Square
Grace Street and 9th Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Friday, October 27, 2017
5pm – 7pm
It may not have “trick or treat” in the title, but that doesn’t stop the Gayton Crossing Pumpkin Festival from being one of our favorite trick-or-treating events by far. Gayton Crossing, a popular shopping center in the far West End, has been hosting this Halloween event for 20 years – and we’d say they’ve got the formula down. Not only will Gayton Crossing merchants be handing out candy to your eager trick or treaters, but a few local heroes will be on hand, as well. This year’s event includes a special Henrico Police Halloween Celebration, a Henrico Fire Truck interactive display, and a meet and greet with some of your favorite local mascots like Rompy, Bubbles, Little Caesar and more. With food, moonwalks, a kiddie carousel, the Helo Air Helicopter, Magic-4-U, Jonathon Austin, the petting zoo, live music, and a costume contest, you can bring the whole family and guarantee they’ll stay entertained.
Why we love it: Not only does the Gayton Crossing Pumpkin Festival provide a safe place for kids to fill their candy buckets, but it’s actually fun for parents, too. Free and open to the public, the event focuses on family-friendly activities, but is set amongst shops and restaurants that are fun to browse while the little ones take their five-millionth turn in the bounce house. And because it doesn’t happen on Halloween, you can still trick or treat in your own neighborhood on Halloween night…or better yet, hit up one of our other favorite trick-or-treating events!
Gayton Crossing Shopping Center
9782 Gayton Road
Henrico, VA 23238
Saturday, October 28, 2017
2pm – 7pm
Consider this your Halloween dress rehearsal. Held on the Saturday before Halloween, Halloween Hoopla at the Children’s Museum of Richmond (Central) combines all the excitement of a festival and trick-or-treating into one fabulously fun, safe event. Suited especially for little ones, this annual event features monster puppet shows, pumpkin experiments, glitter tattoos, pumpkin decorating, games, prizes and more. But the real highlight is “real-life” trick-or-treating at the museum’s kid-sized replica of a Fan neighborhood. Plus, you’ll have access to all of the other interactive elements, exhibits, and displays that make CMoR a favorite destination for parents and kids alike. And because it’s entirely indoors, the kids can run and play without sending you into a panic. While Halloween Hoopla does require tickets, kids’ admission it totally free and adults are only $4. To get tickets, order online up until 10am the day of the event, or purchase them at the door.
Why we love it: Trick-or-treating with little ones is a mixed bag at best. Some kids want to run to every door and grab as much candy as their grubby little hands can hold. Others decide that NOW they want to be shy and refuse to leave your side – and if you’ve ever had to stand there as a grown adult and ask for candy, then you know how humiliating it can be. Needless to say, it can take a few years to get it all down. Halloween Hoopla is the perfect training ground. The kiddos can wear their costumes and have an authentic trick-or-treating experience through the CMoR “neighborhood” – and if you have some etiquette to work on? Teach some trick-or-treating do’s and don’ts on Saturday, and by the time Halloween night rolls around, you and your kids will be pros.
2626 West Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23220
Sunday, October 22
11am – 3pm
Now in its 19th year, Trick or Treat Street (or TOTS) has become a Halloween tradition for many in the Richmond community. Every year, costume-clad University of Richmond students welcome hundreds of kids (and their families) for a day of activities, food and family-friendly fun. While this Halloween celebration falls more than a week before Halloween, chances are you won’t even notice thanks to the festive Halloween atmosphere, games, decorations and more. For an event that just seems to get better every year, this year’s event promises not to disappoint with a straw maze, bounce houses, train rides, and a petting zoo, as well as tons of games, crafts, and of course, lots and LOTS of candy. Plus, Carytown Burger and Fries will be on hand to offer something to keep the sugar coma at bay. So, yeah. It’s pretty much a perfect event all around!
Why we love it: Hmmmm…where should we start? Although geared towards kids 10 and under, Trick or Treat Street is fun for all ages. The University of Richmond Campus is one of the most beautiful spots around – especially on a pretty fall day. There are activities that go beyond candy, so it’s easy to distract sugar-obsessed little ones. It’s open to the entire community. But the real clincher is the purpose behind it. Aside from simply providing a fun, safe trick-or-treating environment, Trick or Treat Street actually exists as a charitable endeavor. In lieu of admission, families are asked to provide donations. In the past, University of Richmond students have collected non-perishable food items for a local food bank, but this year they’ve teamed up with the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). For their 2017 event, they are asking families to make a $5 – $10 donation that will go directly to RMHC to help them continue their amazing work in the Richmond area, and across the nation.
Stern Plaza (The Quad in front of Jefferson Hall)
University of Richmond
28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA 23173
Friday, October 20 at Pole Green Park (Hanover)
Saturday, October 21 at Poor Farm Park (Hanover)
5pm – 8:30pm
In case you don’t know Taylor, he’s the furry-faced – and oh so lovable – mascot of the Hanover Parks and Recreation Department. And this year, on October 20th and 21st, he’ll be hosting some pre-Halloween fun at two of Hanover’s favorite parks. Bring the kids out in their Halloween best for a night of fun that goes above and beyond trick-or-treating. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of candy, but in addition to trick-or-treat booths, there will also be rides, games, photos ops, flashlight candy and toy hunts, a pumpkin walk, and pumpkin decorating. And to make this event truly amazing, Taylor is bringing along a few extra friends, including Elsa from Frozen, the Little Mermaid, Batman & Superman on Friday night; and Elsa, Cinderella, the Little Mermaid and Batman on Saturday night. Picture the look on your kids’ faces now! The only catch is that most rides and activities are designed for kids 12 and under – so the teenagers might not like it as much as the little ones. But, hey, do teenagers really like anything?
Why we love it: Forget sullen teenagers, we love this event for so many reasons and that’s all that matters. First of all, it’s free (although there will be some candy and concessions for sale). Secondly, it’s offered on two nights, so if crazy family schedules keep you from making one, you can always make the other…or both! And last but far from least, we love the characters that the Parks and Rec department bring to life for your kids. I mean, imagine that you’re five-years-old and dressed as Elsa or Batman – and there in front of you is a real-life version of your favorite character. Mind. Blown. Right?!!!
Friday, October 20
Pole Green Park
8996 Pole Green Park Lane
Mechanicsville, VA 23116
Saturday, October 21
Poor Farm Park
13400 Liberty School Road
Ashland, VA 23005
1. Halloween on Hanover
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Over the years, this annual trick-or-treat extravaganza has become the stuff of Halloween legend in the Richmond area. So it’s no wonder that it has topped our list for favorite trick-or-treating events two years running. Of course, it would be one thing if we were the only ones who thought it was amazing. But even the Wall Street Journal has recognized Hanover Avenue as one of the nation’s best places to trick-or-treat. And if you’ve ever hit Hanover Avenue on Halloween, then you’d be hard-pressed to argue. While this is not technically a formal event (only in that it’s not sponsored by an outside organization), it is a grassroots effort of note. Every year, the residents of Hanover Avenue, from about the 1900 block to the 2200 block, try to outdo one another with decorations, effects, and all-around Halloween fun. There will be parties. There will be music. There will be a pirate ship. But most importantly, there will be a festive atmosphere, more candy than your kids can carry and sights and sounds that will entertain everyone in your family – from teens that are too cool to dress up anymore right down to your candy-crazed toddlers who can’t believe you’re actually letting them stay up this late.
Why we love it: When it comes to giant street parties, Hanover Halloween is the mother of them all. But what really sells this trick-or-treating event is that fact that it’s free, safe, and fun for all ages. Plus, the streets are blocked off, which means that even if you end up having to chase a toddler jacked up on fun-sized Snickers, you won’t have to worry about cars…which is always a bonus. With that being said, when we say that these guys go all out, we’re not kidding. That means that there will be smoke machines, animatronics, and some scary sights – and portions of it may be a lot for little ones. But if there’s a section that’s a bit too much, just move down the block a bit and let the party carry on.
1900 Block of Hanover Avenue – 2200 Block of Hanover Avenue
The Fan, Richmond