8 family-friendly Halloween events happening around Boston

A previous Pumpkin Float at Frog Pond.
A previous Pumpkin Float at Frog Pond. –Boston Parks & Recreation Dept.

The countdown to Halloween is on. Children looking to get the most out of their costumes can trick-or-treat at local malls and zoos, dress to impress at haunted houses and mazes, and join a parade or costume race on Boston’s streets, all before the calendar strikes Nov. 1.

Pumpkin Float at Frog Pond

The Boston Common Frog Pond is set to glow with hundreds of homemade jack-o’-lanterns this Friday, and your family’s could be one of them. Take a hollowed out and carved pumpkin (that’s 8 inches or fewer in diameter) to the pond, and park staff will light it and send it into the water. Children are encouraged to wear costumes to the event, which will also include music, a haunted corn maze, glow-in-the-dark games, a video game truck, a magician, and Halloween-inspired crafts and treats. (Friday, Oct. 20 from 5 to 8 p.m.; Boston Common Frog Pond, Boston; free)

Brick or Treat


Legoland Discovery Center Boston is tricked out for Halloween and providing themed fun during several days this month. The indoor family park, which has two rides, 10 Lego build and play zones, and a 4D cinema, is also providing activities such as a “Monster Mash” scavenger hunt, a special Halloween building challenge, and a crazy costume contest.  (Oct. 21, 22, 28, 29, 31 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays, and 10 a.m. 9 p.m. on Oct. 31; Legoland Discovery Center Boston, Somerville; $18.50 per person online, $23 per person at the door)

The Boston Costume Dash

Parents and kids ages 10 and older can dress up together and race from Copley Square to Boston Common during the Boston Costume Dash, a 5k to benefit Best Buddies, an organization that assists those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. All runners will receive a medal for finishing, then get to party on the Common and participate in a costume contest. (Saturday, Oct. 28, registration from 7 to 8:30 a.m., race begins at 9 a.m.; Copley Square, Boston; $45 through Oct. 26, then prices may go up) 

North End Halloween Parade

For 65 years, costumed kids have marched through the North End for the neighborhood’s annual Outdoor Halloween Party and Parade. This year’s 66th event will include live music, a DJ, games, bounce houses, face painting, and other children’s activities, and every kid will receive tickets he or she can redeem for prizes. (Saturday, Oct. 28 from 1 to 3 p.m.; Hanover and Battery streets in the North End, Boston; free)

Castle Island Halloween Celebration


If a haunted castle on Castle Island sounds like the perfect way to spend Halloween weekend, you’ll want to head to Fort Independence for the Castle Island Association’s 35th Annual Halloween Celebration next weekend. “We have a haunted castle with scary and non-scary parts, so it’s suitable for all ages,” said Patricia Reid, vice president of the Castle Island Association. Last year, about 6,000 people attended the event, she said. This year, the party will include two storytellers, a magician, and refreshments. Every child will receive a trick or treat bag, Reid said, and kids must be accompanied by an adult. (Saturday, Oct. 28 and Sunday, Oct. 29 from noon to 4 p.m.; Castle Island, Boston; free)

Zoo Howl

Give your little one a trick-or-treating adventure among Franklin Park Zoo’s animals — many of whom are playing with pumpkins. The zoo will also offer face painting, Halloween-inspired craft making and games, a costume contest, and a haunted maze. (Saturday, Oct. 28 and Sunday, Oct. 29 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Franklin Park Zoo, Boston; $19.95 for adults, $13.95 for kids age 2 to 12, free for kids under 2)

Kids making Halloween crafts during a previous Pru Boo celebration. —Prudential Center

Pru Boo

On the Sunday prior to Halloween, more than 50 participating stores and restaurants inside the Prudential Center will welcome dressed-up kids for a trick-or-treating extravaganza. Trick-or-treat bags will be provided at the Prudential’s Customer Service desk in exchange for a $5 donation to The Home for Little Wanderers, and thanks to the Teal Pumpkin Project, kids with food allergies will have access to non-edible treats. Come for the candy, stay for the kids’ concert at 1:30 p.m. in the South Garden (weather permitting), magic show, face painting, and Halloween-inspired activities at stations set up throughout the mall. (Sunday, Oct. 29 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Prudential Center, Boston; $18 discounted parking for the day, $5 donation for trick-or-treat bag)

Family-Friendly Halloween Celebration at the Mandarin Oriental


While kids trick-or-treat inside the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental in the Back Bay and collect candy and frosted Halloween cookies prepared by resident pastry chef Robert Differ, parents can partake in homemade pumpkin doughnuts and hot apple cider. Children 12 and under can enter a costume contest, as well — the prize is a $500 birthday party for 10 at the hotel, and the winner will be randomly chosen and announced on the hotel’s Facebook page on Nov. 1. (Tuesday, Oct. 31 from 3 to 5 p.m.; Mandarin Oriental, Boston; Boston; free)