Halloween is like prom for kids. Think about it. The obsessing over the right outfit; the giddy anticipation of the evening; staying out way, way past bedtime; awkward chaperoning. It’s hard to temper excitement about the big day, even though the thrill lasts only a few hours.
Austin has plenty of Halloween activities in October. Extend the big day by taking in some of the fun events happening throughout the month. Unlike prom, Halloween with your kids is worth all the hype.
October 4-5 — Round Rock Chalk Walk And Arts Festival
School-aged kids bring home a lot of art. Whether made with finger paint, crayons or scented marker (I think those were banned, but … nostalgia), these masterpieces of imagination arrive home daily. But why not let their imaginations run wild and expose them to wonder of chalk?
Sidewalk chalk paintings are sights to behold, and any kid is sure to be thrilled with having the entire ground as a potential canvas. The Round Rock Chalk Walk and Arts Festival is a chalk-drawing celebration. Come gaze at this special kind of artistry at a family-friendly event that features live music (including the Biscuit Brothers), food vendors and street performers.
October 11-12, 18-19, 25-26 — Boo at the Zoo, Austin Zoo
Halloween used to be all about silly hayrides and bobbing for apples. Now, gruesome haunts with mazes and special effects rule the Halloween scene. Kids deserve Halloween fun that won’t cause nightmares or lengthy therapy sessions. Luckily, Austin Zoo's Boo at the Zoo has come to the rescue. This fun Halloween event serves as a fundraiser for the rescued tigers, monkeys, birds and other animals that call the Austin Zoo home. The Haunted Train ride is more silly than scary, and seeing these animals at night is a treat sweeter than any chocolate bar.
Your author has perfected the triangle-only Jack-O-Lantern cutout face. Yet, my sons insist on more difficult creations involving angry birds and Sith lords. Pumpkin carving skills aside, I take my job seriously and insist on a yearly trip to a local pumpkin patch to find my next victim. Two of the most popular pumpkin patches are Sweet Berry Farm in Marble Falls and Elgin Christmas Tree Farm in Elgin. Both places offer scarecrow stuffing, hayrides, mazes, picnic areas and plenty of pumpkins.
Elgin even has a special Pumpkin Festival held on the second and third weekends in October. Sure, you could go to the local grocery store for to fulfill your gourd needs, but a trip to the farm is much more fun. Fun tip: if your carving skills are anything like mine, you might want to pick up multiple pumpkins.
Oct 18-19, 25-26 — Pioneer Farms, Quest of the Haunted Trails
Marching to the neighbor’s house for candy is easy. But can your little goblins stop forces of evil from taking over a village? For a theatrical treat, head over to Pioneer Farms and take the Quest of the Haunted Trails. Pioneer Farms features five themed historic areas. For extra spooky fun, they lay on a clever haunted backstory to their 1899 village area. A quest leads visitors through the themed area, where they’ll search for the clues to “save” the village. Appropriate for all ages, this is the kind of Halloween they’ll remember long after that Iron Man costume has been tossed out.
October 27 — Goblins in the Garden, LBJ Wildflower Center
This is a Halloween celebration that gets back to nature. There are bird walks, crafts, storytelling, music and fall favorites from the cafe. A nature character costume parade (think bugs and spiders) will take place in the courtyard. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is a great place for kids to explore. Adding some Halloween fun to an already “wild” place makes for a uniquely natural experience.
October 27 — Halloween Children’s Concert at the Long Center
Halloween is a holiday of sounds: ghosts scream, chains clink, werewolves howl. Music also plays a big part of the frightfully fun scene. Who doesn't love a good rendition of "Monster Mash" or "This is Halloween"? For boys and ghouls who love the spooky and silly sounds of the season, the Austin Symphony’s annual Halloween Children’s Concert is a treat that’s not to be missed. Held in Michael and Susan Dell Hall at the Long Center for the Performing Arts and full of familiar tunes that bring out the chills, scares and silliness of Halloween, this concert is a frightfully fun event.