Costume ready? Party planned? What, you don't have plans yet for Halloween? With just six days left until the gayest holiday of the year, time is ticking to get your ghoul on – especially as its being on a Monday brings a whole weekend of frights beforehand. Let us be your guide with this crib sheet of the coolest gay events from coast to coast. As for costumes, just try to avoid one of these.
CHICAGO: The city's biggest bash is in Boystown with a parade from Belmont to Bradley on Halsted Street with plenty of boozing, main stage entertainment (Musical of the Living Dead, Chicago Fire Tribe, and more) and after-hours action in the bars and clubs. Visit NorthHalsted.com for more info.
COLUMBUS, OHIO: Held early, on Friday the 28th, The Short North Highball Halloween combines both a public costume contest and a couture contest fashion show with plenty of queer creativity, pulling in crowds of over 20,000 from throughout the Midwest; from 5pm to 1am outdoors, under and around the area's iconic arches.
DALLAS: On Friday, October 29, the Cedar Springs gay strip in Oak Lawn becomes one big free street party from 7pm to 2am. There will be DJs, laser lights, plus special entertainment and a costume parade. Just don't come as a cowboy. See Caven.com for details.
KEY WEST, FLORIDA: Having kicked off Saturday and going till the 30th, Fantasyfest in the Conch Republic is a carnival for those who want the only chills they feel to be up their spine – temps hit a high of 82 degrees there yesterday. That means plenty of skin and sun and fun all revolving around this year's theme of Aquatic Afrolic.
LAS VEGAS: Sin City sees its fair share of devils in disguise, but no more than at the Las Vegas Halloween Parade, starting at 7pm sharp on October 31st in the Arts District (i.e. old downtown Vegas from Charleston Boulevard to Fremont Street). Dress up as a Str8 and dance till dawn at Tao or Lavo on the night proper, or head to the 16th Annual Fetish and Fantasy Ball on the 29th for a massive (7,000-plus) mixed but sexy adult-only affair at the South Point Casino.
LOS ANGELES: On the night of the 31st, the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval, the world's largest Halloween street party – topping 500,000 people! – sees all of Tinsel Town's creativity distilled into outrageous costumes tinged with SoCal sexiness on the 31st. It's free to enter, with live entertainment, food vendors, beer gardens, and plenty of bar action down the Santa Monica strip (closed to traffic).
MAUI: Dubbed the “Mardi Gras of the Pacific”, the Halloween in Lahaina party starts at sundown on the 31st with street traffic closed and practically everyone in costume.
NEW ORLEANS: Atmospheric any time of the year, if there ever was a city made for Halloweenocation, it's New Orleans, where ribald history and Voodoo mystery mesh with an unrepentant attitude towards celebrating. Although there isn't one major street festival for the gays, the bars around the St. Ann “Fruit Loop” each put out a weekend's worth of events. Additionally, from October 27 to 30, Halloween 28 takes over various venues with mondo club nights to benefit Project Lazarus, like Harrah's Theater “Lazarus Ball” opener, to the “Wickedly Ever After” main event at the Convention Center, and a closing brunch on the Steamboat Natchez. And don't miss the Krewe of Halloween Parade on Sunday the 30th, created by Blaine Kern Sr., the mastermind float builder behind Mardi Gras.
NEW YORK CITY: Forget NYE, Halloween is where it's at when it comes to revelry in the Big Apple. The world's best Halloween celebrations happen here, with the city (re)animating in goofily fun ways. Although bars will be busy all weekend – check local listing mag Next Magazine for all the up-to-date deets – watching or walking in the 38th Annual Village Halloween Parade on the night proper is the best it can get: 2 million people can't be wrong! Giant puppets, floats, and grassroots costumed madness starts at sundown in Soho and up Sixth Ave to Chelsea. Afterwards, support local LGBT homeless youth at the Glamour Factory-themed Hollyween, a benefit for the Ali Forney Center at the Eventi Hotel. If the circuit is your scene, Alegria Halloween on Sunday the 30th is your best bet for muscle, madness, and plenty of over-the-top action.
SAN FRANCISCO: Owing to incidents in past years (and a 500,000-plus crush of people), Halloween in SF continues to be a dispersed event rather than a Castro crush. Bars and clubs will be open as usual, but there's no street party. Instead, visit HomeForHalloween.com to pick your own adventure on the 28th and 29th. Or for a more upscale, formal event, join GLAAD for a costumed cocktail party, the 25th Annual "Heros and Villains" ball at Robert Fountain's Studio on Saturday the 29th, 7pm to midnight. Visit GLAAD.org/events for more info.
SONOMA, CALIFORNIA: "Blood" will flow (i.e. killer reds) at the Calling All Super Heros Halloween Bash October 29, from 7pm to 11pm at the Deerfield Ranch Winery, known for its 23,000-square-foot wine-cave tasting center and party place, put on in conjunction with Sonoma Gaydar and OutInTheVineyard.com LGBT tour and events company. There'll be dancing, light nibbles, and of course plenty of wine by the glass or bottle. Tickets $25. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
TAMPA, FLORIA: Farther up the Florida coast, Guavaween takes a Latin bent to the holiday with a street party, concert, and parade in the historic Ybor gayborhood.