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The 10 best Halloween events in Tampa Bay you must not miss

From carnivals to witchy paddle parades, there are lots of fun options coming up in the next two weekends for Halloween fans.
 
Kids play in costume at the 2021 Halloween on Central. Nearly two miles of Central Avenue will be shut down to traffic so there can be a costume stroll, block party and market on Oct. 29.
Kids play in costume at the 2021 Halloween on Central. Nearly two miles of Central Avenue will be shut down to traffic so there can be a costume stroll, block party and market on Oct. 29. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Oct. 12

With Halloween falling on a Tuesday, this year brings lots of early parties and haunts in the two weekends leading up to the big night. Here are some of our favorites coming up, so mark your calendars.

1. 13 Ugly Men Halloween Party: Always one of the best costume contests, Tampa Bay’s prettiest people flock to the Ugly Men for their annual “party with a purpose,” which this year will benefit Friends of Joshua House, for abused and abandoned children. The historic and, some claim haunted, Cuban Club in Ybor City will be done up as a hotbed for UFO activity. A unique, otherworldly in and outdoor space awaits. The party goes until 3 a.m. and starts at 8 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 21). Cuban Club, 2010 N Avenida Republica de Cuba, Tampa. 813-248-2954. Tickets $50 at eventliveus.com.

2. Halloween on Central: Nearly 2 miles of Central Avenue will be shut down from traffic to allow a family-style costumed stroll with entertainment, candy stations and a new four-block Voodoo Vendor Village, between 16th and 20th streets on Central. There will be more than 100 local makers and small businesses. There will also be live performances, dog- and family-friendly activities (including a wiener dog race) and, of course, plenty of candy for trick-or-treaters of all ages. Free. Noon-5 p.m. Oct. 29. 1600 to 2400 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg.

Dogs have costume contests too, like this Angel, the Cusinga family’s 6-year-old Maltese that attended Halloween on Central in St. Petersburg  in 2021.
Dogs have costume contests too, like this Angel, the Cusinga family’s 6-year-old Maltese that attended Halloween on Central in St. Petersburg in 2021. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times (2021)  ]

3. Haunted Carnival at Armature Works: One of the area’s biggest Halloween party planners, Pied Piper Productions, has turned it into a four-day carnival Oct. 26-29 with rides, a $10,000 costume contest, a dog costume contest on Thursday at 4 p.m. and a music festival with top DJs including Diplo, Quavo, Above & Beyond, Wuki and more. Carnival tickets start at $5; music festival tickets start at $45. Thursday (Oct. 26) from 4-11 p.m.; Friday (Oct. 27) from 4 p.m.-midnight; Saturday (Oct. 28) from noon-midnight; and Sunday (Oct. 29) from noon-11 p.m. Armature Works, 1910 N Ola Ave., Tampa. tixr.com.

4. Tarpon Springs Witches/Warlocks Paddle Parade: This oh-so-Florida Halloween event features scores of people dressed in wizard robes, pointy witch hats and skeleton suits paddling down the Anclote River on their paddleboards and kayaks. It is recommended you arrive early because the Tarpon Splash Park launch often becomes a bottleneck with so many participants launching at once. Be ready to paddle at noon (the 10 a.m. start time is to allow for unloading). It will then be a casual 2-mile paddle (4 miles round-trip) along the historic Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks’ village of restaurants and shops. The group will meander to the bayou of Victorian homes of Craig Park for a lunch break before heading back. Bring a life vest, whistle, beverages, snacks and lunch. There’s free parking and restrooms at the Tarpon Splash Park, 508 Live Oak St., Tarpon Springs. 10 a.m. Oct. 28. Free.

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Halloween is just around the corner as evidenced by this array of carved pumpkins displayed in the front yard of a home in the area of New Tampa. With Halloween falling on a Tuesday, this year brings lots of early parties and haunts in the two weekends leading up to the big night.
Halloween is just around the corner as evidenced by this array of carved pumpkins displayed in the front yard of a home in the area of New Tampa. With Halloween falling on a Tuesday, this year brings lots of early parties and haunts in the two weekends leading up to the big night. [ PEASE, MIKE | Times (2003) ]

5. An Eerie Evening at the Tampa Bay Hotel: The Henry B. Plant Museum will put its Victorian beauty to full effect with period lighting, candles and artifacts to transport guests back to the early 1900s in a rare opportunity to visit the museum after dark. The evenings of spooky Victorian mourning and ghost stories include a mystery to solve from evidence and clues scattered throughout the rooms. $35, $25 members. 2-8 p.m. Oct. 27-29. Henry B. Plant Museum, 401 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. 813-254-1891.

6. Haunted Wharf: Sparkman Wharf will transform into a haunted pirate shipwreck with silly spooks for the kids and scary fun for the adults. Evenings include DJ dancing, Halloween-themed entertainment and photo props including a siren swing, jail cell, drop-down scare window and decorated “Tampa” sign. Other Halloween events at Sparkman Wharf include a Howl-O-Ween” dog costume contest on Monday (Oct. 23) from 7-9 p.m. There also will be a free Movies on the Lawn showing of “Ghostbusters” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday (Oct. 31). Free. Haunted Wharf hours are 5:30-10 p.m. Oct. 27-28. Sparkman Wharf, 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa. 813-345-5881.

7. Huboween IV: Get your courage up for this 45-minute drive-thru with nine scare zones. The first 500 cars get a free swag bag with candy. $20-$25. 6-10 p.m. Oct. 27-28. J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park, 10500 Wilderness Park Blvd., New Port Richey. 727-382-2710.

8. Field of Screams: The city of St. Petersburg’s TASCO teen program is now in its 16th year of producing an elaborate trail of scares in the woods. This year’s theme is “Beyond the Bayou,” taking you into the swamps where whispers of rituals and spirits linger. Participants are exposed to darkness, loud noises, bright lights, wooded trails and intense scare zones. Not suitable for young children. $10-$15. 7 p.m.-midnight Oct. 27-29 and Oct. 31. Pinellas Pioneer Settlement, 2900 31st St. S., St. Petersburg. 727-892-5060.

9. Riverwalk Trick-or-Treat: Costumed kids can trick-or-treat at more than 50 treat stations along the Riverwalk from Water Works Park to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Free. 4-7 p.m. Oct. 28. Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa.

10. Hocus Focus: Halloween Experience: The creative minds behind the arts collective Fairgrounds of St. Pete have embarked on a fun and eerie adventure with Halloween games and goodies. More creative than creepy, this limited-time Eerie Eyeball scavenger hunt is fun for everyone. It runs noon-10:30 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 6. $37, $32 ages 4-12, 3 and younger free. Fairgrounds St. Pete, 2606 Fairfield Ave. S., St. Petersburg. tickets.fairgrounds.art.