It technically isn’t Halloween until next Monday, but the vast majority of Milwaukee’s seasonal celebrations are going to take place over the next five days/nights. Starting tonight and running through October 30, the city will play host to cover concerts, witch-y book releases, holiday-specific dance parties, frightening and interactive film screenings, kid-friendly events, costume contests, a restaurant pop-up, GWAR, and more. And that’s not even counting tonight’s SOLD OUT screening of The Lost Boys at Avalon Theater. If you’ve yet to make plans or you’re just looking to make the most of one of the best times of the year, check out our guide of standout Halloween events in Milwaukee.

Wednesday, October 26

GWAR + Crobot, Nekrogoblikon @ The Rave/Eagles Ballroom
No matter how many years pass, how music trends come and go, and how many of GWAR’s members change from year to year, the long-tenured theatrical metal band will not stop putting on grotesque costumes and touring. Now close to 40 years old, the incomparable project has become a regular visitor at The Rave / eagles Ballroom on or around Halloween. This year is no exception, as they’ll play The Rave tonight along with Crobot and Nekrogoblikon.

Thursday, October 27

Paisley Pork: The Restaurant Formerly Known As Vanguard @ The Vanguard
The Vanguard isn’t afraid to shake things up. Owners of the Bay View bar and sausage emporium have shown no hesitation to occasionally break format for a night around the Halloween season, when they’re known to transform into an entirely different business with an entirely different focus. On Thursday, October 27, The Vanguard will briefly become a Prince-themed eatery called: “Paisley Pork, The Restaurant Formerly Known As Vanguard.” Head chef Patrick “Paddy” Joyce has crafted a full new menu for this single-night concept shift. Though they don’t want to reveal everything they’ve lined up for the event, diners can expect menu items like “Little Red Croquettes” and “Raspberry Sorbet.” Costumes are encouraged and people are encouraged to dress like any era of Prince or any member from Prince’s entourage. “Paisley Pork” will be open from 5 p.m. to bar close. There will also be “something special” happening around 8 p.m.

A Very Trixie Halloween Meet And Greet @ This Is It
Milwaukee-based drag superstar Trixie Mattel will host a “A Very Trixie Halloween Meet And Greet” at This Is It, the iconic gay bar she co-owns. If you want to get some face time with the legendary Drag Race winner, makeup magnate, musician, and point of Milwaukee pride, here’s your chance!

Friday, October 28

Mad Planet’s Annual Friday Night Retro Halloween Dance Party!! @ Mad Planet (also happening Saturday night)
Is there a better place to spend Halloween weekend than the eternally goth-friendly Mad Planet? No, no there is not. DJ Andrew Optimist will handle Retro Dance Party duties on Friday night and Saturday, playing hits from the ’80s and ’90s both nights. Will Mad Planet be decked out (more than usual) for the Halloween season? You bet it will.

Halloween Tribute Show @ Bremen Cafe
Most night of the year, cover bands aren’t exactly something we clamor to see, but who doesn’t love a good Halloween cover concert? On October 28, the Bremen Cafe stage will feature performances by The Misfits (actually Trent Fox and Dead By Monday), Nirvana (Mark Adam’s Son Of Bill), and Sleep (Shogun).

An Evening Of Art Magick With Molly Roberts @ Lion’s Tooth
Head to Lion’s Tooth for a special event with author and “art witch” Molly Roberts. Molly is Lion’s Tooth’s October featured artist and will be signing her book Art Magick: How to Become an Art Witch and Unlock Your Creative Power. Costumes are encouraged at this free, all-ages event that kicks off at 6 p.m.

Saturday, October 29

Halloween On Brady @ Brady Street
Brady Street bars are sure to be going all out for Halloween all weekend long, but Saturday night’s aptly-named “Halloween On Brady Street” event will feature a bunch of East Side establishments banding together for a neighborhood-wide costume contest. The grand prize winner will take home $1,000. Second and third place will get $500 and $250, respectively.

Slasher Bash Finale @ Promises
Alive And Fine owner Ashley Smith has put together a bloody good series of events this October. Though two of three Slasher Bash events are already in the book, the spooky series will conclude at Promises on October 29, where Smith (the former singer of Whips and Red Knife Lottery) and her “Ghouls Gone Wild” band will play Halloween-themed tributes. There will also be a cash prize costume contest.

Jack-O-Lantern Jubilee @ Red Arrow Park
The inaugural family-friendly Halloween event is coming to Downtown Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park on Saturday, October 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The first 500 attendees will have the opportunity to pick out a free pumpkin from downtown Milwaukee’s only pumpkin patch. At 12 p.m., a kids costume parade, led by popular animated movie characters, will loop around Red Arrow Park. Families can also gather for story time with Wanda the Witch, a Halloween-themed character from The Pocket Lady, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. And there’s more! Face painting, giveaways, food trucks, and a book sale from Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library will also be featured. The free event is intended for kids of all ages, though it’s especially suited to tykes ages 2-8.

A Black Cat Alley Halloween @ Black Cat Alley
Black Cat Alley—a.k.a. a two-block alley that stretches from Ivanhoe Place on the north (between Sip & Purr Cat Cafe and Potbelly Sandwich Shop) to Kenilworth Boulevard on the south (between AXE MKE and Merge)—will celebrate Halloween in style. Here’s the deal: Beginning at 9 a.m., two surrounding East Side businesses will host family-friendly activities. Crossroads Collective will be the site of a build-your-own-scarecrow station, as well as a children’s costume contest. Meanwhile, the East branch of the Milwaukee Public Library will be home to a dog costume contest, all with the help of Woofbowl Dog Food Truck. Then, beginning at 7 p.m., the Alley itself will be the site of a free Halloween Throwback Dance Party, featuring DJ Fuzzy Logic and TJK. The Alley party will also feature an outdoor bar, tarot card readings, and an adult costume contest.

Nightmare On Center Street 2022 @ Company Brewing
Riverwest brewery/restaurant/venue Company Brewing will host a wide range of seasonal specials, spectacles, and sounds for Halloweeners of all ages. Things will kick off at 11 a.m. with a “Spooky Brunch” (Company’s classic brunch with some “real spooky specials” promised). That will be followed by a costume contests for pets and kiddos. Once brunch if over, the restaurant’s patio will show horror movies around the bonfire from 7 p.m.-close. Inside the property, local bands will perform covers of songs you know and love before Funk Summit Bass Team takes over at 10 p.m. Finally, starting at midnight, Company’s stage will host a “Costume Scaryoke Contest” that will roll until 2 a.m.

‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ @ Oriental Theatre
Let’s do the time warp again! This screening (and live shadowcast performance) will also feature virgin games, contests, and more.

Sunday, October 30

Halloween Cover Concert: Velocihamster + Alkaline Quartet, Three Unassisted @ Cactus Club
It’s a Halloween Cover Concert with a little something for everyone! Velocihamster, the brainchild of Midwest musician/producer Sean Williamson, will play lap steel renditions of progressive metal songs you know and love. Alkaline Quartet is an Alkaline Trio tribute band (with a focus on early material), except there are four members instead of three. Three Unassisted is setting aside original songs in favor of Arctic Monkeys covers. There’s a suggested $10 cover, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. And yes, it’ll be over before the start of the Packers game.

Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin performing the live score to ‘Suspiria’ @ Oriental Theatre
Back in 2018, Milwaukee moviegoers were treated to a screening of Dario Argento’s 1977 classic giallo film Suspiria at the Oriental Theatre. But it wasn’t just any screening—it came complete with a live score from Italian progressive rock band Goblin and founding keyboardist Claudio Simonetti, both of whom provided the iconic original score to the film in the first place. If you missed that event, you’re in luck, because Suspria, Goblin, and Simonetti are back!

Halloween Bash @ The Cooperage
The Cooperage, FM102.1, and Great Lakes Distillery will join forces on a Halloween Bash. There will be live music from Fancy Nancy and DJ Paul H, cocktails from Rehorst RIP lounge, giveaways, and a costume contest with cash prizes for the top three finishers.