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People In Costume and Smiling for Navy Pier's Garden of Decay

Oct. 10, 2023 | Guests who purchase tickets for opening night can enter costume contest with prizes

“Garden of Decay” Opens at Navy Pier Friday the 13th

Please be aware that the content on this webpage was authored more than 6 months ago, so some information may be outdated or no longer accurate. Please visit our event calendar for information on current events.

CHICAGO—This Halloween season, This Halloween season, Navy Pier invites you to embark on an all-new, immersive theater experience like no other. Delve into the mysteries of a once-renowned genetic plant laboratory, now transformed by grief into the Garden of Decay. In this captivating journey, guests will don headsets and be guided through each room by actors, immersing themselves in the gripping narrative of a grieving botanist fueled by an unrelenting desire for resurrection. The experience is meticulously crafted by five exceptionally talented local artists: New Moon, Daniella DeLuna, Kiam Junio, Penny Gac and Monica Paprocki. Each artist infuses their rooms with unique elements of artistry, storytelling, and innovation, promising a night of unparalleled wonder and intrigue.

After emerging from the Garden of Decay, visitors will find themselves immersed in the enchanting celebrations of the Garden of reCreation. Explore a world of interactive art, themed vendors offering unique treasures, tantalizing botanical cocktails, and late-night entertainment. Get ready to embark on a thrilling adventure with interactive activities including:

  • Tarot card readings to glimpse into your future
  • Live poetry and automatic writing capturing the spirit of the season
  • The mesmerizing art of cigar rolling
  • Entomology through bug pinning demonstrations
  • The artistry of taxidermy displays
  • Live dance performances adding to the eerie ambiance
  • Haunting tunes spun by DJs that will keep you grooving on the dance floor
  • Letters to loved ones, a wishing tree, and passport experiences await you as well.
  • On select nights, you can even get live tattoos or teeth gemming. Dates to come.

For an elevated experience, consider VIP upgrades, including two drink tickets, a cherished commemorative keepsake, and a ticket for the botanical cloche DIY craft. More details about the VIP experience can be found on the event website. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit the event website.

On the opening night of “Garden of Decay,” a thrilling costume contest awaits attendees at 8pm on Friday October 13 in the Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion. Show off your spookiest, most creative, and enchanting Halloween costumes for a chance to win fantastic prizes. The contest will be judged by celebrity judge Jenny V from 101.9 The Mix, the Music Director and co-host of The Afternoon Mix. Jenny was Miss Iowa USA 2018 and competed in the nationally televised Miss USA competition, where she advocated for children facing adversity during her reign. Don’t miss the opportunity to showcase your costume creativity!

Costume Contest Prizes: There will be a total of five winners. Each category winner will receive a prize package containing the following items:

  • Most Creative Costume (Individual): 4 adult Centennial Wheel tickets, 1 free parking pass, 1 Navy Pier swag bag, 1 pair of sunglasses, 1 Navy Pier notebook, 1 Navy Pier pen, and a $50 gift certificate/gift card to Chef Art Smith’s Reunion.
  • Best Couple’s Costume: 4 adult Centennial Wheel tickets, 1 free parking pass, 2 Navy Pier swag bags, 2 pairs of sunglasses, 2 Navy Pier notebooks, 2 Navy Pier pens, and a $50 gift certificate/gift card to Giordano’s.
  • Best Group Costume: 4 adult Centennial Wheel tickets, 1 free parking pass, 4 Navy Pier swag bags, 4 pairs of sunglasses, 4 Navy Pier notebooks, 4 Navy Pier pens, and a $50 gift certificate/gift card to Harry Caray’s.
  • Best Overall Costume (Individual): 4 adult Centennial Wheel tickets, 1 free parking pass, 1 Navy Pier swag bag, and a $50 gift certificate/gift card to Margaritaville.
  • Scariest Costume (Individual): 4 adult Centennial Wheel tickets, 1 free parking pass, 1 Navy Pier swag bag, and a $50 gift certificate/gift card to Ciccio.

To review contest rules, click here.

Note*: All activities, times, and dates are subject to change. All food and drink purchases should be made separately during the event. The taxidermy displays and bug pinning demonstrations are led by trained professionals and ethically sourced.


Located on Lake Michigan, Navy Pier is the top nonprofit tourism destination in the Midwest, stretching more than six city blocks and typically welcoming nearly 9 million annual guests. Originally opened in 1916 as a shipping and recreation facility, this Chicago landmark showcases more than 50 acres of parks, restaurants, attractions, retail shops, sightseeing and dining cruise boats, exposition facilities and more. The Pier celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016 with the unveiling of the iconic Centennial Wheel, Polk Bros Park, Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion and Peoples Energy Welcome Pavilion. In 2021, Navy Pier continued to usher in its second century with ongoing Pier-wide redevelopment efforts—including Sable, a 223-room Hilton hotel, new restaurants and partnerships, and thrilling additions to Pier Park. The Pier is also proud to continue providing free, year-round arts and cultural programming designed to inspire, educate and connect communities across the city and globe. Click here to donate to Navy Pier, a mission-driven 501(c)(3) organization, in support of the organization’s post-pandemic revival and free public programming. For more information, visit



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