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halloween season is back at navy pier 1

Sep. 30, 2021 | Chicago’s iconic lakefront destination will once again transform into an experiential fall spectacle with nearly 1,000 pumpkins for the month of October, starting Friday, Oct. 1

Navy Pier to Host Pier Pumpkin Lights Pop-Up Experience Throughout October for the First Time Since Start of Pandemic

Please be aware that the content on this webpage was authored more than 6 months ago, so some information may be outdated or no longer accurate.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 — Pier Pumpkin Lights returns to Navy Pier for its second year, starting Friday, Oct. 1. As part of the experience, guests will have the opportunity to explore a variety of pumpkin pop-up installations and enjoy Pier-wide deals during the month-long seasonal celebration. From jack-o’-lantern towers to glowing light displays, the Pier will be decked out for autumn with seven installations, designed by local  Ivan Carlson Event Design, displayed across the 50-acre Pier, stretching from the main entrance to past the iconic Centennial Wheel.

Building on inspiration from traditional Halloween images as well as unique and original designs, featured stations include the Juggernaut of Jack-O-LanternsPumpkin Picasso, Garden of Totems, Grave Dancers, a Haunted Hearse Graveyard, An Audacity of Gargoyles, as well as Cavorting Characters scattered throughout. The creative designs are brought to Navy Pier with the help of artisans, carpenters, designers and carvers to make up a truly stunning visual experience. The pop-up installations will be on display during normal Pier operating hours but are best experienced after dusk.

This year, Navy Pier has partnered with the eAtlas mobile adventure app to create a Pier Pumpkin Lights Scavenger Hunt. Guests can follow the clues in the eAtlas app and learn facts about the Pier, Chicago history, local ghost stories, and Lake Michigan shipwrecks while enjoying the Pier Pumpkin Lights installations and earning deals and discounts for specials at several on-site restaurant partners throughout the Pier and for the Centennial Wheel.

Navy Pier will be full of fun and fright each Saturday in October, starting Oct. 9 through Oct. 30, during Slightly Spooky Saturdays, a series of themed immersive pop-up events for families in the Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion. Each Saturday will feature interactive performances from costumed actors, acrobatic feats courtesy of the Actors Gymnasium, free Axe Throwing for guests from Axeplosion, a professional photographer with custom backgrounds and Professional VFX Make-Up Demonstrations from Faces in Focus. In addition, each themed Saturday will have their own special one-time only activities, including:

Magic & Mystery Day (Oct. 9): Guests are encouraged to dress in their best “wizarding wear” for a Harry Potter-themed day featuring performances from magician and mentalist Mike O’Donnell, a special showing of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Visitors can cap off off the evening at Harry Caray’s for a Harry Potter Halloween dinner with a Hogwarts-themed menu.

Outer Space & Science Fiction Day (Oct. 16):  Come dressed up to visit a galaxy not too far away and enjoy a showing of “Rogue One, a Star Wars Story” as well as Star Wars-themed trivia with prizes at Harry Caray’s Tavern – reservation required for trivia.

Superhero & Cosplay Day (Oct. 23): All are invited to the Pier for a celebration of cosplay and superheroes, featuring a showing of “The Dark Knight” and a set from DJ Mohammed in conjunction with After School Matters. To end the day, Navy Pier will host a costume contest for professional cosplayers in Harry Caray’s Tavern, including a $500 grand prize for the best in show.

Halloween Family Day at the Pier:  The grand finale of Navy Pier’s Halloween extravaganza will be held on Saturday, Oct. 30 and will feature on-site trick-or-treating, a screening of the film Hocus Pocus, family and kids’ costume contest, a dog-friendly costume contest at Harry Caray’s in conjunction with PAWS Chicago, educational Mad Scientist demonstrations from the Chicago Chapter of the American Chemical Society, an interactive station from the Actors Gymnasium with Instructors and equipment for guests to try juggling, portable tightwire, and hula hooping, and a Disney Themed trivia contest in Harry Caray’s Tavern (reservation required for trivia contest).

Other Pier Partners hosting special promotions in October include:

Amazing Chicago’s Funhouse Maze returns for another season of screams and terror with its annual Haunted Maze.

Seadog Chicago will host Seadog Haunted Tours in October as a Halloween-related specialty cruise. On the 75-minute Chicago River cruise, guests will embark on a boat tour that explores Chicago’s spooky past while winding through some of the city’s most gorgeous architecture. Reservations can be made here.

Margaritaville will host family-friendly Halloween events, including their daily “Spooky Elf Scavenger Hunt,” and various Jimmy Buffett and pet-themed costume contests throughout October.

Offshore Chicago, the nation’s largest rooftop venue, will host a Halloween costume party at Navy Pier on Saturday, Oct. 30 from 8:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. featuring a costume contest with prizes consisting of $2,000 and a complimentary hotel stay for the first-place winner. Tickets are $95 and available for purchase here.

Pier Pumpkin Lights and other free fall programming at Navy Pier is part of the organization’s nonprofit mission and ongoing commitment to offer guests free, year-round arts and cultural programming, designed to inspire, educate and connect communities across the city and globe. As a nonprofit cultural institution, Navy Pier relies heavily on philanthropic contributions from philanthropic, individual, foundation and corporate donors, who support Navy Pier in celebrating and showcasing the vitality of Chicago year-round. Thank you to all donors and partners who aid in Navy Pier’s nonprofit mission of creating a world-class public space that is truly the “People’s Pier.”

While at Navy Pier, guests are encouraged to check out other Pier-wide experiences, including the iconic Centennial Wheel, the new Drop Tower and other Pier Park rides and attractions. The Pier also features more than 70 local businesses in dining, retail, boat cruises and more. Guests can now extend their visit with an overnight stay at the new Sable hotel. Visit the Navy Pier website for a full list of open and available establishments.

Navy Pier is operating in accordance with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on matters related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Chicago requires that all individuals must wear a face mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status. Masks may be removed while dining. Click here to view Navy Pier’s COVID-19 operations and updates.

PHOTOS: Pier Pumpkin Lights | Credit: Navy Pier


About Navy Pier

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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