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As a Dutch citizen we don't really celebrate Halloween. In movies etc I've seen people go 'Trick or Treating' and go to costume parties. We're both adults, but would love to go Trick or Treating or at least witness kids do this. So we were thinking of staying in an Airbnb away from the heart of the city.

What would the best way be to celebrate Halloween in Austin?

Would this be a good thing to do?

How is this holiday typically celebrated by adults?

How about closing hours of shops, bars etc?

Is there anything I need to know about this holiday?

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    If you know someone you can get invited to parties (adults), but really just walking outside you'll see plenty of families and kids walking around – blackbird Aug 11 '16 at 13:00
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    FYI, the "adult Halloween party" described in some of the answers has absolutely nothing to do with the "family trick-or-treating" activity. Except costumes. Feel free to do one or the other or both ... but they're different experiences entirely. – davidbak Aug 11 '16 at 17:29
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    Good answers below. I would also recommend checking the neighborhood association you'll be staying in (particularly in the suburbs). Not all neighborhoods have trick or treating on the 31st (it's on a Monday this year, so some areas may have it on the Saturday before). The AirBNB place will probably be able to point you to the correct neighborhood association. – cneller Aug 11 '16 at 18:07
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    Don't feel like developing this into a full answer, but: many malls do trick or treating, and in that case, adults often participate (it's 99% a marketing ploy, after all). However, this is very often not on Halloween itself. – user44170 Aug 12 '16 at 15:32
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    @spacetyper Correct. My neighborhood blocks off one of the streets and does a cookout, then trick or treating. It's a good way to meet the neighbors and neighborhood kids, and you always get more turn out if it's on the weekend. Call it pretentious, convenient, or whatever - it works for us. – cneller Aug 12 '16 at 19:20
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Adults don't go trick-or-treating. If you did this it would be frowned upon, and you might even be viewed with suspicion. If you have friends in the area with children who are going, you could certainly come along (and even dress up if you want--but don't take any candy unless it is directly offered to you). But otherwise it would be out of the question. In any residential neighborhood you are likely to see kids walking around, though.

Consider a halloween festival or attraction if you want to get some of the traditional family-oriented Halloween experience as an adult. This may include things like:

  • Haunted house
  • Hay ride
  • Corn maze
  • Pumpkin picking
  • pumpkin carving

Many of the better of these will be in more rural locations. They may be seasonal attractions open for a number of weeks, or one-day or weekend special events. I don't have any knowledge of Austin, but here is one nearby example I found by Googling. Also many tourist attractions like theme parks, museums, etc. are likely to have Halloween events.

There are also plenty of adult Halloween costume parties, including ones in clubs that are open to the public.

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    I think, to clarify: Adults don't go trick-or-treating without children, and even then, don't go up to the door (except with really really young children). Find some friends or colleagues with kids and offer to go with them, as dan1111 suggests. Now on the other hand, sometimes neighborhoods have certain streets - a block or two - where the residents go all out with decorations, etc. These are known to the neighborhood, and thus there's frequently a party atmosphere in the street because so many people are there. An adult couple without children would do fine there, if you can find one. – davidbak Aug 11 '16 at 17:19
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    To further clarify - it is expected, even encouraged, that you dress up for Halloween events outside trick-or-treating, so if your hope was to wear a costume at one of these events, that would be perfectly acceptable. It's trick-or-treating that is reserved as a children-only event. – Zibbobz Aug 11 '16 at 19:46
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    Residential neighborhoods with houses in close proximity, short driveways, and lots of young families are your best bet. – Trevor Aug 11 '16 at 23:02
  • To clarify further, adults aren't supposed to go trick-or-treating without children. Before he had kids my dad used to go around with a buddy to his neighbors with a shot glass saying trick or treat. Was his favorite holiday. – candied_orange Aug 13 '16 at 20:30
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As far as an adult Halloween party...

I lived in Austin for a while, I can tell you that the area downtown known as "6th street" was one of the biggest Halloween parties I have ever seen.

6th Street is where many of the well known bars and clubs are, and is normally a large party on the weekends, but on Halloween all the cross streets are closed off and thousands of people are there. This is NOT for kids, and there's no telling what you will see. Well, you'll certainly see a lot of inebriated people, but there's no telling what else...

All of the bars will be open until 2AM. There's no way anything is closing early.

Here's an image of the 2015 celebration. It's huge.

enter image description here

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    That's the most brightly lit halloween gathering I've ever seen – spacetyper Aug 12 '16 at 15:45
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If you are staying in a residential neighborhood, you can pass out candy to kids coming to your door. Just go to the grocery store ahead of time and buy a few bags of pre-wrapped small candies (the stores will have large displays of these, it will be impossible to miss). About the time it gets dark until around 8:30 or 9:00, kids will come to the door and say "Trick or Treat", then you give them each a piece of candy. Having your front porch light turned on is your signal that you're handing out candy. It would be useful to ask your air bnb host if their neighborhood has a lot of trick-or-treaters. It can really vary by neighborhood and street. Areas with lots of kids will have more activity than others. Of course in Texas you can just ask strangers for info, Texans are really nice!

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    When picking an AirBnB, if you want to do this, suburban streets near good elementary schools are idea. Enclosed, gated communities not so good. – Patricia Shanahan Aug 11 '16 at 17:39
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    And usually most trick-or-treating ends early enough that you can still go to an adult party after! – David K Aug 11 '16 at 18:40
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    +1 for trying to arrange a place where you can pass out the candy yourself. The other answers' suggestions of just wondering around a residential neighborhood watching kids seems likely to attract unwanted attention, possibly from police. Wondering around watching kids is what people who want to kidnap kids do, not what normal American adults do. – reirab Aug 12 '16 at 5:58
  • Around me, it's not just the neighborhoods with more kids -- if kids are on their own, they'll often go to areas with higher density (eg, townhouses), as you can go to more houses in a shorter period of time. Parents with smaller kids prefer non-through streets (less car traffic, so less dangerous) or areas with sidewalks. (which townhouses/rowhouses would also have). – Joe Aug 13 '16 at 0:54
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I live in Austin. If you're really looking to party hard, 6th Street is the way to go. If you're looking to experience an authentic, boring, adult-style American Halloween, passing out candy from your AirBnB is a great idea - this is what Halloween is really like for most adults in America! If you're looking to have a little more fun (but not 6th Street fun), you might want to check out what's going on at, for example, the following locations:

If you're really looking to experience a "true" American Halloween, I would definitely stay in the city.

Another suggestion is to find a nice part of town (Westlake, Northwest Hills, etc) and just walk around. You can soak in the Halloween vibes and scope out the yard decorations and costumes, which are likely to be nicer and more splashy in a nice part of town. Trick or treating is really the essential Halloween activity, and it more or less amounts to wandering around residential neighborhoods. I would not suggest asking for candy as an adult, you will get funny looks.

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There are many great answers, and you have some options open to you if you AirBnB it. I would ask any potential host if there are children in the area citing your interest in passing out candy.

Here is the key: The better the candy you pass out, the more kids you will have. I have bought cases of full sized candy bars and handed them out. You can typically buy these at warehouse clubs for about 25 cents per bar. They will also have large bags of the smaller sized candies and you can give each kid several (rather than one) of the small bars making your "home" a desireable place to trick or treat.

My wife and I typically sit out on the front porch handing out candy. This way kids don't have to guess if we have candy. (We live in Florida so it is not cold in October.)

My wife and I typically dress up and hand out candy. Nothing to scary for the little kids. Also our dog has several costumes and joins the fun.

Our dog in his "Hot Dog" costume

We typically offer parents their own treat. "Want a beer dad?", I will have some on ice.

We never turn away teenagers/older kids. Some people get upset at this, but we don't. They could be throwing eggs at houses or stealing candy from younger kids. It's even okay if they are not wearing a costume. Heck, it could even be a large child, who are we to judge?

Then around 9:30 or so, the kids will stop. It's time to hit the clubs!

Good luck.

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    "ask any potential host if there are children in the area" -- cite your interest in the HOLIDAY not in children or passing out candy :) – AndrewS Aug 12 '16 at 15:58
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    Passing out alcohol to parents is a long-standing tradition in military housing. My mom's taken to making up large batches of jello shots. (if you have a good source of condiment cups, they're ideal ... especially if you can also get lids, so can stack 'em in the fridge ... the latin market near me has an aisle w/ stuff for food trucks, so I get them there) – Joe Aug 12 '16 at 23:25
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At Halloween, Adults go to dress up parties, either private parties (friends...) or go to bars or clubs; the later usually have prizes for best costumes.

Halloween is not an "official" holiday, so shops and bars will have their regular opening hours.

There might be public organized events for families (check the local Austin event guides)

If you want to see kids trick or treat, then you should find yourself a nice suburban neighborhood and walk around; in that case, I would not go dressed up as to not confuse people of your intent (IMO)

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You do the treats.

If you do go to AirBnB in a neighborhood, just buy some cheap candy and dress up in a costume and hand it out. As a plus, I like to have some cheap (boxed) wine poured into plastic cups along with a bit of cheese in toothpicks for the adults that are taking their kids around.

In my neighborhood I counted 300+ kids came by (but it's a well-established, affluent neighborhood*). And most of the adults LOVED the wine idea. Just turn your lights off when you run out of candy, and the kiddos know you're out. Extra fun is to make a jackolantern. Turn that candle out when you're out of candy as well.

*- I am not rich; I rent my house!

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    We have a similar Dutch holiday where kids go around houses singing songs in exchange for candy and handing out 'adult treats' to adults is also loved during that night. Great tip about being the one handing out the candy. – Summer Aug 12 '16 at 15:42
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It's important to remember that Halloween is, at it's heart a harvest festival. For a lot of people it's that "start of the fall season" even though not technically correct. You will see a lot of different things, a lot of them having roots in harvest festivals you may be used to.

Things to be aware of:

Halloween is in part a children's holiday. From dusk-ish til full dark (and some times after) children will run around begging candy from strangers to the sound of "Trick-or-Treat". If your home during these hours expect to have to dish out some candy. Buy some individually wrapped candies. The stores will have rows of the stuff this time of year. 2-3 bags should be enough.

You can opt out of the great candy give away by turning off your porch light. When the porch light is on, then your givin' it away. Porch light off, your a weirdo - shut in who doesn't like kids.

During the daylight hours it's not unheard of to have children and adults ware costumes to work and school. So be prepared for that. For adults companies usually state that you can ware a costume or not. Just remember that work costumes still have to be decent.

After Dark - This is when the fun begins for adults. Some people have costume parties. You can go to one of those. Make sure to check the "costume type". Many private parties (and clubs) have a theme. Make sure your comfortable with the theme. Some times, they may be more interesting then others. Boundaries of decency are usually pushed at these parties. Doesn't mean you have to, but someone there usually will. Make sure your comfortable with that.

Theme Parks and the like will usually offer "Haunted Houses" or "Halloween Nights". Those can be fun. If you ware a costume keep in mind you still have to get through security.

In short, Halloween can be broken down into 4 main parts. You can take part in as many or as few as you like.

  1. Family Harvest fun. This includes Pumpkin carving, hay rides, farm visits, and fairs. These are usually done during the day. Theses are family friendly.

  2. Candy Begging. Usually from just before dusk (young children and parents) to just after dark (young teens, no parents). Remember, light on = your giving away candy, light off = no candy

  3. Scare the crap outta ya. It's fun to be scared so there are movies and scary things to do from haunted houses to horrible B movies at the theater. Some are scary, some are just god awful tacky. Make sure if you do movies you try and watch both. These go all day and night, usually later at night = more scary but that's not always true.

  4. Masquerade! These are usually at night, and generally not kid friendly. The general idea is "any thing goes cause I got a mask on". Make sure that when you choose your venue for "any thing goes" your comfortable with the definition of anything that the location is using. Sometimes it's just drinking and sexy costumes, other times it's dancing with people in their favorite cartoon costumes, but there are places that are much more liberal with their definition of "anything". What ever you do go with friends you trust. That's just a good all around party rule.

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I love your question. Halloween is a great holiday. Like others have said, many people frown upon adults or even older kids, like teenagers, trick-or-treating. But yes you could make friends with someone with children and tag along. The adult party experience is more like a rave type party than traditional Halloween you see in movies. But it is still fun. The dressing up in costumes is key, for both kids and adults. Also the handing out candy can be fun. Just talk to people and I'm sure you will find a good time. Whenever I travel, the best times happen when I talk to strangers.

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