This Halloween, we're throwing down the gauntlet and challenging you to have the coolest, creepiest All Hallows Eve yet. How to do that? Well, for starters, get that "sexy fill-in-the-blank" costume idea out of your head.
In all seriousness though, the District does Halloween in real style, so it shouldn't be tough. The week ahead is packed with everything from sexy-spooky burlesque shows to charity shindigs to downright terrifying, OMG-is-that-a-real-zombie experiences. Plus, we did the legwork for you and handpicked an agenda that offers more than enough thrills and chills to see you into November. From swanky bashes to the scariest haunted house, ever, here's your cheat sheet to doing Halloween right this year. You can pay us back from that pile of candy corns and mini Snickers.
Presented by Brightest Young Things, the Temple of Doom party at the Sphinx Club incorporates a burlesque performance, karaoke, zombie makeovers, and a hypnotist show, along with the usual DJ sets, photobooth opps, and giant hamster balls. You'll also get a decoder ring you can use to find limited-edition tees hidden around the venue. Advance tickets are $20; they'll be $25 at the door.
When: Friday, October 26, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Where: The Sphinx Club, 1315 K St NW; no phone.
If you're one of those types who can't consider Halloween a success until you've had the living crap scared out of you, then you'll want to head to Jessup, MD, to experience Bennett's Curse. It might literally be the scariest haunted house in the country — at least, the Travel Channel and the roughly 25,000 people who visit each year seem to think so. If you found the orcs in Lord of the Rings to be pretty terrifying, you'll definitely want to bring a friend (or five) for support. Tickets are $30.
When: Open through November 3. See complete schedule here.
Where: 8024 Max Blobs Park Road, Jessup; 410-538-6461.
Can't get enough of The Walking Dead? Us, too. So, naturally, The Warehouse: Project 4.1 is at the top of our to-do list. Created by five young entrepreneurs with backgrounds in theater, construction, and marketing, this zombie-infested nightmare will have you sleeping with the lights on for days. Tickets are $32.
When: Open through November 3. See complete schedule here.
Where: 11840 Rockville Pike, Rockville; 240-292-9473.
Prefer a slightly classier approach to Halloween? Spirit of Washington is offering a Halloween Boo Cruise, where you'll spend the evening floating along the Potomac River in costume, with food, drinks, and music to keep the party vibe going. Tickets are $44.90.
When: Saturday, October 27, from 9 p.m. to midnight
Where: Boat departs from Pier 4, 600 Water Street SW; 888-822-5993.
Another classy option: Napoleon Bistro's Halloween in Paris party. An absinthe-themed happy hour is followed by a DJ set by Chris Burns and Benoit Harber, with cameos from a magician and a caricaturist to capture your spookiest self. At 10 p.m., head downstairs to the basement dance floor to unleash your inner Green Fairy — and prepare to sweat out some demons. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at the door.
When: Wednesday, October 31, from 8 p.m. to close.
Where: 1847 Columbia Road NW; 202-299-9630.
Photos: Courtesy of Bennett's Curse, Brightest Young Things/Kevin Hulse, and Hallow Inc.
Trick-or-treating along Embassy Row is a tradition among D.C. college students, and for good reason — you meet tons of new people along the way, plus you score snacks from around the world, gratis. Things To Do DC offers a walking tour that accomplishes the same goal, only with a tour guide who'll dish on the history of the embassies (and maybe even get attendees a special peek inside a few of them). Tickets are $30.
When: Wednesday, October 31, from 7-9 p.m.
Where: Group meets at the north exit of the Dupont Circle Metro station and travels along Massachusetts Avenue NW.
What's Halloween without a little va-va-voom? Experience thrills of the not-so-scary sort at Tilted Torch's fourth annual Spook-O-Rama at Red Palace. This burlesque extravaganza involves much more than just shimmying and spinning tassels — think acrobatics, circus arts, dance, comedy, music, and (of course) fire. Advance tickets are $10; they'll be $12 at the door.
When: Friday, October 26. Doors at 9 p.m.; show starts at 10 p.m.
Where: 1212 H Street NE; 202-399-3201.
Still have a few summery neon pieces you haven't stored away yet? Lucky you — the W Hotel's Halloween party just happens to have an '80s theme. DJs will spin remixes while you sip signature cocktails, and the best costume wins a sleepover at the W with champagne and breakfast in bed. Tickets are $40 and a portion of proceeds benefit Fashion for Paws.
When: Friday, October 26, from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Where: W Hotel Washington D.C., 515 15th Street NW; 202-661-2400.
Want the proceeds from your ticket to go a good cause? Scoop tickets to the fifth annual Violence Is Scary bash at One Lounge, which features a two-hour open bar, treats from Georgetown Cupcake, and a silent auction loaded with covetable prizes (think sporting events at Verizon Center, dinner at Ping Pong Dim Sum, and goodies from Proper Topper). All of the proceeds benefit DC SAFE, which supports victims of domestic violence. Tickets are $41.50.
When: Wednesday, October 31, from 6:30-10:30 p.m.
Where: 1606 20th Street NW; no phone.
This year's Halloween throwdown at the Carnegie Library includes three bands, four DJs, and four dedicated party areas. The huge venue is likely to be packed, and you can expect epic costumes and a crowd that leans toward the preppy side of the spectrum. (Oh, and it's open bar all night.) Tickets are $70-$95.
When: Saturday, October 27, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Where: 801 K Street NW; no phone.
Want more? Check out all our Halloween tips and tricks right here!
Photos: Courtesy of Chaley Productions, Red Palace, and W Hotel/Mark Silva