Halloween is looming, and setting foot near a chaotic party store can make or break you. As Miami prepares for one of its rowdiest nights of the year, it's time to get those final Halloween looks in order. When it comes to dressing up for the occasion, the Magic City doesn't mess around. It's all fun and games until you lose the costume contest that's worth $1,000 — or worse, a free bar tab.
We've rounded up some of the best costume balls across town, from fancy to free. You might even win some cash. Here are Miami's ten best places to show off your Halloween costumes.
1. Halloween night on Lincoln Road. On Halloween night, all of Miami’s grade-A freaks come out to get buck wild and roam Lincoln Road’s mile-long promenade. This spot is Miami’s ultimate Halloween hub. The free annual bash draws thousands of costumed revelers, including some of the city’s kookiest and most elaborate looks. Don’t believe us? Here’s proof. According to its site, the event is family-friendly from 5 to 8 p.m., but after that, we suggest taking the kids home. The ten-block stretch of utter insanity in South Beach can best be described as a gigantic Halloween catwalk. 5 p.m. Tuesday, October 31, at Lincoln Road Mall, on Lincoln Road between Alton Road and Washington Avenue, Miami Beach; 305-389-3767; lincolnroadmall.com. Admission is free.
2. Vizcaya's 31st-annual Halloween Sundowner. It's all about mystery, myth, and fantasy at Vizcaya's Halloween Sundowner, hosted by NBC 6's Roxy Vargas. Now that the weather is cooling, dancing under the night sky with views of the bay isn't a bad way to spend a night of masked debauchery. The iconic Halloween soiree encourages guests to come dressed for the theme or in a costume of their choice for a chance to take home prizes for best female costume, best male costume, and best group costume. For some inspiration, check out our favorite costumes from last year's event. Free drinks will flow all night from five premium Bacardi bars plus wine and beer bars. The shindig will host three stages with performances by Patrick & the Swayzees, the State Of, and Tamboka, along with dance-floor beats provided by DJ A-Train. Party for a good cause and help protect and preserve Vizcaya. 8 p.m. Saturday, October 28, at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, 3251 S. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-250-9133; vizcaya.org. Tickets cost $140 to $3,000 via vizcayahalloween.org.
3. Halloween at the Biltmore Hotel. Legend has it that Coral Gables' stately hotel is haunted by the ghosts of gangsters. Dubbed by New Times as one of the best places to spot ghosts in Miami, the Biltmore is arguably the creepiest place to kick off the ghoulish weekend. The annual celebration held in the Country Club Ballroom will offer an open bar, a buffet dinner, entertainment, and a costume contest with prizes. Costume categories include most creative, spookiest, and best couple. And if you’re brave enough, rent a room, march your drunk zombie ass upstairs, and spend the night at the nearly 100-year-old hotel. 8 p.m. Friday, October 27, at the Biltmore, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables; 305-445-8066; biltmorehotel.com. Tickets cost $110 to $130 via eventbrite.com.
4. Something's Brewing After Dark. Leave the kids at home for this adults-only event at the Miami Children's Museum, benefiting the museum's Very Important Potential Program. Beer enthusiasts will enjoy a selection of local craft brews to accompany bites from Texas de Brazil, Shake Shack, Krave, Barkthins, and other eateries. Bewitch the judges after dark with your best looks during the costume contest, explore what lies behind the walls of the haunted house, and get down with Miami's DJ Laz and DJ Vertigo. Bonus: Valet parking is free. 9 p.m. Saturday, October 21, at Miami Children's Museum, 980 MacArthur Cswy., Miami; 305-373-5437; miamichildrensmuseum.org. Tickets cost $75 via somethingsbrewing.michimu.net.
5. Nightmare on the Beach: Dark CarnEvil. Just when you thought your most horrifying evil-clown nightmares were subsiding, the Dark CarnEvil is coming to town. The Little Lighthouse Foundation's eighth-annual Nightmare on the Beach will hit the sands of Lummus Park for a night of evil fun. The beachside bacchanal on Ocean Drive at 12th Street will serve top-shelf cocktails, beer, wine, tasty bites, and live entertainment all night. Is it really Halloween in Miami if you aren't spending it on South Beach with 1,200 freaks? 9 p.m. Friday, October 27, at Lummus Park, Ocean Drive at 12th Street, Miami Beach; 305-401-3949; thelittlelighthouse.org/NOTB. Tickets cost $183 plus fees via wantickets.com.
6. Hallowyn. It's going down in Wynwood on All Hallows' Eve at the self-proclaimed "largest free block party in Miami." Cauldrons will brew special potions at bars throughout the fest, and more than 20 local food vendors will serve tasty fare. Get down to the sounds of Miami DJs, watch live art in true Wynwood fashion, and shop till you drop at the artisan market. Sharpen your fangs and dress to kill for a chance to win cash prizes in the costume contest. Don't forget to RSVP for a free drink. 7 p.m Tuesday, October 31, at Mana Wynwood, 2250 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-461-2700; hallowynblockparty.com. Admission is free.
7. Halloween Costume Contest at Foxhole. Halloween forecast: an epic bash with a high chance of cash. The stakes are high at this back-alley speakeasy, so grab your glue gun. The bar's costume contest will award a whopping $1,000 for first place, $500 for second place, and a $250 bar tab for third place. All the while, DJ Tony G and Iron Lyon will provide the grooves at this annual spooktacular in South Beach. Will you be the one to snag all of that the cash? Get creative and slay the competition. 9 p.m. Tuesday, October 31, at Foxhole, 1218 14th Ct., Miami Beach; 305-534-3511; foxholebar.com. Admission is free.
8. The Monsters Ball: Epic Hotel's Halloween Costume Party Under the Stars. Spend an elegant evening among ghouls, goblins, werewolves, and zombies on the Epic Hotel's 16th-floor rooftop. Party under the stars, dance poolside to the grooves of DJ GQ of Y100/iHeart Radio, and take in stunning panoramic views of Biscayne Bay and the Miami River. The Monsters Ball is the perfect place to kick off your Saturday night as you booze it up at the three-hour open bar ($75). A night of hocus-pocus awaits with special surprise performances. 6 p.m. Saturday, October 28, at Kimpton Epic Hotel, 270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami; 305-424-5226; epichotel.com. Tickets cost $8.54 to $757.36 plus fees via eventbrite.com.
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9. Once Bitten Halloween Costume Party. 'Tis the season for blood, capes, and fangs. Booze-thirsty vampires can suck on Hyde Beach's signature cocktails. As the fog hangs over the moon and lights up the SLS Hotel this Halloween weekend, costumed revelers will spend a night dancing in the retro lounge and, from what we've seen in the past, probably engaging in some serious poolside shenanigans. Show off your ghoulish garb at this South Beach hot spot. And if you're feeling extra-feisty, reserve a table. 9 p.m. Friday, October 27, at Hyde Beach, 1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-455-2990; sbe.com. Tickets cost $20 plus fees via eventbrite.com.
10. Nightmare on 23rd Street. Maneuvering through the velvet ropes in SoBe is a nightmare. But what if your costume could win you a free VIP table plus a cash reward on 23rd Street? Get that over-the-top costume ready. Practice your Thriller moves, head to Wynwood, and dance the night away. Then recharge with grub from the stationed food trucks. The first 300 guests will get free entry and a complimentary drink, so be sure to register. 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 31, at La Garage Wynwood, 127 NW 23rd St., Miami; 786-241-9318; facebook.com/LAGARAGEWYNWOOD. Register for free entry via eventbrite.com.