Guide to Halloween in Austin, Texas

Halloween in Austin is mostly another excuse to party. But Austinites take partying, especially partying on Halloween, seriously. So if you’re serious about spending your next Halloween in Austin, you might benefit from this guide. In the following pages, you’ll find tips on the best places to shop for costumes and suggestions for a couple of the best places to wear them so that your Halloween in Austin is nothing less than spooktacular.

Finding a Costume
Step one and a huge part of the fun of Halloween anywhere is choosing your costume. When it comes to Halloween in Austin, there are several popular places to shop for costumes, but one stands out. Lucy in Disguise With Diamonds is the best Austin has to offer in costume shopping, especially if you want a rental. Located on a stretch of South Congress Avenue known for its hip and trendy shops, Lucy in Disguise is overflowing with popular as well as unusual costumes for celebrating Halloween in Austin. Do you and your friend want to dress as albino twins? Lucy in Disguise can make it happen. Just be sure to shop early, because Halloween in Austin is such a popular event that there are often lines out the door at Lucy’s. Visit the store’s Web site at www.lucyindisguise.com to see an alphabetical listing of costumes in stock.

If you procrastinated and don’t feel like waiting in line at Lucy’s in Disguise, try the Bazaar Back Stage at 1609 E. Riverside Drive. It’s another great shop for suiting up for Halloween in Austin. I once searched all over town for a beehive wig to complete my costume. (I spent one Halloween in Austin as Flo, the gum-chewing, sassy waitress from the TV show, “Mel’s Diner.”) I finally found the perfect wig at the Bazaar Back Stage.

Heading to Sixth Street

Now that you’re dressed up as a Tootsie Roll or Willy Wonka or whatever suits your fancy, it’s time to hit the hot spots for Halloween in Austin. The most obvious and popular destination is Sixth Street, a seven-block-long strip of bars and restaurants from Congress Avenue to Interstate 35. When it’s Halloween in Austin, so many costumed party-goers hit Sixth Street that the police keep an eye on them all from a barricade in the middle of the street. (During weekends and other special events such as Halloween, Sixth Street is closed to cars.) I suppose it’s necessary; on some Halloweens, there are 60,000 people parading up and down Sixth Street.

Halloween in Austin, and particularly on Sixth Street, is a sight to behold. Actually, on any weekend night, you’ll see interesting people on Sixth Street who appear to think it’s Halloween in Austin. One is Leslie, the now famous cross-dressing Austinite who ran for mayor a few years back. He regularly wears nothing more than a woman’s bikini and high heels. And you know, he looks great. But when it’s Halloween in Austin, it’s Leslie who looks normal. Everyone else is dressed up, and the costumes can get pretty creative. One Halloween in Austin, I saw a guy on Sixth Street dressed as a tampon (seriously).

Seeing Ghosts
However, if you prefer spooks to kooks, you might want to spend your Halloween in Austin taking one of Austin’s Ghost Tours. These are guided walking tours that take you to historic buildings and other sites that are said to be haunted. The tours include the “Ghosts of the Warehouse District,” “Haunted Sixth Street,” “Ghosts of the Capitol District,” and the “Servant Girl Annihilator Tour.” The tours are $15 per person, plus you’ll want to tip your guide.

My son and I took a tour in December 2005, and the guide, Maverick, was extremely knowledgeable and entertaining. He told us about as much history of the places we visited as he told ghost stories. We even learned about the origin of Austin’s moonlight towers. (If you’ve seen the movie “Dazed and Confused,” which was filmed in Austin, you heard Matthew McConaughey’s character announce that a party was to be held under one of the moonlight towers.) Apparently, after multiple murders of servant girls by the “Servant Girl Annihilator,” the country’s first serial killer, the city built the moon towers in 1894 to provide light on the streets after dark as a safety measure. That was just one interesting fact we learned on our 90-minute tour. Another stop was the lobby of the beautiful, and famously haunted, Driskill Hotel, where Maverick told several stories of guests who checked in but never checked out. Bwoooohahhahhahha!

Haunted Texas, the company that hosts the Austin Ghost tours, doesn’t always offer all the tours at the same time, so be sure to visit its Web site at www.ghostsoftexas.com for a schedule. If you want to take a tour on Halloween night, you should purchase your tickets well in advance, because I’m sure those tours fill up fast.

I hope this guide to Halloween in Austin has been helpful. But remember: Wherever you go for Halloween in Austin, and no matter if you’re dressed as Pee Wee Herman or Hans and Franz, have a great time. Just don’t drink too much “Tequila,” or the cops on Sixth Street will have to pump you up!

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