Frequently Asked Questions
Below you'll find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary.
Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary is an immersive experience featuring FIVE thrilling haunted houses — plus historic tours, themed bars and lounges, live performances, and more — all within the walls of a real, abandoned 10-acre prison.
This Halloween festival of epic proportions is jam-packed with sinister scares, enchanting entertainment, delectable food and drinks, and unforgettable moments. Halloween Nights features Hollywood-quality sets, props, and special FX makeup; custom soundtracks; and more than 200 talented performers per night. And it all takes place in a truly one-of-a-kind setting.
All proceeds from Halloween Nights benefit the preservation and interpretation of Eastern State Penitentiary, a National Historic Landmark.
We're back, bigger and better than ever, for 2023!
The outdoor courtyard once known as Gargoyle Gardens has been transformed into Pumpkin Plaza. Have your camera at the ready for some new photo ops filled with Halloween ambience like pumpkins, hay bales, and skeletons. In Pumpkin Plaza, you'll also encounter our legendary hip-hop dance crew. The Boogie Monsters have a new name for 2023 with a new look to match, featuring UV glow characters inspired by the Halloween monsters you love to fear like mummies, jack-o-lanterns, and Frankenstein.
Around the fire pits at S’mores and Lore, reimagined live storytellers, inspired by summer camp counselors, will share a new slate of traditional ghost stories. And once you leave the comfort of the campfire behind, you'll encounter a choice. Take a tamer route toward the rest of the attractions or walk through a brand-new scare zone.
Yes! Halloween Nights features FIVE thrilling haunted houses — Delirium, Big Top Terror, Machine Shop, Nightmares, and The Crypt. Our haunted houses are scary and include intense imagery and startling jump scares.
For an even scarier experience, grab a glow necklace on your way into the festival to opt in for true interactivity. Anyone wearing a glow necklace may be grabbed, sent into hidden passageways, and even temporarily separated from their group.
Need a breather between scares? Visiting with some faint-of-heart friends? Halloween Nights also features less intense experiences like historic tours, themed bars and lounges, live performances, and more.
Only if you opt in for a scarier experience.
Are you brave enough? To opt in for true interactivity, grab a glow necklace at the entrance to the festival. Anyone wearing a glow necklace may be grabbed, sent into hidden passageways, and even temporarily separated from their group.
If you choose not to opt in, our performers will not intentionally touch you.
Halloween Nights is recommended for children ages twelve (12) and older.
Children under the age of seven (7) are not permitted.
Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary is open select evenings from September 22 to November 11, 2023.
Opening and closing times vary each evening. Tickets are sold in half-hour entry times. Many entry times will sell out, so we strongly recommend purchasing tickets online in advance. You can check real-time availability and purchase tickets at our discounted online rates here.
Timed entry allows us to space out visitors, but that does not mean that your visit is limited to 30 minutes. It just means that you have to arrive within the 30-minute entry window listed on your ticket. Closing times vary by night, based on demand. The event closes two hours after the final entry time that evening.
Halloween Nights: REMIXED! takes place on the final two nights of our festival season each year, and offers a different experience than the 30 nights that came before.
Stay tuned to see what we have in store for REMIXED! 2023...
Tickets start at $39 and vary by night. Visit our Schedule & Pricing page for ticketing options.
Discounted tickets are available for groups of 20 or more. Click here to learn more.
Follow @HalloweenAtESP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, and sign up for our Halloween Nights eNewsletter here to be the first to hear about any special discounts or coupons available throughout the season.
If you are planning a visit for a school or youth group, please plan on bringing an appropriate number of responsible chaperones. Chaperones must be 21 years of age or older and stay with their group throughout the festival. We highly recommend one chaperone for every fifteen youth.
General Admission includes entry to the festival and all attractions and areas EXCEPT for The Speakeasy at Al Capone's Cell and the Hospital Flashlight Tour.
VIP Admission includes all General Admission attractions, PLUS: Express Entry into the festival*, entry into The Speakeasy at Al Capone's Cell, and two complimentary drinks or treats (one drink in The Speakeasy and one drink or treat from The Fair Chance Beer Garden bar). The Hospital Flashlight Tour is not included and can be purchased a la carte on-site.
VIP Admission tickets are available exclusively online. Purchasing VIP Admission online is the ONLY way to access The Speakeasy at Al Capone's Cell. *Please Note: Express Entry does not allow you to skip individual attraction queues once inside the penitentiary.
Add-on admission to the Hospital Flashlight Tour ($12) can only be purchased at the door, subject to availability. Admission to the Hospital Flashlight Tour is always free for Eastern State members, subject to availability.
Halloween Nights tickets are valid for a specific date and time. All sales are final. The festival runs rain or shine. There are no refunds or exchanges, including for unused or partially used tickets.
If you arrive late on the date of your ticket, you may enter with the next available entry time. If you arrive after the last entry time for the evening, you are still welcome to enjoy Halloween Nights. Please note, however, that the event closes two hours after the last entry time. Most guests spend about two hours when they visit, so you might not get to see everything! We will do our best to allow you to experience the attractions that are still open; however, some attractions or areas may be closed. There are no refunds or partial credits for missed entry times or attractions.
Express Entry allows you to bypass the General Admission queue outside the penitentiary. When you arrive, just present your ticket at the Express Entry tower, and you’ll be granted fast and easy access to security screening and our welcome and photo capture area.
Please Note: Express Entry does not allow you to skip any attraction queues inside the event; however, because entry is timed and there are so many attractions to experience, individual attraction wait times will likely be minimal.
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc. is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. All proceeds from Halloween Nights support the preservation, interpretation, and operation of this National Historic Landmark and museum all year long. As our largest source of revenue for the historic site, our annual Halloween fundraiser has helped us achieve some of our most critical work over the past 30+ years.
Proceeds from Halloween Nights have allowed us to reach new audiences both day and night. The funds we’ve raised have enabled us to build innovative museum exhibits addressing the impact of mass incarceration like Prisons Today and The Big Graph, which you can explore during your time at Halloween Nights. They have allowed us to pay artists to create site-specific artist installations that address themes related to Eastern State’s history and the criminal justice system today; we’ve worked with more than 100 artists since 1995. Halloween Nights revenue has also helped us put new roofs on all of our historic cellblocks, stabilize and open spaces to visitors like the Hospital Block and the Catholic Chaplain’s Office, and even introduce the next generation of tradespeople to historic preservation through our Preservation Trades Center programs.
Thank you for your support! With your help, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site can continue to interpret the legacy of criminal justice reform in America within these historic cellblocks for many years to come.
If you’re driving, please note that there is no parking available at the penitentiary. Halloween Nights parking is located at the Philadelphia Zoo’s parking garage at 3500 W. Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104. A shuttle will take you from the zoo to the penitentiary and back. Parking and Shuttle is $20 online, $25 on site.
Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary is located at 2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130.
Use Google Maps for customized driving, walking, cycling, or transit directions to the penitentiary.
Visit our Directions and Parking page for more information.
Halloween Nights parking is located at the Philadelphia Zoo’s parking garage at 3500 W. Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104. A shuttle will take you from the zoo to the penitentiary and back. Parking and Shuttle is $20 online, $25 on site.
Beginning at 6:00 pm, there is a drop-off / pick-up zone located directly in front of the penitentiary on the north side of Fairmount Avenue at 21st Street. Guests wishing to use the drop-off / pick-up zone should approach the penitentiary from the east on Fairmount Avenue. This zone is for active loading and unloading only. No cars or buses will be permitted to wait in this area.
If you are driving to Halloween Nights, you should plan to arrive at our parking lot at the Philadelphia Zoo (3500 W. Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104) 30 to 40 minutes before the time printed on your ticket.
If you are arriving via public transit, ride share or being dropped off, you should arrive at the penitentiary within the half-hour entry time printed on your ticket.
Our festival format allows you to pick and choose from a variety of attractions and experiences including haunted houses, themed bars and lounges, live performances, our flagship history and museum exhibits and more. Seasonal treats and eats are also available for purchase throughout the festival.
Because you’ll pick and choose which attractions and experiences to explore, every Halloween Nights experience will be different. On average, you should expect to spend about 90 minutes at Halloween Nights, but your evening may be longer or shorter.
Closing times vary by night, based on demand. The event closes two hours after the final entry time that evening; however, some attractions will close earlier.
We recommend arriving at our parking lot 30 to 40 minutes earlier than the entry time listed on your ticket to allow ample time for traffic and parking.
If you arrive late, you will enter with the current entry time. If you arrive after the last entry time for the evening, some attractions will be closed, but we will do our best to allow you to experience the attractions that are still open. There are no refunds for missed attractions.
Halloween Nights runs rain or shine. Please dress for the weather and be sure to wear appropriate footwear. Sandals, flip-flops, open-toed shoes, and high heels are not permitted. Parts of the event take place inside; however, some attractions are outdoors, and the penitentiary is not climate controlled.
Eastern State Penitentiary was abandoned for more than 20 years, and, while stabilized, the building remains in a state of semi-ruin. Visitors should exercise caution and stay within the clearly marked public areas. For your safety, the penitentiary complex is monitored by a closed-circuit surveillance system.
During Halloween Nights, our customer service team, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), Philadelphia police officers, uniformed security officers, and plain-clothed security officers are on duty to assist visitors.
Eastern State Penitentiary has a zero-tolerance policy for troublemakers. Troublemakers will be ejected from the penitentiary complex without refund. We want everyone to have a safe, fun time and ask that you please follow these rules:
- Do not touch or harass performers or staff
- No cursing or rowdy behavior
- No smoking
- No weapons (guns, knives, mace, pepper spray, etc.)
If you have a health concern, please consult your doctor before attending Halloween Nights.
Our haunted houses are high startle environments and are not recommended for visitors who are pregnant, prone to seizures, or who have certain health conditions.
All five of our haunted houses (Delirium, Big Top Terror, Machine Shop, Nightmares, and The Crypt) utilize strobe lights, fog machines, loud noises, dark spaces, and other features that may be disorienting to visitors. Our scare zone, located near S'mores and Lore, also utilizes strobe lights. While our immersive walkthrough experience Kaleidoscope Hall is not scary and does not utilize strobe lights, it does feature shifting lights of varying colors and intensities.
All Halloween Nights attractions, including our five haunted houses, can be bypassed easily.
We offer a wide range of services for our visitors and strive to provide an excellent experience for everyone attending Halloween Nights.
Arrival & Parking
There are two accessible parking spots located on Fairmount Avenue directly in front of the penitentiary’s entrance. If these spaces are unavailable upon arrival, please ask a member of our staff for assistance.
Additionally, there is a drop off / pick up zone located directly in front of the penitentiary on the north side of Fairmount Avenue at 21st Street. Guests wishing to use the drop off / pick up zone should approach the penitentiary from the east on Fairmount Avenue. This zone is for active loading and unloading only. No cars or buses will be permitted to wait in this area.
Since most of the penitentiary is not climate controlled, we recommend checking the forecast on the day of your visit to prepare appropriately for the weather. Sandals, flip-flops, open-toed shoes and high heels are strongly discouraged.
Terrain & Walking Surfaces
Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary has both indoor and outdoor spaces for guests to explore. The outdoor spaces are mostly poured concrete, with occasional grass or gravel areas. Inside the cellblocks the floors are stone. Both inside and outside, terrain can occasionally be uneven.
Visitors With Mobility Aids
Many visitors who use mobility aids, including both manual and power wheelchairs, visit Halloween Nights every year. That said, the penitentiary complex is not fully ADA compliant due to its historic nature. The building is nearly 200 years old, and is a National Historic Landmark. Sections of it may never be fully accessible.
There are two attractions at Halloween Nights that include sections that can only be accessed by steps. Machine Shop has a section accessed by three steps, and The Crypt has a section accessed by 15 steps. These sections of the attractions can easily be bypassed. The rest of the event is equipped with ADA compliant ramps and meets most ADA guidelines.
American Sign Language (ASL) Interpretation
ASL interpreters are available by request. Please email Guest Support at [email protected] at least two weeks prior to your visit to request an interpreter.
A digital version of our festival map is available for download here.
If you still have accessibility questions or concerns, we'd be happy to address them. Please send us an email.
If you have to ask, it’s best that you leave it in the car or, better yet, at home. We are dedicated to providing a safe, fun experience for every visitor. Our security team checks all bags for potentially dangerous and prohibited objects and conducts random pat-downs.
- Weapons of any kind, pepper spray, pocketknives, lighters, flashlights, and any potentially dangerous objects are not permitted inside the penitentiary. We have a strict "no guns" policy, which means that even persons licensed to carry a firearm, including off-duty law enforcement officers, will not be permitted to bring their weapon into the penitentiary complex (and we can't hold them for you, either).
- Cameras are permitted, but tripods, monopods, easels, and other photography equipment are not permitted. Drones are not permitted. Lighting equipment is not permitted, nor is flash photography.
- Outside food and beverages are not permitted.
- Umbrellas are permitted, but must be used properly and remain closed inside all indoor attractions and areas.
- Bags of any size are permitted; however, we encourage you to carry as little as possible and recommend you leave large bags and any items that may be easily lost or damaged (laptops, tablets, and other valuables) at home. All bags will be searched as you enter the festival.
Yes! We offer a variety of food and drinks for purchase at Halloween Nights. Wine, beer, cocktails, mocktails, cider and soft drinks are available for purchase throughout the event. We also feature a selection of food vendors who offer both fun, seasonal treats and more substantial food for purchase.
Halloween Nights is recommended for children ages twelve (12) and older, and children under the age of seven (7) are not permitted.
There are no additional age restrictions to enter any specific Halloween Nights attractions or areas; however, you must be 21 or older and show valid photo ID to purchase or consume alcohol.
All themed bars and lounges offer non-alcoholic beverage options, and some offer food and treats as well! Learn more about food and drinks at Halloween Nights.
No. You must have a Halloween Nights tickets to visit any attraction or area of the event.
Admission to The Fair Chance Beer Garden is included with both General Admission and VIP Admission to Halloween Nights.
Add-on admission to the Hospital Flashlight Tour ($12) can only be purchased at the door, subject to availability; Halloween Nights tickets are required to access this attraction.
Yes! Halloween Nights provides several opportunities to learn more about the history of Eastern State Penitentiary.
You can find all of these attractions and areas in The Fair Chance Beer Garden, the festival’s hub for historic and museum programming. Established in partnership with fellow fair chance employer Triple Bottom Brewing Company, The Fair Chance Beer Garden creates meaningful, living-wage jobs for people who may otherwise be excluded from the mainstream economy, including people who have experienced homelessness or incarceration.
First, check out “The Voices of Eastern State” Highlights Audio Tour. This 20-minute, abbreviated version of our audio tour was recorded especially for Halloween Nights with narration by actor Steve Buscemi. It also features the voices of people who were incarcerated or worked at Eastern State. Then, visit exhibits The Big Graph and Prisons Today to learn more about the impact of modern-day mass incarceration. These attractions are all included with both General Admission and VIP Admission.
Want to learn more? Add on a Hospital Flashlight Tour! Take a 20-minute, guide-led, flashlight walking tour of Cellblock 3, the Hospital Block. Learn more about Eastern State’s medical history and get a look at the Operating Room and other fascinating spaces. Admission is $12, available at the door only, and includes a souvenir flashlight.
There’s still so much more to explore. We hope you’ll come back for a daytime tour! We’re open year-round, every day from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Add a daytime tour ticket to your Halloween Nights ticket purchase and save $5!
Yes, with a few restrictions. We encourage you to take photos and videos when visiting Halloween Nights — and tag us on social media @HalloweenAtESP and #HalloweenAtESP — but we ask that you honor the following policies.
- Tripods, monopods, easels, lights, and other photography equipment are not permitted.
- Drone photography, or use of drones for any purpose, is not permitted.
- No flash photography.
- Do not touch or move any objects or artifacts.
- Models (professional or amateur), costumes and props are not permitted.
- Photography and videography is NOT allowed in our haunted houses (Delirium, Big Top Terror, Machine Shop, Nightmares, and The Crypt), but is allowed in all other attractions and areas.
- No live streaming or podcasting is permitted.
- Please do not disrupt the experience of other visitors and follow all staff instructions.
Paranormal investigations (including the use of mediums and EVP recorders or other pieces of paranormal investigation equipment) are not permitted at Eastern State Penitentiary.
Eastern State does not allow third parties to conduct unauthorized events or sell tickets to the general public. Any persons conducting unauthorized events will be asked to leave the site without a refund.
Thank you for your understanding!
Yes! Eastern State members get a one-time 20% discount on General Admission tickets (membership level dependent) and never pay online service fees. Members should buy their discounted tickets using our member ticket portal.
In addition, members receive benefits all season long, including Express Entry into the festival, free admission to the Hospital Flashlight Tour (subject to availability), discounts in the Halloween Tribute Store and Eastern State Penitentiary Store, and invitations to exclusive events.
For information about joining our team, please visit our jobs page.