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Halloween will soon be here, and one question we sometimes get from readers is “When is trick-or-treating around here?”
At first the question stood out… “Um… On Halloween? At night?” seemed to be the most obvious answer. The question may seem odd to some of us, of course, because we’d never heard of the concept of “set” times for trick-or-treating. In Northern Virginia, for the most part, trick-or-treating takes place on Halloween night, with no specified hours. But some communities do, in fact, set specific hours and sometimes even (gasp!) days for trick-or-treating. In some states such as Wisconsin, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Michigan, and Louisiana have in the past restricted trick-or-treating to certain hours and even days (not necessarily October 31), so it’s natural that some people (usually newcomers to Northern Virginia) will ask about this.
Times and traditions
If you recently moved to our area, don’t worry… you’re safe! Trick or treat times in Northern Virginia are pretty much whenever you want them to be, as there are no “official” trick-or-treating schedules. Fairfax County, as well as Prince William, and Loudoun Counties, do not regulate the times. Neither do the cities of Fairfax, Alexandria, Falls Church, or Manassas, nor the towns of Vienna or Clifton, as far as we know.
Do keep in mind, though, that even with no county, city, or municipal laws, if you live in a community with a homeowners’ association (HOA), you may have limits. Some local HOAs do set their own policies about trick or treat times, so check your community rules and those of any you plan to visit (for example, if you are trick-or-treating in the neighborhood of a friend or relative).
As far as when to expect trick-or-treaters, traditionally children will go between dusk and 8 pm or so on October 31. Some families with younger children may start a bit earlier while there is still some daylight. One great feature of Halloween in our area is the many local Halloween events throughout the month of October. One of our favorite things to do is to check out the free display of jack-o-lanterns in Centreville when we’re done trick-or-treating.
- Have a “Plan A” and a “Plan B” for your kids’ costumes. If you’re new to Northern Virginia, you may already know that the weather here can be notoriously unpredictable. On Halloween night, it may be very cold or it could be actually kind of warm. You may want to have two options for kids’ costumes, or at least a way to adapt them as needed in case of sudden temperature changes.
- Order fun Halloween candy online instead of buying it now. This way, you’re not tempted to and get next- or two-day shipping from Amazon
- Consider having an allergy-friendly element to your Halloween handouts with the Teal Pumpkin Project!
- See our big list of Halloween events in the area to enjoy trick-or-treating multiple times!