Set in the crumbling stone walls of one of the most famous prisons in the world, Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary may just be the scariest place in Philly, which says something in a town roamed by Gritty. The Halloween festival takes full advantage of the 10-acre abandoned structure with five haunted houses, multiple bars, and even an optional history tour.
The main attraction of Halloween Nights is the five signature haunted houses that have been run in varying forms since 1991 when the penitentiary began offering candle-lit ghost tours. These ghost tours have evolved into a full theatrical production, with blood, gore and the option to be dragged into scenes, cages and off of the path entirely with actors practically foaming at the mouth. You do have to visually consent to be carried off in a gurney, creating a build-your-own horror experience unique to the festival. Haunted house themes include Big Top Terror, the Machine Shop, Nightmares, Delirium (a 3-D haunted house) and The Crypt. They range in fear factor and intensity.
If that isn’t quite up your dark abandoned alley, there are also four bars on the premises. One is a speakeasy in Al Copone’s old cell; another, is an event space run by singing, dancing vampires. Bloodsuckers of many talents supposedly grace the stage, and allow you to interact with cast members without doing a lot of running.
- Attendance numbers are not available.
- Tickets start at $39 online but vary by night, with Friday and Saturday night tickets being the most expensive at $59 online and $79 at the door. Buying tickets online in advance is recommended.
- Don’t like the idea of being locked in a haunted prison? Check out Fifty Grande’s guide to Philly here.
Where is the nearest airport?
Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is the closest airport to the festival, a fifteen-minute drive from downtown Philly.
Where is the festival located?
Halloween Nights are held at Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary.
How do I get there?
Eastern State is within walking distance of the Fairmont stop on SEPTA — Philly’s subway system. There is also street parking available nearby.
Is this a family-friendly fear fest?
The festival is recommended for anyone over the age of 12 and does not allow any children under the age of 7 to participate.