The streets of West Hollywood are always a site for extravagance, degeneracy and downing tequila test tubes (whether I am speaking from personal experience, this I’m not here to confirm or deny). One of a few stretches in Los Angeles that you can arguably bar hop, it makes sense that this neighborhood hosts one of the largest and most flamboyant Halloween night of festivities, the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval.
The West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval began in 1987 and has become an international sensation of sexuality and belligerence all in the name of Halloween. Carnaval went on hiatus due to COVID-19 but has finally returned in 2023. From 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on October 31, a one-mile stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard will be shut down to accommodate a night of costuming, dancing and Halloween haunts. This street fest (not to be confused with a parade, although LA Pride takes place here in June) promises live DJ sets and food trucks.
But late night carnitas and Britney Spears be damned: The main event is undeniably the attendees crawling the street in garish garb. Trick or treating may no longer be a reward for showing up in costume, but that doesn’t stop the people of Los Angeles from dressing up like pop culture characters (jump scare of The Shining twins, anybody?), stepping into blow up T-Rex suits or donning lingerie for a slutty rendition of a nun and the Pope. As a wise Cady Heron once said, Halloween is the one night a year that you can dress like a slut and no girl can say anything about it.
Tricks and treats of the past have included stages of performers and the city council crowning their West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval kings and queens. These titles of nobility have gone to LGBTQ icons such as Rihanna, Darren Criss, and Queen Latifah. However, this year, there will be no stages, with the streets given to the public for a night to strut their stuff. Whether visitors are adorned in elaborate ensembles or are just there for the people-watching, everything and everyone is welcome (although, as advised by the website, it’s probably best to leave the kids at home).
- Around 500,000 people attend each year.
- Admission is free.
- Check out Fifty Grande’s guide to California here.
What is the closest airport to Carnaval?
LAX is 13 miles from West Hollywood.
Where is the festival held?
The festival is held on Historic Route 66 on Santa Monica Boulevard between North Doheny Drive and La Cienega Boulevard
What kind of bag can I bring to the Carnaval?
No backpacks, tote bags, camera bags, or anything of the like. Clear bags will be permitted.
Which artists are on the Carnaval lineup?
There is no report of live entertainment; rather, there will be a series of DJs.
How do I get there?
Parking is available around West Hollywood, with a standard rate of $20. Additionally, West Hollywood’s trolley, The Pick Up, runs a special route on Carnaval.