Press Club

Here’s when Halloween trick-or-treating is happening in Arlington this year

Elementary schoolers trick-or-treat in Courthouse
Local kids trick-or-treating in Courthouse in 2013 (staff photo)

If you’re a long-time local with kids, you know the drill. But for others, a refresher on Arlington’s Halloween habits may be in order.

Unlike some local jurisdictions in other parts of the country, Arlington does not designate a day and time for trick-or-treating. Instead, the annual, costumed candy-gathering spree traditionally takes place on Halloween (Oct. 31), starting just before sunset (around 6 p.m.).

The door knocking typically ends around 8 p.m., though some stragglers will remain out later.

This year, Halloween is taking place on a Sunday, so trick-or-treaters will be unencumbered by evening rush hour traffic. But Arlington County is still urging caution for anyone out that night.

Here are some general tips for planning your Halloween evening, from past years:

  • Children should be accompanied by an adult.
  • Choose a neighborhood or street you’re familiar with or is known for getting in the spirit.
  • Houses with the outside lights are the ones expecting and ready for trick-or-treaters.
  • Expect the older, non-costumed crowds later in the evening.
  • If you’re passing out treats, turn the outside lights off when you run out.

Additionally, the Arlington County Police Department recommends that parents check the candy gathered by their kids, and offered the following safety tips.

  • See and be seen! Select bright costumes, add reflective tape and/or carry flashlights and glow sticks.
  • Plan your trick-or-treat route in advance. Stick to familiar neighborhoods and well-lit streets.
  • Never send children out alone. Younger children should be with a trusted adult. Ensure older children take friends and stay together.
  • Walk on sidewalks and cross at corners, using traffic signals and/or crosswalks.
  • Motorists are encouraged to slow down, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn on your headlights earlier in the evening to spot children from greater distances.

With Covid still haunting us, the county also suggested some alternatives to trick-or-treating for those worried about their health. Barring that, “the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk and keep your family and friends safer is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible,” the county said.

This year’s Covid-related recommendations were a bit less stringent than last year.

“If you’re planning to hand out candy this year, it is recommended that you stand at least 6 feet away from the candy bowl, consider wearing a mask (especially if you are unvaccinated), and encourage kids to choose sweets one at a time,” said a county press release. “When trick-or-treating, [the Virginia Dept. of Health] encourages staying outside, bringing hand sanitizer, and for unvaccinated children to wear a mask (or have one with them in case they visit crowded locations).”

Arlington is offering a few kid-friendly, pre-Halloween activities this year, including a “ghosts campfire” at Fort C.F. Smith Park (2411 24th Street N.) set for Friday evening and a “fear factor” event at Long Branch Nature Center (625 S. Carlin Springs Road) Sunday at noon.

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