When Is the Best Time to Trick or Treat?

Whether you're a new parent or new in town, you don't want to be late for Halloween. Find your local trick or treat times so you can celebrate with your neighbors.

Trick or treating is a beloved Halloween tradition. For one night each year, neighbors get dressed up, say hello and share their favorite sweets. And that candy somehow tastes better than the stuff you have at home. Whether you’re a new parent going door to door for the first time or you’re sitting in the kitchen with a Halloween candy bowl, you need to know what time the fun begins.

What Time Does Trick or Treating Start

Trick or treat times depend on your location and your kid’s age. If you live somewhere sunset is before 6:00, expect the neighborhood families to start showing up early. If your sunset is closer to 7:00, the festivities begin a little later—but not by much.

Consider the ages of your neighborhood’s kids. Parents with toddlers tend to go out while there’s still some sunlight. Pre-teens who don’t need chaperones could knock on your door at 9:00 or later, depending on the local curfew. If your neighborhood skews younger, plan for visitors before sunset.

A front light is the universal “open for trick or treaters” signal. Turn it on as soon as you’re in costume and ready to go. When it’s time to say goodnight, turn off the light, blow out the pumpkins and stop answering the door. You might have a few stragglers, but most will get the message.

When to Trick or Treat in My City

Local news and radio stations often publish trick or treat start times for their areas. One Rochester, MN, station says to start between 5:30 and 6:00, while the City of Columbus, Indiana, sets an official timeframe of 5:30–8:00. Some Chicago-area towns start as early at 3:00. The best way to know for sure is to talk to the families in your neighborhood.

Sunset on October 31, 2020, in 11 major U.S. cities, according to weather.com:

  • New York City, NY: 5:52
  • Los Angeles, CA: 6:00
  • Chicago, IL: 5:45
  • Houston, TX: 6:35
  • Phoenix, AZ: 5:36
  • Philadelphia, PA: 5:58
  • San Antonio, TX: 6:48
  • San Diego, CA: 6:48
  • Minneapolis, MN: 6:01
  • Denver, CO: 5:58
  • Atlanta, GA: 6:45

Trick or Treating Alternatives

If you miss the trick or treating window or you decide not to go for safety reasons, there are other ways to celebrate Halloween. Set up a backyard theater for a socially distanced Halloween movie night. Or decorate your house with adorable Halloween crafts. You can always throw on a costume and eat candy on the couch.