Whether they're seeking a Halloween-themed thrill or family-friendly fun, suburban residents can get their fix during the top festivals and events this fall.
Zombies and ghouls will take over the streets in Elgin and Gurnee. German beer and music will be offered in Naperville and Glendale Heights. And various other fests in the area will include craft fairs, scarecrows, carnivals and apple-flavored delicacies.
Here are some of the suburbs' can't-miss events of the season:
1. Fright Fest, Six Flags Great America, Gurnee
Ghosts, ghouls and zombies take over Six Flags Great America after sundown on select days this fall for the park's annual Fright Fest. Visitors can check out an exclusive lineup of haunted houses or ride roller coasters in the dark. Special entertainment, children's activities and a trick-or-treat trail are also available during the day. Fright Fest is Sept. 16, 17, 23 and 24; Fridays to Sundays from Sept. 29 to Oct. 29; and Monday, Oct. 9. The park opens at 11 a.m. weekends and 5 p.m. on weekdays. Daily admission: $49.99.
Fest, St. Charles
More than 100 handcrafted scarecrows will adorn downtown St. Charles during the 32nd annual Scarecrow Fest. Scheduled for Oct. 6 to 8, the free citywide event includes live entertainment, a petting zoo, food vendors, a carnival and the Autumn on the Fox Art and Craft Show. Attendees can also vote for their favorite scarecrow display in five different categories. The festival begins at 10 a.m. each day, closes at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and wraps up at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Info: (630) 377-6161 or www.scarecrowfest.com
Naper Settlement, Naperville
From Oct. 6 to 8, Naperville's outdoor history museum celebrates the community's heritage with German beer, music and cuisine. Naper Settlement's signature Oktoberfest is 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday under a heated tent on museum grounds, 523 S. Webster St. Children's activities are available until 4 p.m. over the weekend, and the settlement's historic buildings will be open for part of the day Saturday. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids 4 to 12. All proceeds go toward the Naperville Heritage Society.
Info: (630) 420-6010 or www.napersettlement.com
4. Fall Fest, Des Plaines
A fishing derby, a car show, live entertainment and the Open Air Market are among the list of activities scheduled for the annual three-day Fall Fest at Lake Park, 2200 Lee St., Des Plaines. While enjoying the view of Lake Opeka, visitors can participate in a bags tournament, ride ponies, check out the carnival and sample food, beer and wine. The free event is 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Info: (847) 391-5399 or www.fallfestdesplaines.com
5. Fall Color Festival, Morton Arboretum, Lisle
A Fall Color 5K Run and Walk on Oct. 1 will kick off the Morton Arboretum's monthlong celebration of autumn. The Fall Color Festival features a daily scarecrow trail, an Edgar Allan Poe theater hike on weekends and a pumpkin patch full of 4,000 handblown glass gourds from Oct. 11 to 15. Visitors can also enjoy a cider and ale festival Oct. 21; an interactive mystery dinner Oct. 26 or 27; and a BOO Breakfast Oct. 29. The arboretum is at 4100 Route 53.
Tickets and info: (630) 968-0074 or www.mortonarb.org/special-events/fall-color-festival
6. Antioch's Fall Arts & Crafts Faire
Hosted by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce in the heart of the village, this fair will be home to more than 85 booths featuring artisans from across the country. Attendees can browse the array of handcrafted goods starting at 10 a.m. Oct. 21 and 22. Additional activities will include face painting, a children's fun fair, a "Monster Bash" Saturday at the grandstand, and a "Weiner Race" Sunday at Main and Depot streets.
Info: (847) 395-2233, office@AntiochChamber.org or www.antiochchamber.org
on Chicago Street, Elgin
Chicago Street will be the only spot in Elgin where residents and visitors will be safe from an Oct. 21 zombie apocalypse. While the rest of the city's downtown will appear to be under attack, those who make it to the safe zone can enjoy four stages of live entertainment, food, drinks, graffiti artists and performances from other special guests. The popular Nightmare on Chicago Street is 6 to 11 p.m. between Douglas Avenue and Villa Street.
Tickets and info: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.nightmareonchicagostreet.com
8. Mount Prospect Fall Festival and Oktoberfest
Pumpkin decorating, hayrides, live music and food vendors are among the activities highlighted during two days of fall festivities hosted by the Mount Prospect Downtown Merchants Association. The annual Oktoberfest from 4 to 11 p.m. Oct. 13 and 14 -- as well as a corresponding family-friendly event from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday -- is in the village's downtown at Emerson Street and Busse Avenue.
Info: (847) 506-4948 or www.mpdowntown.com
9. Apple Fest, Long Grove
Popcorn, lattes, jam and pie are just a few of the hundreds of apple-inspired delicacies featured at Long Grove's 26th annual Apple Fest. Dozens of merchants will sell baskets of freshly picked apples and other products at a pop-up apple orchard. Visitors can listen to live music and participate in various games, including an apple pie-eating contest and tug of war. The event is scheduled Sept. 22 to 24 in downtown Long Grove, 308 Old McHenry Road. Admission is $5 per day, and kids 12 and younger are free.
Info: (847) 634-0888 orwww.longgrove.org/festivals/apple-fest/
10. BatFest, Batavia
Batavia's annual Halloween-themed event attracts thousands of people each year to its parade, contests and farmers market. BatFest is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 28 downtown and near the Riverwalk. Trick-or-treating, a pumpkin carving contest, a marshmallow shooting range and hayrides are among the popular attractions featured at past events.
11. Glendale Heights Oktoberfest
Authentic German food, beverages and pastries highlight Glendale Heights' sixth annual Oktoberfest at Camera Park, 101 E. Fullerton Ave. Servers will be dressed in dirndls, beer will be imported directly from a brewery in Munich, and Oompah entertainers perform in a festival tent. The event is Sept. 14 to 24 and includes a pumpkin patch, a plant sale and vendors selling German souvenirs, steins and other products. Hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 5 p.m. to midnight Friday; noon to midnight Saturday; and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults after 4 p.m., and kids 16 and younger are free.
Info: (323) 577-3893 or glendaleheightsoktoberfest.com/
12. A Haunting in the Valley, Schaumburg
Those who visit Spring Valley in Schaumburg Oct. 27 and 28 can take mysterious walks and covered wagon rides through the fields and forests. This popular Halloween event is 6:15 to 9 p.m. at the Vera Meinke Nature Center, 1111 E. Schaumburg Road. A Haunting in the Valley also include games, a live owl display, refreshments and a bonfire. Tickets cost $6 in advance and $8 at the door, though organizers encourage pre-purchasing the tickets since space is limited.
Info: (847) 985-2100 or www.parkfun.com/spring-valley/
13. Huntley Fall Fest
Four days of live music, carnival rides, food and beverage vendors, and autumn-themed activities are the focus of Huntley's 12th annual Fall Fest. The free community celebration also includes hay rides, car and tractor shows, a pancake breakfast, fireworks and a scarecrow building contest. The festivities are Sept. 21 to 24 at 12015 Mill St. behind Deicke Park.
Info: (847) 669-3180, ext. 394, or huntleyfallfest.com