Ask any child to tell you about their favorite part of Halloween, and they'll excitedly sum it up in one word: candy! And can you blame them? While pumpkin crafts, carving kits, and spooky door decorations are fun, the chance to get dressed up, head out into a not-too-chilly autumn night, and have grown-ups willingly hand you sweet treat after sweet treat is what they're most excited about.
Of course, just because collecting candy is fun doesn't mean it comes without practical considerations. Year after year, parents and kids alike find themselves asking the same question: "What time does trick-or-treating start?" For grown-ups, it's usually a matter of logistics; for the younger set, it has more to do with anxious anticipation. But no matter who's asking the question, or why, it's important to know the answer.
So, when should you head out on the town with your little ones in tow? Or, if you're on the other side of things, when you should expect costumed kids to show up at your door?
Simply put, it's a science and an art. In 2015, the website FiveThirtyEight determined via polling that many Americans believe trick-or-treaters should arrive no earlier than 6 p.m. and conclude no later than by 9 p.m. But this is where things get a little tricky (pun intended!). The answer actually varies depending on the town you live in: Some areas have strict curfews on Halloween night, which can even be punishable by fine. That's why it's always a good idea to check with your local newspaper or television station before heading out.
Generally, though, trick-or-treating begins around sunset or earlier for the youngest set (enter your ZIP code into The Farmer's Almanac's Sunrise and Sunset calculator to see projected sunset times), while older children, pre-teens, and teens will arrive by 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., or the time stated by local curfew laws.
See below for sunset times and suggested trick-or-treating times from local news outlets, and be sure to check to see if your town has any updated guidelines due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Have fun!
P.S. Safety is of the utmost importance on Halloween night—especially if you're trick-or-treating with young children. Take a look at the CDC's safety recommendations, grab a flashlight on your way out the door, and make sure you're alert and vigilant at all times.
Suggested Trick-or-Treating Times
Atlanta: 6:46 p.m. (Local news outlets suggest trick-or-treating from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., on average.)
Baltimore: 6:07 p.m.
Boston: 5:39 p.m. (Local news outlets suggest 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., on average.)
Chicago: 5:46 p.m. (Local news outlets suggest 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., on average.)
Cincinnati: 6:38 p.m. (Local news outlets suggest 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., on average.)
Cleveland: 6:23 p.m. (Local news outlets suggest 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., on average.)
Dallas: 6:37 p.m.
Denver: 5:59 p.m. (Local news outlets suggest 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., on average.)
Houston: 6:36 p.m.
Indianapolis: 6:44 p.m. (Local news outlets suggest 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., on average.)
Las Vegas: 5:46 p.m. (Local news outlets suggest 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., on average.)
Los Angeles: 6:02 p.m.
Miami: 6:40 p.m.
Milwaukee: 5:45 p.m. (Local news outlets suggest 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 27, on average.)
Minneapolis: 6:03 p.m.
New Orleans: 6:14 p.m.
New York: 5:53 p.m.
Oklahoma City: 6:36 p.m.
Philadelphia: 6:00 p.m. (Local news outlets suggest 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., on average.)
Phoenix: 5:37 p.m. (Local news outlets suggest 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., on average.)
Pittsburgh: 6:18 p.m. (Local news outlets suggest 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., on average.)
St. Louis: 6:01 p.m.
Salt Lake City: 6:24 p.m.
San Antonio: 6:48 p.m.
San Diego: 5:58 p.m.
San Francisco: 6:12 p.m.
Seattle: 5:53 p.m. (Local news outlets suggest 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., on average.)
Washington: 6:08 p.m. (Local news outlets suggest 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.)