For someone such as myself, there’s nothing scarier than the prospect of a lame Halloween. Once you reach a certain age, people aren’t really cool with you going door-to-door for free candy all night, no matter how good your costume is. For an alternative, you could stay home with a horror movie and hand out candy, or go to a Halloween party. Both solid options, but for those of you living in northern Illinois, there’s a better option: Nightmare on Chicago Street.

Nightmare on Chicago Street is an annual Halloween street festival held in Elgin, Illinois. For one night only, part of the city gets a post-apocalyptic makeover, complete with wrecked cars, military vehicles, and of course, zombies. Downtown Elgin is a pretty decent place to go any day, but it’s a totally different experience during the event. Walking the normally peaceful streets, you’ll see drums of toxic waste, suspicious piles of guts, and boarded-up buildings. This is the safe zone, an area for survivors to party and stay alive during the zombie apocalypse. Thousands of people swarm to the event every year to take in the crazy atmosphere.

As much fun as it is just wandering around and checking out the elaborate decorations, there’s also plenty to do while you’re there. There’s several stages, each with its own line-up of Chicago-area bands and DJs. This year, the schedule includes cover bands for rock legends like Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, and Jimi Hendrix, as well as a tribute show for Michael Jackson and Prince. You can also check out graffiti artists, circus performers, and a costume contest. Chicago TV host Svengoolie is a frequent guest of the festival as well. There’s all sorts of vendors, a hookah lounge, and plenty of options for food and drink. Really, I can’t possibly list everything they have there, so you might as well just check out this map. Many of the businesses stay open all night, so there’s plenty to browse for. The financial benefit to local businesses is the city’s main justification for the event, as if just being awesome wasn’t a good enough reason.

I was lucky enough to go last year, so I can say from personal experience that it’s a pretty great experience for anyone who likes Halloween or live music. I found some awesome zombie-themed soda there, which is best enjoyed while sitting on the hood of a blood-splattered wrecked car. It was also a lot of fun to hear classic rock and grunge played by bands dressed as zombies, killer clowns, and the like. Plus, people brought some amazing costumes, some of which haunt me to this day (thanks a lot, terrifying adult-sized baby guy). Long story short, last year was a blast, and I hear it gets bigger every year.


If you’re interested in going this year, Nightmare on Chicago Street is being held on October 22, from 6pm until 11pm. Feel free to wear a costume, or just go to witness the insanity. If you want to buy tickets or get more information, check out their website here.