Courtesy The Park at 14th
Courtesy The Park at 14th

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You didn’t spend hours shredding your sequined high school dance costumes and sewing them back together to make a Glow-inspired female wrestler outfit for nothing. This city throws some generous Halloween costume contests that offer prizes from $5,000 cash to a trip to the Caribbean. Here are various events where you can win big, ordered from most lucrative to least.

Where: Howard Theatre (620 T St. NW)

When: Oct. 28 (Doors open at 5 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. show) 

Prize: $5,000 for best throwback costume; $3,000 for best duo or group costume; $1,000 for best female costume; and $1,000 for best male costume.

This party featuring a live performance from Trina caps off Howard University homecoming. Admission starts at $20. 

Where: Abigail (1730 M St. NW) 

When: Halloween (10 p.m. to 2 a.m.)

Prize: $2,500

Abigail is a new nightclub hosting a Halloween bash with an American Horror Story theme. There will be an open bar from 11 p.m. to midnight. The cover charge is $20 unless you sign up for the event in advance at and arrive before 11 p.m.

Where: BlackFinn Ameripub (1620 I St. NW)

When: Oct. 27 (9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.)

Prize: Grand prize trip to the Caribbean and runner-up prizes such as dinner for two on The Odyssey, tickets to a New Year’s Eve gala, and Blackfinn gift cards. 

BlackFinn is hosting the Things to Do DC Halloween party. The costume contest is divided into three categories: scariest, prettiest, and most original. General admission tickets to attend are $20.

Where: Hawthorne (1336 U St. NW)

When: Halloween (8 p.m. to 2 a.m.)

Prize: Open bar for 50 friends.

Hawthorne’s Boos and Booze party will have a DJ, heated rooftop, and drink specials including $5 beers and $7 drinks and shots. The prize will be awarded to the best group costume.

Where: The Park at 14th (920 14th St. NW)

When: Halloween (Starts at 8 p.m.)

Prize: First place is $500 toward bottle service and $500 cash; second place is $250 toward bottle service and $250 cash; and third place is $100 toward bottle service and $100 cash. 

The celebration is dubbed Park at 14th’s Nightmare on 14th Street. 

Where: Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St. NW)

When: Halloween (Starts at 8 p.m.)

Prize: Grand prize is $250, and other prizes include gift cards to Vida Fitness, Hawthorne, Shaw’s Tavern, and more. 

Nellie’s will run two costume contests on Halloween: one for the person wearing the best Rocky Horror Picture Show look and another for the best costume overall. The party kicks off at 8 p.m. with a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show followed by a drag performance and costume contest at 10 p.m. 

Where: The Brighton (949 Wharf St. SW)

When: Halloween (Check in from 5-8:30 p.m., winner announced at 9 p.m.)

Prize: $250 cash prize plus a $100 bar tab

The Brighton’s Halloween party celebrates the 1980 flick The Fog, but costumes do not need to reflect the theme. 

Where: Satellite Room (2047 9th St. NW)

When: Halloween (check in from 5-9 p.m., winner announced between 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.)

Prize: $250 cash for the best costume; $75 gift certificate to American Ice Co. for the best couple in costume; and $50 El Rey gift certificate to the person earning an honorable mention.

Satellite Room is throwing a Tales from the Crypt Halloween party, but costumes don’t need to reflect the theme.

Where: Republic (6939 Laurel Ave., Takoma Park)

When: Oct. 27 (10 p.m. to 1 a.m.)

Prize: First place gets a $200 gift certificate to any Black Restaurant Group restaurant; second place gets a $100 gift certificate; third place gets a $50 gift certificate. 

The theme of Republic’s DJ-fueled Halloween party is DECADES.

Where: Le Diplomate (1601 14th St. NW)

When: Halloween (Starts at 9 p.m.)

Prize: $200 gift certificate for dinner for two at Le Diplomate.

Look forward to a DJ, drag performances, and a lip sync contest. 

Where: Barrel (613 Pennsylvania Ave. SE)

When: Oct. 27 (8 p.m. to close) 

Prize: $100 gift card. 

Though the theme of Barrel’s party is “It’s Tricky ’80s” costumes don’t have to be inspired by that decade. 

Where: Studio 52 (1508 Okie St. NE)

When: Oct. 26 (9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.)

Prize: $75 for first place; $50 for second place; $25 for third place.

Studio 52 is hosting a silent Halloween party. When guests arrive they’ll receive a wireless headset to listen to one of three channels of music. Tickets range from $25 to $60 on Eventbrite.

Where: Primrose (3000 12th St. NE)

When: Oct. 30 (5:30-11 p.m.)

Prize: $75 Primrose gift certificate for best kid costume (up to age 12) and $75 Primrose gift certificate for best adult costume that comes with a bottle of Beaujolais wine. Kids also have to opportunity to win LED light-up gloves and hats for the winter. 

From 5:30-7 p.m. the Brookland wine bar will welcome kids with games and kid-friendly food like hot dogs and hamburgers. Then the adult party goes until 11 p.m.

Where: The Ugly Mug (723 8th St. SE)

When: Oct. 27 (8 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.)

Prize: $50 gift cards

This Barracks Row bar is hosting a Boos and Brews party with drink specials.

Where: Sign of The Whale (1825 M St. NW)

When: Oct. 26, 27, 30, and Halloween (Hours TBD)

Prize: Free happy hour

Sign of the Whale will bring you back in for a free happy hour if you win one of their costume contests spread across four dates. Note that the winner drinks free and their friends get discounted drinks as well.