The Great Halloween Lantern Parade. Image via The Creative Alliance.

One of the most highly anticipated family events in the city of Baltimore happens in the dark of night, in the shadows of a public park. On Saturday, Oct. 28, Patterson Park will transform into a thrilling, glowing Halloween spectacle as hundreds of illuminated lanterns, kids in costume and live music performers partake in the 18th annual Great Halloween Lantern Parade. Baltimoreans far and wide are invited to join their neighbors, friends and families to help bring this year’s festival and parade to life.

“Rise,” the theme of this year’s parade, celebrates nature and community.

“Both thrive, grow stronger, and rise when they’re treasured,” says a statement from the Creative Alliance, the Highlandtown-based nonprofit arts organization, which puts on the event.

Kids of all ages can celebrate the natural world creating illuminated lanterns, carrying glowing, large-scale, artist-made floats, and marching with Baltimore’s most beloved community bands around Patterson Park. The festival opens at 3:30 p.m. and includes a children’s costume contest, last-minute lantern making, hayrides, yoga, live music and an arts and crafts market.

Local food trucks and the beer garden will stay open until 8:30 p.m. The parade itself begins at 7 p.m., followed by a finale with storytelling, animation and music.

For those who don’t want to walk in the parade, there’ll be plenty of space to lay out on a blanket and spectate. The route begins at the Boat Lake in Patterson Park, heads east and ends back at the Pulaski Monument for a special finale on-stage. For those whose bedtime extends a bit further into the night, the Creative Alliance will host an adults-only after party dubbed the Glow Ball.

Attendees of The Great Halloween Lantern Parade are encouraged to show up in costume, carry a lantern and join in on the beloved neighborhood tradition, be it as parade marchers or enthusiastic onlookers. Either way, be sure to dress warmly and bring a flashlight.

Visit the Creative Alliance’s website for more info.

Rachel Bone is a regular contributor to the Baltimore Fishbowl.