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What Time Does Trick or Treating Start

By Emma Davies


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So if your kids are just about getting to that age where they want to start trick or treating on Halloween then you might have a couple of questions that you haven’t had to think about before. What costume are they going to wear? How much candy are they going to eat? But one you might not have thought about too much is what time does trick or treating start.

What Time Does Trick or Treating Start

Now we aren’t talking about what time does Halloween start because the answer to that is whenever you’ve decided to put a wreath on your door and get a pumpkin spiced latte. But a little more thought goes into when trick or treating starts so that everyone is kept safe and sticks to the laws.

You might not think it’s all that important to know the times to trick or treat but there are a couple of things that you need to think about, like laws but also local traditions. These specific times are also put in place to keep everyone happy and safe so it’s always better to stick to them rather than risk someone getting hurt.

Historical Context

With all this thought going into what time is the best to start trick or treating, you might be wondering where the tradition actually came from and how it’s changed over time. This brilliant tradition is traced back to the 16th century in Scotland and Ireland where people would often go from house to house on Halloween and perform in order to get something in return. They would usually get food or candy in return which is where the tradition of giving candy to trick or treaters started.

Then later down the line in the 19th century, people would go from house to house in, what we know today as, halloween costumes reciting verses to get food in return. Now this is where the trick side of trick or treating kind of comes into play. If these performers weren’t welcomed when they were reading verses or performing an act then they would warn of misfortunes in the coming future.

The first time guising, which is dressing up and going from door to door for treats, was seen in North America was in 1911 in Ontario, Canada. Later in 1917 the phrase ‘trick or treat’ was also used in the same place but it wasn’t used in Scotland and Ireland until nearly a century later. People in Scotland and Ireland would usually say ‘help the Halloween party’ when they knocked on neighboring doors but this changed in the 2000s to the ‘trick or treat’ we know and love today.

Trick or treating is really popular in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Australia but it’s also recently become more popular in Mexico. Mexican traditions are a little different because it’s called ‘calaverita’ instead of trick or treating. This means ‘skull’ in English and children will ask ‘Me da mi calaverita?’ which means ‘Can you give me my little skull?’ Children will then be given a small skull made of either chocolate or sugar.

What Time Is Trick Or Treating?

Most of the time those eager Halloweeners, especially younger kids like toddlers and the younger kids in elementary school will rock up at your door when the sun begins to set, roughly starting between 5.30 pm and 6 pm. Older kids will probably stay out a little bit longer until around 8 or 9 pm.

Of course, this is all dependent on the curfew laws in your area. You can stop trick or treating at any time you want whether that’s your curfew hitting, you’re out of candy or you’re just too tired and that’s okay. A good idea is to start the trick or treating early and then go home, tucking yourself in and watching a Halloween movie whether it’s a classic or a scary film.

So, why not check out some of your local times for the exact start time for trick or treating, let’s take a look. Of course, these times will vary from area to area as well as safety guidelines so it’s worth checking your local news outlets too.

Trick or Treating Hours

Atlanta – It’s suggested that on average, trick or treating will start from 5 pm to 9pm

Baltimore – Around 6 pm

Boston – It’s suggested to start around 5 pm and 8pm

Chicago – This one has a bit of an earlier start at 3 pm to 7 pm on average

Cincinnati – Local news suggests it starts around 6 pm to 8 pm.

Cleveland – This is the same as Cincinnati from 6 pm to 8pm

Dallas – This area will begin at around 6.30 pm

Denver – Local news suggests a 3.30 pm start until 7 pm.

Houston – Trick or Treating starts around 6.30 pm here

Indianapolis – From 6pm to 8pm

Las Vegas – 5pm to 8pm

Los Angeles – 6pm

Miami – It starts at 6.30pm here

Milwaukee – It’s reported that trick or treating is actually on a community by community idea

Minneapolis – Begins at 6pm

New Orleans – This also starts at 6pm

New York – it’s also reported that trick or treating starts here at 6pm

Oklahoma City – Trick or treating in this area will start at around 6.30pm

Philadelphia – The recommended time in this area is 6pm to 8pm

Phoenix – It’s suggested that Trick or Treating will start in this area from 5pm until 7:30pm

Pittsburgh – Local news suggests starting at 6pm until 8pm roughly

St Louis – Starts at 6pm

Salt Lake City – It’ll most likely start around 6:30pm

San Antonio – These guys will start at around 7pm

San Diego – You should expect trick or treating to start around 6pm

San Francisco – This area will also start at 6pm

Seattle – Local News would suggest starting at 4pm until 7pm roughly

Washington – Local News would suggest around 5.30 to 9.30pm

Regional Variations

As you can see trick or treat times are so different across just one country which is why it’s super important that you know your local rules. Some of these times are just recommended so that you have the best experience but others are laws that might have consequences if broken so it’s always better to check rather than regret it later. This is also the best way to keep everyone safe and make sure everyone has as much fun as they can.

Factors Influencing Trick or Treat Times

So you might be wondering why there is such a big difference between trick or treating times in different places. But there are so many things that local authorities have to think about in order to keep everyone safe.

The first thing is everyone’s safety. Trick or treating is supposed to be a once a year experience where you get to dress up in fun costumes and eat as much candy as you want so you don’t want this getting ruined by not sticking to safety regulations. Local authorities have to take into consideration daylight saving times and when it’s going to get too dark for people to trick or treat safely. So many little kids take part every year so it’s better to stick to the times so that everyone is safe.

Another thing is making sure that you’re being respectful of everyone else in your area. Now people tend to leave their porch lights on if they’re happy to give trick or treaters candies but other people might not take part in the holiday for different reasons. Sticking to the rules of your local area means you still get to have all the fun of Halloween but you’re also ensuring that people who don’t take part and have to be up early the next day aren’t kept up until the early hours because of noise.

There might also be certain traditions in your local area that mean trick or treating has to start or finish at a certain time. This could depend on what time schools finish or even if the neighborhood has an event that they host every year. Another thing is if your neighborhood has lots of older people living there then out of respect for them, your local times might end early or start a little earlier.

Tips for Determining Trick or Treat Hours

We’ve suggested a few start times depending on where you’re located but of course, it’s completely personal preference and up to you as a family and a set of friends. So, here are a few tips if you’re looking to set your own start time and you’re not entirely sure when to start. A lot of it is based on when your community and locality start trick or treating because when there’s more of you out – it’s more fun.

  • Checking local announcements or community websites – This is a good shout if you want to see what other people are doing and when they’re setting off on their trick or treating journey. You’ll be able to determine when most people are out and therefore the best times for you to go out. Local announcements will often tell you when exactly trick or treating will start in your area so it’s good to check those out and to check the local news too to see if they’ve mentioned anything.
  • Asking neighbors or participating in community forums – This is also a good shout if you’re keen to find out when most people are starting their trick or treating evening so you can go out in groups or so you know that there’s definitely people out at the same time as you. It’s also good to know when your neighbors start because you will know when they will have sweets at the ready too which is always a good thing to know.

Tips On Keeping Safe This Halloween

Halloween is a really fun time of year if you’re into it and trick or treating is also a great tradition to do. But like anything, we have to remember to be safe so we have some tips to make sure you can have the best Halloween this year and to ensure it’s the safest it can be.

If you’re trick or treating with children then it’s always a good idea to save the sweets until you’re home just to make sure that no sweets are spoiled, gone off or unsafe to eat. Tampered sweets are quite rare but it’s a good idea to have a good and thorough check before you start enjoying them. Better safe than sorry.

If you have younger children then it’s a really good idea to go with them as they could get lost. Taking an older sibling with them is a good idea too if they’re around 16 or older.

Always make sure that you plan your route beforehand so if you’re not going with your kids then you know exactly where they are if they stick to this route. You can also calculate how long the route will take so you know when your kids should be home roughly.

Wearing reflective or light colored clothing is always a good shout too because wearing darker clothes means you blend in with the night a lot easier, making it harder for you to be seen. You could even incorporate a reflective material into your costume to make it even cooler and safer.

Carrying a torch is always quite a good idea too in case you fall over and hurt yourself in the dark.

This one is quite an obvious one but it’s a really good idea to stay quite near to your home and only tend to visit people’s houses if you know them. Don’t ever go into a stranger’s home as this could be very dangerous.

If you’re wearing a mask then make sure you can see well out of it because you don’t want to fall over and hurt yourself. It’s also a good idea to dress up warm enough because it’s always a bit colder at night and it’s almost November on the night of Halloween.

Bringing a drink is also a fantastic idea because trick or treating can get tiring and can make you quite thirsty.

About Emma Davies

Emma Davies is a freelance writer that specializes parenting and animal topics. With over 20 years experience as a parent there are very few topics that faze her.

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