Arts in the Dark is a magical evening parade that celebrates Halloween as the "artist's holiday".  

Now in its 9th year, Arts in the Dark is a magical evening parade celebrating Halloween as the “artist’s holiday” and drawing together world-renowned institutions, celebrated Chicago cultural organizations, important youth programs, and aspiring artists in every field.  It is a dazzling production that delights an audience of 50,000 with unique floats, spectacle puppets and creative performances – all set against the backdrop of historic State Street.

More than just a parade, Arts in the Dark is a mission-driven and curated event that brings performance and creativity to the street. It draws together cultural organizations and artists from every Ward in Chicago to celebrate our values as artists and cultural organizations – and provide a platform for Chicago’s creative youth to explore a path in the arts.  Most importantly, Arts in the Dark reminds us that we are all connected through the creative spirit that is at the core of our humanity no matter our race, ethnicity, class, age, ability, gender identity or sexual orientation.

We believe that Arts in the Dark has the potential to be one of Chicago’s most iconic events and that it ultimately will draw regional, national and even international visitors to the city.

arts in the dark values

the power of art

We believe Chicago’s creative individuals, organizations, and communities are a driving force in the life of the city and should be recognized for the value they bring to Chicago’s cultural, economic, and civic life.

Artists of today

This year the parade will be led by a spectacle contingent that represents Chicago’s diverse film community. 

Artists of tomorrow

We invite Chicago’s children to join us in making and creating and to experience the wonder and inspiration of creative work.


We honor and respect all of our creative communities and seek to engender a deep democratic spirit.  We strive to bring together on one playing field the most established and esteemed along with the new and aspiring. We celebrate the wide arc of creative forms as well as the broad spectrum of artistic genres, practices, disciplines, and guilds. We embrace artists, organizations and attendees of every race, ethnicity, class, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation and strive to build a parade lineup and audience as diverse as the city in which we live.


This is not a parade for dignitaries, politicians or sponsorship floats. This is a celebration of cultural organizations and artists of every sort – all of whom bring passion and creative problem solving to the challenge of parading.  It is “parade as art” as our contingents combine costumes, spectacle, music, movement, audience engagement, and lighting elements.

why is Arts in the dark
important for chicago?

  •  Chicago is one of the great world cultural capitals.  It is the birthplace of modern architecture, the urban blues, improv., modern gospel, jazz, storefront theater, House music, poetry slam and so much more.  Yet, our City lacks a unifying moment in which our poets, designers, architects, actors, musicians, dancers, writers, chefs, film crews, set builders, costume designers, museum staff, visual artists, neighborhood cultural organizations and teachers collectively celebrate our great cultural landscape.  Arts in the Dark is this moment.
  • In many cultures, parading is a creative genre.  Carnival and Mardi Gras, with their related second line performances, are stirring examples.  Unfortunately, most American parades have lost their artistry and creative spirit due to the influence of commerce and nationalism.  We seek to re-establish parading as an art form.  Consequently, we do not allow politicians, traditional beauty queens, and formulaic floats in our parade and insist that all of our participants bring creative agency and inspiration to the street.
  • The event has reached a tipping point, and in 2022 it was named one of the top 6 Halloween events in the world by Wanderlust Magazine.  CHOOSE CHICAGO, the City’s destination marketing organization, is making Arts in the Dark a key component of their campaign to draw visitors to Chicago, and are incorporating video and a presentation on Arts in the Dark in some of their international press junkets this spring.
  • As the Candy Capital of North America that boasts one of the richest cultural districts in the nation, it is only fitting that the eyes of the world are on Chicago’s creative community during the greatest of all candy seasons, Halloween! 

About LUMA8:

LUMA8 is an independent 501c3 that strives to elevate Chicago as a focal point of artistic innovation that
enriches the lives of its citizens and creates economic impact.

Click HERE to learn more about LUMA8.

LUMA8 Staff

Sharene Shariatzadeh – President & CEO

Krista Wolter – Director of Programs

Steve Abrams – Creative Producer




LUMA8 Board of Directors

Chairman: Corey Minturn
William Blair & Company

President: Sharene Shariatzadeh

Secretary: Steve Perlman
The Marketing Store

Michelle T. Boone
The Poetry Foundation

Michael A. Chabraja
Ice Miller

Chanel Coney
CFI Partners

Allison Gerlach
Chicago Loop Alliance

Mark Kelly
LUMA8 Artistic Director, former DCASE Commissioner

Alex Pissios
Cinespace Film Studios

Anna D. Shapiro
Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Arts in the Dark Steering Committee

Mark Kelly
Former Commissioner, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

Sharene Shariatzadeh
President & CEO, LUMA8

Allison Gerlach
Chicago Loop Alliance

Tara Vock
Executive Administrative Assistant, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

Sue Vopicka
Former Assistant to Commissioner Mark Kelly, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events


Karen Brosnan
Caleb Hiltunen
Brady Luby
Sara Prescott
Sharon Lynch Shariatzadeh
Jackie Van Zant

Special thanks to:

The Chicago Mayor’s Office, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (especially Commissioner Erin Harkey, Tara Vock, Dave Adams, Jennifer Washington,  and Joe Fonzino), the Chicago Park District, CHOOSE Chicago, 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly and his staff, the Chicago Police Department and the Chicago Department of Transportation for all of their support. We are also grateful for the assistance of  John Trick, our parade marshals and volunteers.