West Hollywood Welcomes Half a Million Halloween Fans

West Hollywood's annual Halloween Costume Carnaval, which turns 25 this year, is noted for a number of things. It's always on Halloween night. It's always on Santa Monica Boulevard. It's always an excellent venue to see the topics on people's minds via their notoriously creative costumes (reality television, elections, weather events). And there are always a lot of people. A lot a lot. A lot x a thousand.

Attendee numbers attributed to the carnaval, which is billed as one of the world's biggest Halloween events, run the gamut from "over half a million" to "the size of my hometown plus its suburbs" to "mega mondo massive hugeness." It's truly large, and deserves any hyperbole it earns, which in turn means a couple of things: You'll see a wide array of incredible costumes, and people not in costume, and you'll want to think transportation, parking, and how you'll get to the center of all the action.

Carnaval hours are 6 p.m. to 11 p.m on Wednesday, Oct. 31. It's free, and Doheny and La Cienega are the bookends to the Santa Monica Boulevard stretch the carnaval inhabits.

It isn't just about strutting and showing off your costume, though. Stages and attractions, like The Thrills and Chills Stage and The Drag Hotel of Horrors, offer spots to stand awhile and take a break from the flow.

Oh, and the Honorary Mayor of the 2012 Carnaval? The lovely Hedwig, who is currently being portrayed by Donavan Leitch.

As for your costume? We plead with anyone who goes: dress up. It's part of the scene. We recently spoke with a West Hollywood Carnaval long-timer regarding costume tips. Her advice? Dress to send the weather you haven't wanted on its way. That plan may work out this year; given our toasty September and October, a lot of people may be out in skimpier outfits. So, of course, the forecast puts the Halloween night temperature in the brisk upper 50s.

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