The last time I was able to attend Moonfest, pouring rain throughout the evening drained the event of its charm. This year, with the weather fortuitously cooperating, the 27th edition of Palm Beach County’s wildest Halloween party went off without a hitch.
Moonfest is a Halloween block party like no other, and takes over Clematis Street in West Palm Beach one Saturday each October for a massive party that stretches into the wee hours of the morning. The event boasts dozens of vendors, and includes three stages of live music, a costume contest, a haunted house, and more.
The event remains one of the best annual people-watching opportunities in South Florida, and it provides Halloween devotees a place to truly cut loose and let their freak flags fly. The effort that guests put into their costumes is admirable, with impressive examples of horror makeup and homemade costumes at every turn. Some of my personal favorite costume sightings included Bob Ross, Gene Simmons, and a few spot-on Freddie Mercurys.
The most common costumes (by my count) were Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King’s “It” and the Joker, which makes sense as both characters are enjoying a resurgence in popularity due to recent blockbuster films.
Moonfest’s costume contest remained one of the best in South Florida, with an impressive homemade version of Futurama’s Bender taking home the top prize. The group costume contest featured the twins from The Shining, a couple with a startling resemblance to Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga’s characters in A Star is Born, and a couple with intricately detailed ghost outfits.
As in previous installments of the event, the musical acts seemed to take a backseat to the spectacle of the crowd itself. Electronic music dominated the two smaller stages on the east end of the street, while the main stage played host to local acts like Spred the Dub and Surfer Blood.
Surfer Blood, West Palm Beach natives and a South Florida indie rock mainstay, closed out the main stage for the second time in three years. The group took the stage in costume and started strong, but the set was plagued by shoddy sound and technical issues that drove much of the crowd away. By the time the group was wrapping up at 1:30 a.m., only a few dozen spectators remained.
The bars and restaurants along the stretch of Clematis that was closed off for Moonfest seemed to be enjoying a surge in business from the event, with bars like O’Shea’s Irish Pub and Respectable Street packed to the brim with costumed guests well past two in the morning.
Moonfest’s 2019 iteration proved yet again the staying power of one of Palm Beach County’s favorite annual parties. Thousands of costumed attendees flooded Clematis Street late Saturday night to show off their costumes and eat, drink, and dance under the moonlight, and it’s a safe bet that most will return next year.
Best of all, Moonfest is a nonprofit affair, and proceeds from this year’s event were donated to the Bahamas Relief Initiative and Lake Worth Waterkeeper.
Missed the party on Saturday night? Don’t worry: the Moonfest haunted house will remain open from Monday-Thursday this week, and the 500 block of Clematis Street is hosting a costume contest and Halloween party this Thursday.