Halloween is celebrated throughout the world, with different traditions, names and beliefs. While typical Halloween activities include trick-or-treating and costume parties, there are a few places around the world where Halloween is so much more than that. From the witch trials in Salem, to the country where Halloween is believed to originate from, to a transformed theme park; these 10 places around the world are by far the coolest places to be when October 31st falls. Some of the events will have you screaming in fear, others will have you partying with thousands of people and others will have you taking part in elaborate costume parades; whatever you decide though, we promise it will be unforgettable.
10. Salem, Massachusetts, USA
You can visit Salem anytime during the month of October and get the full Halloween experience here. It was here that twenty-six people were once tried and put to death for being witches and Halloween is when the town celebrates witches in the coolest of ways. Visitors here should expect guided tours of haunted and infamous spots, trial and hanging re-enactments, fireworks, parades and a witch’s circle. Don’t miss out visiting the Witch House Museum, which was once home to Judge Jonathan Corwin, one of the judges in the trials and one of the remaining buildings left in Salem that has direct links to the trials. On the night of Halloween there are magic shows, witches balls, séances, fireworks and more to choose from. With plenty of accommodation options, dining options and interesting shops there will be no shortage of things to do in this town.
9. Transylvania, Romania
The entire country of Romania has a creeptacular reputation, with is stunning Gothic architecture and enveloping forests. But it is the impressive Bran Castle that draws most visitors here, as it was once said to be the home of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s famous Dracula. The castle is where tens of thousands of enemies were impaled on stakes, Vlad leaving their bodies to rot. Today for brave visitors the castle is open to the public and nothing seems creepier than touring through here on the night of Halloween, learning the truth about the terrifying legends. Visitors here can choose to book a guided tour and stay in nearby accommodations or to join one of the specialty Halloween tours that includes Romanian cuisine, live medieval and Romanian folk music, lives shows and the infamous Count Dracula wedding at the Hunyad Castle. Just don’t forget about your costume.
It isn’t called Halloween here but instead Day of the Dead, a three day celebration that begins October 31st each year. Day of the Dead is a celebration of the dead and it is believed that spirits return each year on these three days to spend time with their loved ones. Each city and town offers a different way of celebrating Day of the Dead. If you head to the small island of Janitzio you will find elaborate rituals which include folk dancing, fishermen in their rowboats with torches and a gathering of families in the cemetery at night to sing and chant. In Oaxaca, near Acapulco you will find the streets transformed into a huge street festival where costumed people visit cemeteries and the town gets decorated with skulls, skeletons and flowers. The main square is where the biggest party happens with an abundance of food, drinks and dancing all night long.
It is where Halloween originated and still remains one of the best places to celebrate it, although it known as Samhain Night here. This medieval Irish festival originated when it marked the end of the harvest, which brought shorter days and the dark half of the year. It was this time that the dead are believed to revisit the mortal world. Derry City is where visitors will want to head for the best Halloween celebrations in the country. The Banks of the Floyle Halloween Carnival runs nine days and celebrates everything spooky. Count on parades, fireworks, ghost tours, haunted houses, workshops, scary movies and even a Dragon Safari, A slew of family-friendly programs also go on all festival long. Visit the origin of Halloween for one unforgettable experience.
6. Sleepy Hollow, New York, USA
The famous grounds of Washington Irving’s timeless legend of the Headless Horseman are the perfect place to get spooky this year. Halloween can be discovered here throughout the entire month of October. The 300 year old Phillipsburg Manor is one of the most favorite of Halloween events as it is transformed into a fearsome landscape that features vampires, witches, ghosts and state-of-the-art special effects. For a more family friendly tour head to the Lyndhurst Castle where a guide will take you to meet the spirits of the Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Phantom of the Opera. Other activities in this town include haunted hayrides, live music, street fairs, parades and lantern tours. Don’t miss out on visiting Old Dutch Burying Ground, one of the oldest cemeteries in the United States and of course the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery where Washington Irving is buried.
5. Long Beach, California, USA
For those who want a real good scare, there is no better place to head than one of the most haunted places in the world, the cruiseliner Queen Mary. Docked off Long Beach in California this is one of the coolest and most unique places to celebrate Halloween. Dark Harbor starts October 1st each year and runs for the whole month offering terrifying experiences to those who dare to visit. This month long event features six mazes haunted by more than 200 spirits and ghosts, many inspired by the actual spirits that are said to haunt the ship. Visitors should also expect rides, more monsters, live shows, food and beverages. Something to note about this experience is that it is NOT suitable for young children and no costumes are allowed other than on Halloween.
4. New York City, New York, USA
New York City’s Village Halloween Parade literally shuts down lower Manhattan and draws visitors from all over the world. Established in 1974 this parade features dancers, costumes and giant mile-long puppets. Anyone in a costume is welcome to participate in this event and those wanting to watch should show up early to grab a spot along 6th avenue. If this incredible parade doesn’t satisfy your Halloween hunger, head to an after-dark Crypt Crawl under the Cathedral of St. John the Divine or join a ghost walk where you might just run into the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe, known to hang around the village. The city is overflowing with haunted hotels; bars and buildings and even the museums and zoos go all out for this annual celebration.
3. Hollywood, California, USA
Open your eyes to the dark side of theme parks when you visit Universal Studios in Hollywood over Halloween. The parks transforms into a creepy wonderland of horrors featuring interactive mazes, additional shows and ride and “scare zones” that will have you screaming in fear. Horror-movie fans will love the over the top special effects and scream-worthy attractions. If you prefer to avoid the theme parks why not head to one of the largest Halloween parties in the world? In West Hollywood over 500,000 people take to the streets of Santa Monica Blvd for the Halloween Carnaval. This event features live entertainment, food vendors, photo stations, a queen and much more. Many of the bars along the road take part in this event with special drinks and patio parties. It is one of the biggest events in all of Los Angeles and it’s FREE to attend, open from 6pm-11pm on Halloween night.
2. London, England
There are a slew of awesome Halloween events that happen in London and your hardest decision may just be deciding which ones to attend. For visitors who are looking to be frightened there is no better place to head than the popular Dungeon, which has been giving panic attacks to visitors since 1976. An elaborate, interactive experience takes visitors face to face with notorious villains such as Jack the Ripper and Sweeny Todd. Actors escort participants through 14 shows and three terrifying rides. For those looking for a little less intense experience the ghost walks that happen through the city are always a hit. Join along as you visit the site of Sir William Wallace’s execution and an old churchyard that is haunted by Queen Isabella. Or take a guided tour around Jack the Ripper’s old haunts in East London and even have a pint where two of his victims were allegedly drinking.
1. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
It is the second most celebrated time in the city, trumped only by Mardi Gras and it is one of the coolest places to celebrate Halloween in the world. Combine the city’s reputation for voodoo with some of the best-haunted and paranormal tours in the world and you have yourself an incredible Halloween experience. It is known as the most haunted city in the United States and make sure to book a tour in the French Quarter or through one of the world famous cemeteries. Frenchmen Street is where you will find the biggest Halloween street parties in which locals and tourists take to the streets in elaborate costumes. Haunted houses, activities at the zoo, an awesome annual Halloween parade and the Voodoo Music and Art Experience are all a part of this city’s celebrations. If you couldn’t get here for Mardi Gras, visiting at Halloween is the absolute next best thing.