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6 Best Travel Spots for Halloween

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by Well Traveled Club
6 months ago

1. Ireland: The Birthplace of Halloween

Locally known as "Samhain", this ancient Celtic festival dates back over 2,000 years and was celebrated to mark the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the darker half of the year. Samhain, which took place on October 31st, was a time when the veil between the living and the spirit world was believed to be at its thinnest, allowing spirits to roam the earth. Many of the Halloween traditions we know today, such as carving Jack-o'-lanterns (originally turnips), wearing costumes to ward off spirits, and lighting bonfires, have their roots in Samhain. The festival was a time for storytelling, divination, and honoring the deceased. 

In Ireland, Halloween is not just a one-night affair. It often extends into a week of festivities, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the spooky fun and celebrate this holiday in style, like:

Photo Credit: Discover Northern Ireland Official Website
  • Haunted Activities: Tours, castles, estates & ghost walks.
  • Halloween Markets
  • Witchcraft and Folklore Workshops: Some places offer workshops where you can learn about traditional Irish witchcraft, folklore, and the history of Halloween.

2. New Orleans: Voodo by the Bayou

  • Parades and Festivals: Join the festive spirit at events like the Krewe of Boo parade, which offers a spectacular Halloween-themed parade experience.
  • Epic Costumes: The vibrant street scene is filled with locals and tourists alike, showcasing their imagination and style.
Photo Credit: NOLA Weekend Official Website
  • Haunted History: The city already has a haunted past, so you can take ghost tours in eerie cemeteries and historic locations while your guide shares chilling tales along the way.
  • Legendary Parties: Attend legendary Halloween parties in the French Quarter and Garden District, featuring live music, DJs, and plenty of dancing.
  • Voodoo Culture: Immerse yourself in New Orleans' voodoo culture by visiting voodoo shops, witnessing live performances, and learning about the city's mystical side.

3. Salem, Massachusetts: Witch Trials and Witch Craft

The town of Salem goes all out for Halloween and transforms into a spooky wonderland with elaborate decorations, haunted houses, and eerie events. Salem is known for the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692, making it a place of historical intrigue and mystique. Exploring the town during Halloween adds an extra layer of fascination, as it's a time when the town embraces its eerie history. Some fun activities to enjoy in Salem are:

  • Witchcraft and Wicca Culture: Visit witch shops, attend tarot readings, and engage with practitioners of various spiritual traditions.
  • Haunted Tours: These tours often take you to historic sites, cemeteries, and buildings with paranormal activity.
  • Cultural Festivals: Salem hosts numerous Halloween festivals and events, including costume parades, live music performances, and street fairs.
  • Unique Shopping: From spell books to crystal balls, you can find unique and unusual souvenirs easily.
  • Historic Sites: Aside from the witch trials, Salem boasts other historic sites, such as the House of the Seven Gables and the Salem Maritime National Historic Site.

4. NYC: Parades and Parties 

Celebrating Halloween in New York City offers a diverse and vibrant experience, with a wide range of activities and events that cater to various interests. Here are some reasons why you might want to celebrate Halloween in the Big Apple and what you can do:

  • Iconic Parade: The Village Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village is one of the most famous Halloween events in the world.
  • Haunted Houses & Haunted Tours: Explore haunted locations like Blood Manor and cemeteries like Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn for special Halloween-themed tours.
  • Themed Parties: Many bars and clubs in NYC host Halloween-themed parties, costume contests, and DJ nights that are taken to a whole other level.
Photo via Shutterstock
  • Unique Costume Shops: The city is home to some of the best costume shops where you can find or create your perfect Halloween ensemble.
  • Zombie Walks: Participate in or watch zombie walks where hundreds of people dress up as the undead and roam the streets.
  • Family-Friendly Activities: NYC offers family-friendly Halloween events like pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating in neighborhoods, and kid-friendly costume parties.

5. Edinburgh, Scotland: Spooky Stories and Samhain 

Celebrating Halloween in Scotland can be a uniquely enchanting experience due to the country's rich history, folklore, and traditions. Here are some reasons why you might want to celebrate Halloween in Scotland and what you can do:

  • Samhain Origins: Halloween, or "Samhain," as it was originally known, has deep Celtic roots in Scotland. Celebrating it there offers a connection to the ancient traditions of the holiday.
  • Folklore and Ghost Stories: Immerse yourself in tales of the supernatural, visit haunted sites, and participate in ghost tours.
  • Festivals: 
    • Pumpkin Festivals: Various towns and cities in Scotland host pumpkin festivals, where you can enjoy pumpkin carving, pumpkin-themed food, and family-friendly activities.
    • Fire Festivals: Attend fire festivals such as the Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh, where performers clad in elaborate costumes enact mystical and symbolic rituals.
Photo Credit: Edinburgh Guide
  • Burning the Wicker Man: In some parts of Scotland, particularly the Orkney Islands, there's a tradition of building and burning a giant wicker man as part of Samhain celebrations.
  • Witchcraft History: Scotland has a rich history of witchcraft, and you can visit locations associated with witch trials and learn about the history of accused witches.
  • Traditional Ceilidh Dancing: Join in traditional Scottish Ceilidh dancing, where you can dress in costume and enjoy live music and dancing.

6. Mexico City: The Day of the Dead

Celebrating Halloween in Mexico City offers a vibrant and culturally rich experience that combines the traditional Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with Halloween festivities. Here are some reasons why you might want to celebrate Halloween in Mexico City and what you can do:

  • Blend of Cultures: Mexico City seamlessly blends Halloween and Día de los Muertos, creating a colorful celebration that combines Mexican traditions with Halloween fun.
  • Día de los Muertos Altars: Explore the beautifully decorated altars (ofrendas) dedicated to deceased loved ones, which are a central part of Día de los Muertos.
  • Costumes: Embrace the tradition of dressing up, not only in spooky costumes but also in Día de los Muertos-inspired attire, with colorful skull makeup (calaveras) and traditional clothing.
  • Parades and Processions: Witness parades and processions featuring vibrant costumes, music, and dancing. The main parade, Desfile de Día de Muertos, takes place in Mexico City.
Photo Credit: The New York Times
  • Traditional Food: Savor traditional Día de los Muertos foods like pan de muerto (bread of the dead) and sugar skulls, which are often available at bakeries and markets.
  • Cemetery Visits: Explore local cemeteries like Mixquic, Xochimilco, and San Andrés Mixquic, where families gather to decorate graves and celebrate the lives of their ancestors.
  • Night of the Skulls: Attend special events like Noche de las Catrinas (Night of the Skulls) at the National Palace, featuring art installations, performances, and traditional dance.
  • Face Painting: Get your face painted in Día de los Muertos style or Halloween makeup by local artists in parks and public spaces.
  • Nightlife & Street Performances: Enjoy street performances, music, and entertainment in various neighborhoods, creating a festive atmosphere. Many bars and clubs host Halloween and Día de los Muertos-themed parties.

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