The spooky season is almost here, and there’s no better way to honour it than with a trip to a place primed and ready to celebrate ghosts and goblins. By Stacey Leasca
Now’s the time to lean into sweater season, the changing leaves, and all things pumpkin — both flavoured and decor related. And don’t worry — just because it’s Halloween doesn’t mean you always need to be in for a fright.
Here are 13 spooky and fun places to visit for Halloween around the globe
It’s almost impossible to separate Salem from Halloween. The coastal Massachusetts community was the site of the Salem Witch Trials, beginning in 1692, which led to the hanging of 19 men and women. It’s a place where the air is thick with spirits, but around Halloween, it’s a destination filled with merriment too. Each October, the town puts on Salem Haunted Happenings, which includes a parade, film nights, a costume ball, and more, and you’re all invited to join.
London has all the historical trappings needed for an epic Halloween season. It’s a place brimming with ghost stories, and the best spot to experience this to the fullest is the Tower of London. It was here that several notable figures were put to death, including Anne Boleyn, the former Queen of England and second wife of Henry VIII, who is said to still roam the halls. Visitors can tour the Tower of London any time of year, but it’s just got that extra spooky feeling in October. Visit for a Twilight Tour for an eerie vibe.
Boyne Valley, Ireland
What better place to celebrate Halloween than in the place where it began? As History.com explains, the Halloween tradition began with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. At the time of its origin, people would wear costumes to ward off ghosts, which means not much has changed (though we’re sure they didn’t have allegiances to different candy at the time). Now Ireland celebrates with festivals throughout the month of October, including the Púca Halloween Festival, which honours the Celtic new year with music, art, and plenty of sweet treats.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities are serious business in Oaxaca. Though it’s a festival for the dead, it’s by no means a horror show. As Travel + Leisure previously explained, the event is in honour of those who’ve passed from this world to the next and is a way to keep their spirit alive today. The celebration takes place over two days, with families decorating the graves of their deceased loved ones and crafting ornate altars at home to further honour them. Travellers can join the revelry in the form of parades and parties throughout the town of San Miguel de Allende, which keeps the festivities going through November 2.
As the home of Count Dracula, Transylvania has a lot to live up to during the Halloween season, but it more than delivers on its spooky offerings. Travellers to Transylvania can visit Bran Castle, the home of the mythical count, which is open every day for tours. The castle even hosts a yearly Halloween bash that includes a nighttime tour, a party, and an open bar.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a town known for its revelry. Yes, its Mardi Gras celebrations are second to none, but its Halloween parties aren’t too shabby either. In October, the city busts out its decorations and its best costumes for parades and parties galore. Don’t miss the ghost tours in the French Quarter if you’re looking to send a few shivers down your spine before joining the festivities.
Looking for a Halloween event that’s très chic? Head to Paris. The City of Lights may not be the place where you’ll find the typical trick-or-treat crowd, but what you will find is La Toussaint, or All Saints’ Day, a day to remember friends and family who have passed, which is both a national and Catholic holiday. Like Day of the Dead in Mexico, families take this day to honour their loved ones by visiting their graves and placing flowers on top. There are more light-hearted events throughout the city, including parties at Disneyland Paris and Le Manoir de Paris, arguably the biggest and coolest haunted house in Europe.
Scotland, like Ireland, has strong ties to Halloween’s past. As Visit Scotland explained, the name Halloween comes from the Scottish shortening of “All Hallows’ Eve.” While you can certainly attend any number of events to honor the day, for a longer journey, try exploring the nation’s Ghost Trail, a map of 15 locations around the nation that are said to be some of the most haunted spots on the planet. End the tour at the Samhuinn Fire Festival in Edinburgh for a delightful conclusion.
Venice and Borgo a Mozzano, Italy
Italy isn’t exactly a Halloween-crazed nation, but one place you’ll find plenty of ghoulish fun is Venice. It too is a destination well-known among the ghost hunting circuit, especially on the island of Poveglia. The island once acted as a quarantine zone for people suffering from the plague and was even used as an insane asylum in the early 20th century, making it an absolute hub for paranormal activity. As for the parties, you’ll have to head to the town of Borgo a Mozzano, which sits just north of Lucca. There, you’ll find a massive annual Halloween bash on the appropriately named Devil’s Bridge.
Hong Kong loves a good party, and Halloween is no exception. Like other destinations on this list, it’s not really a place where you’ll find trick-or-treaters on the street, but you will find festive events nonetheless, especially in places like Hong Kong Disneyland, which goes toe-to-toe with its global counterparts for the season. Hong Kong’s other theme park, Ocean Park, also throws an annual bash that’s not to be missed, and you’ll typically find a plethora of happenings in Lan Kwai Fong, the city’s famed party district, that are all worthy of a visit (though things have been uncharacteristically quiet here due to the pandemic, it appears that may be changing.)
Savannah, Georgia is the place to go in the UA. if you want to be almost guaranteed a ghost sighting. The southern city is brimming with ghost stories thanks to haunted hotels, buildings, bars, and more, which can all be experienced through its plentiful ghost tours. Because of its connection to the spirits, Savannah is a stellar place to go for epic trick-or-treating for kids and parties for adults. See all of the city’s event listings here to stay up-to-date on yearly happenings.
Prague, Czech Republic
Halloween is quickly becoming a more popular holiday in Prague thanks to the growing expat community. Though you’ll only find a very sparse trick-or-treating scene, it’s a place filled with gothic architecture that feels both utterly romantic and absolutely spooky all at once. The city is even home to a torture museum, which is absolutely more terrifying to visit than any fake haunted house in your home town.
Brussels may not have a long history with Halloween, but it sure has dedicated itself to becoming a Halloween hotspot in recent years. The city hosts parades in Saint-Gilles, and several bars and restaurants host their own gatherings. None, however, are as spooky as Le Cercueil, which translates to “coffins” in French. The bar is spooky all year long and those visiting can toast over a table made from a coffin, one of which comes with clear plexiglass so you can see the skeleton inside.
This story first appeared on www.travelandleisure.com
(Main and Feature Image Credit: Phillip Chow/Getty Images)