BEST HALLOWEEN CITIES: Top 10 destinations to spend Halloween

BEST HALLOWEEN CITIES Top 10 destinations to spend Halloween Pinterest image

BEST HALLOWEEN CITIES: Top 10 destinations to spend Halloween

When your love of travel is matched only by your love for Halloween – you know it’s time to level up those October travel plans! So why not head out on an adventure with a spooky twist this Autumn?

Here are my top 10 destinations to spend Halloween – guaranteed to leave you positively hyped for Halloween mania!

1) Salem, Massachusetts – USA

Starting our best halloween cities top 10 off strong with everyone’s favourite bewitched destination, Salem!

Like most millennials my introduction to witchcraft was through TV shows like Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Charmed. But it was Disney’s cult classic, Hocus Pocus that really peaked our generation’s interest in witches…and especially Salem!

Salem of course is where the infamous 1692 – 1963 witch trials took place. A group of young girls claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women of witchcraft.

Belief in the supernatural and the devil’s practise had first emerged and gained traction in 14th century Europe. Belief was widespread amongst colonial New England which only fanned the flames of superstition.

After panic spread throughout colonial Massachusetts, a special court convened in Salem to trial the incriminated. More than 200 people were accused, with thirty found guilty and nineteen executed by hanging.

With such a dark history, Salem has become quite the magnet for curiosity seekers.

The Jonathan Corwin House in Salem, Massachusetts - a wooden house from the 1600s
Photo credit: MassMatt

There’s lots of activities you can do throughout the year but especially on Halloween!

Take a candlelit ghost tour, wander through the old cemetery or visit the witch house – the last remaining structure with direct ties to the Salem Witch Trials.

Front of Salem Witch Museum at night with red lights
Photo credit: Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism

2) New Orleans, Louisiana – USA

Halloween is only second to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Thousands flock to the city for their horror adrenaline fix and there’s lots of devilish fun to be had!

New Orleans is one of the oldest cities in the US and has one hell of a dark history.

With legends like, the torture chamber slave house, haunted plantation, voodoo and pirate connections and its labyrinthine of cemeteries; this city would give the cast of Most Haunted a real reason to scream!

New Orleans even has its own Museum to Death and House of Shock!

Haunted old building in New Orleans with plants and iron railings

On Halloween, you can enjoy ghost tours in the historic French Quarter, a parade, a voodoo music and arts festival and week-long Halloween party.

If you’re looking for something a little extra, there are loads of haunted houses holding events too (some which only open for Halloween!).

There is said to be that much activity at places like the Mortuary Mansion that even the tourism board advises against taking children!

Main tourist street in New Orleans (Bourbon Street) at dusk with people strolling and street signs lit up

3) Oaxaca – Mexico

Mexico, Mexico – home to the ultimate spooktacular festival: Day of the Dead!

Although not strictly a Halloween celebration, Day of the Dead (or Dia de los Meurtos) is a huge festival which takes place across Latin America from 31st October until 2nd November.

With Oaxaca in southwestern Mexico tipped to be the most spectacular!

Day of the Dead traditions go back over 3,000 years when Aztecs believed that life and death coexisted. Death is to be embraced rather than feared.

It is thought that during Day of the Dead those in the afterlife can return to Earth to be with their loved ones once again.

Woman dressed in a red Day of the Dead outfit with face paint and head dress in Oaxaca, Mexico

The streets are decorated in colourful papel picado and flowers with carnival-like processions such as, parades, street stalls and candle-lit vigils take place in the ultimate celebration of life!

Cemeteries also come alive as families decorate their loved ones’ graves with flowers, candles and photos. They spend their nights socialising, playing music and toasting with lots of tequila for their deceased loved ones.

Two girls holding baskets with colourful decorations in the centre of Oaxaca, Mexico

4) Brașov, Translvania – Romania

Grab your garlic and wooden stakes kids – we’re heading to Translvania – one of my ultimate Halloween bucket list visits!

The city of Brașov feels like it was designed for the business of horror. With its cobbled streets, medieval Saxon walls and towering gothic Churches – it has quite the spooky ambience.

But none more spooky than Dracula’s real-life 13th century fortress, Bran Castle!

Based on Vlad the Impaler – the notorious 15th century ruler who was known for his violent and tortuous methods of control is arguable Translvania’s most famous former resident.

Around one million tourists flock to Translvania every year to hear the horrifying legend of Vlad the Impaler.

Bran Castle (Dracula's Castle) in Brașov, Translvania in Romania lit up at night amongst the some trees

Romanians also celebrate “Day of the Dead” on 1st November. So, it’s well worth staying for a few extra days to enjoy all the events and celebrations. Especially in the capital, Bucharest!

Inside the courtyard of Bran Castle (Dracula's Castle) in Brașov, Translvania in Romania

5) Hollywood, Los Angeles – USA

Hollywood – the place, the myth, the legend. The original dream factory where beneath the glitz and glamour lurks a seedy underworld of mystery and spooky goings-on.

Hollywood is absolutely teeming with haunted houses, hotels and venues. So, is it any wonder that movie idols and would-be stars are still trying to avoid obscurity by getting the attention of the living from beyond the grave?

Top haunted locations include: The Roosevelt Hotel where Hollywood legends Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift are said to still walk their old stomping grounds and the The Comedy Store where mobsters took care of “business” in the basement.

Even the iconic Hollywood Sign isn’t left out of Hollywood’s haunted history.

It’s known to be a hotspot for paranormal activity which has been linked to the death of a struggling young actress who committed suicide there in 1932. There have been numerous sightings of a blonde woman dressed in 1930s period clothing who appears to be gliding around the trails in Griffith Park in a daze.

Access to the sign has been forbidden for years but it hasn’t stopped people trying their luck.

Anyone up for a night hike?

Skyline of Hollywood at sunset from behind the Hollywood sign

But it’s not just the tales of ghostly goings on that attracts Halloween fans to Hollywood. It boasts one of the world’s largest Halloween street parties, West Halloween Carnival. Half a million people take to the streets every year along Santa Monica Boulevard dressed in their ghoulish best.

There is also the fantastic Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios that Halloween fanatics will love!

Watch your back and prepare to scream as you make your way through terrifying mazes and face creatures from your darkest nightmares.

With live entertainment and an entire horror overhauled theme park to explore – its the perfect way to spend an adrenalin-filled Halloween!

Outside the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood

6) Derry – Northern Ireland

Derry might not seem like an obvious choice for Halloween destinations but it boasts serious spooky credentials.

The origins of Halloween can be traced back to Celtic celebrations in Northern Ireland. So it’s no surprise that the Irish celebrate Halloween in fantastic style!

Many of the activities associated with Halloween today such as trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving and ghost hunting actually stem from the Celtic holiday of ‘Samhaim’ starting over 2,000 years ago.

October 31st marked the end of the harvest season and was believed to be when the veil between this life and the next was at its thinnest. Sound familiar?

Derry city centre with the bridge in the foreground

Ireland’s Derry City hosts the biggest Halloween festival in Europe, the Banks of Foyle Halloween Carnival.

Enjoy ghost tours, haunted houses and spooky parades as well as the more relaxed Spirits of Meath festival in Meath, which features pumpkin carving contests.

In 2015, Derry was even named the world’s best Halloween spot in a poll by top American newspaper USA Today. Miss it at your peril!

Derry Halloween Festival with a man dressed as a day of the dead ghoul flying in the air with a sparkler in the dark

7) London – England

London offers bone-chilling tours and attractions all-year round thanks it’s gruesome history.

From the London Dungeons and Jack the Ripper Murder Walks to the menacing Tower of London and terrifying London Bridge Experience. Every inch of London seems to have a dark origin with a ghastly story to match!

Mel walking down a cobbled street in Whitechapel, London where the Jack the Ripper murders took place

You can pack in quite the grisly itinerary at any given time of the year. But for Halloween, London seriously levels-up with tonnes of special tours and events taking place.

Whether it’s dining and dueling with Death Eaters at Hogwarts After Dark at Warner Bros Studios, seeing the horrifying “Surgeon” show at London Dungeon or experiencing the terrifying nightmares at No Escape, escape rooms – there is plenty to see and do on Halloween in London!

There are also plenty of Halloween parties happening at bars and nightclubs all over the city. Just be prepared to have one hell of a hangover!

Skyline of London at dusk with the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the River Thames

8) Corinaldo – Italy

Being a predominately Catholic country, you wouldn’t think that Halloween would be a popular holiday in Italy and most Italians celebrate All Souls Day and All Saints Day on the two days following Halloween.

However, in recent years it’s become more and more popular, with lots of Halloween festivities for horror fans to check out.

Lit stone street of Corinaldo in Italy
Photo credit: Costantino Beretta

Corinaldo in particular evokes major Halloween vibes with its medieval streets, defensive towers and dovetail battlements. But the city is best-known for its Festa delle Streghe (Night of the Witches) which draws over 60,000 people every year.

The festival runs from 27th to 31st October with the entire town turning into a ghoul’s playground, complete with a haunted houses, horror shows, live concerts and Halloween market.

On Halloween, the prettiest witch is elected “Miss Strega” (Miss Witch) and crowned “Witch of the Third Millennium”. Could it be you this year?

Historic cobbled street of Corinaldo in Italy

9) New York – USA

New York goes all out for Halloween. Not only do they have several famous haunted locations but they are home to the biggest Halloween Parade and celebration in the world.

Renowned as, “the city that never sleeps” – New York lives up to it’s infamous reputation with gusto on Halloween! There’s countless haunted events at your favourite New York hot spots, fancy dress parties and Autumnal street fairs taking place throughout the city.

But best of all is the incredible Greenwich Village Halloween Parade!

Starting at dusk and continuing well into the early hours the following day, the parade is now the largest Halloween celebration in the US. Over two million people take to the streets in a whole host of different costumes. From the inventive to the down right terrifying!

People dressed in Halloween costumes in New York with a woman dressed as the clown from 'IT' at the forefront of the picture
Photo credit: Steven Pisano

Everyone’s favourite spooky town, Sleepy Hollow is also just over an hour away from New York.

The ghosts and headless horseman that made this 17th century Dutch settlement famous are a work of fiction but the town itself is a beautifully preserved historical town with built-in Halloween vibes that is well worth a visit.

Road leading to Sleepy Hollow in new York showing old wooden houses and autumn trees

10) Hong Kong, China

Known for being the Halloween Capital of Asia. Hong Kong truly encapsulates the spirit of the spook season, beginning with their traditional ‘Hungry Ghost Festival’.

The festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month, usually in August or September. Similarly to Halloween is believed to be the one day of the year that the dead can return to Earth.

Public spaces are usually packed with people giving gifts to the returning spirits. Burning incense and money, as well as offering food along the streets.

Chinese Opera and dramas are also performed with seats in the first row kept empty for any wandering spirits who want to enjoy the show amongst the living…

Ghoul in the Hong Kong Disneyland parade
Photo credit

On Halloween, theme parks such as Disneyland and Ocean Park host their annual Halloween bashes, complete with costumes, haunted houses, trick-or-treating and live music.

But the real place to be is Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong Halloween Street Party. Dress in your Halloween best and enjoy a proper Halloween celebration with live music and tonnes of themed food and drinks.

It’s definitely worth the stinking hang over the morning after!

Hong Kong skyline at sunset

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Which Halloween cities are your favourites? Comment below if I have missed any great Halloween destinations that you love 😊

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