When banshees and beasts wander the streets, and monsters and mummies stuff their tummies, it must be Halloween! On the final day of October, cities around the world raid the costume box in celebration of all things dark and devilish.
Whether you’re a trick-or-treater, a ghost-believer, a keen historian or a family exploring, you’ll find something spooky to satisfy your senses in these seven cities.
1. Transylvania, Romania
Best for: A blood-sucking adventure at the birthplace of Dracula
Central Romania may not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning your holiday, but when it comes to spooky Halloween destinations, Transylvania packs a powerful bite.
The gothic region is the mythical birthplace of Bram Stoker’s legendary character, Count Dracula; a sinister vampire who fled to England to spread the curse of the undead. The Count was actually based on Vlad the Impaler, who was a real medieval prince in the area with a rumoured thirst for blood.
As you can imagine, Halloween is an important date on the calendar in Transylvania, where travellers come to tour Vlad’s castle, enjoy vampire-themed parties and wander through the eerie monastery, which is rumoured to house Vlad the Impaler’s tomb.
Insider tip: Transylvania isn’t all ghosts and ghouls; the region is renowned for its stunning natural beauty and incredible gothic architecture. Romania’s capital, Bucharest, is well-worth a visit and will delight with its winding alleyways, peppered with restaurants, bars and boutiques.
2. Salem, USA
Best for: Festive trick or treating in the modern-day home of Halloween
With police cars featuring witch logos, a public school known as Witchcraft Heights and a high school athletics team called The Witches, it’s not hard to guess why Salem is a bucket-list destination for Halloween lovers.
The town was the location of the infamous Salem witch trials in 1692, where 14 women and five men were executed having been found guilty of witchcraft. Thankfully, these awful events are commemorated each year with ceremonies for the victims.
Halloween in Salem is a far happier affair. Celebrations like the Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball, town fireworks, Haunted Footsteps ghost tour and events in nearby Boston are great for the whole family.
Insider tip: It may seem like Halloween is making light of the terrible events that happened in Salem, however the town has mourned and embraced it as part of their history. Visit the Salem Witch Museum to learn more about the hysteria leading up to the witch trials and life in Colonial Massachusetts at the time.
3. Dublin, Ireland
Best for: Welcoming the winter on the Emerald Isle
Modern-day Halloween has roots in the Gaelic festival of Samhain, which celebrates the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It was believed that during Samhain, the boundary between life and death became blurred, which allowed easier passage for otherworldly creatures to cross into the human realm.
Many believe that Halloween actually began in Ireland, which makes Dublin’s spooky celebrations all the more special. You’ll find haunted hotels, mask making for the kids, dress-up roller disco, and themed dinners in the city’s many pubs.
Insider tip: If you’re interested in adding a tour of castles, gaols, parks and gardens to your Halloween festivities, consider picking up a Heritage Card, which grants you access to some of Dublin’s finest historical sites.
4. Prague, Czech Republic
Best for: Family-friendly festivals in a scenic city
While it’s not on the same date, there’s no trick or treating, and even minimal costumes, Prague’s Dusicky festival sure feels a lot like a Czech Halloween.
Dusicky, also called All Souls’ Day, is held on 2 November. It commemorates the departed souls of our world and shares the pagan roots of Halloween. Many Czechs decorate the graves of their loved ones with candles and flowers to celebrate their lives.
Prague’s Botanical Garden hosts an annual Halloween festival, complete with pumpkin carving, face painting, competitions and an evening parade.
Insider tip: Prague isn’t just a beautiful city; it’s also within striking distance of some stunning natural attractions like the Bohemian Switzerland National Parks, which are extremely popular with hikers. Home to majestic rock formations, charming little villages, and peaceful farmland, this is a popular day trip for nature lovers.
5. Corinaldo, Italy
Best for: Food, wine, history and tradition in a gorgeous Italian setting
Renowned for its beauty, fortified walls and exceptional cuisine, Corinaldo is an unlikely Halloween hero. However, the small Italian town hosts an annual Halloween festival and is regarded as the ‘Halloween capital of Italy’.
Each October Since 1998, the town of Corinaldo has transformed into a spellbinding celebration with spider webs clinging to candles, pumpkins glaring wickedly at revellers, and fire shows and costume competitions illuminating the city.
Insider tip: Renting a car is a popular way to explore in Italy. Just remember to use caution on the often-narrow roads, and ensure your travel insurance includes rental vehicle cover.
6. New Orleans, USA
Best for: Parades, performances and costumes-a-plenty
Where better to celebrate Halloween than the USA’s ‘most-haunted city’? New Orleans has a reputation for its over the top celebrations, and its annual Halloween festival is no exception.
Parades, parties, haunted tours and voodoo performances light up the French Quarter each year, transforming the city into one of the world’s liveliest Halloween destinations.
Insider tip: If you’re planning a tour of the famous St Louis Cemetery No. 1, take note that visitors are now required to be accompanied by a certified guide. Do your research and ensure your guide meets these standards before booking.
7. London, UK
Best for: Classic Halloween fun with an English twist
Dungeon tours, murder mystery events, themed pub dinners and more - London’s Halloween celebrations have a distinctly English flavour.
There’s plenty of room for your own eerie adventures in the city, with famously haunted sites like Hyde Park cemeteries, the Greenwich foot tunnel, Epping Forest and more.
But if you want to leave the spooky celebrations to the experts, the annual Richard Jones Halloween London Ghost Walk will have you shivering in your boots. The tour has been running for 37 years, and is operated by an author of best-selling paranormal books.
Insider tip: Planning on visiting the city’s famous landmarks, like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly Circus? Don’t forget to check out London’s lesser-known attractions to avoid the tourist crowds, like Little Venice, Camden Market, Greenwich Park and more!
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