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    7 spooktacular places to visit for Halloween

    7 spooktacular places to visit for Halloween

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    Halloween is a centuries-old holiday that originated in Ireland and Scotland to coincide with the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. The bonfires and costumes we associate with the 31st October were originally intended to ward off the spirits that were thought to roam the earth on the one night each year when the boundary between the living and the dead became blurred.

    These days, Halloween is an entertaining blend of various cultural and religious traditions. Spooky costumes, trick-or-treating customs, haunted houses, and carved pumpkins are the best-known hallmarks of this celebration. Our seven favourite Halloween destinations around the world all share a reputation for going all-in on their celebrations, combining ancient folklore and religious tradition with creativity and fun:

    1. Scotland

    Halloween’s roots lie in the older, Celtic tradition of Samhain which predates Halloween, and even today, the celebration of Halloween in Scotland is a blend of ancient and modern traditions. The Scots have a rich history surrounding this spooky date, especially in Edinburgh, where the ancient cobblestone streets come alive with eerie decorations and flickering jack-o’-lanterns (carved from turnips rather than pumpkins). With Edinburgh Castle looming ominously in the background, The Royal Mile transforms into a ghoulish parade of costumed revellers. To experience a modern reimagining of the ancient Celtic festival, head to the city’s annual Samhuinn Fire Festival: a huge bonfire is accompanied by pulsating drums, fire-dancing and awe-inspiring acrobatics.

    2. Dublin, Ireland

    The Celtic traditions of Halloween are also strong in Ireland, and celebrating Halloween in the Irish capital is an enchanting experience that fuses ghostly traditions with its thousand-year history. Dublin is famously the birthplace of Irish author, Bram Stoker, whose most famous character, Dracula, remains one of the most recognisable characters at any Halloween celebration, more than 100 years after his first appearance. The city’s Bram Stoker Festival, which takes place over the four days leading up to Halloween, is a great opportunity to participate in a deliciously spooky celebration of the writer’s life, work and legacy.

    3. Transylvania, Romania

     <em>Bran (Dracula) castle in Transylvania, Romania</em>

    Bran (Dracula) castle in Transylvania, Romania

    If you’re looking for a Halloween celebration you can really sink your teeth into, why not venture into the heart of vampire lore with a visit to the fictional birthplace of Dracula? Transylvania offers the ideal location for a spine-chilling Halloween adventure: the region is packed with dense forests and gothic castles perched atop misty mountains. The enchanting town of Sighișoara is a UNESCO World Heritage listed collection of colourful houses encircled by ancient city walls and protected by medieval watch towers, but it is famous as the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler – the real-life inspiration for Bram Stoker’s legendary Count. From here, it’s a relatively short drive to Bran Castle which is widely touted as ‘Dracula’s castle’. Although it doesn’t have any verified historic links to Vlad or his literary counterpart, you might want to pack some garlic and a wooden stake for your visit, just in case!

    4. New Orleans, USA

    New Orleans definitely knows how to throw a party – and not just at Mardi Gras. The southern US city is also a hotspot for Halloween revelry: the streets of the French Quarter come alive with elaborate costumes ranging from voodoo priestesses to haunted pirates, as locals and visitors embrace the spirit of the holiday. You’ll find enchanting decorations adorning historic homes, eerie jazz performances echoing through the atmospheric streets, and a plethora of themed parties and parades, including the famous Krewe of Boo parade. And of course, no Halloween celebration in New Orleans is complete without indulging in the local cuisine: restaurants offer a delicious combination of spooky-themed dishes and traditional Creole delights.

    5. Tokyo, Japan

    Halloween has gained considerable popularity in Japan in recent years, acquiring its own unique and delightful twist on the Western version of the holiday. Tokyo in particular offers a vibrant Halloween scene, complete with costume parties, themed events, and street parades. Japanese creativity shines through in the intricate costumes on display, which blend traditional Japanese elements with popular Western cultural references. Families enjoy trick-or-treating, while stores and businesses decorate their storefronts with pumpkins, skeletons, and eerie decorations. Halloween in Japan is not just about costumes and candy though: it’s a delightful fusion of cultures that is testament to the Japanese people’s openness to embracing new traditions and making them uniquely their own.

    6. Salem, USA

    Step into the pages of history by celebrating Halloween in the town where the infamous Salem witch trials of the seventeenth century unfolded. Known as the “Witch City,” Salem goes all out for Halloween, hosting an entire month of events from haunted house tours to séances. The Salem Witch Museum provides a chilling glimpse into the hysteria that swept the town, while the bewitching streets and colonial architecture create an atmosphere that feels like a perpetual Halloween night.

    7. Paris, France

    One of the creepiest ways to spend Halloween in Paris is a visit to the Paris Catacombs: an underground labyrinth of tunnels and chambers lined with the bones of millions of Parisians from centuries past. During Halloween, the Catacombs host special nighttime tours – if you are brave enough to enter the dimly lit passages, with candlelight casting eerie shadows on the ancient walls, you’ll be kept enthralled by costumed guides who share ghoulish tales of Parisian legends and ghostly encounters.

    If you’re an intrepid Halloween aficionado, each of these destinations is sure to offer you a wickedly good time. Whether it’s sipping witches’ brew in New Orleans or tracing the footsteps of Dracula in Transylvania, your personal travel manager can create an itinerary tailored to suit your needs.


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