Halloween is all about getting into the spirit- the supernatural spirit, that is. It’s a holiday that everyone, young or old, can and should enjoy, whether it’s going trick or treating around your neighborhood, checking out a haunted house, or going to one of these 10 spooky Halloween festivals. We’ve included some that are fun for the whole family and some that are just for adults, so no matter what kind of fun you’re looking for, this list has got you covered. Just try to book your vacation rental early, because these events are so popular that places go fast!
1. Festival of the Dead, Salem, Massachusetts
Halloween is all about witches, and what better place to experience some true witchcraft than the location of the infamous Salem witch trials? This festival lasts the entire month of October, and it explores Death’s mysteries with events that investigate the ways people have honored, celebrated, and secretly delved into life’s inevitable destination. Past events have included The Annual Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo, The Mourning Tea where people share stories of their loved ones, and of course, The Official Salem Witches‘ Halloween Ball, Salem’s most magical Halloween event where guests celebrate the afterlife with food, dancing, ritual, live music, free psychic readings, and prizes.
2. The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, Long Beach, California
The Queen Mary, a cruise liner docked off Long Beach, California, is often said to be one of the most haunted places in the world, and definitely a scary place to celebrate Halloween. At Dark Harbor, you get to explore six terrifying haunted mazes with more than 200 monsters and ghosts inspired by the actual spirits that haunt the ship. There’s also live entertainment, food, and beverages offered during this event that runs throughout the month of October.
3. Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights
Theme parks are all about fun with the kids, right? Well, you might want to leave the young ones home for this one. During the month of October, Universal Studios transforms into a creepy wonderland of horrors, with over the top, scream-worthy interactive mazes based on your favorite horror shows and movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Walking Dead. And don’t think you’re safe outside of these mazes. The entire park is crawling with scary monsters behind every corner.
4. West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval
If it seems like Southern California is leading the charge on spooky Halloween fests so far, you might be right. The West Hollywood Halloween Costume Carnaval is all but infamous. This street party of 500,000 is not to be missed, so put your most killer costume together and get ready to revel in WeHo’s wild nightlife. Located on Santa Monica Blvd between Doheny Dr and La Cienega Blvd, WeHo Halloween Carnaval takes over on October 31 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., but the parties continue in nearby venues all night long. The street party is free and open to the public, but it’s best to leave the kids and pets at home. This celebration is on the crazier and naughtier side.
5. Pumpkin Walk at The Arboretum at Flagstaff, Flagstaff, Arizona
Okay, here’s one for the entire family. Celebrate the fall season by walking through the Arborteum fall gardens full of glowing Jack-O-Lanterns. Wear your best costume on a hay ride while you sip hot cider and cocoa. You can even try apple bobbing or enter your carved pumpkin to win a prize. You can drop off your carved pumpkin during the day, and the Arboretum arranges them along the garden paths for the nighttime walk. Your kids will love finding their pumpkin along the way.
6. Jack-‘O-Lantern Spectacular, Louisville, Kentucky
This amazing event is another one for the whole family. From mid-October to the beginning of November, a 1/4 mile walking trail in Iroquois Park is lined with over 5,000 carved pumpkins that are more like a work of art than any Jack-O-Lantern you’ve seen. This illuminated “art show” is open every day from dusk until 11 p.m. during the week and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
7. Village Halloween Parade, New York City, New York
This cultural phenomenon shuts down lower Manhattan for a wild and crazy Halloween celebration. Anyone is welcome to join the march as long as you’re in costume, but if you just want to be a spectator, arrive early to get one of the coveted spots on 6th Avenue between Houston and 16th Streets. From here, you’ll get the best view of the parade’s signature paper-mâché creations. These giant puppets have been custom made for the annual celebration ever since the parade was established in 1974.
8. Little Five Points Halloween Festival, Atlanta, Georgia
Little Five Points district is a hub of local arts and culinary culture in Atlanta and the host of the annual food-focused Little Five Points Halloween Festival and Parade. The festival includes a parade, two stages of local musicians, and a bustling artist market in addition to the main attraction, food stalls from all the best local artisan kitchens and food trucks.
9. Halloween in New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is world-renowned as one of the best places to celebrate Mardi Gras, and the Big Easy goes all out for its Halloween celebrations too. Known as “the most haunted city in America,” New Orleans is full of guided haunted tours, but the main party is centralized in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, within walking distance from the French Quarter. Thanks to New Orleans’ open container laws, booze flows freely from the many stations and stalls, so this party quickly gets debaucherous. Make reservations ahead of time to get a vacation rental where you can watch the action from your balcony!
10. The Louisville Zoo Halloween Party, Louisville, Kentucky
Kentucky’s Louisville Zoo’s annual Halloween party has been deemed the “World’s Largest Halloween Party.” The entire zoo is transformed into a Halloween hub with activities that are more sweet than scary geared towards the entire family. As you make your way through the zoo, you and your kids can trick-or-treat alongside zebras, bears, and giraffes, take pictures with your favorite characters from Frozen, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Wizard of Oz, or see the best of everything on the train that goes right through the park. Be on the lookout for the Headless Horseman, who makes an annual appearance at the event in a most unexpected way!
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