Halloween has become more and more popular around the world in recent years. Many countries have celebrations at the same time as Halloween to honor the dead, while others have embraced the costumes and candy that are most associated with the American version of the holiday. But where can you best spend Halloween, where do the best parties take place, and what makes the 7 places we’ve selected so special? Find out in our article!
Where Does Halloween Come From?
Halloween comes from the old English word for All Hallows’ Eve, the evening before All Saints’ Day. Since All Saints’ Day falls on November 1, Halloween takes place every year on October 31. Originally the custom comes from a Celtic tradition in Ireland (see below for more) and due to a large number of Irish immigrants, Halloween came to the United States of America.
Through the many horror movies and various TV series – for example, the film franchise “Halloween” and The Simpsons with their annual special “Treehouse Of Horror” – Halloween has become more and more popular around the world in recent years. Especially well-known is the pumpkin face, known as a jack- o’ lantern: a hollowed-out pumpkin with a cutout face and a light illuminating it from inside. And of course, there’s the trick-or-treating, where kids and teenagers go door to door collecting candy while dressed in costume.
The 7 Places to Celebrate Halloween
1. New York, New York
Of course, New York City has made it to the top of the rankings. Why? Because it has one of the biggest Halloween parades in the world with more than 2 million participants in creative costumes centered on a different theme each year. For example, the theme for 2019 is “Wild Thing!”.
There are also many more parties in the “city that never sleeps” and visitors will certainly not be bored because there is so much to see and do. If you come to NYC during Halloween with your kids, you should also know that many businesses and even bars hand out candy. And if you happen to be there in the weeks leading up to Halloween, look out for the free Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade, currently being held at the East River Park Amphitheater.
2. Oaxaca, Mexico
The “Dia de Los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) is one of the most important Mexican holidays to commemorate the deceased. People often celebrate in skeleton costumes or at least with a painted face. Colorful flowers, bright colors, and skulls are part of the Day of the Dead and are worn everywhere.
Celebrations take place from October 31 to November 2. The city of Oaxaca is known throughout Mexico for its over-the-top festivities, but you will also find celebrations in other parts of the country. But beware that you should never call them Halloween parties because they’re not!
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
The gambling capital of the US is a great destination for Halloween. On the Las Vegas Strip, where you’ll find glitzy hotels and casinos such as Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Excalibur, New York-New York, and MGM Grand, you can find many people in costume on Halloween night.
You should also think of a great costume for Halloween if you plan to spend it in Las Vegas. There are contests and the best dressed in different categories will be chosen in numerous hotels and casinos, often with cash prizes handed out. There will also be many events (including the days before and after) for big ghosts and little creatures alike, making Las Vegas a perfect Halloween destination.
4. London, England
London, the city on the Thames, has a reputation as a spooky place perpetually covered in fog. The blame lies with novels and films such as “Jack The Ripper” and “28 Days Later”, in which London is often portrayed as a dark, foggy place where spooky things happen and mysterious figures do their mischief.
However, you can embrace the Halloween spirit by joining others in dressing up and running the London Halloween 5k and 10k at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. And then it’s on to a party or just to the next pub – whichever you prefer.
5. Salem, Massachusetts
Only 16 miles from Boston lies the small town of Salem, Massachusetts. The city became famous because of the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. To this day Salem is called The Witch City. The history of the witch trials is still a real tourist magnet and visitors can not only find a museum devoted to witches but also numerous events around Halloween, called the “Salem Haunted Happenings”, that last the whole month of October. To get there, you can rent a car in Springfield and cover the 106 miles in less than 2 hours.
6. Dublin, Ireland
Ireland is regarded as the birthplace of Halloween. The celebration dates back to Celtic customs, and a pagan tradition in which the Samhain festival celebrating ancestors and the dead was an integral part. It was believed that beings from the underworld had access to the human world on that day. So the Irish stayed in their homes, fearing that someone from the outside might get in.
Dublin is a good starting point for Halloween celebrations. In Meath, about an hour’s drive from Dublin, there are numerous events at The Spirits of Meath Festival. Also in Derry, in County Kildare, there is a lot going on including the Halloween costume parade and fireworks. It takes about 80 minutes by rental car from Dublin to Derry (don’t be confused and go to Londonderry in Northern Ireland!).
7. Sleepy Hollow, New York
This village in Westchester County, NY is about 30 miles up the Hudson River from Manhattan. Sleepy Hollow is most well known for author Washington Irving’s tale of the Headless Horseman. There is a lot to do in Sleepy Hollow around Halloween, including visiting the Horseman’s Hollow attraction that’s open some evenings in October. You can also take a spooky tour by lantern light of the town and its cemetery.