It can be pretty expensive to afford holiday travel. After all, it’s often when air fare, hotel prices, and admission to attractions skyrocket to their highest price point. But even if you can’t afford to get away and spend New Year’s Eve in some exotic location, you can still afford to mix traveling with celebrating holidays! Lesser celebrated holidays like Halloween still offer all the fun and opportunity of holiday travel, without the increased expenses.
October 31st is right around the corner, but before you resign yourself to another night on the couch, check out these places around the world where you can find cheap, last minute flights and enjoy some authentic, and crazy, Halloween traditions.
The holiday may have started in Ireland, but the celebration and traditions have long since spread across the world, creating plenty of opportunities to celebrate October 31st someplace new! Embrace your inner wanderlust and spend this Hallow’s Eve partying on the city streets in Bangkok, marching through the night in New York City, or motorcycling in Colombia.
1. Derry City, Ireland
Halloween got its start in Ireland, so it makes sense that for a truly epic Halloween experience, heading to the Shamrock Isle would be a good place to start. For over a week, the entire town of Derry City becomes a living carnival dedicated to Halloween festivities. There’s dancing, music, carnivals, fireworks, parades, haunted houses, city wide scare movie fests, and even family friendly activities geared toward kiddos.
The Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival, as it is formally known, starts on October 25 and lasts until November 2nd. It’s the biggest Halloween Festival in Europe, so if you’re in the mood to be surrounded by crowds of Halloween cheer, Derry City is the place you should be.
2. New York City, New York
If you like to travel for the nightlife, and find it easier to stay up late than to wake up early, New York City offers plenty of opportunities for everyone to celebrate Halloween well after most parties have ended. The Village Halloween Parade doesn’t start until after dark at 7:00 pm, and goes well into the night, with hundreds of costumed party-goers, puppets, bands, and artists participating in the festivities.
If you’d rather not fight the traffic to Greenwich village, the rest of the city’s thousands of clubs host Halloween themed parties. You can also watch scary movies on outdoor movie theaters after dark at many of the city parks for some extra fun under the full moon. Many of the city’s live show venues also host special shows around Halloween as well, and some even encourage audiences to attend in costume as well!
3. Janitzio, Mexico
Mexico’s Day of the Dead may be the world’s most colorful celebration around the Halloween season. There’s still plenty of skulls and ghosts; in fact, Day of the Dead, or Dias Los Muertos, is the day when the spirits of the dead are said to return to be with their families and walk again on earth. While nearly all of Mexico is in full celebration mode on November 2nd, one of the best places to go is the small island of Janitzio, in the middle of Lake Pátzcuaro.
The city is beautiful enough on a normal day, set high up on hill and cascading down into the lake, but during Dias Los Muertos the city comes alive with full blown parades, festivals in the streets, and music on every corner. Head to the cemetery at night to join the locals in local dances and songs while watching the lake’s waters appear to catch flame as the local fishermen light up their boats with lanterns.
4. Bangkok, Thailand
The entire capital of Thailand comes alive during Halloween, and it can be hard to center in one the best Halloween club activity to enjoy. Truth be told, there’s something for everyone in Bangkok. The night party Illumination at Aftermoon@71 features glow in the dark UV body paint and some of the most creative costumes you could imagine. Silom Soi 4, normally a quiet pedestrian only street lined with eateries, bursts forth as the most flamboyantly LGBTQ friendly celebration in the world, and lasts well into the night.
You can solve a Halloween themed murder mystery at Axis & Spin. If you just want to enjoy a night out at a club, make sure to dress up in costume! Many of the clubs offer free entry for the night for those decked out in Halloween gear.
5. Salem, Massachusetts
Salem’s history of witch hunts and magical influence makes it the perfect, and spookiest, spot for Halloween festivities. The city’s Festival of the Dead is held annually and offers plenty of attractions besides just haunted houses and trick or treating.
Visitors can learn how to become a paranormal investigator, talk to the dead, and even attend the famous Witches’ Halloween Ball, complete with rituals, dancing, Halloween themed food, and magical spells.
6. Brasov, Transylvania
Where better to celebrate Halloween than the home of the original vampire Count Dracula? While you can visit on Halloween, the best time to visit Castle Bran, the castle of the prince who inspired the story behind Count Dracula, is on November 30, when the country celebrates St. Andrew’s Night.
The Romanian holiday honors the country’s saint, but also includes Halloween-esque elements like using garlic to detour the ghosts and souls of the dead who supposedly come back to wander the earth on that day. Whenever you go, touring Castle Bran is the best way to celebrate and learn more about the legend behind Count Dracula.
7. London, England
History lovers will revel in a Halloween spent in London; the city’s history has plenty of morbid stories and historical events that are made for a spooky night of celebration. You can take a tour of the famous London Dungeons and the Tower of London and hear some of the spookiest and real stories of the city’s past.
You can take guided tours following the steps of Jack the Ripper, or join a carriage tour at Richmond Park to learn about the ghosts that still haunt the city. You can also embrace the fun, lighter side of Halloween at the city’s All Dogs Matter Halloween Walk, or carve pumpkins and enjoy a free cocktail at King’s Cross.
8. Hong Kong
Hong Kong may be on the other side of the world from where Halloween first got its start, but that doesn’t mean the city doesn’t throw one hell of a celebration come October 31. The city celebrates with plenty of parties at the major theme parks, like Disneyland and Ocean Park, but the best party is at the Lan Kwai Fong Halloween Street Party, where the entire neighborhood turns into one large street party, complete with costumes, dancing, and plenty of food and drinks.
One of the best ways to appreciate the culture of Hong Kong and the Halloween spirit is to go to the city in the weeks before Halloween during the Hungry Ghost Festivals. The festival is similar in spirit to Halloween, but is steeped in Chinese culture and worship practices. It’s a great opportunity to spend a month witnessing first hand the burnt offerings of offerings to to ancestors and the operas that are performed in order to appease the ghosts who roam during the month.
9. Kutna Hora, Czech Republic
The chapel Sedlec Ossuary is probably the most unheard of place to celebrate Halloween, but it’s easily one of the scariest places to visit around the end of October. The ornate detail inside the chapel is actually created out of the bones of thousands of people who died in battles centuries ago, as evidenced by the wounds and battered bones. Even the chandeliers are made from human bones, and the cemetery outside is just as creepy. The fall colors in the town make for the perfect Halloween backdrop, and the church is one of the most authentically creepy places to visit on October 31st.
10. Cali, Colombia
If you’re a motorcycling enthusiast, you can’t miss Halloween in Cali’s downtown. The annual Moto Halloween Party takes over the city on October 31st, when motorcycle owners from all over the area dress up and ride through the city on their bikes, creating quite possibly the loudest Halloween celebration in the world. The parade of motorcyclist lasts well into the night, and turns into one of South America’s biggest street parties.
11. New Orleans, Louisiana
With plenty of history with voodoo, the occult, old cemeteries and a crazy party reputation, it makes sense that New Orleans would be a great city to visit around Halloween. The city hosts plenty of Halloween themed parties and parades, including the famous Voodoo Music Festival, which combines the city’s live and prominent music scene with Halloween themed fun. Bourbon Street in the city’s French Quarter isn’t just a Mardi Gras party, it’s also home to one of the best Halloween street parties, with equally wild crowds and costumes everywhere.
12. Paris, France
Paris is the city of romance, but the city holds a few perfectly charming attractions as well that make the perfect backdrop for the Halloween crowd that wants to escape the crowds of the party scene and appreciate the quieter side of Halloween. The city holds some of the best cemeteries in the world, including the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery, which is said to still be haunted by the souls buried there.
The cemetery offers miles of walking trails, and you can easily spend a day walking among the tombs. If you want to continue your walk, you can tour the Paris Catacombs, an underground graveyard to millions of Parisians and easily one of the creepiest places on earth.
13. Beirut, Lebanon
If you aren’t ready for Halloween to be over after October has ended, book a trip to Lebanon during December. Known as the Lebanese Halloween, Saint Barbara’s Day is celebrated December 4th and features plenty of Halloween type entertainment, including costumes, trick or treating, and even carved pumpkins as decoration.
While the intention behind the festival is very different from the Irish beginnings of Halloween, Saint Barbara’s Day is a great chance to celebrate a Middle Eastern twist on traditional Halloween traditions.
Don’t expect too much candy corn, but be ready to fill up on plenty of local Lebanese sweets, including fried donuts and other local delicacies that won’t give you a gut ache in the morning.
14. Los Angeles, California
It wouldn’t be true Los Angeles if they didn’t boast one of the largest celebrations in the world for any holiday, and Halloween is no exception. The city’s West Hollywood Carnival is said to be the largest Halloween street party, with over half a million people lining up Santa Monica Boulevard all day and night long. There’s over half a dozen stages for different musicians, and the festivities are finished by crowning a Queen of the Carnival, a Hollywood celebrity that changes every year.
There’s plenty of entertainment for the rest of us normal folk, including parades, games, and plenty of food. If you want to escape the massive crowds, head south to Long Beach, where you can go aboard the Queen Mary to enter into different haunted mazes. The mazes are haunted by over 200 different ghosts, who are all inspired by ghosts who are said to still haunt the ship.
15. Louisville, Kentucky
For probably the least scary and most family friendly Halloween festival in the world, try visiting the Louisville Zoo, where the annual party transforms the zoo into a fun Halloween themed adventure for people of all ages. Different trails through the zoo’s areas are decked out in different themes, including characters dressed up and acting as part of the scene.
A train offers rides through the park, and you can even trick or treat right next to the wild animals. There’s even a Headless Horseman, as well as prizes, games, and other Halloween themed fun.
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