If you love the spookier things in life, then you’re probably beyond excited to celebrate Halloween in its birthplace: the USA.
The holiday has roots in ancient harvest festivals and religious traditions from all over the world, but Halloween as we know it today, with costumes, scary movie releases, and Trick-or-Treaters, is really an American institution that sprung up in the early to mid 20th century.
That’s why we’re going to run down seven of the best places to celebrate Halloween in the USA, from haunted houses to museums to the site of the most infamous witch trials in world history.
- New York City, NY
Since 1974, lower Manhattan has been shut down on Halloween for a mile-long Village Halloween Parade, featuring ghosts performing circus stunts and goblins playing rock music. Make sure to arrive on 6th Avenue early to stake out the best viewing spot (between Houston and 16th Streets) and feel free to march behind the parade if you’re in costume. You can also take a tour of haunted New York City buildings or attend any of the big Halloween-themed parties in the city that never sleeps.
- Salem, MA
This unassuming town was once the site of the most infamous witch trials in the world; something that attracts tourists to their streets all year round. So it only makes sense that Salem would capitalise on its macabre legacy during October with a Festival of the Dead. The festival features a Psychic Fair, Witchcraft Expo, and a Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball, designed to summon the dead, alongside its traditional museums and other spooky offerings.
- New Orleans, LA
Sometimes called “the most haunted city in America” and well-known for throwing a city-wide party, New Orleans is the perfect place to spend the holiday. You can enjoy the Krewe of Boo Halloween Parade, which features ancient spirits and fictional monsters coming to life, attend a risqué party in the French Quarter and see some truly outlandish costumes, take a guided ghost walk through the city, or visit a Vampire Ball and Voodoo Music Festival.
- Chicago, Il
This Chicagoween festival starts way before Halloween, with the whole city getting in on the fun. Streets are decorated with pumpkins, images of monsters and witches are placed on buildings, and even the water in the fountains is dyed yellow and orange. Visitors can also take part in the annual Halloween on Halsted parade and costume competition or visit the Haunted Sanitarium.
- St. Louis, MI
If you love Halloween, raising money for charity, and running, then head to St. Louis where you can take part in the costumed Go! St. Louis Halloween race. If you’re more interested in exorcism than exercise, you can get your fix by taking a ghost tour of the Fabulous Fox Theater for tales of supernatural phenomena from the past 90 years.
- Orlando, Florida
There is a multitude of theme parks in and around Orlando that take October 31st to the next level. This can range from the family-friendly Mickey’s not-so-scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World, featuring your favourite characters in costumes, to the Horror Nights at Universal Studios, which are designed for adults with a fondness for classic and modern horror films. Outside of the parks, you can visit the Ultimate Horror Weekend, where you can take part in various themed activities and meet scary movie stars.
- Sleepy Hollow, NY
In the town made famous by Washington Irving’s tales of a headless horseman, there’s a month-long celebration where the macabre takes over the town. The Sleepy Hollow Halloween features live music, street fairs, parades, haunted hayrides, and tours of the haunted Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. You can also visit the Gothic Revival Lyndhurst Castle for a family-friendly tour of the haunted estate, meeting famous spirits like Dracula and Henry VII.
If you’re planning a trip to the USA, then don’t forget your US ESTA – more info here – or you’ll be denied entry into the States, which is probably not the kind of fright you’re looking for.