There are so many amazing Halloween and Day of the Dead celebrations around the country. Here are just a few of our favorites.
Sleepy Hollow, New York
What better place to lurk about for Halloween than Sleepy Hollow, New York, the home of the Headless Horseman? Sleepy Hollow obliges nicely by turning up the festive vibes starting with the Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze, the Forest o’ Fears and Jay Ghoul’s House of Curiosities all the way to tours of Washington Irving’s home and a visit to Horseman’s Hollow.
Greenwich Village, New York City
Though there are many celebrations all over Manhattan, we love the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade because of the enthusiasm of the participants and the plethora of creepy puppets that make up the bulk of the parade’s spectacle. You can even participate if you’ve got crafting skills – join one of the many workshops leading up to the main event and lend your expertise to the horror!
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans knows how to party and it loves a generally spooky vibe. Everyone has a ghost story to share – and the Halloween season brings out the best of both worlds. You’ll want to pony up for a ghost tour in the French Quarter to get the full experience, and don’t miss the Krewe of Boo Parade that brings out all the local flavor and eerie goings-on.
Halloween Haunt, Buena Park, California
Knott’s Berry Farm is the southern California amusement park that sits in the squarely in the shadow of Disneyland for nine months out of the year. But come October, the park turns into a terrifying, fear fest that is guaranteed to scare you silly! With rides transformed into haunted houses and characters dressed as marauding zombies, witches and other various and sundry creatures of the darkness, you’ll not soon forget the terror of Knott’s Scary Farm!
No self-respecting Halloween list would be complete without Salem, the notorious location of the Salem Witch Trials and the grand-daddy of Halloween trickery in the present time. Half a million people travel to Salem during the month of October, all to attend the Festival of the Dead, the Annual Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo, natch. The piece de resistance culminates in the Witches Halloween Ball at the Hawthorne Hotel – where you can have your fortune told, hobnob with witch doctors, dance and just generally get your supernatural freak on.
On the other side of the coin, Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrates the deceased and remembers them in a colorful and joyful pageant of remembrance. Dia de los Muertos has taken center stage in recent years, with films like “Coco” mainstreaming the traditions for the American audience. And many municipalities have a large number of Mexican-Americans dedicated to the holiday. Here are a few places with memorable celebrations.
The La Villita MuertosFest, San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio’s mixed culture does a highly improvisational and energetic party alongside the world-famous River Walk. Dine on delicious Tex-Mex, join the processions, and revel in the sugar skull decorations and costumes.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, California
Perhaps the only Dia de los Muertos celebration that happens in a cemetery, locals come out to this Hollywood location in full force. The centerpiece to the day-long festival is the ofrenda (altar) decorating contest – teams vie for bragging rights and even cash prizes. In Mexico, the celebrations always take place in cemeteries. For a little bit of this authenticity, the Hollywood Forever celebration makes good.
All Souls Procession, Tucson, Arizona
Multicultural Tucson takes an all-inclusive approach to Dia de los Muertos, and has done for the better part of the last 20 years. The event takes place all weekend, with the procession being the centerpiece that the weekend builds to. Until then, you can visit art installations and altars of remembrance while listening to local musicians and dining at the many food trucks that come out for the event.
Olvera Street Dia de los Muertos, Los Angeles, California
Olvera Street, the birthplace of Los Angeles, and the historical heart of Mexican culture in the city turns the tradition all the way up, with an Aztec benediction kicking off the festivities, nightly Novenario processions and after-parade refreshments of champurrado (a hot chocolate and corn flour drink) and complimentary pan dulce (sweet bread) for everyone.
If you liked this post, you might also like our spooky places post that breaks down the most haunted places in the entire world. Happy Halloween!