04OCTThe Coolest Places for A Unique Halloween Experience
October 31st is one of the most popular days linked to the supernatural (the activity, not the TV show). It is also still the Wiccan New Year - the one day where the veils between worlds are at the thinnest, allowing spirits and fairies to enter our world. Cultural diffusion and cultural change has seen Halloween celebrations vary in different parts of the world. For some, this day is still a significant part of their culture, steeped in age-old traditions. For others, it is a day to dress up and indulge in sweet treats and cult classic horror films.
The start of October got us thinking about Halloween (okay, maybe it was a little earlier than that but who's counting). It got us wondering how other cultures celebrated the day other than the usual costume and trick-or-treat routine and we were impressed with our findings. Here are some places for inspiration (or to add to your next trip). They're known for their unrivaled Halloween vibes and experiences unique to each country's history.
Ireland’s Ancient East, Ireland
The Púca Festival will be debuting this year as Ireland takes ownership of Halloween. Their tagline - "where Halloween’s story begins". Word is that the festival will be "vibrant and contemporary in feel but [is] strongly rooted in tradition". Taking place over three days in three towns, the Púca Festival will place emphasis on Celtic traditions rather than the Americanised version of Halloween. The festival will focus on the origins of Halloween - when it was about the spirits and about darkness to light. The recreation of the symbolic lighting of the Samhain fires will kick-off the festival on 31st October followed by a samhain procession and a retelling of the Táin Bó Cuailgne, among many others. It is definitely a must-go on our travel bucket list!
Transylvania is hauntingly beautiful all year round, but especially so during the Halloween season. This historical region is in a realm of it's own - a fairytale-like one with over a hundred castles, seven citadels (some of them still inhabited!), and rustic villages sitting against a backdrop of craggy mountains and ancient forests. However, if you're expecting pumpkins, witches, and scary costumes, think again. Transylvania prides itself on its magical authentic experiences of legends and time-worn traditions. So, make the most of it and soak up the Transylvanian Halloween experience!
Nonetheless, thanks to Bram Stoker's Dracula, Bran Castle's doors will be open for creepy tours and a Halloween after-party so don't stow away your Halloween costume just yet! You'll also find lots of other creepy tours and themed parties around. This is the perfect place for both sides of the Halloween coin!
Salem, Massachusetts, USA
Ahhh, Salem. The "witch-town". Known for its ominous past and eerie atmosphere. Thanks to its infamous history, you can expect Salem to be a hot spot for all things scary all October long. Check out the Salem Haunted Happenings for a full Salem Halloween experience. You'll find ghost tours, haunted houses, a Grand Parade, trial re-enactments and many more spooky things here.
Keep an eye out for the Halloween cruises as well while you're in town. But worry not, in true American style, there is a cruise for everyone, from adults to families with kids. One of their 90-minute entertainment cruises will take you around the legendary waters of Salem and give you unique photo-ops of the autumn foliage. The Halloween Boo! cruise on the other hand is ideal for adults looking to party!
Small in size but big in celebrations, the Lion City hosts multiple events during the Halloween period. The most well-known? Universal Studios' annual Halloween Horror Nights, of course! Its different themed haunted houses are definitely not for the faint of heart! This little country takes things to the next level with their Day-time Halloween Carnival for the little (and not-so-little) ones. Not to mention their spooky Sherlock-y mysteries that are just calling for you to solve them at Muzart.
If you've always dreamt of visiting a museum after hours, this is your chance! The Asian Civilisations Museum offers chilling performances and paranormal panelist talks in addition to chilling story-telling sessions by local storytellers. Don't forget to get your fortunes drawn by local illustrators as well!
Oaxaca is worth visiting any time of the year but more so during Dia de Muertes (Day of the Dead). Don't even think about calling it Mexican Halloween! It takes place from 31st October until 2nd November but it has nothing to do with witches and pumpkins. Instead, you will find the ever-so-popular sugar skull (Calaveras) in abundance here. This period is an important celebration for the locals who believe in the reunion of the dead and the living during these three days. Check out the movie Coco (if you haven't already) and it will help you understand. It is a deep experience where families spend their days at local cemeteries. Make sure to arrive a few days earlier to experience the parades leading up the big festival. You will be surprised. Visit Oaxaca for its colourful decoration and lights, but stay for the music, food, and splendour.