7 Festivals to See Around the World if You’re a Fan of Halloween

7 Festivals to See Around the World if You’re a Fan of Halloween

See the world and spook yourself all in one go!

There is a frenzy that takes over certain parts of the globe once October rolls in. A bulb automatically lights up in the minds of avid fans and there it flashes boldly, signalling the start of a well-loved holiday — Halloween.

How we celebrate Halloween has evolved over the years. Its origins can be traced back to an ancient Celtic festival in Ireland called Samhain, which marked the end of the summer and cued the season for harvesting crops right before winter. The Celts believed it was during this time that the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred, making it easier for spirits to make their presences felt. The Celts — whose beliefs were deeply hinged on the mystical arts — were convinced that this allowed them to make better predictions for the next harvest.

Image credit: Peter T

Now, it’s common to see people of all ages dressing up for the spooky event. For a number of Halloween lovers, the costume is everything, which is why so much time is spent on creating one. Others go on a trick-or-treating spree, or simply take advantage of the themed activities that big establishments offer.

Also read: Experience Your Own Nightmare Before Christmas This Halloween at Hong Kong Disneyland (+Up to 60% Off Passes!)

But for some people, the proper way of celebrating Halloween is to indulge in Bacchanalian merriment and throw a festival, much like the Celts did during Samhain. There are even places that claim they do Halloween best. The only way to find out is to travel there and see for yourself. Here are a few Halloween festivals that tourists flock to every year.

1. Village Halloween Parade (New York, USA)

Image credit: Peter Burka

Every year, New York City invites everyone (and we mean everyone) to a grand Halloween parade called the Village Halloween Parade. And as long as you’re in costume, you can join the parade. The event is on its 45th year this 2018 so it’s practically a Halloween institution. It’s not a festival, but it’s considered one of the most iconic Halloween celebrations in the world. It’s even deemed the largest Halloween celebration in the world, with nearly 50,000 people joining annually!

The Village Halloween Parade usually begins along 6th Avenue and ends upon reaching 16th Street. It starts at 7pm and is followed by an afterparty that lets you carouse for a cause! Click here to know more about this year’s Village Halloween Parade and the Mascureaids Ball and Afterparty.

2. Halloween Festival (Stratford-upon-Avon, UK)

Image credit: Elliot Brown

Yes, Stratford-upon-Avon is known for something else other than being William Shakespeare’s birthplace. This medieval market town also has an annual Halloween festival that’s quite popular with visitors as well.

Home to a popular magic supplies shop called Magic Alley, Stratford-upon-Avon has a lesser-known reputation as a go-to for lovers of all things magic. The shop is a highlight of Stratford-upon-Avon’s Halloween Festival, which is on its 13th run this year. Have an unforgettable All Hallow’s Eve with spine-chilling productions such as the Midsummer Nights Scream, Sweeney Todd, and The Haunted Manor. Attend one of the Stratford Town Ghost Walks and see the mysteries that surround Magic Alley after dark. Note, though, that Stratford-upon-Avon’s Halloween Festival isn’t always kid-friendly. In fact, they’re known to host events that are strictly for adults only. To know the complete list of activities, click here.

3. Keene Pumpkin Festival (New Hampshire, USA)

Image credit: Heather Katsoulis

Here’s a family-friendly festival that all Halloween lovers should check out: the Keene Pumpkin Festival. In the event’s website, you’ll see that founder Nancy Sporborg began the festival as a gift to the community, but as its popularity grew, it transformed into a gift to the entire world.

Now, people from all over the United States and even other countries get to see an impressive jack-o-lantern display in the heart of New Hampshire. There are many events to choose from at the Keene Festival. There’s a Children’s Costume Parade, Pumpkin Bowling, trick-or-treat, and several live music and dance performances. Click here to know more about the festivities.

4. Toronto After Dark Film Festival (Toronto, Canada)

This one’s for the film buffs. If you’re the type of person who looks forward to all the horror flicks that are shown during the month of October, then you simply must head to the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. It boasts of nine nights of showing horror, thriller, suspense, sci-fi, and action movies that are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s usually held a week or two before Halloween, though, so if you’re staying in the area a bit longer, you can just look forward to some neighbourhood trick-or-treating on the 31st. See the screening schedules here.

5. Festival of the Dead (Massachusetts, USA)

Image credit: SalemPuritan

Home of the infamous Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball, Festival of the Dead in Salem, Massachusetts’ has become one of the most iconic Halloween events in the whole world. Salem is known for the practice of witchcraft and Wicca. The town even has a history of holding witch trials so the place alone is enough to give festival-goers that satisfying eerie vibe they crave for.

Aside from the ball, which is described as a night of music, magic, and rituals, visitors can also enjoy a fair featuring psychics and witches, a dinner with the dead, an actual seance, and an up-close encounter with a witch doctor. That’s only a taste of the Festival of the Dead’s mystifying allure. To know more, click here.

6. Derry Hallowe’en (Derry, Ireland)

Image credit: Greg Clarke

Another bucket list-worthy event is the Derry Hallowe’en, which is held in the place where it all started — Ireland. This festival in Derry, Ireland pays homage to the origins of Halloween, with Celtic-themed celebrations and tours that will allow visitors to know the history of Halloween, plus the beliefs that the festival is based on. Derry Hallowe’en is perhaps one of the most well-organised Halloween events you’ll ever encounter. Take a look at their 2018 programme and you’ll see what we mean.

7. Voodoo Fest (New Orleans, USA)

Image credit: Joe Van

Formally called the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, the Voodoo Fest in New Orleans is a tribute to the place’s voodoo history and culture. It’s more of a music festival, though, which is perfect for people who love booze and music. If Coachella and Halloween had a baby, the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience would be it. Check out the complete schedule here.

There you have it, a list of Halloween festivals that’ll take you around the world. Does your country have a special way of celebrating Halloween? Share the freaky fun and let us know!

About Author

Alyosha Robillos
Alyosha Robillos

In Russia, Alyosha is a boy's name popularized by literary greats Dostoevsky and Tolstoy—but this particular Alyosha is neither Russian nor a boy. She is a writer from the Philippines who loves exploring the world as much as she likes staying at home. Her life's mission is to pet every friendly critter there is. When she isn't busy doing that, she sniffs out stories and scribbles away on the backs of old receipts. She is an advocate of many things: culture and heritage, the environment, skincare and snacking, to name a few. She will work for lifetime supplies of french fries and coffee. Or yogurt. Or cheese, preferably Brie.

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