Where to celebrate Halloween and The Day of the Dead

Although I am easily scared I still love Halloween, the costumes, trick or treating and silly games. And of course watching Hocus Pocus! I thought it would be interesting to take a look into some places across the globe that ooze Halloween.

Transylvania, Romania

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Let’s start at the bloodthirsty land of Transylvania, home to vampires and werewolves this is perhaps the perfect Halloween spot. I have always been intrigued by vampires, since reading and watching Bram Stoker’s, Dracula as a child (not Twilight) so the iconic Bran Castle is at the top of my list.

The castle was home to Prince Vlad Tepes, who apparently placed his enemies on spikes. Many believe the character Dracula was based on Vlad, which explains the opening scene of the film. To many in Transylvania, he is a hero so this portrayal of Vlad is unwelcome from some.

Bran castle itself adds to the medieval landscape that takes you back to the 1800’s. Surrounding the castle is greenery, roads made from dirt and people in horse-drawn carts. There are tours of the castle and events throughout the year, including a Halloween party.

Getting around Transylvania is said to be difficult due to the old-timey infrastructure so if I ever get to venture that way I will be taking the bus. You can check timetables here.

Salem, America

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The witch trials of 1962 have put Salem on the Halloween map, I am yet to go an October without hearing about Salem. Throughout the month of October, which is known as ‘Haunted Happenings’ there are plenty of spooky activities to get involved with. From tours to reenactments of Salem’s history.

There are a few preserved sites from 1962 that can be visited either independently or as part of a group.; these are the Witch House and judges graves, there’s also the oldest Witch shop called Crow Haven Corner. Alternatively, head to Danvers which used to be a part of Salem, here you will find the homes of the accused and a house where initial hearings took place.

Salem is not just about witches though there is a very long history here and it isn’t hard to get to, you can even visit for a day trip from nearby Boston.

New Orleans, America

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One of the most haunted places in the world (apparently) this is a must visit for Halloween. But, it’s not just the ghosts and ghouls, New Orleans is known for its parties and the one of Frenchmen Street is where I’d head to.

If you’re traveling with family don’t worry there are many events to keep everyone interested including ‘Boo at the Zoo’  which is packed with family fun.

If all of this isn’t enough then what better way to celebrate Halloween than also knowing that you are helping someone. Proceeds made from Halloween in New Orleans go to Project Lazarus – a wellness home for those with AIDS.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Día de los Muertos

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In Mexico, there are many places that celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which is a celebration where the dead are welcomed back at midnight on November 1st. I think this is a lovely way to celebrate those loved ones we have lost and is a much nicer concept than Halloween.

San Miguel de Allende is one place that I would love to visit during this time when a week-long public party is held, where there’s a lot to be enjoyed. One such festival is the Festival La Calaca which lasts for a week and features DJ’s, art, talks about the dead, dances and much more.

Parades are aplenty in San Miguel de Allende during this time and they are very colourful. Catrina Parade looks particularly interesting with skull make-up which represents Lady Death, some will even hire make-up artists to get the look just right.

This is a tradition that dates back centuries and hopefully will never be overshadowed by Halloween.

I’m sure there are many more spooky retreats but these places are at the top of my list.

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