I’ve never really been trick or treating nor am I much good with scary films (although I’ve seen a fair few thanks to my Sister’s love of them). However I do still enjoy Halloween celebrations. I love carving out a pumpkin, popping a tea light inside it and roasting pumpkin seeds.
Halloween is another great excuse to party and just have some fun and it’s celebrated, in varying ways, across the world.
Below are some of the best places to celebrate Halloween – let me know what you like to do on this spooky day!
Did you know Halloween originated in Ireland? I sure didn’t have a clue until fairly recently.
“Halloween” originates from the ancient Celtic festival of “Samhain”, which means “end of summer”. This 7th Century Celtic marked the end of Harvest season and the beginning of winter.
Belief has it that on Samhain the door between this world and the next was as its weakest and the spirits of dead ancestors could pass through. Pretty creepy stuff!
So, to protect themselves from the evil spirits and fairies around during the festival of Samhain, Irish people would wear costumes to disguise themselves and light bonfires.
Nowadays you’ll find Halloween celebrated all over Ireland. Visit Derry to join in the adventures of the undead in one of the world’s most spook-tacular festivals. If you’re partial to a bit of Bram Stoker’s writing then head to Dublin where Dracula is celebrated with a whole (g)host of spooky events.
On a family road trip around New England back in 2006, we visited Salem. Salem is known for it’s role in the Salem witch trials of 1962; a series of prosecutions where people were accused of witchcraft. The trials ended in the executions of 20 people, most of them women.
If you visit today you’ll notice that police cars have witch logos on them and the school sports team is still named the “Witches”.
Given the town’s history it’s perhaps unsurprising that there’s a lot going on around Halloween.
There’s plenty of “Haunted Happenings” going on throughout the month including; 4D Haunted House experience, nightmare galleries, scary theatre productions and, of course, plenty of witch hunting tours!
Where better to celebrate Halloween than the home of Vlad the Impaler, more commonly known as Dracula?
I spent last year’s Halloween festivities in Bucharest and the city really goes all out when it comes to decorating it’s old town. The restaurants were adorned with cobwebs (not just real ones, but over-the-top Halloween ones), coffins and the odd ghost appearing in the window. There’s even a spooky 5k Fun Run through the city’s streets!
If you’re after an even bigger thrill then up the ante and spend the night in a medieval haunted castle in Transylvania!
In Mexico the 31st October is Día de las Brujas (Day of the Dead); a three day festival to honour the dead. The Mexicans believe that during these days the spirits return to be together with their families and so it’s a cause of celebration rather than a time to be afraid.
Celebrations are held throughout Mexico but each town does things slightly differently.
The little island of Janitzio has elaborate Day of the Dead rituals includeing processions, music, folk dances and a night where families gather in the cemetery to chant and sing. Arguably the most impressive sight is the fishermen in their rowboats with torches lighting up the lake.
For colourful marketplaces then head to Oaxaca. Or, head to the Xcaret theme park in the Riviera Maya which hosts an annual Festival de la Vida y la Muerte, “Festival of Life and Death”, in honor of the Day of the Dead.
If you scare easily perhaps don’t take on the Jack the Ripper Tour. Feel like you’ve been transported back to the mean streets of the Victorian east end and be terrified by stories of Jack’s killings. On this super creepy tour you’ll learn more about Jack’s victims and even view photographic evidence used by the police in their investigations. Not one for the faint-hearted!
Jaklien from Passport and Toothbrush has put together a great guide of scary things to do in London this Halloween which you should go and take a look at!
What are your Halloween plans?