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7 of the Best Halloween Parties and Celebrations Around the World

These seven Halloween celebrations serve up bone-chilling frights, spooky spectacles, and costumed festivities galore.

Halloween celebrations in New York City
Hi, I'm Claire!

Claire Bullen is an award-winning food, drinks, and travel writer and editor who has lived and worked in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Paris, and London. She is the author of The Beer Lover's Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, and the editor at GoodBeerHunting.com. Her writing has also appeared in Time Out New York, The Daily Meal, Pellicle Magazine, and beyond.

Aged out of trick-or-treating? Never fear—or, come to think of it, do. These seven larger-than-life Halloween events are for those with a taste for the macabre, the uncanny, and the occult (not to mention bloody cocktails and fantastical costumes). From historically minded celebrations in Salem, Massachusetts to modern-day traditions such as New York’s Village Halloween Parade, there are so many ways to celebrate the spooky season. Whatever you do, just don’t skimp on your costume … or worry too much about what goes bump in the night.

1. Día de Muertos

Hundreds of revelers dressed as Catrins and Catrinas make their way down Reforma for Día de Muertos in Mexico.
Hundreds of revelers dressed as Catrins and Catrinas make their way down Reforma.Photo Credit: Diego Grandi / Shutterstock

Mexico City, Mexico

Although very much not “Mexican Halloween,” Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead)—which falls at the very beginning of November—is an important annual holiday throughout Latin America. Traditionally, families come together to honor those who have passed away, but make no mistake: this is no solemn affair.

In Mexico City, Day of the Dead festivities span an enormous parade—which includes thousands of costumed participants; dancing Catrinas, or ceremonial skeletons; and floats—to the installation of ofrendas (celebratory altars) in the city’s Zócalo, or Central Square. As a bonus, venture south to the Xochimilco district, where you can embark on a special nighttime gondola ride along the area’s UNESCO-listed canals.

Related: An Introduction to Day of the Dead in Latin America

2. Haunted Happenings

People stroll Salem's Haunted Happenings on a sunny day.
Salem's Haunted Happenings is one of the US' most popular seasonal events.Photo Credit: Heidi Besen / Shutterstock

Salem, USA

Salem has become a byword for all things spine-chilling, thanks to its infamous 17th-century Witch Trials. Today, visitors flock to Salem throughout the year to visit supposedly haunted landmarks such as the Witch House and the Burying Point Cemetery; however, Halloween—to no one’s surprise—is the most popular time to explore.

That’s thanks to Salem Haunted Happenings, billed as the largest celebration of Halloween in the world. A local tradition for some 40 years, the month-long festival attracts more than half a million visitors each year with its wide-ranging events. Highlights include everything from a Grand Parade and costume balls to ghost tours, the Haunted Biz Baz Street Fair, film nights, and more.

3. The Village Halloween Parade

Viator
NYC's Halloween parade attracts many costumed partygoers.Photo Credit: Photo Spirit / Shutterstock

New York City, USA

A beloved New York City tradition for almost half a century, New York’s Halloween Parade brings a carnival of kookiness and spookiness to Downtown, with New Yorkers of all stripes informally competing to wear the best, boldest, and cleverest costumes.

Led by a marching band, the parade is open to all, though you can also snag a spot on the parade route sidelines to watch the costumed revelers strut along 6th Avenue. Once the event starts winding down around 8:30pm, continue to the official after-party at Webster Hall—or Webster Hell, for one night only—or book a ghost walking tour to amp up the frights.

4. Dracula's Castle Halloween Party

Friends in fancy dress enjoy Dracula's Castle Halloween Party.
Viator writers Jade Harvey and Helen Shepherd celebrated at Dracula's Castle.Photo Credit: Helen Shepherd

Transylvania, Romania

For die-hard Halloween lovers, no other experience compares to spending All Hallows’ Eve at the legendary Bran Castle. Dating back to 1377, the fortress—located high among the mist-shrouded forests of Transylvania—is best known as Dracula’s Castle, and has been (erroneously) claimed as the setting for Bram Stoker’s world-famous horror story.

The Bran Castle Halloween Party serves up atmosphere galore, not to mention DJ-helmed dancing, costume contests, and all kinds of fang-tastic festivities. Just be careful of dark corners—you never know what kind of vampiric encounters lie in wait.

Related: Know Before You Go: Celebrating Halloween at Dracula's Castle

5. Endless Night Vampire Ball

Women in glamorous costumes pose at Endless Night Vampire Ball.
Dress to kill for the Endless Night Vampire Ball.Photo Credit: Whiskey Shotz

New Orleans, USA

New OrleansEndless Night Vampire Ball is “a Venetian masquerade ball meets a vampire court with the energy of a rock concert and the elegance of a 19th-century burlesque cabaret.” Got it? Good. This beloved Nola event, held since 1998, taps into the city’s haunted reputation, penchant for voodoo and the occult, and longstanding affinity for vampires—paging Anne Rice!—and turns it all into a decadent and debauched masked ball.

Expect burlesque performances, live music, dancing, and a best-dressed contest. Just don’t forget to come wearing “black suits and cocktail dresses, formal vampire, baroque, Victorian, steampunk, pagan, and over-the-top New Orleans Venetian Carnival”—or to try the signature Bloodbath cocktail.

6. Halloween Festival

A display of pumpkins and flowers at Halloween Festival in Ireland.
Halloween is a huge affair in Ireland, from Derry to Dublin (pictured).Photo Credit: jksz.photography / Shutterstock

Derry, Northern Ireland

Europe’s biggest Halloween festival, Derry Halloween, held within the walled Northern Irish city, melds Halloween festivities with Samhain ritual. A series of themed installations and activities across the city reflect different pagan themes each year, while a Haunted Harvest Market is worth browsing.

But the festival’s unabashed highlight is the Street Carnival Parade, a free-to-attend event which draws thousands of musicians, dancers, circus performers, and costumed spectators. The festivities culminate in a glittering fireworks show above the River Foyle.

7. Pumpkinferno

Painted gourds at Pumpkinferno in Ottawa in Canada.
Pumpkinferno is a favorite Halloween festivity in Ottawa, Canada.Photo Credit: HeyDebbie / Shutterstock

Ottawa, Canada

If you thought larger-than-life festive light displays were strictly reserved for December, Ottawa’s Pumpkinferno will soon correct your misapprehension. Held at Upper Canada Village and consisting of over half a mile (1 kilometer) of 7,000 hand-carved pumpkins which are lit up as night descends, the Halloween spooktacular is unparalleled in its scope.

Past installations have included everything from multilayer Jack O’Lantern archways to pumpkin trees—and even dragons, tigers, and trains made entirely of illuminated carvings. We have a feeling Jack Skellington would approve.

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