The spookiest day of the year is fast approaching; pumpkins are being carved, apples are being candied and children all over are preparing for the sugar-induced fillings they will have to endure after Halloween. Though, Halloween isn’t always celebrated in its ordinary fashion, as some countries push the boundaries on this ghoulish festival. We explore some of the quirkier Halloween hotspots around the world; some of these entries are surprisingly quite close to home!
Day of the Dead – Mexico
It must be mentioned, Día de los Muertos, or commonly known as Day of the Dead, is not Mexico’s version of Halloween. The events are similar, however, as both are celebrated at the same time of year and act as a salute to all things macabre - though Mexico approaches these themes in a very unique way. The Day of the Dead is a festival that celebrates the lives of their deceased loved ones, with a refreshingly joyous perspective. Mexican locals can be found dancing, playing music, and producing art that makes the streets radiate with colour – completely opposing the traditional Halloween celebrations.
Did you know? During Day of the Dead, families are encouraged to build an altar, or ofrenda, in their private homes and cemeteries. These altars are not built for worship but used to reawaken the spirits of the dead.
Salem – Massachusetts, USA
Salem, commonly known as the Witch Capital of the US – boasts a rich history of supernatural and spooky dealings, to the extent that they now celebrate Halloween for an entire month. In the 17th-century, Salem hosted prosecutions of over 150 people that they believed to be witches, ultimately sentencing them to a hanging or crushing them to death.
Today they remember the individuals killed by conducting spooky parades, ghostly tales and encourage the crowds to dress up as witches, vampires and more. The town also has a Salem Witch Museum, which provides opportunity to learn about witchcraft and its place throughout history.
Did you know? Howard Street Cemetery is one of three primary burial grounds associated with the Salem witch trials. You can still walk around and read some of the tombstones today.
Samhain – Scotland and Ireland
Samhain is arguably the godfather of all Halloween festivities. Very few people are aware that Halloween has ancient Celtic roots, evolving from the Pagan festival of Samhain over 2000 years ago. This Celtic festival was introduced as a means of welcoming in the “darker half of the year,” whilst also exploring the darker sides of life, such as ghosts and otherworldly forces.
During Samhain, sacrifices (mostly of crops and animals) were burned in huge bonfires as a protective measure from evil supernatural beings and offerings were left out to appease any visiting spirits.
Did you know? The common concept of trick-or-treating is derived from Irish and Scottish practices around Samhain where people wore costumes and went door to door singing songs of the dead.
Kawasaki Halloween Parade - Japan
Kawasaki’s Halloween parade takes place on the final Sunday of October and will be celebrating its 23rd anniversary this year. As many as 120,000+ spectators dress up in fun and creative costumes to parade along the 1.5 km course. Prizes are to be won for the best dressed, which means that the competition is extremely high. If you’re looking for quirky, out-of-the-box outfit inspiration ideas, the Kawasaki archives are a great place to start. The entertainment doesn’t end there though, the parade is concluded with an afterparty DJ cruise and multiple horror-film screenings.
Did you know? The winners of last year’s carnival ingeniously dressed up as live versions of famous paintings, such as Da Vinci’s ‘Monalisa,’ Van Gogh’s ‘Self-portrait’ and ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch. Check it out online!
Corinaldo - Italy
Corinaldo is a small, secluded Medieval village in Italy, famed for being one of Italy’s most beautiful hidden gems. This small town has a more sinister side that rears its head only once a year – around Halloween. The inhabitants of Corinaldo throw an annual festival known as ‘The Witches Festival,’ which transforms the streets into a haunted wonderland: exhibiting underground dungeons, castles and spooky plazas. Interestingly, there is also a “Miss Witch” contest – where individuals compete to be elected as the reigning witch.
Did you know? Corinaldo is enclosed by well-preserved 14th-century walls, which gives the Halloween-inspired festival an added element of spookiness.
London – England
London is renown for being one of the most haunted cities and we’re definitely proud of it. Spooky, haunted tours are conducted throughout the year, however, there is higher demand for them around Halloween.
A particular favourite is the Jack the Ripper tour, where tourists will find themselves transported back to the streets of the 19th century East End, to explore the murder mystery that has been terrifying people for more than 125 years.
Another Halloween excursion that tourists can embark on is the horse-drawn carriage ride through Richmond Park, which gives an hour-long discussion on the ghosts that supposedly haunt the grounds.
Did you know? A number of the pubs on the guided Jack the Ripper tour are known for its supernatural activities, namely ‘The Ten Bells.’ Staff and visitors alike have reported sightings of a range of ghostly apparitions in the very pub where Jack the Ripper’s victims drank.
As you can see, Halloween is celebrated in a number of different ways, dependent on where you are in the world. Nevertheless, the premise behind the festive activities is the same: an excuse to have a good time and revel in some spooky stories of the past.
If you’re a scare-seeker and looking for some travel inspiration this Halloween, check out our Top 5 Spookiest Destinations blog:Top 5 Halloween destinations for ultimate scare-seekers.
Fancy jetting off to any of these spooky-inspired destinations? Make sure to top-up your Caxton multi-currency card, with up to 15 different currencies, to enjoy a Halloween-themed destinations tour.