Halloween that spookiest of traditions will be celebrated around the world this week. We caught up with six travel writers from the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association to get their picks of the best places to be for Halloween.
1. Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Touring the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia Pennsylvania is a photographer’s dream and something that will haunt your nightmares for days to come. Opening in 1829, Eastern State was the first penitentiary in America. Not only did it house some of the most dangerous criminals of all time but it was known for its unfair treatment of prisoners. The belief was that if prisoners spent their time in complete solitude and quiet reflection that they would become penitent. Unfortunately, solitary confinement for extended periods drove many of the inhabitants insane. Today, Eastern State Penitentiary is left in a state of ‘preserved ruin’ as no restorations or renovations take place. With its crumbling walls and cells, it’s creepy walking through the long cellblocks. Especially if you are immersed in the audio tour and you turn around to find yourself to be the only person in the hallway. Did the whispers come from the audio player or the ’empty’ cell behind you? If that is not terrifying enough, Eastern State Penitentiary is its spookiest from late September to mid-November with it’s annual Halloween Terror Behind the Walls event – a massive haunted house inside a real prison. Take the tour if you dare! I did and wrote about what to expect.
Mary Chong, Canadian travel blogger | www.calculatedtraveller.com
2. West Hollywood Halloween Carnival, Los Angeles
Don’t miss this year’s West Hollywood Halloween Carnival – it’s something everyone should experience if you’re in Los Angeles during the spooky season. What started as a fun neighborhood block party for the locals has turned into one of the largest Halloween celebrations in the world. Drawing at least 500,000 attendees per year, the RSVP is quite simple: Wear your most crazy, clever and fun costume and join the party along Santa Monica Boulevard. People watch, see a concert and do some bar hopping! Keep in mind, parking can be a challenge. Most in the know Uber or park at the Beverly Center and walk about a mile to the block.
Mary Lansing-Farah, Los Angeles travel blogger | http://www.alongcomesmaryblog.com/
3. Doll Asylum, Astoria, Oregon (formerly in Portland)
For something really creepy, visit the Doll Asylum in Astoria, Oregon. A very nice, normal-seeming couple open their home so visitors can see dolls being tortured, eaten by spiders, half buried in the yard, etc. As the owners warn on their website, “Long term effects may occur for both children and adults (good or bad, it’s hard to say). You may have trouble sleeping for a few nights, then be OK, then get really creeped out with a scary doll dream, then think it’s over, then wake up screaming. This may go on for some time.” If you’re lucky, your hostess might offer you baby-shaped sugar cookies hot from the oven. This is for those with an enthusiasm for the perverse.
Teresa Bergen, Portland travel blogger | www.teresabergen.com
4. Dia de Los Muertos, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
The tradition of El Dia de Los Muertos is a colourful, week long celebration full of decorations, costumes, parades and cultural festivities. Puerto Vallarta, a resort town on Mexico’s Pacific coast, is an incredible place to see the celebration unfold through the week. The boardwalk along the Malecon is filled with colourful decorations and altars honouring loved ones who have passed. Throughout the city there are different cultural events going on, with music concerts, art and film festivals. The week ends with the Caravana de la Muerte Parade, which begins at the 5 de Diciembre Cemetery and heads to el Centro. Afterward, there is a big party along the Malecon and fireworks to top off the evening.
Rossana Wyatt, Canadian travel blogger | www.lifeisfullofadventures.com
5. Cemetery Walks, New Orleans, Louisiana
Cemetery walks are becoming popular all over the world. In New Orleans they always have been important. Whereas some places just stage actors to portray long-gone persons, New Orleans often offers the real thing. As a child living in New Orleans, I sometimes took the cemeteries for granted. I passed the St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery or the St. Roch Cemetery many times and many days shortcut through them but at night, no way. They were a natural part of New Orleans but each of the New Orleans cemeteries have their own story. Take a walk of New Orleans’ cemeteries this Halloween. I did and wrote about it the fascinating stories behind the cemeteries.
Kathleen Walls, Florida travel blogger | www.americanroads.net
6. Birthplace of Halloween, Ireland
It would be easy to think of Halloween as an American tradition, so wholeheartedly have our American friends embraced it. But on one of our trips to Ireland we learnt the fascinating story behind it, and we even visited the cave where Halloween was born. Following directions from a wonderful guide in the Rathcroghan Visitor Centre, we made our way through long grass and brambles to find the spot where at sundown on October 31, according to Celtic tradition, the border between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. It’s one of the most important sites in Celtic mythology and, ironically, one of the least visited. The story has become one of our most popular posts on Food Wine Travel as Halloween devotees and followers of all things mysterious picked up the post and sent it viral.
Christine Salins, Australian travel blogger | www.foodwinetravel.com.au