Posted on 08/29/2016
From haunted houses and creepy graveyards, to eerie swamps and even entire neighborhoods transformed into supernatural other worlds, Halloween reigns supreme as the spookiest holiday shared round the globe – making it so much more than just a night for kids to get some candy. Here our travel professionals’ picks for the top spots for getting your fright on.
5. Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida • Orlando, FL
On select nights in September, October and November, your worst nightmares will take shape as Universal Studios Florida theme park in Orlando is completely transformed into the award-winning Halloween Horror Nights. See if you can survive haunted houses, spine-chilling street experiences, outrageous live shows and more. Halloween Horror Nights annually draws hundreds of thousands of horror fans from around the globe to this one-of-a-kind event. Tony Timpone, Editor of Fangoria Magazine, said, "After visiting scream parks across the U.S. for the last 20 years, I can easily say the Universal's is the best in the business...Halloween Horror Nights is the ultimate Halloween experience."
4. Paris, France
The Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum are wonderfully romantic Parisian landmarks. But on Halloween, skip those sights and head to Père Lachaise Cemetery and the Paris Catacombs. The Père Lachaise Cemetery has mile after and mile of tombstones, including those of Chopin, Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison. The cemetery is utterly eerie and said to be haunted. Even more terrifying and fascinating is what lies underground. In the Paris Catacombs the bones of millions of long-dead Parisians line the tunnels, uprooted from their tombs and assembled here in the 17th century. The catacombs are so haunting that they even inspired Edgar Allen Poe.
3. Fantasy Fest • Key West, FL
Here’s a very different kind of “must-experience” Halloween event that’s probably best left for adults (we’re just saying). Fantasy Fest is loaded with crazy costumes (the bawdier, the better), body paint, booze and a continuous stream of sights you won’t see any where this side of Mardi Gras. Fantasy Fest was first held in 1979 as a way to boost the local economy by filling up hotel rooms and inundating local businesses, restaurants and bars during October, a slow month for tourism. Thanks to Fantasy Fest, that’s no longer a problem. The 10-day festival creates a dream-like atmosphere that’s a fun and welcomed escape from the everyday.
2. Transylvania, Romania
Welcome to the birthplace of Dracula! There are lots of pretty vacation rentals in the mountains of Transylvania, and they are conveniently close to the infamous Bran Castle, once said to be the home of Vlad the Impaler, the reputed inspiration for Bram Stoker’s famous Dracula. Vlad the Impaler was known for his incredible cruelty and torture, reportedly impaling tens of thousands of his enemies on stakes and leaving their bodies to rot. Today, the castle is open to the public and you can book a Halloween tour and learn the truth behind the terrifying legends.
1. Salem, MA
Between 1692 and 1693, more than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft and 20 were executed during the Salem witch trials. Today, the town is one of the absolute best Halloween vacation spots for its celebration of witches on their most important night of the year. Events are held throughout the city during October, including tours of haunted and infamous spots, trial and hanging re-enactments, witches’ circles, fireworks and a parade. Make sure to visit the Witch House, the only building left in Salem with direct links to the witch trials. Adding to the city’s haunting atmosphere is the Salem Witch Museum where you can experience the drama of history in life-size stage sets, figures, lighting and a stirring narration.