Halloween – it’s a yearly occasion where adults have an excuse to dress in costume, children are allowed to eat too much candy, and Starbucks bring out their Pumpkin Spiced Latte. But it’s an event steeped in centuries of tradition and culture. At the end of October and start of November, many cultures around the world celebrate this age-old holiday in their unique ways.
From Ireland’s traditional celebrations, to Latin America’s Day of the Dead, there are some pretty special places to spend this spooky time of year.
Throughout most countries in Latin America, Halloween is celebrated as the Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos. It is believed that the souls of the deceased return to spend the day with their families. For most countries the significant day is the 1st of November. In many parts of Mexico, however, it’s a three day extravaganza, making it a fascinating place to celebrate Halloween.
Each region of Mexico celebrates slightly differently, but the general idea is that October 31 is All Hallow’s Eve and people go to church and invite the spirits to come back. November 1 is All Saints Day, when the spirits come to visit the families. November 2 is All Saint’s Day and is spent at the cemetery decorating graves and tombs.
It’s a fabulous time of year to be in Mexico and a great part of Mexican culture to experience first-hand. There’s processions and decorations, candle-light vigils, feasts and celebrations. Marigolds are spread everywhere; the ‘flower of the dead’ is thought to attract the souls to the offerings that are left out for them – usually including sugar skulls, pan de muerto (bread of the dead), and drinks.
It’s where Halloween was born, after all! Around 1000AD the Celts in Ireland started celebrating the end of summer (‘Samhain”) when they believed that dead spirits would come back to the mortal world for one day. The Celts felt less positively toward the souls of the dead than the Mexicans, believing that they were evil and needed to be warded off. That’s where the scary and dark imagery of Halloween originates.
Some traditions we keep today began all those centuries ago in Ireland, including jack-o-lanterns, scary costumes, bonfires, and trick-or-treating!
There are many fun celebrations you can get involved in if you visit Ireland over Halloween, including street parades and haunted castle tours.
Dublin throws a massive public street parade in the centre of the city that culminates in a huge party the nightlife area, Temple Bar.
For a truly spine-chilling experience, take a ghost tour at Malahide Castle, close to Dublin. It is generally accepted that the castle is haunted by at least 5 ghosts, most of whom came to their untimely death in very interesting and gruesome circumstances. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the tales told and the history of the old building will keep you fascinated for hours!
Up in the Northern Irish city of Derry the Banks of the Foyle Hallowe’en Carnival is held inside the gorgeous old walled city. The Carnival is huge, with thousands of revellers dressing in spooky costumes. The night culminates in a fireworks spectacular.
United States of America
It may not be where it all began, but the USA has taken Halloween and ran with it! Halloween is the massive commercial success that it is because of the American’s love of it. Virtually anywhere you find yourself on the 31st of October in the US of A there will be a raging party that you can join in. There are some particularly special hot spots though…
Anoka, Wisconsin, claims to love Halloween more than any other place. The self-proclaimed ‘Halloween capital of the world’ throws a pretty amazing celebration of their favourite day of the year. From a Pet Costume Contest to a Pumpkin Carving Competition, you won’t believe your eyes at some of the events at this week-long festival.
New Orleans is known for its above-ground cemeteries, love of voodoo, and generally kooky vibe. At Halloween time you’ll find street parties, crazy costumes, and haunted tours. Every day is a party in NoLa, Halloween just has a theme!
The university city of Madison, in Wisconsin, is notorious for throwing FreakFest, one of the wildest Halloween parties in all of the States. For something more family friendly, try Keene in New Hampshire for its incredibly entertaining Pumpkin Fest.
There’s plenty of other great places to spend Halloween across the globe. Try Dracula’s home of Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania, to really give yourself a scare. Or many places across the United Kingdom that the residents believe to be haunted.
Amazing party destination include hedonistic party town of Prague, Czech Republic; Bangkok in Thailand, and Hong Kong ‘Halloween capital of Asia’.
When booking in your Halloween getaway, remember that you can do a good deed by booking through the 1 reservation = 1 tree planted program. Follow the links below to help the environment and get on your way to a spectacularly spooky start to November!
=> Holiday Homes
=> Car Rentals