One of the most famous celebrations of the year is just around the corner and students around the world love to dress up and enjoy one of the many Halloween parties around. Originated in Ireland and reinvented in the US, the event now has fans all over the world. The former Celtic Festival was called Samhain and commemorated the ancient Celtic New Year on the 1st of November. A mark for the end of the harvest, the summer and the beginning of the cold winter and darker days. Uniplaces, the online platform for student accommodation, gathered a list with the Top 15 cities to celebrate Halloween, in case you are not in the US for the occasion.
From the 25th October to the 2nd November the largest Irish Halloween celebration – called “The Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival” – takes place in Derry City. More than 50,000 people in costumes visit the streets of this small town. You thought that Halloween was only taken seriously in the US? You couldn’t be further from the truth! In Derry, the pubs refuse to serve to people who are not dressed up. Over the 9 days of the festival people can enjoy fireworks, a parade and all sorts of family events.
Halloween has become increasingly popular in Germany in the recent years. Berlin’s Spindler & Klatt and Kulturbrauerei host some spectacular Halloween parties, whilst in Rust you’ll find the biggest German Halloween party, at Europa Park. However, if you’re in Munich, make sure you take part in the ghost walking tours to find out the spookiest, scariest side of Munich.
In Austria, the Halloween tradition was to leave bread and water together with a lamp on the table to welcome the dead souls back to earth. This year, you can celebrate one of Europe’s biggest Halloween parties in Vienna’s city hall.
In Italy, “the souls day” is celebrated with “Fave dei Morti”, which are cookies offered to the dead and gods of the nether world. Corinaldo is Italy’s capital of Halloween, where they celebrate “La Festa delle Steghe” (The Festival of Witches) all across town. The medieval walled city becomes the perfect scenario when it is transformed into a Halloween paradise in the last week of October.
In Spain, Halloween is mainly marked by the catholic feast of All Souls Day and October 31st is known locally as “El Día de las Brujas” (Day of the Witches) as well as “Dia de los muertos” (Day of the death). If you are currently in Spain, then you still enjoy the Halloween tradition. In Barcelona, you can either celebrate it at the best clubs’ Halloween parties, such as at Razzmatazz or Nitsa, but you can also discover the dark secrets of Barcelona in a spooky tour by Runnerbean Tours. Alternatively, join the “ghost walking tour” from ICONO – you’ll always be in for a scare.
On the 2nd November, the “Dia de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) takes place and is celebrated with a 3-day feast starting on the 31st October. During this time the celebration honours the dead, as they believe that the spirits return to their families on this day. This period also marks the return of the Monarch butterflies to Mexico, which is said to bring the spirits of the departed back home. Experience the night-time carnival-like processions called comparsas. Or attend to the Festival of Skulls – the Festival de las Calaveras – in Aguascalientes.
If you think of witch hunting in the US, the little town of Salem immediately pops to mind. So obviously, you can count on Salem’s Festival of the Dead being an immense event to participate in.
Keene, in New Hampshire, used to host the famous annual Pumpkin Fest, but the festival has now been moved to Laconia. The cool thing about this one is that it tries to get all the records out there. It already holds the record for having the greatest number of lit jack-o’-lanterns.
If you are a creature of the night and are staying in the city which never sleeps then you can take part in the largest Halloween celebration in the US – New York’s Village Halloween Parade, which attracts over 2 million spectators and participants.
In Bangkok, the festivities happen mainly on the Silom Soi 4, a pedestrian street of bars, restaurants and clubs, which is the scene for a massive Halloween street party.
The Halloween capital of Asia is Hong Kong, which has two main traditions:
First, the Festival of the Hungry Ghost (Yu Lan), where gifts to spirits of the dead are given; and second, at Hong Kong Disneyland, where the annual Halloween Bash takes place.
Besides the numerous Halloween parties around London, the London Ghost Walk stands out for being one of the spookiest – with graveyards and famous murder sites guided by author of Haunted London, Richard Jones. Be careful when you visit the execution site of Sir William Wallace – Braveheart himself – and the old churchyard, where the ghostly figure of Queen Isabella, known as the She-Wolf of France, haunts the grounds.
Are you more into dungeons? Head on over to the London Dungeon, where they have a great Halloween programme to frighten you like never before. What about zombies? The Halloween Festival in Stratford – just a couple of hours away from London – lets you join the famous ghost walks as well.
In Brazil, Halloween is not seen as a major celebration, but there are still some awesome parties nonetheless. You can count on the Lapa district of Rio de Janeiro to provide you with some spooky festivities.
During the Filipino version of Halloween – on the 1st and 2nd November – known as Pangangaluluwà, children pass from house to house offering a song in exchange for food or candy. The children sing and collect in honour of the souls of those who are still in the purgatory, to help them reach heaven.
Not as common in France, but there are still a few places definitely worth a visit. The Halloween spirit is immense at Disneyland Paris’ haunted house, and there is also the Ghost & Vampire Tour, by Mysteries of Paris, which takes you through the scary, dark heart of Paris.
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