Top 5 Destinations to Celebrate Halloween

Whether you adore dressing up for the day, can’t wait to take the kids trick-or-treating, revel in scary stories, or just enjoy a great themed party – Halloween is a perfect time to celebrate Fall. Although it feels like a modern holiday, Halloween can trace its roots back to the ancient pagan festival of Samhain. Samhain celebrates the change of seasons and the transition from summer to winter — a time when the veil between our world and the other world is at its thinnest. While every destination that celebrates Halloween will have the traditional core elements, there are a few destinations that stand above the rest for their Halloween style.

Fire performer at the Derry Halloween Festival [Photo Credit: Mitch Hodge via Unsplash]

Ireland

Since Halloween can trace its origins back to Gaelic and Celtic culture, it seems fitting to celebrate in Ireland! Wander through historic castle ruins, and feel the lines of magic and reality blur at the edges of the ancient forests and in the soft steps of the meadows. In Ireland, you’ll enjoy bonfires, folk stories, light shows, and music — all centered around a spirit of celebration, the changing of the seasons, and a little bit of myth. Dublin offers perfectly spooky haunted tours and Bram Stoker-esque castles. Check out the Púca Festival. which concentrates on storytelling, music, and food in the historic Boyne Valley. Or, make your way to Northern Ireland for Europe’s biggest Halloween festival in Derry! This giant marvel invites you to explore different worlds, enjoy interactive light shows circus & fire performers, and take part in costume parades. Ireland offers something for everyone from parties into the wee hours of the morning to kid-friendly apple bobbing and face painting. With all the festivals rooted in tradition, this is a great addition to your Irish adventure.

New Orleans

Second only to Mardi Gras, Halloween in one of the country’s most haunted cities is a big to-do. At any time of year, New Orleans offers voodoo shops, ghost tours, and haunted sites, but Halloween magnifies all these historic, frightening, and gothic elements tenfold. The haunted atmosphere of the city is given an extra boost with towering skeletons, ghostly horsemen, and endless themed parties. The famous parades are complete with frightening floats where revelers throw candy into the crowds. New Orleans does have a few kid-friendly activities, but this is primarily a holiday geared toward adults. Celebrate with your friends at elegant weekend-long parties. Elaborate costumes, exciting galas, and incredible balls grace the streets of the French Quarter, and the houses are decorated to the nines! If you can’t visit New Orleans in February for Mardi Gras, but are still looking for that party vibe, October is the time to go.  

London

Full of history and tradition, but with all the trimmings of a big city, London offers something unique. It seems like in every corner of London from October 22nd- 31st there’s a Halloween celebration. Enjoy a modern Halloween with themed menus in restaurants and bars, Madame Tussaud’s Alien Escape Experience, Crystal Maze experiences, countless themed escape rooms, and endless costume parties. But London also boasts a long, dark, and storied past, with plenty of ghost tours, serial killer walks, graveyards, underground passages, and dungeons. Throughout the last week of October, London will allow you to immerse yourself in an interactive Halloween, blending historical and modern scares.

[Photo Credit: Andrei via Pexels]

Disney

[Photo credit: Aiden Craver via Unsplash]

Trying to celebrate Halloween in the most kid-friendly way possible? Look no further than Disney! All of the Disney Parks and cruises worldwide celebrate Halloween in style. Marvel at specialty shows, meet-and-greets, and fireworks displays that you won’t see at any other time of year. The kids will love meeting their favorite Villains who only come out for Halloween. Or getting unique photos of the other characters in specialty Halloween costumes. Mickey himself hosts a Not-So-Scary Halloween Party which requires advance tickets. Your favorite rides also get a makeover adding spooky — but not-too-scary — Halloween elements. When you tire of rides, parties, and villains, you can enjoy specialty foods or head into the shops for some seasonal merch. In Disney World, Halloween brings in a huge foodie element with lots of new specialties to try and enjoy. The kids will love the Coco-themed installation! Running through the 2nd of November, it teaches them more about the Day of the Dead. With all sorts of things you’ll never see any other time of year, Halloween is a great time to enjoy a Disney experience.

Canada

Canada is one of the best destinations for leaf-peeping, getting out into nature, and enjoying Halloween in a quaint, kid-friendly way. Canadians celebrate Halloween very similarly to Americans with scary movies, trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, and autumn festivals. You can enjoy small-town fairs, as well as carnival rides, pumpkin patches, or apple bobbing for the kids. Victoria on Vancouver Island is British Columbia’s most haunted city. They celebrate with a lot of spookier activities including haunted night ziplining. The bigger cities like Toronto and Vancouver are dotted with parties and Zombie walks. All over Canada, there are plenty of events for all ages. Infuse your Halloween with a little bit of wholesome, light-hearted fun. This is the perfect place if you don’t want Halloween to be the main focus of your Autumn outdoor adventure but just have it sprinkled into the great outdoors.


Are you ready to add a little travel to next year’s Halloween celebrations? Let us know! If you’re considering a late-October or early-November adventure, it’s worth adding these incredible Halloween experiences to your trip!

My investment strategy

I don’t live in a fancy house, or drive a fancy car, and you’re much more likely to find me shopping in TJ Maxx than in Nordstroms, but my family is rich in something that matters much more to me than material possessions – and that is experiences.

My kids have kayaked through mangrove swamps in The Keys, climbed waterfalls in Jamaica, and ziplined through the treetops in Alaska. They’ve been to a hockey game in Montreal, a musical in London’s West End, a “session” in a Dublin pub, and a wedding in Poland – and they are still in high school! The things that we’ve seen and done together as a family, the cultures we’ve experienced and the places that we’ve explored have opened our eyes, broadened our horizons, and built a treasure trove of memories that we will share forever.

Sure, my daughter probably would have preferred to have a designer handbag (or a car, for that matter) for her sixteenth birthday, but I can guarantee that she will never forget the weekend that she and her friends spent in New York City instead. And my son would certainly have preferred to find video games under the tree this Christmas instead of a trip to London and Paris with mom and dad, but even he was struck speechless by Notre Dame.

So I will continue to invest in experiences rather than things. And to “drag” my kids along with me every chance I get. Because my time with them is short (my daughter graduates next year, and my son will be right behind her) and I know that I am giving them a gift that’s far more valuable than any possession.

Who am I kidding, though, right? My husband and I probably get more out of it than the kids do! We’re the ones who will be sitting around some day reminiscing about New Year’s Eve on the Champs Elysees, and the time we watched glaciers calve from our balcony in Alaska, while the kids are off having new adventures of their own, with their own families. And maybe THAT is the biggest gift we’ve given them – the desire to see, and do, and explore rather than to acquire.

I hope so!

You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)