There are thousands of events and festivals and happenings around Halloween time, spread throughout the U.S. Some of the dates vary each year but some are fixed, so it’s wise to check before heading on out to any particular one. Another good idea is to find out whether the event itself is family-suitable, and whether or not the crowds are rowdy or family-friendly, as well. Of course, not all of the events are listed and there’s bound to be some within a short distance of your local city or town. If you have your own event, let us know in the comments below.
New York City’s Halloween Parade
This huge and diversely-populated city is not the place to be if you dislike large crowds. The party and parade is simply gigantic and it starts early evening on October 31st. The jumping off point is usually 6th Avenue, and it goes from Spring Street to 21st St. The event ends about 11pm but some celebrants carry on into the wee hours. There are 100s of large puppets, over fifty bands, along with parading citizens all dressed up. Millions watch from the sidelines according to the usual estimate.
Arkansas’ Magic Screams
This one is a theme park makeover held throughout October on the weekends. It’s in Hot Springs at the Magic Springs and Crystal Falls park. A lot of the things to do and see are family-friendly, with goblins and ghosts, wizards, costume contests, pumpkin painting and a haunted trail.
Witch Trial Recreation in Colonial Wiliamsburg in VA
Take part in this dramatic trial of a woman accused of being a witch (it’s set in 1706). Cry Witch is 1 of several offered here in the spirit of Halloween. They also have tours and evening walks by flickering candlelight, which talk about ghostly legends.
California Theme Park & Other Halloween Bashes
Universal Studios in Hollywood holds an annual event and they audition actors a few months before. Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park becomes Knott’s Scary Farm for the season. The West Hollywood Carnival attracts costumed participants (usually about half a million) along Santa Monica Boulevard. The huge retired luxury liner, The Queen Mary — which is docked in Long Beach, gives paranormal tours, haunted hotel rooms, ghost investigations and dinners around Halloween. Disneyland in Anaheim is decorated to a T for Halloween, and it holds parades and has crafts areas as well.
Ripley’s (Believe it Or Not) Events
Ripley’s Haunted Adventures in San Antonio, TX; special horror movie guests at their location in Gatlinburg, TN; the same at their location in Myrtle Beach, SC; Carnival of Screams at their Tussaud Palace of Wax in Grand Prairie, TX; and ghost walking tours as well as ghost train adventures in St. Augustine, FL.
Several Dia de los Muertos festivals, or the Mexican Day of the Dead, are spread throughout California. Altars for loved ones may be created at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery; in San Francisco they hold a procession all the way from the Mission District through to Garfield Park; Oceanside is the site where thousands of marigolds are used to decorate altars honoring ancestors, and where visitors can make their own in a Chalk Cemetery.
Busch Gardens Africa in Tampa, FL
The park is transformed into Howl-O-Scream during the Halloween season, using scare zones, haunted houses, roller coasters and shows. Lots of screams here!
Misc. Events Across the Country
Events are held at the Nickelodeon Family suites which are in Orlando, and at some of the Great Wolf Lodges at other locations. Disneyworld decorates up a storm in Orlando, FL each year. In Key West, FL, they hold a Gnomes, Toads and White Rabbit Tea parties themed event. There are street fairs, costume contests and a parade. Alice in Wonderland is the theme. There’s a coronation ball as well as Captain Morgan’s Fantasy Fest Parade right through the historic downtown area of Key West.
In one of the best cities in the U.S. to celebrate Halloween — New Orleans — you’ll find The Witching Hour Ball (Anne Rice’s Lestat fan club puts this on), Haunted History Tours, and the Voodoo Music Experience. Just walking around New Orleans at this time will let anyone soak in the mysterious and romantic and exciting atmosphere of this legendary city. And oh, the food, glorious food, in New Orleans!