Halloween is one of the best holidays of the year, and it’s also becoming more popular as a time to take a mini-vacation. But where to go? The perfect destination would have some historic or thematic tie to the holiday, and a luxurious hotel to stay in, and at least one fantastic party, or parade, or assorted bacchanalia. Fog, ghosts and really good candy are preferred, but not required. If money is no object, and you can get away for a few days, here’s our list of the top 10 destinations in the world to celebrate a glamorous, mysterious, adrenaline-fueled Halloween.
1. London is a fantastic choice for a Halloween vacation getaway. The Langham Hotel is the perfect place to set up shop – its said to be haunted. There are so many cool activities that it’ll be hard to choose: you can go to the Old Operating Theatre on St. Thomas Street. Or have a drink at the award-winning and wildly creative Dandelyan Bar at the Mondrian Hotel. Kaspar’s Halloween Dinner Party at the Savoy Hotel is refined and really good fun, and the restaurant has spectacular views of the Thames. Several museums stay open late for the Halloween Museums at Night festivities from October 25-27. Best idea of all? A Twilight Tour of the Tower of London. The ravens await.
2. New York City has all kinds of Halloween fun to offer. Stay at the NoMad Hotel near Madison Square Park and attend their annual Halloween trick-or-treat party. Watch – or march in – the annual Greenwich Village Parade. Or wander the streets of the Upper East Side to see how the hedge fund moguls decorate for the holiday. The Halloween costume shops in New York are filled with everything a stylish specter could possibly want. Wear yours to the New York Restoration Project’s annual Hulaween party, a costume ball that will be held this year at The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine with the theme the Garden of Earthly Delights. Bette Midler hosts, and Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt is one of the honorees.
3. The Hudson Valley in New York – just 35 miles north of New York City, and an easy train ride from Grand Central Station – is a splendid place to celebrate Halloween. Sleepy Hollow, the setting for the short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”by Washington Irving and home of the “Headless Horseman,” is the site of both family-friendly and seriously macabre outdoor attractions. Our favorite is the Great Halloween Blaze, with its over 10,000 individually hand-carved illuminated jack-o-lanterns. But there’s also the more frightening Horseman’s Hollow at Philipsburg Manor, and The Unsilent Picture, an eerie film starring Bill Irwin accompanied by live music and special effects. Stay at the lovely and atmospheric Castle Hotel & Spa in nearby Tarrytown, and you’ve got the perfect setting for spooky good fun.
4. Boston. While you might think that Salem, Massachusetts – site of the Witch Trials and the House of Seven Gables – is the best place in the state for this holiday, we vote for Boston. Check into the luxury boutique hotel The Liberty – which was formerly a prison. Walk the Freedom Trail and explore the Copps Hill Burying Ground. Visit the Granary Burying Ground, Boston’s third oldest cemetery, and the final resting place of Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock. Trick-or-treat among the stately homes of Beacon Hill, which will all be decorated for the holiday. Take a nighttime tour of “haunted Boston,” starting at the Central Burying Ground Cemetery. And if you want to visit Salem, it’s only 45 minutes away.
5. Orlando, Florida. The Disney and Universal theme parks have elaborate and extensive Halloween attractions – so whether you have little ones, teens, or just the young-at-heart in your traveling party, you’ll find something that’s perfect for everyone here. The Four Seasons Hotel in Orlando is a fantastic choice, so that when you’re maxed out on the holiday festivities, you can retire to a chic resort hotel with a great spa and a gorgeous pool.
6. Aspen, Colorado. Halloween is a Big Thing in this tony resort town, and it’s a great place for a holiday get-away. Little ones can trick-or-treat and party at the local firehouse. This is the one night that the private Caribou Club opens its doors to all comers—at least those in costume. Or you can spend the night out with Aspen Walking Tours, which offers Walk with the Dead and Ghosts, Murder & Mayhem tours. Stay at The Little Nell or the St. Regis, and you’ll be in the lap of Halloween luxury.
7. Canada’s Fairmont Banff Springs is a dramatic place for the perfect Halloween celebration. The property is over 130 years old, and it’s reportedly home to several ghosts and apparitions, including the Ghost Bride and Sam the Bellman. Specific rooms are known for their paranormal activity. In Vancouver, the Fairmont is also said to be haunted – this time by a Lady in Red. In her honor, throughout October the mixologists at the hotel’s Notch8 bar will be making spirited cocktails. There will also be a “Tipsy Trick or Treat Halloween Tea” in the restaurant’s private dining room, with tarot card readings, witches’ brew and sweet and savory treats.
8. Derry (aka Londonderry), Ireland. Go back to the Celtic roots of Halloween in this self-proclaimed “Greatest Halloween Celebration in the World” in Northern Ireland. You’ll find Awakening the Walls, an illuminated animation trail; a carnival parade; a haunted harvest market; nighttime live music performances; fortune telling; dancing; the Museum of the Moon; and a joyful grand fireworks display over the Peace Bridge and the River Foyle. Many pubs won’t serve you unless you’re in costume, so bring your A-game and your best Halloween garb.
9. Edinburgh, Scotland also lays claim to the ancient Celtic Samhuinn Festival, a pagan celebration marking the culmination of the harvest season, as well as All Hallows’ Eve, the night before the Christian celebration of All Saints Day on November 1. Across the country, you’ll find ghost tours; visits to Gothic houses; a tour of the Blair Street Underground Vault; a haunted palace walk; and the Sanhuinn Fire Festival in the Old Town in Edinburgh. We vote for the Macbeth Trail, which showcases the real-life places immortalized in William Shakespeare’s “Scottish Play.”
10. Transylvania, Romania. Home of the fictional Count Dracula, and the real-life Bran Castle, this beautiful region is a perfect fall getaway. There’ll be costume parties and castle tours, and you may even see some revelers with garlic necklaces to keep the ghosts at bay.
There you have it! Ten ideas for a mini-break that will haunt you if you don’t take a journey of your own this Halloween. You’ve been warned.