Eleven destinations to celebrate Halloween
From haunted castles and islands to ghoulish street celebrations and parties at Dracula’s castle, several places around the globe beckon many travellers in celebration of Halloween or just good scary fun.
Wolfsegg Castle, Germany
This beautiful Bavarian Castle, according to legend, is said to be one of Germany’s most haunted castles. Dating back to the 1500s, reports of hauntings began. The story is that the owner discovered his wife was stepping out on him with another man and had her murdered. He and his two sons died shortly after his wife died. There are still reports today of sightings of a female ghost walking the hallways of the castle. Hourly trains leave Munich to Regensburg Hauptbahnhof, where a bus will take you to the castle. Recommended hotel: JOYN Munich Olympic
Leap Castle, Ireland
Built between the 13th and late 15th century, legend has it that during a power struggle amongst the O’Carroll clan, one brother plunged a sword into his brother, a priest, who was holding mass in the castle’s chapel. The room was dubbed “The Bloody Chapel,” with the ghost of the priest reportedly haunting the church during the night. Centuries later, during castle renovations in the early 1900s, workmen found a secret dungeon in the Bloody Chapel with hundreds of human skeletons. Visit the ghoulish dungeon designed so that prisons would fall through a trap door, falling on spikes in the ground, puncturing their lungs and then dying a slow, horrific death.
Chillingham Castle, Northumberland
One of the most haunted castles in Britain, Chillingham is claimed to be home to various hauntings. Disembodied voices of two men are often overheard talking in the castle’s chapel, but can never be traced. The White Pantry Ghost was first spotted by a footman, who’d been locked into the pantry overnight to guard the family silver. He said the ghostly figure was begging for water, and it’s now thought she was a victim of poisoning. The castle holds special ghost tours throughout the year.
The Island of the Dolls, Mexico
When going through the beautiful canals of Xochimilcan near Mexico City, you may be (un)fortunate enough to come across the creepy Island of the Dolls, or in Spanish, La Isla de las Muñecas, which looks like a place taken straight from a horror film. Legend says that a young girl died on the island’s coast, and as a tribute to the girl, the island’s caretaker hung a doll on a tree. Over the years, more and more dolls were hung all over the island to leave it looking like it does today. If you are a horror film fan, this might be worth visiting on Halloween.
Poveglia Island, Italy
This island near Venice is known for being the site of choice not only for the banished plague victims (twice apparently) but also for a 1920s lunatic asylum. It has to be haunted, right? A doctor at the mental hospital, who reportedly performed experimental and unsuccessful lobotomies most of the time, threw himself to his death from the hospital tower after claiming he had been driven mad by Poveglia’s ghosts. Perhaps it had more to do with the demons in his head, but it makes for a good, creepy story. Access to Poveglia is usually from Venice, which is easy to reach by train throughout Italy. There are no official ferries or transfers to the island, but you can charter a private boat to the island. Recommended hotel: Dona Palace
Isola La Gaiola, Italy
At first glance, Isola La Gaiola seems like a perfect example of the beauty and romance of southern Italy. The island is split in two, with a stone bridge joining them together. But it has a dark past. The island, known to be cursed, was home to many wealthy people. Some of whom committed suicide. Others died of heart attacks, while others had failed businesses or mysteriously died. Now, it is a National Park. The nearest city is Naples, where you can take a bus to the island. Recommended hotel: B&B Il Divino
If you want to celebrate Halloween and forgo the dark hauntings, this medieval city is famous for its Halloween celebrations and is great for family fun. Nearly 30,000 people attend the parade of ghosts, goblins and ghouls carrying candlelit pumpkins. Many tourists dress up in costume and tour the local bars, cafés and restaurants, many of which hold special Halloween parties. Take the train from Paris to see the fall colours. The journey takes approximately 3 hours. Recommended hotel: Hôtel Les Dames du Panthéon
The biggest European Halloween party in Northern Ireland, the city of Derry, the walled city comes alive with ancient spirits welcoming you to join their celebrations. Enjoy the folklore, feasting, and festivity as the city allows travellers to revisit Halloween of the past. The event contains more than 100 events in 40 venues across the city, with music, food, arts, and cultural and contemporary entertainment. Bring your costumes and feel what it’s like when 100,000 monsters gather in one place.
And Halloween wouldn’t be the same without partying with a vampire. Transylvania, according to legend, is where Dracula was born. Halloween cannot be any scarier than in Bran castle, Dracula’s abode! During the 15th century, Vlad the Impaler earned his name by striking fear into local residents after he held a banquet in which he had all the guests be savagely stabbed and then impaled on spikes and left to twitch to their untimely ends. This year, you can enjoy the exhibit on the making of Bram Stoker’s Dracula until 12 November 2022. Recommended hotel: Aurelius Imparatul Romanilor
The cobbled streets of the Scottish capital have always whispered tales of ghosts and ghouls. Halloween is always a fantastic time to come and visit this gothic masterpiece of a city, Edinburgh is the most haunted city in Scotland and one of the most haunted in Britain and Europe. The old Town of Edinburgh, is full of ghost stories and has a very gruesome history. It’s hard to rival the gruesome history of Edinburgh. Centuries of terrible events including “witch” burnings, mass murders, public gruesome executions, violent and bloody battles, and grave robbers. It’s all here, in this potted history of dangerous, dodgy, haunted Edinburgh. In some of the hotels, there have even been people jumping out of their beds at night after seeing strange shadows at the bottom of their bed or hearing a high-pitched piercing cry from down the hallway. Over Halloween, you can enjoy Greyfriars Kirkyard, Burke and Hare, The Real Mary King’s Close, The Edinburgh Dungeons, The Blair Street Vaults, Edinburgh Castle, The Ghost Bus Tours and also Ghost Walks around some of the oldest parts of the city. Overall, this city is the ultimate destination with a massive abundance of activities and places to see to have an incredible Halloween. Recommended hotel: Macdonald Holyrood Hotel and Spa
York is one of the oldest and most haunted cities in England and Britain. York is a city with a dark past, and you can’t often escape the gruesome stories of York’s horrifying history. It has survived volatile and violent Viking invasions, the Norman conquest and the Civil War. There are no shortage of activities and places to experience over Halloween here. Ghost in the Gardens, York Dungeons, York Minster, York Castle Ghost walks and tours through its old and spooky side streets, The ancient city of York in Northern England – with its history of brutal conflict and shocking tragedies – reportedly boasts more ghoulies, ghosties and wretched souls than anywhere else in Europe. That is, according to the International Ghost Research Foundation, which lists a total of 504 alleged hauntings here. Walking down the city’s eerie alleyways and peering into its mysterious nooks and crannies, it’s easy to let the imagination run wild. You can also enjoy a drink in the Ye Olde Starre Inne, said to be the oldest pub in York and The Golden Fleece is one of the many pubs which has a few resident ghosts. Recommended hotel: The Grange Hotel
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