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Want to make the most of the upcoming Halloween season? How about planning a trip around one of these especially spooky spots? They’re sure to make for one of the most unforgettable holidays you’ll ever experience.
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A visit to Ireland not only means being surrounded by breathtaking scenery, but experiencing centuries-old castles that hold lots of fascinating, and spooky, secrets. If you dare, you can even spend the night in one of them, like Ross Castle in County Meath. Built in 1536, this stone tower-style structure is now run as a B&B. But don’t plan on doing much sleeping. Guests frequently wake up at night hearing voices and doors banging shut on their own. Some have even felt the presence of a spirit sitting at the edge of their bed. If an overnight stay is a bit much, consider a tour of Malahide Castle, reportedly home to at least five ghosts, including a 16th-century caretaker known as Puck. Leap Castle near the picturesque town of Birr, is considered one of the most haunted in all of Europe, once the scene of many dreadful deeds and now famous for its eerie apparitions.
Halloween is the second most celebrated time in New Orleans after Mardi Gras, and the city has lots of spooky events throughout the month. A long history of voodoo, countless haunted spots, and its infamous party scene make it an ideal destination for the season. Explore the French Quarter where you can wander through voodoo shops and learn more about the centuries-old practice, and take one of the many haunted tours on offer, which include visits to the world-famous cemeteries where the dearly departed are buried in tombs above ground. Don’t miss the after-dark tour of eerie Manchac Swamp where you’ll be regaled with tales about the hundreds who died in a tidal wave here.
London must be one of the world’s most haunted cities, with practically an endless number of places where ghosts are known to roam. Take an after-dark ghost walk and visit graveyards and legendary murder sites, or embark on a horse-drawn carriage ride through Richmond Park for an hour-long special Halloween tour, where you’ll learn all about the ghosts that haunt its grounds. The Tower of London, once home to political prisoners who were tortured and subsequently executed, also offers rather fascinating tours in which you’ll hear all sorts of ghostly tales – the tower itself seems to emit an eerie feeling with its stark white appearance and winding stone corridors.
As the birthplace of America’s revolution, Williamsburg is renowned for its legends and haunted history. In Colonial Williamsburg, you can take a walking tour of sites known for their supernatural inhabitants. Popular on Halloween but offered throughout the year, it combines local folklore with ghost stories, historic insights and entertainment. Special performances and events are offered at Halloween.
In Salem, also know as the Witch Capital of the United States, Halloween is a month-long event. Here in the late 17th-century, Salem and a number of the surrounding towns prosecuted over 150 people who were accused of witchcraft, and some were hanged or crushed to death under heavy stones. Today, October means all sorts of haunted happenings, including a parade, ghostly tales, lots of witches, vampires and more. The Salem Witch Museum is a great place to learn more about witchcraft and the historical reasons behind the witch trials, and there is a wide range of tours that highlight the most haunted spots, as well as trial and hanging re-enactments and witches’ circles.
If you want to visit one of the most terrifying, and allegedly most haunted places in the world, head to Philadelphia. The city hosts the now abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary, and visitors can take a night tour, aptly referred to as Terror Behind the Walls. Built in 1829 with castle-like walls and imposing guard towers, it was the first prison to institute solitary confinement, with prisoners living alone eating alone and exercising alone. Not surprisingly, it’s believed to have caused mental illness among its prisoners. Visitors have reported creepy noises and even lonely wails drifting through the dark corridors, with Cell Block 12 famous for its shadowy figures and disembodied laughter. Don’t forget to feed your appetite with a famous Philly Cheesesteak.
Like Ireland, Scotland is filled with haunted castles and other haunted spots, like the Edinburgh Vaults, an abandoned series of labyrinthine chambers rotting away under South Bridge that has become a bizarre tourist attraction where some have reported glimpsing the evil ghost of a faceless man during the tour. Dark figures of lost souls lurk in the depths of Edinburgh Castle, including a phantom piper and a headless drummer. Spend the night at Dalhousie Castle, and you just might get a glimpse of the ghost of Lady Catherine, the most frequently reported specter at this 13th-century fortress turned hotel.
Italy is gorgeous in the fall, and it also happens to be home to a number of creepy catacombs. The Capuchin Catacombs is a burial crypt in Palermo, Sicily, and while it’s definitely fascinating, if you’re prone to nightmares, don’t even think about being trapped inside. In the 16th century, Capachuin monastery monks discovered that a body of one of their own which was put to rest in the catacombs had become naturally mummified. Ever since, it became the popular spot for dead bodies, who were dressed in their finest attire and placed in poses in the catacombs. Today, it holds some 8,000 very well-preserved mummies and is open to tourists – many have claimed to hear whistling, whispering, and some even returned to a room to find skeletons rearranged in different positions.
Tombstone, Arizona is a fun place for families to visit around Halloween, offering pumpkin carving and costume contests, ghost stories around the fire and lots of other activities. Adults who are looking for haunted thrills will find plenty, like the specters that have often been seen wandering the old wooden grave markers at Boothill Cemetery.
Savannah is beautiful, but it can also be a bit creepy with all of that Spanish moss and historic homes. Many of the stately old homes in the historic district are purportedly haunted. Take the Hearse Ghost Tour and you’ll ride around the city in a hearse while checking out the paranormal hotspots. After, eat at one of the many restaurants serving up Southern cuisine.