Top 10 places worldwide to celebrate Halloween
International traditions & 15 English expressions around Halloween
Halloween is undoubtedly one of the most exciting festivals of the year. Originally a Celtic festival, it has become a global phenomenon over the centuries. On this day, people dress up in scary costumes, carve spooky pumpkins and groups of children go door to door to collect sweets. The tradition of trick-or-treating grows more popular each year and the anticipation of fun costumes and an abundance of sweets lights up the eyes of our little ones. But Halloween is not just for children. Adults also have fun dressing up and throwing spooky parties.
In this blog post, we take you on a journey to the 10 best places around the world to celebrate this spooky day. You’ll learn more about the origins of the Halloween custom. And we’ll give you 15 English expressions related to Halloween to help you shine at your Halloween party this year.
Where does Halloween come from?
The roots of Halloween go far back in history. Originally, it was a Celtic festival called “Samhain”, which marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. The Celts believed that on this day the boundary between the world of the living and the dead became blurred and the spirits of the deceased returned to earth. To scare off these spirits, people lit fires and wore creepy masks.
With the Christianisation of Europe, Samhain was integrated into the Christian festival of All Saints’ Day, which is celebrated on 1 November. The eve of All Saints’ Day was called All Souls’ Day and was a time when people prayed for the souls of the deceased. The name Halloween actually derives from “All Hallows’ Eve”, which means “the evening before All Saints’ Day”.
The 10 best places to celebrate Halloween
Many places around the world are hosting fancy Halloween celebrations. We have selected the 10 best cities in the world to celebrate this holiday.
1. New York City, USA
A Celebration of the Superlatives
Halloween in New York City is a spectacular event that transforms the American metropolis into a lively and scary spectacle. One of the most famous Halloween traditions in the city is the colourful Halloween parade in Manhattan, with over 2 million participants every year! Revelers dressed in elaborate and creative costumes stream through the bustling streets. The parade, accompanied by impressive music and art, attracts locals and tourists alike.
2. Salem, USA
Halloween in the Witch Town
Halloween in Salem is a unique and fascinating experience that is closely linked to the town’s history. Salem is known for its dark past, especially the infamous witch trials of the 17th century. The streets of Salem are adorned with eerie decorations and residents often dress in period costumes reminiscent of the witch hunts. Visitors have the opportunity to take part in the famous spooky tours that take them to the sites of the historical events.
3. London, UK
Halloween Wonderland with Haunted Houses
London offers an exciting mix of tradition and modern fun. A plethora of events can be witnessed here, from spooky haunted houses to eerie walks through the city’s historic alleyways, where you will come across ghost stories and legends. The British take Halloween very seriously and transform the city into a spooky wonderland. London’s shops are full of scary decorations at this time of year, from spooky pumpkins to cobwebs and skeletons. Many of the famous museums and attractions offer special Halloween events and workshops for children to dress up and get creative.
4. Oaxaca, Mexico
Colourful Celebrations for “Dia de los Muertos”
While many people around the world associate Halloween with costumes, sweets and scary things, Oaxaca has its own interpretation of this festival. Here, the “Dia de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) is celebrated in the days around Halloween. The streets of Oaxaca are decorated with colourful altars dedicated to deceased relatives. These altars are adorned with flowers, candles, photos and the favourite foods of the deceased. People flock to the cemeteries to visit the graves of their deceased loved ones. They decorate and celebrate with them. It is a time of remembrance, joy and connection with the spiritual world.
5. Prague, Czech Republic
Halloween in the City of Supernatural
Prague is a city with a rich history of the occult and alchemy. Therefore, while the traditional customs of Halloween such as costumes and candy can also be found in Prague, there is a strong focus on the connection between Halloween and the supernatural. People love to tell spooky haunted stories at this time of year. Also, there are numerous events and tours that focus on the ghost stories and legends of Prague. The city’s historic architecture, including the famous Prague Castle and the Gothic Old Town, adds to the eerie atmosphere.
6. Dublin, Ireland
Tradition and Halloween Fires
In Dublin, Halloween is celebrated in a particularly authentic and impressive way, as the festival had its roots in Ireland thousands of years ago. The city of Dublin, rich in history and mythology, brings these ancient customs back to life in a modern form. The celebrations often start with traditional Irish feasts and rituals, such as lighting fires and performing old stories and legends. Particularly famous is the “Bram Stoker Festival”. Dubliners celebrate it in honour of the Irish author of “Dracula”, which offers spooky events, theatre performances and concerts.
7. New Orleans, USA
Voodoo and Mysticism on Halloween
The city’s French and voodoo-inspired culture adds a unique touch to Halloween in New Orleans. Voodoo shops open their doors to visitors looking for mystical artefacts and enchanted items. The city’s famous cemeteries, often featured in films and books about ghosts and voodoo, are also popular destinations for Halloween tours. Particularly famous is the “Krewe of Boo” parade. Here, colourful, spooky characters parade through the streets of New Orleans, showering people with sweets and beads.
8. Edinburgh, Scotland
Festival with Ghost Stories
The Scottish capital is known for its ghost stories and paranormal activities. The people of Edinburgh take this festival very seriously and the famous Royal Mile becomes a popular place for haunted parades and street parties. Another highlight is the “Samhuinn Fire Festival”, a modern interpretation of the Celtic festival of Samhain. This event includes impressive fire shows, masks, music and dances that transport visitors into a mystical world.
9. Transylvania, Rumania
Greetings from Dracula
Worldwide, people know this region for its connection to Count Dracula and the legends surrounding vampires. Therefore, Halloween is particularly atmospheric here! One of the most famous Halloween attractions in Transylvania is Bran Castle, which is often associated with Dracula. There are special events and guided tours here that take a closer look at the castle’s dark history and the Dracula legend. Another highlight is the “vampire tours”, where visitors can visit the places associated with Vlad III Dracula. He is the historical figure who served as the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s novel.
10. Hongkong, China
Fusion with Chinese Ghost Festival
In Hong Kong, Halloween is celebrated at the “Lan Kwai Fong Halloween Street Party” in the neighbourhood of the same name. What makes Halloween so special in this city, however, is the influence of the traditional ghost festival culture: The so-called “Hungry Ghost Festival” is an important Chinese festival that is celebrated in Hong Kong and other Chinese-influenced communities around the world as early as the end of summer. The basic idea behind the Hungry Ghost Festival is that during this month the spirits of the deceased return from the afterlife and wander the earth hungrily. It is therefore customary to place food and offerings, such as fruits, rice, money and small objects, on altars and street corners to appease the spirits.
English idioms inspired by Halloween
These English expressions and phrases around Halloween add a spooky and humorous element to the English language at Halloween. If you use them at this year’s Halloween party, you are going to sound like a native English speaker.
- Skeletons in the closet – Refers to hidden secrets or embarrassing information that someone wants to keep concealed.
- Witch hunt – An aggressive search for and persecution of a group or individual, often based on unfounded accusations, like the historical witch hunts.
- Ghost town – A place that is deserted or has very few people, resembling a town inhabited by ghosts.
- In the witching hour – Refers to midnight, the time when supernatural events are believed to occur.
- Face your demons – Confront your inner fears or personal challenges, similar to facing scary creatures on Halloween.
- Graveyard shift – Working overnight, often associated with eerie and quiet nighttime hours.
- Raise the dead – To bring something back from the past or revive an old tradition.
- Give someone the creeps – To cause someone to feel uncomfortable, uneasy, or scared.
- Scare the living daylights out of someone – To terrify or startle someone severely.
- The ghost of a chance – Refers to having a very slim or unlikely possibility of success.
- The witch’s brew – Refers to a mixture of various things, often used humorously.
- Skeleton crew – A minimal staff or team, often used in the context of businesses or organisations during holidays like Halloween when many people take time off.
Celebrating Halloween around the world
Halloween is a festival that has evolved over the centuries and is now celebrated all over the world. The 10 locations above offer unique and exciting ways to experience this spooky festival. Whether you opt for a parade in New York City, a visit to London or a spooky night in Transylvania, Halloween promises unforgettable experiences for children and adults alike. No matter where you decide to celebrate this festival, don’t forget to dress up and immerse yourself in the spooky atmosphere that makes Halloween so special.
Have we inspired you to spend Halloween in one of these wonderful cities? Would you like to improve your English a little more with our English course packages? Then feel free to contact us and we will advise you on our Online English lessons and give you tips.