The history of Halloween stretches back further than you might expect, with the celebration finding its early roots with the Celtic festival of Samhain. It was, in fact, the Irish that took their traditions to the United States with the waves of immigration in the nineteenth century, popularizing many of the indispensable Halloween activities, such as pumpkin carving and trick or treating. Today, Christmas is the only festival that surpasses Halloween in terms of global popularity.
This year, why not indulge in a real treat and explore some of Europe’s top destinations for celebrating Halloween? Here are 10 suggestions of how best to enjoy this macabre holiday:
Follow the Footsteps of Jack the Ripper in London
London’s dark and mysterious history has many tales of horror, though none can compare to the story of Jack the Ripper. Retrace the steps of London’s most notorious serial killer this Halloween, by embarking on the Ripper Walk.
Head to Berlin for the Horror Night at Filmpark Babelsberg
Located just outside of Berlin, the Filmpark Babelsberg is an immense film set/theme park. During Halloween season, their special Horrornächte event will take you into an alternate reality with scenes of Halloween horror, props, actors and performances for the ultimate Halloween movie experience!
Visit Prague for a Taste of Gothic Fantasy
Prague is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most Gothic cities, and so what better place to spend a Halloween weekend? Walk through the foggy, narrow streets of the Old Town, pay a visit to the Museum of Alchemy or take part in a late night Ghost Tour of the city for a Halloween experience to remember!
Party Hard at the Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival
As well as being home to the traditions of Halloween, Northern Ireland is home to Europe’s largest Halloween festival – the Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival. The week-long festival includes fortune telling, face painting, a Family Funday, dance performances, nightlife and much more!
Explore the Mummies and Ancient Legends of Palermo
Even sunny Sicily can hide dark secrets. One of these is the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, which since the sixteenth century have housed the macabre spectacle of 8,000 mummified bodies, arranged elaborately as a shrine to the afterlife. Also worthy of note is the nearby castle of Carini, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of Baroness Laura Lanza.
Cross the Devil’s Bridge and enjoy the Halloween Festivities of Borgo a Mozzano
Borgo a Mozzano’s Devil’s Bridge is renowned in Italian folklore, and the village itself hosts an exciting annual October celebration that draws crowds from across the nation. This spooky Italian village, with its ancient architecture, paranormal activity and famous myths and legends is a must see for any dedicated Halloween devotee.
Descend into the Paris Underworld to be Amongst the Dead
Located beneath the city of light, in the disused stone mines of the city, are the remains of more than 6 million Parisians, on display for all to see. The bones were placed there in the 18th century to clear out the fetid mess of the inner-city mass graves that had poisoned the air with their stench due to decades of overuse. The bones were stripped of any partially decayed matter, which was recycled as soap! Ooo-err!
Perhaps the catacombs are a little too macabre? For a more light-hearted adventure in Paris during Halloween, why not head over to Disneyland, and see some of your favourite cartoon characters dressed up in festive Halloween garb.
Attend Dublin’s 4-Day Bram Stoker Festival
Ireland’s 4-day Bram Stoker Festival guarantees fun for visitors of all ages. Without a doubt the best Halloween festival in Ireland, Dublin comes alive each year with an action-packed schedule. Highlights include back-to-back monster-themed films at the Light House Cinema, a Spooky Music Trail, storytelling, Dracula’s Disco and much more. The enormous itinerary can be found online here.
Immerse Yourself in Gothic Fantasy In Bruges
With its imposing architecture, medieval-style old town and spooky legends, Bruges is a great place to immerse yourself in a Gothic fantasy on October 31. To get even more in the mood for Halloween why not visit the Groeningemuseum, which houses works of the visionary Flemish artist Hieronymus Bosch.
Have a Fright at the World’s Most Haunted Castle in Edinburgh
With its long and bloody history, filled with tales of torture, injustice and imprisonment, Edinburgh Castle understandably has its fair share of restless spirits, making it a great place to see on Halloween. The city is full of events including the Samhuinn Fire Festival, which harks back to the Celtic Samhain tradition, and there are plenty of ghost tours of the city professing the scariest of legends.