With more adults than ever celebrating Halloween on their own boozy terms, finding the right party is crucial. Almost every large city puts on a celebration, but a handful of American destinations really go all out by closing major thoroughfares, hosting live music and performances, and throwing massive public parties. From East Coast to West, here are the best cities for celebrating Halloween.
New York, New York
In a city where you go big or you go home, Halloween is no exception. The Village Halloween Parade is one of the world’s largest, traversing Manhattan’s Village on All Hallows’ Eve and attracting thousands of people. If you prefer to watch on the sidelines rather than participate, park yourself at one of the numerous bars along the route and sip on a festive cocktail. Just don’t expect to call a cab — several streets are blocked off along the route, so riding the subway alongside scores of other costumed revelers is your best bet.
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles’ annual West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval is more than just a street party, it’s a tradition that brings together over half a million people. All have one thing in common: They absolutely love Halloween. Spanning a one-mile stretch along Santa Monica Boulevard, the Carnaval teems with street vendors, live music, performance artists, and truly elaborate costumes.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Mardi Gras usually comes to mind when you think of big celebrations in New Orleans, but Halloween here is also a wild time. The cemeteries, known as “Cities of the Dead,” host ghost tours, and the last weekend in October is the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. (This year’s headliners include Kendrick Lamar, The Killers and the Foo Fighters.) Looking for something even livelier? Make your way to Frenchmen Street where the numerous live music halls, restaurants and bars ring in All Hallow’s Eve in style.
If you grew up in New England, you know that nothing compares to Halloween in Salem, a city located just north of Boston. Known as the Witch City, Salem got its name after innocent people lost their lives during the Salem Witch Trails from 1692 to 1693. Although the trials didn’t actually take place in Salem, the city has embraced the tradition all these years. Visitors can partake in a variety of festive activities all month long including haunted houses, ghost tours, psychic fairs, theatrical productions, costume balls, and many other spin-chilling attractions.
Creepy, ghoulish, and gorgeous are just a few words that’ll come to mind when watching the annual Northalsted Halloween Parade. Crowds line the streets of Boystown in Lakeview on Halloween night to watch a magnificent show of street performers — including a Michael Jackson-inspired Thriller flash mob — and marchers dressed in outrageous costumes. After the parade, hit the bars along Halsted Street, many of which offer scary-good Halloween specials.