With Halloween just weeks away, everyone is preparing to celebrate the scariest time of the year. From a Michael Jackson "Thriller"-themed flash mob in Lexington to a walking ghost tour through Fort Worth's Stockyards, this year’s Halloween season is shaping up to be the scariest ever! These eight cities are celebrating the holiday with a variety of spooky, yet fun, activities for a range of ages.
Dubbed the Haunted Capital of Ohio, autumn in Mansfield offers heart-stopping frights and eerie nights. The most infamous site on any ghost hunter’s bucket list is the Ohio State Reformatory. Built in 1886, the daunting castle-like prison received notoriety as the backdrop of the Hollywood classic “The Shawshank Redemption”—however, something sinister lurked around the prison long before Morgan Freeman roamed the halls. Legends say that an old guard who was killed in solitary confinement still makes his rounds, jabbing visitors with his nightstick. There are various ways for visitors to experience the famous haunted prison first-hand, from two hour guided tours to private paranormal investigations. Every Halloween those who dare, are challenged to Escape from Blood Prison on Thursdays through Sunday nights starting on September 27th running through November 3rd.
When it comes to Halloween, New Orleans is a city that few others can rival. The Krewe of Boo, the official New Orleans Halloween parade since its inception in 2007, features 3-D papier mâché and fiberglass props that mimic all of Halloween’s spooky creatures to frighten and excite the crowds. Located steps from the festivities, travelers can stay at Hilton New Orleans Riverside and enjoy proximity to the parade and get insider tips from the hotel’s resident Spookmaster concierge including local ghost tours and haunted houses.
Venture to Fort Worth, TX and go to Cutting Edge Haunted House for scares and screams. For something not so basic… become a ghost hunter and go on the 90-minute walking Stockyard’s Ghost Tour though the historic Fort Worth Stockyards, where you can hear stories of paranormal activity and visit haunted places along the way, including Miss Molly’s B & B, Fort Worth’s oldest bed and breakfast and one of the city’s most haunted properties.
Halloween takes over Honolulu, from Waikiki Beach to the island’s historic Chinatown Arts District, visitors and kama’aina fill the streets in their best costumes to celebrate the spooky holiday. Head over to Chinatown for the not-to-miss annual Hallowbaloo Music + Arts Festival, the island’s largest celebration. Down on Kalakaua Avenue and Waikiki Beach, travelers can join the costume parade before stopping at The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club for a special pride-filled Halloween pool party at the property’s Swim Club or stop by the Haunted House at Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head where proceeds from the admission fee will be donated to a local charity.
Prepping for its 17th year, Lexington’s ”Thriller” Halloween event on October 28 features thousands of local residents and visitors turned would-be zombies for the re-enactment of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video performed “flash mob” style in the streets. The day-long celebration features a marketplace, dance showcase and costume parade concluding with “Thriller” that evening, and several businesses feature a “zombie lounge” with food and drink specials.
This October 19–28, Fantasy Fest is taking over Key West where visitors will enjoy an over-the-top 10-day festival filled with whimsical costumes, street fairs, and parades showcasing floats, including one carrying the annually-elected Conch King and Queen.
Home to scores of haunted graveyards filled with fallen soldiers from the Civil War and stories from America’s old frontier, Bristol offers travelers access to spooky activities such as Appalachian Ghost Walks where visitors can take thrilling night tours throughout the town’s oldest streets or Bristol’s annual family-friendly Pumpkin Palooza which includes a spooky costume contest and pumpkin carving for all ages. Before Bristol’s downtown trick or treating, families can also take part in the Annual Zombie Walk and show off their best Zombie impersonation as they straddle the state lines of Tennessee and Virginia walking down State Street. Guests staying at The Bristol Hotel can get a taste for the region’s seasonal bounty at the hotel’s family-style Appalachian-inspired restaurant, Vivian’s Table.