There’s more to Halloween than collecting candy. The holiday, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, can be traced back some 2,000 years to a pre-Christian Celtic harvest festival.
Rather than fade into the history books, Halloween has only gained in popularity in the United States. Communities across the country mark the occasion with spirited parades, elaborate costumes, haunted tours, and other ghoulish rituals.
From Hawaii to Delaware, these top celebrations will get the whole family into the spirit:
Village Halloween Parade
In Manhattan, anyone in a costume can march in this Greenwich Village procession. Check out artists at work during the puppet-building workshops leading up to the main event, which takes place on Halloween night. Don’t have a costume? Volunteer to animate one of the hundreds of giant puppets that pepper the parade.
Louisville Zoo Party
Kids dressed up like monkeys can see real monkeys in Louisville, Kentucky. Party animals will find hundreds of artistically carved pumpkins, a goofy tea party with the Mad Hatter at this not-so-scary Halloween fete.
Halloween Harvest Festival
Southern California’s largest Halloween festival comes complete with an adventure corn maze, hay rides, a haunted trail, and a pick-your-own pumpkin patch. But beware: when the sun sets on Woodland Hills, the experience takes on a scarier tone as the FrightFair Scream Fest gets underway.
Crescent City Ghost Tour
Take your teens on a tour of the darkest corners of New Orleans for gruesome and historic tales from Louisiana’s most famous city focused on ghosts, vampires, and voodoo. The guides swear some of them are true!
The Halloween Capital of the World
In 1920, Anoka, Minnesota, hosted one of the country’s first Halloween celebrations as a fun diversion for would-be pranksters—and the tradition stuck. Join the costumed crowd for a memorable stroll down Main Street in the self-proclaimed “Halloween Capital of the World.”
Day of the Dead Festival
Houston brings death to life in delightful fashion with foods from the Americas, authentic Latin American Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) arts and crafts, an exhibition of traditional ofrenda altars, and a calavera runway show.
Salem’s Grand Parade
Salem, Massachusetts, pays tribute to its gruesome colonial past with a full month of spooky events leading up to October 31, including special exhibitions at local landmark the House of Seven Gables, pumpkin painting, and “haunted” harbor cruises. The historic town gets the season started with a bang with its Grand Parade.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Join one of the largest Halloween street parties in the country in West Hollywood, California. Singers and performers don costumes and hit the stage to fuel the festivities leading up to the crowning of the Carnaval’s Queen.
Sea Witch Festival
Hear scary stories around bonfires on the beach in Rehoboth, Delaware. During daylight hours, guess the weight of a giant pumpkin, compete in pumpkin seed spitting contests, and stomp your feet to live fiddle music.
Halloween in Hawaii
This Lahaina celebration has been called the “Mardi Gras of the Pacific,” and the comparison holds up. Luckily, Hawaii’s version is tamer—and more contained (the historic whaling village’s main drag, Front Street, is closed to cars for the event)—so families can join in on the fun. Plus, a children’s parade gets the party started.
This piece was adapted from the National Geographic book, The 10 Best of Everything: Families.