The world's best Halloween parties

Richard Mellor

Derry, Northern Ireland


Image via Media.Ireland

Halloween has its roots in Ireland where it started life as ‘Samhain Night’, an end-of-harvest festival welcoming in the year’s darker half (ee.

The modern day Banks of the Foyle Carnival in Northern Ireland’s small second city celebrates this. It’s a nine-day extravaganza of ghost buses, bonfires and haunted houses, climaxing in a spine-chilling fireworks display. Pubs supposedly refuse to serve anyone not in fancy dress.

Chalindrey, France


Image via Ecole communale du Centre de Rixensart

In France’s sleepy Champagne-Adrenne region, the century-old Fête des Sorcières (Witch Festival) peaks with an all-night Celtic dance. That’s right: ceilidh, Halloween-style.

The chaos pauses briefly for a toast (of fizz, naturally) to the freshly crowned Miss Sorcière. Talk about a femme fatale…

Limoges, France


Image via Travel Away

Over in western France, Limoges is famous for three things: pottery, cognac barrels and France’s biggest Halloween hurrah.

Every October, the handsome city witnesses a vast array of street shows, fairs, spooky parades and parties, and welcomes around 50,000 face-painted carousers.

Ostend, Belgium


Image via Travel Away

Seaside Ostend impatiently begins celebrating Halloween in early October. Large spiders wander the streets, sailing vessels become pirate ships and macabre decorations hang on humdrum buildings.

A costumed children’s procession heralds 31 October and one day later, a lamplit parade concludes in Grote Markt’s plaza with a feverish ‘witch dance’.

Revels typically continue well past the witching hour.

New York City, USA


Image via Bryan Haeffele

No country does Halloween more zealously than America and the largest jamboree takes place in NYC. Involving two million people, the Village Halloween Parade shuts down most of Lower Manhattan as huge papier-mâché beasts and fearful pageant puppets strut their strange stuff.

Watch while chomping on a Big (toffee) Apple, or join in: anyone in fancy dress can march along.

Oaxaca, Mexico


Image via Kenneth Garrett

Mexico doesn’t do All Saints Eve, but it does famously mark a Day of the Dead on 2 November, when spirits are said to return home to their families.

The build-up begins on 31 October, and nowhere gets more involved than beautiful Oaxaca. Expect cemetery vigils, night time comparsa processions, sand-tapestry competitions, frenzied fiestas and pop-up altars appearing around town.

Los Angeles, USA


Image via Gentlemen's Guide LA

Santa Monica Boulevard’s chichi boutiques and trendy bars make a glitzy venue for the West Hollywood Carnival: an annual street party in which frightening, face-painted freaks mix with A-list celebs.

All the while, live music is performed across six stages. Come nightfall, the street’s nightclubs entice revellers inside with drink specials and themed nights. Bloody Mary, anyone?

Bangkok, Thailand


Image via Ahram 

Among the many boisterous Halloween parties in Thailand’s garish capital, few top the one at pedestrianised Silom Soi 4.

A hub for by the city’s gay population, this trendy, gaudy street hosts a party and gives prizes to the most OTT outfits. There are even themed ‘sexy ghost’ nights at the adjacent clubs.

Salem, USA


Image via Jared Charney

Infamous for its 17th-century witch trials, New England town Salem now throws a month-long Festival of the Dead every October, including, uniquely, a Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo.

Feature image, New York celebrates Halloween, via Flip Key