Derry, Northern Ireland Wins Best Halloween Destination!

Anoka, Minn.; Salem, Mass.; Transylvania, Romania and Key West also winners

Cities around the world flaunt their darker side around Halloween, but when it comes to spooky spectacles the readers of 10Best said these destinations do it best!

  • Los Angeles

    West Hollywood’s Halloween Carnaval draws roughly half a million people each year with parades and parties, costumes and live entertainment on multiple stages. Food vendors, photo booths and more are a part of this alcohol-free, family-friendly event – though the bars along Santa Monica Blvd. are happy to participate unofficially. The Museum of Death is a popular self-guided holiday stop, as well. It is home to the world’s largest collection of serial murderer artwork, artifacts related to the Black Dahlia case, execution and autopsy devices and much more.
    Photo courtesy of GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

  • Orlando

    The City Beautiful has a dark side, and come Halloween offers a vast array of attractions, from local to large. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, with its iconic Disney villains and whimsical holiday parade, is ideal for family celebrations. The gore-splattered spectacle of Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, however, is most certainly not. This year’s boasts nine haunted mazes, a riot of street scares and enough recognizable brands and enough horrifying original content to generate nightmares all year long.
    Photo courtesy of David Roark, photographer

  • Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.

    Haunted hijinks are a year-round thing in this quiet woodsy community in upstate New York, but Halloween brings with it something special. Hayrides and cemetery tours, pumpkin patches and all kinds of performances and readings of the Washington Irving tale that made the town famous are staged. Some readings, often paired with sinister live music, are all ages. Others take visitors on a journey fraught with danger – monsters, ghouls, specters and more. You may even meet the legendary Headless Horseman.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • New Orleans

    New Orleans is widely credited with being the most haunted city in America – and why not? Its iron lace balconies offer up deliciously ghostly balustrades on which a spirit or two might set awhile, doubtless to enjoy a cocktail. Haunted havens of hospitality are many: the Dauphine Orleans, the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, the Bourbon Orleans and the Bienville are but a few, and paranormal tours of the French Quarter and the city’s, eerie, picturesque cemeteries are ideal for seasonal celebration. The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience also takes place on Halloween weekend.
    Photo courtesy of Richard Nowitz / New Orleans CVB

  • Tucson, Ariz.

    Family-friendly events like Howl-O-Ween at the Tucson Zoo and Night of Fright at the Pima Air & Space Museum give way to culturally infused Dia de los Muertos exhibits and the haunted streets of Nightfall at Old Tucson, but just after the holiday’s done, comes the All Souls Procession – an entire November weekend of performance art and celebration inspired by Mexico’s colorful holiday and infused with the memory of loved ones now passed on.
    Photo courtesy of John / Flickr

  • Key West

    What was once a dead spot in the Key West tourism calendar has since exploded into a fantastical flourish of creativity – in a town that’s already overflowing with it. Fantasy Fest is a whimsical, 10-day bacchanal in the subtropics, a Halloween celebration for grown-ups, and each year a theme helps partiers plan their costumes. This year’s All Hallow’s Intergalactic Freakshow promises carnival-spun content, from traditional to out-of-this-world, amid an array of colorful events that make it a calendar highlight in the Florida Keys.
    Photo courtesy of Cayobo / Flickr

  • Transylvania, Romania

    The nation’s dark historical figures may have given birth to the world’s most legendary monster, but Romania’s Old World charm and friendly locals could take the chill out of any traveler’s spine. That said, few places are as ideal for Halloween exploration as Transylvania’s Gothic citadels and medieval towns –not to mention and the ruins of Dracula’s home. Bring your most ornate costume and enjoy a holiday ball in one of the region’s magnificent castles.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Salem, Mass.

    The witchy women of Salem’s infamous past have haunted the town since their unfortunate trials in 1692. The verdict for the town’s tourism industry, however, has been nothing but sunny. An entire industry is built around the city’s spooky and strange history and that all culminates come Halloween time when Salem Haunted Happenings brings pumpkin carving, parades, haunted cruises and all manner of history-based events for all ages. The city’s beautiful architecture really helps set the mood.
    Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

  • Anoka, Minn.

    Back in 1920, the good citizens of Anoka had had quite enough of the pranks and mischief that ensued every October and is widely credited as being the first American town to redirect all that youthful energy into something fun: an official Halloween celebration. The tradition continues to this day in the Halloween Capital of the World. Anoka’s family-friendly events roster has grown over generations, of course, and its Grand Day and nighttime parades draw spectators and participants far and wide.
    Photo courtesy of Anoka Halloween

  • Derry, Northern Ireland

    The fount from which Halloween springs can be found in Ireland’s Celtic roots. Born of the pagan autumn festival called Samhain, the beginning of the harvest and a time when the spirits were believed to be able to return to the plane of the living. Each year in this region, one of the world’s biggest Halloween celebrations creates more than enough joyful noise – music, fireworks and the like – to scare them back from whence they came.
    Photo courtesy of Discover Northern Ireland

The top 10 winners in the category Best Halloween Destination are as follows: 

  1. Derry, Northern Ireland
  2. Anoka, Minn.
  3. Salem, Mass.
  4. Transylvania, Romania
  5. Key West
  6. Tucson, Ariz.
  7. New Orleans
  8. Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.
  9. Orlando
  10. Los Angeles

Other nominees included: Cancun, Mexico; Chicago; Las Vegas; London; Madison, Wis.; New York; Oaxaca, Mexico; Orlando; Paris; San Francisco; Vancouver

Congratulations to all the winners from 10Best and USA TODAY. 

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