Each week, NewsWhistle contributor Norah Lawlor compiles a list of trendsetting and newsworthy items from around the globe.
This week, Norah selects some of the world’s most devilish destinations to celebrate the Halloween holiday.
If you thought that Halloween was just an occasion for kids to go trick-or-treating with their parents in tow – think again. These creative celebrations around the world show the holiday is just as much for the adults – and this year, with Halloween falling on a Friday in the United States – there’s even more excuse to join in on the merriment. And while trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving are primarily an American tradition, there are some interesting Halloween traditions internationally that are worth experiencing.
1. Cancun, Mexico
Halloween in Cancun, Mexico, is known as the Day of the Dead or el Dia de Muertos and it takes place over three days from October 31 to November 2. Mexico becomes a popular tourist destination as floods of people come to experience this fascinating part of Mexican history and culture, which centers on honoring deceased friends and family members.
There are regional variations of the Day of the Dead throughout Latin America, and in Cancun, there are influences from ancient Mayan customs which have fused with Mexican traditions to create “Hanal Pixan” – the Mayan ritual of the dead.
One of the best places from Cancun to experience the action is at Xcaret, the eco-cultural park located in the Riviera Maya, along Mexico’s Caribbean coast. The venue hosts the annual Festival of Traditions of Life and Death, which features local cuisine and clothing, as well as art, music, dance, parades and interesting recreations of altars and cemetery markers. It’s a colorful, music-filled event, with lots of great photo opportunities.In addition, many bars and discos in Cancun hold Day of the Dead parties and in downtown Cancun.
For more information visit www.celebrate-day-of-the-dead.com/
2. Greenwich Village, New York, USA
Every year, some 50,000 people come together to parade up Sixth Avenue for the beloved Annual Greenwich Village Halloween Parade in New York City – wearing some of the scariest and most entertaining Halloween costumes. The parade serves as a major tourist attraction, bringing in visitors from all over the country and parts of the globe for the revelry.
The 2014 41st Annual Parade, which will take place on October 31 from 7pm, will see hundreds of giant puppets, over 50 live music bands, dancers, artists and much of the nation’s most wildly creative public participate under the theme of “The Garden of Earthly Delights”. Comedian and actress Whoopie Goldberg will be the event’s Grand Marshall. She told the NY Daily News recently that as a native New Yorker, she is “thrilled to be part of such a time-honored tradition”. The official nightclub of the Parade, which ends at 16th Street, is Webster Hall, where at midnight someone will win the $5,000 prize for best costume.
For more information visit http://halloween-nyc.com/
3. Derry, Northern Ireland
Every Halloween the entire populace of Derry in Northern Ireland – known as “the City of Bones” — turns out in wild homemade costumes for the weekend-long Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival. The festival is the largest Halloween celebration in Europe, attracting up to 25,000 enthusiasts from across the globe who flock to the city to take part.
During the Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival, the locals take the costumes so seriously that pubs have even been known to refuse a drink to anyone who hasn’t made the effort to dress up! People dare to enter the Chateau Le Fear, a haunted house in Ebrington Square, attend the Gothic Ball held in a 19th Century church, take part in a carnival parade, and watch the large firework display on Halloween night. Locals eat Colcannon (Irish Halloween dinner of boiled potatoes, kale and raw onions) and drink hearty ale.
Halloween is widely celebrated in Ireland – in fact, Halloween actually originated in Ireland from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain – where people would wear costumes at the end of harvest season to disguise themselves from evil spirits.
For more information visit http://campaign.derrycity.gov.uk/default.aspx
4. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
In New Orleans, Halloween is second only to Mardi Gras for wild festivities and costumes. The city is so rich in haunted history it is widely known as “The Most Haunted City in America,” making it one of the best places to celebrate.
There are many options for Halloween celebrations in New Orleans. You may want to start with one of the many haunted tours through the French Quarter or the world-famous cemeteries where the dead are buried in tombs aboveground. In the French Quarter there are a number of Voodoo shops where you can learn about the history of this centuries-old spiritual tradition. New Orleans spookiest shindig occurs annually on Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny, which attracts thousands of costumed partygoers and tourists.
For more information visit: www.neworleansonline.com/neworleans/seasonal/halloween.html
5. Transylvania, Romania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania with a creepy reputation earned from its Gothic architecture and enveloping forests. For the fearless adventurer, it’s the perfect place to spend Halloween – what better way to celebrate than at the homeland of the infamous ‘Vlad the Impaler’ aka Dracula?
In organized Halloween tours departing from Budapest and Bucharest, you can visit the ruins of Dracula’s Poenari Castle and attend a Halloween party at haunted Hunyad Castle and explore medieval towns including the Old World cities of Brasov and Bucharest.
For more information visit: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/romania/tours/small-group-tours/halloween-transylvania
For video of a Halloween celebration, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wS1nEmk_KM0
Norah Lawlor is a New York based global trend and travel observer in addition to being the founder and owner of Public Relations strategy firm Lawlor Media Group.
Lead-In Image Courtesy of cvalle/Shutterstock.com