8 Halloween Festivals Worth Traveling For

Once a year, we put on masks and devise creative ways to scare one another—and have a lot of fun doing so! As we gear up to celebrate Halloween this weekend, we tip our hats to eight places that are known for spooktacular extravaganzas.

  1. Skeletons perform at Disney World's "Not-So-Scary" Halloween Party. It's a little-known fact that people over the age of nine are not allowed to wear costumes at Disney World—except during Halloween.

    (Courtesy JeffChristiansen/Flickr)
  2. The Disney characters and the guests aren't the only ones dressed up: the entire park is done up with Halloween-specific décor, lighting, and music.

    (Courtesy hyku/Flickr)
  3. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Winnie the Pooh all wear costumes, which you'll see during the Boo-to-You Parade, one of many events throughout the evening.

    (Courtesy JeffChristiansen/Flickr)
  4. Putting your typical community's haunted hayride to shame, Terror Behind the Walls employs Hollywood-worthy lighting and sound and more than 200 actors to scare the bejesus out of visitors at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

    (Courtesy shinya/Flickr)
  5. A gargoyle observes visitors from the Eastern State Penitentiary. The building opened in 1829 and was one of the nation's most notorious before being discontinued in 1971.

    (Courtesy shinya/Flickr)
  6. Salem, Massachusetts, infamous home of the 1692 Witch Trials, capitalizes on its macabre history throughout the year, with occult-themed museums, guided tours, stores, and psychic readings.

    (Courtesy Elizabeth Albert/Flickr)
  7. Legos transform themselves in any season, but the folks at Legoland in Carlsbad, California go all out for Halloween.

    (Courtesy Ayleen Gaspar/Flickr)
  8. A Lego "Halloween party" at Legoland. Evenings feature a dance party, a costume contest for children 12 and under (categories include "Best Star Wars," "Most Lego Themed," and "Most Creative"), trick-or-treating, fireworks, and entertainment acts such as jugglers, unicyclists, and stilt walkers.

    (Courtesy Ayleen Gaspar/Flickr)
  9. A little girl greets a giant Lego ghost at Legoland.

    (Courtesy Ayleen Gaspar/Flickr)
  10. The Village Halloween Parade is considered to be the nation's largest, with more than 2 million people attending annually. Here, a dancing skeleton delights onlookers.

    (Courtesy skeddy in NYC/Flickr)
  11. Locals often gather in friends' apartments along the parade route to watch. Visitors usually start lining up along the parade route at around 4pm.

    (Courtesy Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr)
  12. The self-proclaimed "largest Halloween street party in the world," the West Hollywood Halloween Costume Carnaval in California rivals New York's Village parade for sheer eccentricity, with drag costumes being a focal point.

    (Courtesy Clinton Steeds/Flickr)
  13. Besides people-watching, there is entertainment at Hollywood's Halloween Costume Carnaval; last year, there were six stages featuring Halloween-themed aerialists, marionettes, a "rock & roll strip show," and a crowning of Queen of the Carnaval.

    (Courtesy Rennett Stowe/Flickr)
  14. Ah, the charms of fall in upstate New York: leaf-peeping, apple picking, quaint country inns, antiquing—and Hessians feasting on rotting corpses. At least that's what you'll find in the land of Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the Headless Horseman.

    (Courtesy ninepennies/Flickr)
  15. The Hudson Valley's Philipsburg Manor has been transformed into Horseman's Hollow, an interactive haunted house populated with vampires, witches, and the occasional Hessian lurking in the shadows and along a half-mile candlelit path on the grounds.

    (Courtesy ex animø/Flickr)
  16. Another scene from the Philipsburg Manor in the Hudson Valley.

    (Courtesy ex animø/Flickr)
  17. This year, the Louisville Zoo celebrates the 30th anniversary of its annual Halloween event. In honor of the holiday, the zoo opens more than 15 temporary exhibits, such as the Land of Oz, Ogre Swamp, Toyland, and Dino-mania. Here, a little guest takes a break from the festivities on a bale of hay.

    (Courtesy cdale/Flickr)

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