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U.S. Towns with the Strangest Halloween Traditions

Think Halloween is just about trick or treating and jack o’ lanterns? You thought wrong! While most areas in the U.S. are raving about their haunted houses, corn mazes and hay rides, the 5 locations below are celebrating Halloween with a little more gusto. From parades, to street fairs, to witches’ tours and dressed up pups, some cities in the country go above and beyond some door-to-door begging. See who really gets into the spooky spirit below.

Salem, Massachusetts: witches’ Magic circle

The Judge Jonathan Corwin House also known as The Witch House: Black old historical house in Salem, MA, is the only structure still standing in Salem with direct ties to the Witchcraft Trials of 1692. As a local magistrate and civic leader, Corwin was called upon to investigate the claims of diabolical activity when a surge of witchcraft accusations arose in Salem and neighboring communities.

The Witch House in Salem, MA

Take a stroll down candle-lit Witch Trial Trail, which leads you over the grounds of the 1692 trials during your visit to Salem. You may even meet an actual witch celebrating Samhain (or Summer’s End), which commemorates the cycle of life, rebirth and the doorway to another world. Feel free to join the Salem Witches Magic Circle, where practicing witches from around the world come together to mourn the dead. This ritual takes place on Salem Common, the very same location as years past.

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Tucson, Arizona: All Souls Procession


Looking to do something a little bit different this Halloween? Join 100,000 participants for a two mile long human powered procession. Similar to “Dia de los Muertos,” the event celebrates the lives of those passed. Those involved are encouraged to create and wear masks, costumes and floats that honor the deceased. There is music, art and local vendors, whose proceeds go to the community and the Many Mouths One Stomach non-profit organization. The procession ends with the burning of a massive urn filled with the public’s offerings and mementos for those no longer with us.

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Key West, Florida: Fantasy Fest

carnival masks

Beware: Duval Street is for adults only! Similar to Mardi Gras, this 10 day event is jam packed with multiple soirees (like Captain Tony’s Party in Plaid and Pet Masquerade) which means you will need to pack 5+ costumes. Bring your creativity: many of these events offer cash prizes for the best costumes. If you need some inspiration, the fest adopts a theme every year, this year’s being Animeted Dreams & Adventures (Anime). Although nudity is not allowed, there is a designated “Fantasy Zone” where many participants substitute body paint for tops. Join Friday night’s Masquerade March, where you start at Key West’s cemetery and stop by locals’ homes for refreshments. The main event otherwise known as Captain Morgan’s Fantasy Fest Parade takes place on Saturday and includes 50+ floats.

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Denver, Colorado: Zombie Crawl

Group of friends dressed up as Wizard of OZ zombies participating in the Denver Zombie Crawl.

Group of friends dressed up as Wizard of OZ zombies participating in the Denver Zombie Crawl.

Ready to scream, laugh or be sick to your stomach!? If you have been wishing for “The Walking Dead” to come to life, look no further! With 16,000 undead hobbling along the 16th Street Mall, the Denver Zombie Crawl is the largest zombie event in the nation. Those covered in blood spurts with missing body parts participate in a 5K run, walk or crawl called the Organ Trail. The zombie participants compete in a game said to resemble Fear Factor mixed with the Amazing Race. Are you a first timer? Zombie Crawl officials will assist with your makeup. If you do not wish to join the competition, you are welcome as a spectator to view the creative costumes. A sight to see: by nightfall the 16th Street Mall is doused with trails of blood!

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Park City, Utah: howl-o-ween

Dog dressed up in a clown costume for Howl-o-ween in Park City, UT

Dog dressed up in a clown costume for Howl-o-ween in Park City, UT

Attention all canine lovers: Grab your four legged friend, a few costumes and a plane ticket! Famed “Bark City,” Park City is known for being a dog lovin’ town. Main Street through the Egyptian Theatre and 9th Street close as pooches strut their stuff! Participating in the parade on All Hollow’s Eve is free, and the contest costs $10 to register. There will be awards for best small dog, best large dog and best dog family combination to name a few! Feel good about participating: all proceeds are donated to Friends of Animals Utah, an organization dedicated to helping homes for those furry ones in need. A costume to remember: a dog dressed as a Chia pet, complete with orange legs and a green busy coat! Now that’s howl-er-ific!

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Coarsegold, California: Tarantula Festival

Residents of Coarsegold consider tarantulas sacred, and it is a major faux pas to kill one!

Residents of Coarsegold consider tarantulas sacred, and it is a major faux pas to kill one!

Creepy, crawly, arachnids are worshiped and celebrated in the small town of Coarsegold, California. This family-friendly event takes place the week before Halloween and all types of spiders are feted, especially the Tarantula. The large spiders are unique to the mountain region and helpful for the environment – and the people of Coarsegold want to help shed the monster label unfairly affixed to this creature. The Tarantula Festival has Hairy Leg contests (both men & women!), costume contests, scream contests, pumpkin decorating, trick or treating for the little ones, food, drink, and much more.  The fan favorite event is of course, the tarantula derby with a $50 gift certificate and trophy up for grabs to the owner with the fastest spider.

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