Photograph by Al Braden
Keene Pumpkin Festival
Keene, New Hampshire
Each Halloween, Keene's picturesque streets are aglow with towers of jack-o'-lanterns. The festival was a longtime Guinness World Record holder with over 28,000 pumpkins lining the streets. Boston has since beat the record, but it can't match the small-town atmosphere: Keene has 24,000 inhabitants. Citizens are encouraged to create their own pumpkins in a celebration of community spirit.
Texas Chainsaw Maze
This free Houston attraction is based on the B movie classic and stars Leatherface, the Old Man, the Hitchhiker, and other terrifying personalities. If you have any screams left after navigating the maze you can visit paid haunted houses here, including the Sanitarium, the Castle of Doom, and the Haunted Woods.
Central Park Pumpkin Festival
New York, New York
This New York City celebration is chock-a-block with absolutely free events, including the Circus Berzerkus Haunted House, a scarecrow competition, hayrides, puppet shows, and arts and crafts. You can even score a free pumpkin from the Central Park patch.
West Hollywood Halloween Carnival
West Hollywood, California
Halloween in West Hollywood must be seen to be believed. Among L.A.'s annual events the carnival is second in size only to the Rose Parade—but that's pretty much where the similarities between the two end. Santa Monica Boulevard fills with half a million or so costumed revelers after the kids have (hopefully) gone to bed.
New Orleans, Louisiana
The city of Anne Rice and her vampires can't be caught short of spooky activities, and rest assured it isn't. Free events on and around Halloween include the Krewe of Halloween Parade and Jim Monaghan's Halloween Parade, as well as costumed revelry in the French Quarter. On the day after, All Saints Day, the city's ancient cemeteries fill with visitors who clean and decorate tombs.
Festival of the Dead
Witches have made a comeback in Salem, Massachusetts, and the Festival of the Dead their time to shine. On the town common, the Salem Witches Magic Circle celebrates the witches' holiday of Samhain, during which the line between this world and the next is blurred.
Chicago's Halloween celebration reaches its peak during the last week of October when the city's famed Daley Plaza becomes “Franken Plaza.” Free attractions there include the tame-but-tasty Farmers Market and the high-flying excitement of the Midnight Circus.
Little Five Points Halloween Festival and Parade
Atlanta's eclectic Little Five Points area packs 'em in to celebrate the year's spookiest holiday with a music-fueled street bash that draws up to 35,000 revelers. The highlight is a parade of crazy and creative costumes—and hearses, of course.
Zombie Walk Detroit
The downtown zombie walk is “wholly dedicated to scaring up zombie adventure at any given moment.” It doesn't get much better than that—until you discover that World Zombie Day is also dedicated to fighting hunger by collecting food and donations for a local food bank.
This Minnesota town, which bills itself as the Halloween Capital of the World, launched official celebrations as early as 1920. They were meant to deter pranksters from freeing cows and turning over outhouses. Ninety years later the more wholesome events on and around Halloween here include pumpkin carving, bonfires, house decorating contests, and one of the state's oldest and largest parades.
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