Fright Festivals and Other Chilling Reasons to Travel


Trick or treat? How about a trip instead?

Halloween has long since expanded from the childhood holiday of begging for Milky Ways and Smarties to include the adult celebration of costumed role-playing. Now, driven by theme park pop-up events, festivals and destination-worthy frights, it’s even become its own travel season.

“Halloween’s almost looking more and more like one of the most significant holidays of the year,” said George Aguel, president and chief executive of Visit Orlando.

Orlando, Fla., is home to the annual Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios and other frightful events including Spooky Empire, a horror convention featuring a zombie walk, costume contest and tattoo artists, to be held through Oct. 9 at the Orange County Convention Center.

Destinations like Hudson Valley, N.Y., and Salem, Mass., highlight their haunted associations during October. Home to voodoo legends and year-round cemetery walks, New Orleans is among those that naturally harmonize with Halloween, which also marks the return of cooler temperatures, and tourism, to the city.

“New Orleans is a city that loves to costume,” said Kristian Sonnier, a spokesman for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, placing Halloween just behind Mardi Gras for dressing up. “People really turn up the volume on Halloween.”

The Haunted Attraction Association, a trade group, estimates there are more than 1,500 scary installations across the country this season. The following aim to attract fearless travelers.

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