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Halloween Festivals Around The World

Halloween is a time for people to get dressed up in costumes, decorate their homes, throw parties and go out trick or treating. But have you ever stopped to wonder if Halloween is celebrated the same all around the world?

Just about every continent has their own version of Halloween. However, the celebration goes by many different names and can hold different meanings or sentiments among varying cultures.

Masquerade on Halloween Skeleton costume

From heartfelt love that honours the soul of a departed loved one to the re-enactment of ancient rituals and fun yet ghoulish parades, Halloween festivals around the world are certainly a sight to see and amazing to witness.

Here are some of the most popular Halloween festivals found across the world:

Day Of The Dead festival Mexico City. Dia de los Muertos

Day of the Dead | Mexico City, Mexico

Probably the most well-known Halloween festival outside of England is the annual Day of the Dead celebration held in Mexico. Known as Día de Muertos, this is a day of great significance to Mexicans and has been named as a national holiday.

It is a time of year when families can meet and joyously celebrate with the spirits of their ancient ancestors and deceased family members.

The celebration is traditionally held the day after Halloween on the 1st and 2nd November. While smaller festivals are held across Mexico, the main celebration that captures the world media is held in Mexico City. The celebration includes the most fantastic parade featuring music, decorated floats, acrobats, dancers, entertainers and elaborate costumes.

Yu Lan The Hungry Ghost Festival Hong Kong China

Hungry Ghost Festival | Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong is the place to go if you want to enjoy the Hungry Ghost Festival (Yu Lan). 

This is a month-long celebration that welcomes the souls of the dead back to earth to be with their loved ones. Tradition says that if you don't join in with the festival, the spirits will cause mischief. The only way to appease them is with generous offerings of food, money and jewellery.

Glastonbury Dragons Samhain Wild Hunt Festival

Glastonbury Dragons Samhain Wild Hunt Festival | UK

Samhain is an ancient Celtic festival that marks the year's change between the lighter summer half of the year to the darker winter half. Pagans believe that the wall between this world and the next is at its thinnest during Samhain, allowing ancestral spirits to pass through and celebrate with their loved ones.

Colourful Glastonbury Wild Hunt dragons are paraded through town on the closest Saturday to Samhain. People dress up and dance through the streets to live music with the dragons, and a Winter King is paraded through town before taking part in a sacred sunset ceremony where he holds a flaming sword aloft.

Photo credit "Glastonbury dragon celebration 2017" (CC by 2.0) by Jean-Baptiste Le Cocq

New York Halloween Parade celebrations, Manhattan, Greenwich Village, West Village

Greenwich Village Halloween Parade | New York, USA 

You cannot visit New York at this time of year without getting caught up in the excitement that is the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade! This annual event attracts thousands of visitors wanting to take in the sights and sounds of a Halloween party like no other!

The streets of the city come alive with a truly spectacular parade that showcases the event. There are hundreds of participants dressed in elaborate costumes that range from the beautiful to the downright crazy!

The procession is led by gigantic puppets and inflatable characters that are steered carefully around the streets. Anything goes in Greenwich, from Ghostbuster to Zombies and everything in between.

Photo credit "a katz /"

Halloween Samhain Derry Ireland Halloween Festival

Halloween (Samhain) | Ireland

Originally known as All Hallows' Eve, Halloween as we know it today has its ancient roots in the Celtic harvest festival Samhain. This is why Scottish and Irish folk still hold on to their traditions and honour Samhain with parades, parties, themed markets and events.

Irish fans head to Derry each year for their four-day Halloween event "Derry Halloween", which regularly attracts over 80,000 visitors from all over the world. Especially popular with Americans, Derry has been awarded the Best Halloween Destination in the World by USA Today.

Photo credit "Green Drummer" (CC by 2.0) by Greg Clarke

Toffee Apples, candy apples

Are you throwing a Halloween party?

If you love celebrating Halloween with a good party, handing out toffee apples to your guests has become popular.

Although toffee apples are synonymous with bonfire night, held just five days later, these sweet treats are great for kids and adults alike. Created as a happy accident in 1908 by William W Kolb, an American confectioner, the cinnamon red-coated apples soon became a popular treat. 

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