Halloween is a favorite holiday here at The Traveler Mag. We love the creativity that it inspires as well as the costumes, the parties, and the sweet treats and spicy brews that warm the body and stir up excitement for the holiday season to come. We also love the excuse to investigate and learn about haunting and mysterious happenings around the world. While we have experienced unexplained phenomena during our travels, including a visit by an incorporeal feline in Arizona, there are many other frightening and exhilarating things we would like to learn about. Here are our top 8 frightening future features.
Tour with Vampires
Bring your wooden stakes and holy water on this vacation through Transylvania with Dracula Tours in Romania. Relax in medieval hotels and guest houses snuggled in small traditional villages. Indulge in home cooked, authentic, Saxon, Romanian, Hungarian, and vampiric cuisine in a variety of charming locations, including Dracula’s castle. Assist in the ritual killing of a strigoi to bring peace to a tortured soul and take part in a masquerade ball. Visit witch trial sites, Vlad the Impaler’s living and burial sites, Bran Castle, and much more.
Before embarking on this harrowing journey, take some time to acquaint yourself with a few basic words in the local language as well as the history and environmental challenges that the area is facing. The tour operator for this trip is passionate about keeping the land pristine and the communities engaged.
Attend the World’s Most Frightening Masquerade
People dressed as a zombie parades on a street during a zombie walk in Belgrade, The zombie walk is part of the events of a carnival promoting the upcoming Serbian SF movie festival.
During our last trip to Costa Rica we discovered a holiday that Halloween fans would love: Dia de la Mascarada or the Day of the Masquerade. During October 31st and the days following, people all across Costa Rica take part in colorful masquerade parties. These aren’t just any masquerade parties though; the masks that citizens wear are colorful, boisterous and resemble large motorcycle helmets. Parades, theatrical performances, and costume parties take place across the Capital city of San Jose. Be sure to take an Urban Adventures tour beforehand, where you can visit legendary Gerardo Montoya, San Jose’s favorite mask maker. While you’re in town, be sure to investigate Escazu, City of Witches. Escazu is steeped in haunting legends that include witches with bird bodies and moving oxcarts without oxen.
Run from Zombies
With more and more zombie runs taking place across the US and the United Kingdom, nearly every citizen has the chance to experience what life would be like if a zombie apocalypse blanketed the land. Some especially detailed runs make runners dodge countless brain thirsty zombies while completing challenging obstacles such as crawling through tunnels and leaping over straw bales. In St Louis, survivors and fresh zombies are invited to join a thrilling after party serving tasty treats and maybe even brains.
Juicy detail: Did you know that the word zombie originates from the Kongo word nzambi meaning “soul?” According to researchers, the original cause for zombification originated from a Haitian voodoo practice using a complex recipe including pufferfish toxin, a specific toxic plant and other grizzly ingredients. The toxins would bring an individual to a near death state, fooling others into thinking that they were completely dead. Eventually, the body would recover. The legend behind zombies stems from Haitian communities that had been forced into slavery. Many slaves believed that death was their only relief from their oppression and if they were cursed into becoming a zombie, they would be forced to work as a slave forever.
Hunt for Ghosts
Like zombie runs, ghost tours have also become maddeningly popular. Almost every town has a handful of guides ready to take willing participants on a spine tingling tour of abandoned or historic buildings where souls have departed. From the theatrical performances that you would find in Tombstone, AZ to the more serious and scientific ghost hunts like Beyond Bizarre Ghost Tours in Portland, you are sure to find a tour nearby. We like to look for tours that employ expert historians and locals that are proficient at storytelling (to get around some of the tours that might not be genuine, make sure the tour website has full biographies of its guides and details about each tour. Also, any questions you ask should be answered without hesitation). If you are in Arizona, we would recommend taking a ghost tour in Jerome.
Walk with Witches
Feeling magical? The best place to get your fill of witchcraft and lore is Salem, MA. During the month of October, Salem celebrates its history with a festival called Haunted Happenings. This festival is packed with events, including a variety of tours, that are designed to educate, engage and delight visitors. Start your trip with a visit to the Salem Witch Museum where you will learn about the history of the legendary witch trials and the lore that has shrouded the area ever since. Walk down the old leafy streets on a self-guided tour and discover the sites where famous events occurred and executions were carried out. Top off the evenings with incredible tours by Bewitched After Dark and Salem Black Cat Tours (who donate a part of each sale to rescue and find loving homes for street cats).
If you find yourself more interested with UFOs and investigating the possibility of extraterrestrial life, there are two events you won’t want to miss.
Roswell is a favorite place to scare yourself senseless looking for aliens; however, if you decide to set up camp in the middle of the desert, be sure to start your adventure with a Roswell Tour with local expert Dennis Balthaser, who is nothing short of a walking encyclopedia on reports of extraterrestrial happenings and the UFO crash in 1947.
If a night under the stars isn’t quite your style, check out the National Space Centre for some of their Spooky Science events. Watch the Aliens film at the planetarium, strike down enemies at the UKCM Firing Range, enjoy drinks and treats at the cafe and bar, test your knowledge with quizzes, jump into an alien workshop, and take a gander at the original collection of Aliens movie props and costumes on display.
Track Down Murderers
Take part in the investigation to hunt down Jack the Ripper in London with the Jack the Ripper Tour. This guided discussion of the legendary case, lead by experts and historians, takes you to the Whitechapel murder sites and through hidden streets in the area known as the “abyss” and delves into the complications the police force dealt with at the time. As a small group, investigators are encouraged to examine copies of documents and photos relating to the case, including letters the Ripper wrote. By the end of the night, you will have walked down the same paths that the Ripper walked and see the world through the eyes of the community that he terrorized.
Wrap Up with Mummies
Mummies have been found in nooks and crannies across the planet and there are many museums and heritage sites where they can be examined. Learn about ancient burial methods and customs while surrounded by more than 100 mummies at the Museo de las Momias in Guanajuato, Mexico. Discover the secrets under the wrappings of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs at the Egyptian Antiquities Museum and the Oriental Institute in Chicago.