It is that time of year again, the most magical time of the year, Halloween! As you can imagine, here in New Orleans we do things a little bit different. This isn’t just some trick or treat city, though you could probably score some good candy in the Garden District (especially along St. Charles Avenue). In New Orleans, Halloween parties are planned months in advance, and costumes are always a crucial decision (you always gotta have a back up). For most in the city, the Halloween season is more than a holiday, it offers you a chance to get away from the world of adulting and relive those glory days.
After all, tis the season to be crazy, as every night is a full moon in New Orleans as All Hallows’ Eve (All Saints’ Eve) approaches. And, in the Cities of the Dead, there is something for everyone. You can go on a ghost tour (Ghost City Tours), visit a voodoo shop (Marie Laveau House of Voodoo), attend a music festival (Voodoo Music & Arts Experience), have some family fun (Boo at the Zoo) and so, so much more.
Here at Ghost City Tours, we truly believe Halloween brings out the absolute best side of the Crescent City, and we want you to experience as much of the season as you possibly can. So, we compiled our top list of things to do in the Cities of the Dead, during the days leading up to All Hallow’s Eve.
This Halloween marks the 10th anniversary of The Mortuary. For the past ten years during the month of October, the Mortuary becomes a haunted house, spooking locals and visitors alike. Possibly more creepy than any thrill you may experience from the fanatics performers, is the warning that you may encounter other living things of the night. Things like roaches, spiders and rats are to be expected, as this is New Orleans we’re talking about. But, upon entering you should indeed be cautious, cautious of beady-eyed bats and slithering snakes.
The Mortuary is quick to point out that none of the creatures are a part of the show, but it is possible that you may come in contact with one of these not so cute members of the Halloween kingdom. The kind folks at The Mortuary also warn those who value their lives, that you may even encounter a real ghost, as the place is known for being much more than an attraction. It’s an actual haunted house with documented proof of paranormal activity. The Mortuary and its hauntings have also been featured on the Travel Channel and the Discovery Channel.
You would be wise to make a mental note of all the warnings, as when you purchase a ticket for entry into the Mortuary, you are doing so at your own risk. But, hey, it’s Halloween. So, donate some blood, and get your Free Express Admission Ticket. With any luck you won’t pass out until after you’ve made it through the house. The Mortuary is located at 4800 Canal Street, and open every weekend of October (some weekdays too).
In 1993, the House of Shock was founded by a group of lifelong friends. They were nostalgic for those childhood Halloween memories, so, they decided to bring the excitement back for all of those lost in adulthood. Over the years, the House of Shock has grown into a juggernaut in the world of haunted attractions, with national exposure via Rolling Stone and the Travel Channel too.
The House of Shock shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, as they continue to grow like an angry Bruce Banner. In addition to scaring the bejesus outta people, the House of Shock also has a full service bar and offers live music and horror shows. For the 2016 haunting season, the people at the Shock tout their venue as “3 world-class haunted attractions in one location!”
These world-class haunted attractions are the Bordello of Freaks, Laff in the Dark and of course the main draw, the House of Shock Haunted House. And, as is the case with every year since its inception, you can expect to see New Orleans’ dark and seedy past spun into the House of Shock’s haunted depraved web of all things supernatural. You can find the House of Shock at 319 Butterworth Street in Jefferson Parish.
This October 13th, is the 9th Annual Anba Dlo (Beneath the Waters) Halloween Festival, a chance to celebrate all of the spirits of New Orleans. Anba Dlo (along with A Studio In The Woods) hosts a free parade and an all-nighter partython to celebrate not just the season, but also the city’s multicultural and artistic historical importance.
The event is the unofficial start to the Halloween festivities in the Crescent City. Some of what you will be treated to at the Anba Dlo Festival are bands, burlesque performances, art installations, water alters, psychic readings and most important of all, a costume contest. Actually, the night’s biggest treat is a ceremony in which they invoke the mermaid spirit. (We’re not kidding).
Sure, if you want a real Voodoo experience you can go to the Marie Laveau House of Voodoo, but if music is more your thing, then you are in luck as the Voodoo Music & Arts Experience (better known as Voodoo Fest) runs from October 28th-30th, with an amazing lineup of talent, featuring The Weeknd, Cage the Elephant and Arcade Fire.
The Voodoo Fest has been around for nearly two decades now, and each year more and more festival goers attend the conjuring of awesomeness. The Halloween weekend bash is more than music; like New Orleans, the Voodoo Fest is a virtual gumbo with food, music (both locals and legends), art (just ask Gonzo) and all lovers of the paranormal.
Every Halloween season, Voodoo Fest takes over City Park. Emanating sounds of great music can be heard throughout the surrounding neighborhood streets. The location of the fest in City Park, could not be more ideal for this collectivity of weirdos. During the day the park is a place of historic beauty, but come nightfall it’s taken over by a horror movie level of creepiness, from the creaking mossy trees to the stillness of the lagoons. Chills await.
Through the month of October (till the 23rd), Wheel Fun Rentals operates a pumpkin patch in New Orleans City Park. Picking out just the right pumpkin can be great family fun on its own, but there is also much more to this event than a pumpkin patch. Wheel Fun Rentals have pulled out all of the stops to make a Halloween dreamland for the kids, filled with fun times by way of carnival games, a bounce house and slides.
Wheel Fun Rentals offers something for all. Whether you want to hop on one of their pedal boats and enjoy City Park’s Big Lake, or embrace the Halloween season with a Hayride, there is unquestionably something for every member of the family at the New Orleans City Park Pumpkin Patch. Hey, they whole family can also get matching ghost or zombie tattoos, and then dance to the Halloween themed music.
From October 21st through the 29th, you can visit Audubon Zoo on Fridays and Saturdays for Boo at the Zoo. The annual event is tailored for the little ones, in which ever haunting form they choose to appear. The trick or treat fun and games are for the little boys and ghouls up to the age of twelve.
Some of the fun activities that Boo at the Zoo offers upon admission are ghost train rides, a monster maze, Laser Tag, both a scary and “non-scary” haunted mansion and two stages of live entertainment. Make sure you don’t miss out on any of the fun (or your kids will never forgive you), also this year’s opening day (October 21st) is their Marvel Superhero night, so bring your little hobgoblins and greens goblins to meet Spider-Man!
City Park’s Carousel Gardens Amusement Park & Storyland is open on the 21st-23rd this year with their own Halloween family fun event. Side note, little ones under 36-months are allowed entrance for free, you adults, however, will have to fork over 20 bucks for general admission. Still, not a bad deal for unlimited rides. Plus, proceeds go towards preserving Carousel Gardens.
At Ghosts in the Oaks, you’ll also find family fun in the form of trick or treating in Storyland, arts and crafts, airbrush tattoos and of course a pumpkin patch (a Halloween must). So, bring the kids out for a spooky fun time, while you help in preserving the park for generations to come.
The annual Halloween New Orleans, is a LGBT community weekend long extravaganza, with proceeds benefiting Project Lazarus. Since its inaugural fundraiser (in the year of 1984), Halloween New Orleans has raised millions of dollars for the non-profit volunteer-run charity, Project Lazarus.
This year’s theme for HNO is “Pirate’s Revenge, The Curse of Jean Lafitte.” The weekend’s events as listed from the HNO website: The Lazarus Ball (27th at il Mercato), HNOGlow Neon Party (28th at The Civic Theatre), The Main Event (29th at Contemporary Arts Center) and last but not least The Queens’ Tea: Brunch & Second Line (30th at The Paddlewheeler Creole Queen)
On the 27th of October, Save Our Cemeteries is offering a reception at Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, for Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat Fan Club, in celebration of the Karstendiek family tomb. The tomb served as inspiration for Anne Rice in the writing of her Gothic Horror debut novel, Interview with the Vampire.
There are only sixteen cast-iron tombs in the parish of Orleans, and the Karstendiek family tomb is one of those few. But, with its age comes the need for repairs, and with its uniqueness comes the high cost of those repairs. Thus, the proceeds from the Vampire Lestat Fan Club event (and second line) benefits the tomb’s restoration.
There is not a city in the world that gets down on Halloween night like New Orleans does, that you can believe. Two of the more happening events in the city are The Halloween Night Extravaganza at the Dragon’s Den (435 Esplanade Avenue), and Halloween Night at The Maison (508 Frenchmen Street).
What else can you do on the strangest night of the year? Well, you can go to the strangest street in the world, Bourbon Street. If you have been to Bourbon in the past, you know just how weird and wild things can get on any given night, but imagine going to Bourbon on All Hallows’ Eve. Will stop imagining, and live it for yourself. You may just run into a few witches, vampires and werewolves (oh my) before the end of the night!
Everyone knows about New Orleans’s parades during Mardi Gras, but the Crescent city throws parades year round and we wouldn’t skip it during the season of Halloween. The two main Halloween parades in the Cities of the Dead, are the Krewe of Boo and Jim Monaghan’s Halloween Parade.
Krewe of Boo, begins at Elysian Fields on October 22nd, and claims to be the city’s official Halloween Parade, with its backing by Kern Studios. But, if you want to go to a Halloween parade on Halloween, then Jim Monagan’s parade is for you. The 21st annual parade begins from Molly’s at the Market (1107 Decatur Street) on October 31st, at 7:00pm.
Whether you are visiting New Orleans, or are a local looking for something spooky to do this Halloween, all of the before mentioned events and activities are great options, but if you’re looking for a more personalized experience, then your search is over, Ghost City Tours is here for you. We offer tours for everyone.
If you want a family tour, then you should consider taking our all-ages Ghosts of New Orleans Tour, we offer this tour seven days a week (the tour starts at 8:00 pm). Now, if you’re after the darkest of the dark, then are adults-only Killers and Thrillers Tour – East and Killers and Thrillers Tour – West are the tours for you. Both operate seven days a week, the East starts at 8:30pm and the West begins at 8:00pm. We also offer our New Orleans Haunted Pub Crawl, which is obviously adults only, and a fun way to hear the spookiest stories of the city’s haunting past.
Wanna go more extreme? Ghost City Tours has the answer for you, with our real ghost hunt, our New Orleans Ghost Hunt Experience is the perfect way for you to get into the Halloween spirit. We offer our ghost hunts (a four hour experience) Thursday through Monday (starting at 10pm), the ghost hunt is held at 1022 Royal Street.