Halloween through the world, how do you like to play at being scared? – World Meanderings (n°74)
By Annick Dournes & Frédéric de Poligny
If Halloween was only celebrated in Anglo-Saxon countries for decades it now has invaded the whole world and each country reinvent it in its own way. Carnival, night in a haunted house or in a spooky castle, freaky city tours… will all give you goosebumps and fun. Trick-or-Treat?
Dublin, in the footsteps of Jack O’ Lantern
First things first lets begin our trip in Dublin where it all began. Halloween was born in Ireland 2,500 years ago but it was not until the middle of the 19th century that it became a popular celebration. Every year the Samhain Halloween Parade takes place in Dublin centre especially dimly lit and decorated for the occasion. Put on your fancy dress and join the parade or get on the Ghostbus in the footstep of Count Dracula!
New York, bigger than life
But other towns are not to be forgotten either. In New-York where everything must be wilder than anywhere else Central Park is turned into a field of pumpkin the Central Park Pumpkin Fest, dozens of costume parties are organised in clubs and on trendy rooftops and during the largest Halloween parade ever seen over 50,000 people invade Manhattan! Will you dare visit the Merchant’s House Museum on that scary night and meet the ghosts of eight members of the Tredwell family who died there? Special Candlelight Ghost Tours are organised in this beautiful 19thh century house known as “Manhattan’s most haunted house”.
Tokyo, capital city of cosplay
Halloween has become hugely popular in Tokyo, second after Christmas and Valentine’s. The Japanese love to dress up and Halloween is a wonderful occasion to do so. Several parade take place in different districts of Tokyo such as the “Roppongi Hills Haloween Parade” gathering thousands of people of all age all dressed up as their favourite movie hero or the “Ikebukuro Halloween Cosplay Festival”. Ikebukuro is the place to be for cosplaying in Tokyo and on that special occasion it will be amazing.
Prague, scarier than the golem?
Prague undoubtedly is a perfect setting for Halloween. With its impressive ancient buildings, chilling narrow streets and dark corners it is one of the best bone-chilling place to party. In the Andel pedestrian Zone food and beer will be part of the celebration to enjoy typical American dishes. Meanwhile several parades, carnivals and storytelling festivals take place all over the city.
Mexico, a mix of Christian and pagan traditions
“Dia de Muertos”, the Day of the Dead”, is an ancient celebration in Mexico during which families spend a special night in cemeteries to honour their dead in accordance with ancestral rituals. In recent years Halloween festivities have joined in and the “Day of the Dead Parade” is getting more and more popular each year. Inspired by a scene from the James Bond movie Spectre a big parade during which people wearing skeleton costumes scare passers-by draws thousands of people dancing to the sound of Mariachi bands.
Paris, imagination takes control
It seems that French people are very imaginative when it comes to Halloween although it’s a quite recent event in France. The very first escape game will take place on the Seine River on this occasion this year. A scary escape game is organised every day until November 2nd aboard the “Bateaux Parisiens”. Participants will have to free the prisoners of a terrible witch before sending her back to hell where she belongs. At the Salle Pleyel, a renowned Parisian concert hall, the “Monstre Orchestra” will play horrific film scores. Paris zoo also welcomes visitors for an unusual discovery, the blob. The blob is a living unicellular creature that is not an animal, nor a plant nor a fungus and has been a main character of scary movies of the 1950’s . The zoo also wants you to face your fears of weird or disturbing animals and help you meet poisonous spiders, frogs or snakes and other unfriendly animals that live in the zoo. Not to forget all the Halloween parties that will take place in many bars and clubs all over Paris .
Hallowenn allows us to get scared in a fun and safe way and this is true in many countries around the world. Must be human nature! So get dressed up, carve a pumpkin and welcome the coming winter.
Text ©Annick Dournes