If you were a woman who received as much as a sideways glance from your neighbors, Salem Massachusetts in 1692 was not a great place to be. But for modern day Halloween celebrations, there’s no beating it.
Once the home of the infamous Salem witch trials, it’s become one of the largest and most popular Halloween destinations in the world, welcoming hundreds of thousands of history buffs, fright fans and families for parades, costume balls, festivals, tours, magic shows, museums and other special attractions. Because local hotels book early, many Salem-goers stay in Back Bay Boston and take the one-hour scenic Newburyport / Rockport ‘T’ Line up to “Witch City” (you’ll find three T stops within a 5-minute walk from Newbury Guest House). It’s a great way to experience the best of both cities.
The list of Salem Halloween events is long enough to scare even hardcore haunt hunters, but that just means there’s something spooky for everyone waiting just outside of Back Bay Boston.
Hit the Salem Psychic Fair and Witches’ Market at Witch City Mall throughout October for tarot, palm, and past-life readings, crystal ball gazing, and more. Don’t forget to pick up spell kits, wands and voodoo dolls…just in case.
The Witch Trials Memorial is small, but not to be missed. Twenty granite benches honor those executed during the trials, and the memorial’s six black locust trees are the species believed to be the one victims were hanged from. While you’re there, visit the Old Burying Point Cemetery, which is connected to the trials but also the resting place of other notable Salem figures.
Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery & Frankenstein’s Castle offers monster movie fans more than 60 hyper-realistic wax figures of screen grotesques including vampires, werewolves, zombies, and demons crafted by Hollywood special effects experts. During October, hit the Salem Wax Museum’s Frankenstein’s Castle Haunted House Experience.
Stroll the cobblestone streets of Salem on a Witch City Walking Tour and take in colonial architecture with expert guides who’ll explain the historical influences that spread mass hysteria and led to the witch trials of 1692. For extra chills, book a tour that includes ghastly ghost tales, gruesome murders, and true crime stories from Salem.
If you only have time for one of the city’s multiple witch museums, make it the Salem Witch Museum, which features animatronics and a fascinating exhibit on our evolving perceptions of witchcraft.
Go beyond both the fun and solemn history in Salem Witch Village with a tour guided by a real-deal practicing witch. Separate fact from fiction, learn about modern witchcraft practices and prepare to be surprised by truths embedded in old witch legends.
Salem’s Haunted Happenings is a month-long blowout featuring an ongoing lineup of family-friendly Halloween events. Just a few highlights:
Take in hundreds of glowing, intricately carved pumpkins at the walk-through Jack-O’-Lantern Festival in the Hollowed Harvest Wicked Labyrinth and carve your own masterpiece while you’re there.
Stroll the Haunted Happenings Marketplace on Salem Common for unique Halloween wares, performances, pop-up photo stations, street performers, tricks and (mostly) treats.
The Good Witch of Salem celebrates the season with large events including Magical TeaTime, a Potion Party, a Costume Ball and a Costume Parade.
Haunted Houses After Dark offers candlelit visits to downtown Salem historic houses dating from 1684-1799, complete with tales of murder and mystery based on real events told by storytellers dressed in period costumes. Calm yourself afterwards with warm drinks and dessert.
Visit the Gallows Hill Main Show and find yourself at the 1692 Salem witch trials; only this time, the audience is the accused. Hear the testimony against you, plead your case and await your fate.
Go ghost hunting with Kimberly Bizjak of Paranormal Salem, using EMF detectors, audio recorders, infrared thermometers, and other paranormal detection devices to collect evidence inside The Lost Museum.
Join Salem’s master storyteller Nathaniel Hawthorne at Haunted Fables at the Gables for a terrifying evening in the grim shadow of the Gables. A Hawthorne reenactor performs his most frightening tales along with those of fellow gothic horror monger Edgar Allen Poe.
The Hammond Castle Museum has been the seat of rumors and urban legends of occult happenings since its completion in 1929 due to its association with the late 19th-century American spiritualist movement’s fascination with all things supernatural. Take a nighttime spiritualism tour of the museum’s dramatic gothic architecture while you learn about the history of the movement.
If you scream in a silent movie, does anyone hear you? Find out at Grace Church’s Haunted Grace Silent Movie Series. Visit this gothic church for a screening of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) with creepy live organ accompaniment.
Salem’s cutest October event has to be the Howl-o-ween Pet Parade at Pickering Wharf, where pets showcase their persons’ creative costume handiwork.
If you’re planning a visit to Salem this October, Newbury Guest House is an easy – and smart – place to start. We may not be haunted, but our rooms are out of this world. And if you don’t get your fill of chills in Salem, our staff is happy to recommend strange and spooky things to do right here in town. Book your stay, and let the witching season begin!