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Travel Hacks: Halloween hotspots around the world

9th October 2019

Kiwis are divided when it comes to Halloween. Some embrace it in all of its spooky glory, donning costumes, going trick or treating and attending Halloween themed events. Others, however, are less enthusiastic about the typically North American tradition. 

Either way, the month of October means decorations and lolly filled supermarket shelves anticipating October 31's festivities. We must be suckers for advertising with Kiwi's spending, on average, over $1.5 million on Halloween related products. Dentists must be raking in the sugar-related tooth trauma cash. 

1.5million is a lot to spend on a tradition that is celebrated WAY more enthusiastically in other parts of the world. So, if getting spooked and filling up on sweets is your thang, why not travel to some of the world's Halloween hotspots to celebrate? 

We've put together a list of the world's best Halloween celebrations, as well as the currencies you'll need to fully immerse yourself in festivities. This is bearing in mind the fact that the universal currency of Halloween is, of course, lollies. While you can't buy it at your local Travel Money NZ, our team of experts can stock you up with enough foreign cash to go crazy buying exotic sweets in your spooky destination of choice. 

Samhain: Scotland and Ireland

Currency: Euro and pound depending on where you are

Halloween celebrations are actually attributed to Samhain, a pagan religious festival that welcomes the harvest and ushers in "the dark half of the year". Adherents believe that, during the October 31 - November 1 period of Samhain, the barriers between the physical and spiritual worlds break down and allow for more interaction between humans and otherworldly beings.  

Trick-or-treating is derived from Irish and Scottish practices around Samhain where people wore costumes and went door to door singing songs of the dead. Cake was given as payment, naturally. Definitely puts a whole new perspective on singing Christmas carols door to door if you ask me. 

Day of the Dead: Mexico

Currency: Mexican peso

Day of the Dead, or Dia de Los Muertos, is NOT the Mexican version of Halloween; however, they are celebrated at a similar time of year and are generally grouped together. 

Day of the Dead is a massive two-day festival in Mexico that celebrates deceased family members. It is an explosion of colour as people don bright costumes and intricate makeup, take part in parades and parties and make offerings to lost loved ones. 

Be sure to take plenty of pesos so you can indulge in decorated biscuits, Mexican treats and, of course, tequila!     


Dracula's Castle: Transylvania, Romania

Currency: Romanian Leu 

If you're a Halloween fanatic (or haven't been living under a rock), you would no doubt know of Dracula, the world's most famous vampire (sorry Edward Cullen). 

Transylvania is home to many legends about the undead, or strigoi, the most popular being Dracula. Bran Castle is sat upon a hill and fits the original author's description of Dracula's home. As a result, it is renowned as you guessed it, Dracula's castle. 

Celebrate Halloween here by dressing up and joining 1000 others at the castles spooky soiree. Stock up on Romanian Leu and some garlic before you go. Better be safe than sorry, right? I'm not sure what travel insurance covers when it comes to vampire bites. 


Kawasaki Halloween Parade: Japan 

Currency: Japanese Yen

Fancy watching or taking part in Japan's biggest Halloween parade? Look no further than the Kawasaki Halloween parade hosted on the last Sunday of October each year. 

Participants go all out with their costumes to impress the 120,000+ spectators, as well as potentially win the grand cash prize awarded to the best costume. If you're still reeling for more Japanese Halloween festivities, be sure to hop on the parade's afterparty DJ cruise. 

The parade is free to watch, or you can splurge and buy a 'prime viewing' seat with your yen. Alternatively, pay a small fee, whip up your best costume and take part in the parade yourself! 

Hungry Ghost Festival: Hong Kong

Currency: Hong Kong Dollar

On the 15th day of the seventh lunar month in the Chinese Calendar, people come together for 'Hungry Ghost Festival'. 

Traditional Chinese beliefs dictate that the seventh month of the lunar calendar is when restless spirits roam the earth. In an attempt to appease the spirits, Chinese people will 'feed' their own ancestors by burning fake money and making offerings. Hence the name Hungry Ghost festival. 

While this is a deeply spiritual time for many, it is the perfect opportunity to witness Chinese customs and culture. 

Get some real Hong Kong dollars before you leave so that you can purchase fake money overseas as an offering. 


Haunted Happenings: Salem, Massachusetts USA

Currency: United States Dollar

No Halloween list is complete without the USA. While the whole country wholeheartedly embraces the tradition with pumpkin-themed everything and super-sized lollies, Salem is the genuine hotspot for celebrations. 

Salem itself hosted the famous witch trials in 1692. Since then, it has been known as the 'witch capital', a name that has shaped its character and approach to Halloween celebrations. 

The Haunted Happenings festival runs all of October, and it's itinerary is packed with horror fests, a psychic fair and witches market, ghost stories, magic shows, theatre performances, karaoke, a grand parade and fireworks. 


If the festival isn't enough to get you into the Halloween spirit, you can also check out the witch museum and join a haunted walking tour. 

Grab some USD, and your best costume, but make sure you leave plenty of room in your suitcase for all of the American candy you will no doubt bring home.

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