Halloween is no doubt the most popular costume festival in the world, especially in North America. But what about all those costume parties that happen each year, around the world? Once you’ve got your Halloween fix of our scariest places on earth and our CUTE pictures of pumpkin patches, consider a trip to any of these fun festivals. Just remember to plan your costume in advance!
Scarborough Faire in Texas
Tucked away in the unlikely spot of Waxahachie, Texas, the Scarborough Renaissance Festival (a.k.a. Scarborough Faire) is an enormous festival held on the weekends each summer and has operated since 1981. There are period renaissance costumes, musicians, theatrical performances, jousting, and all sorts of otherh tomfoolery. And of course, guests are encouraged to dress in their best renaissance gear!
The Carnival in Venice
Held each year 40 days before easter and up through Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), the Carnival of Venice is one of the most famous costumed festivals in the world. The highlight are the fantastic masks, which traditionally were used to allow the city to enjoy a festival without anyone knowing your social class. To fully enjoy this costumed festival, you really should buy a mask, but be warned – they’re expensive, though it is expensive to be Venice pretty much year-round.
UFO Festival in Roswell, New Mexico
Feeling like doing something a tad bit…different?. Roswell, New Mexico’s unique UFO festival might be just for you. This is a great place to stop while you roadtrip and explore the beauty of the American southwest. The festival is usually around the 4th of July weekend, and includes BBQ, bands, beer and wine as well as the costume contest.
Up Helly Aa in Shetland
Up Helly Aa is a annual festival held in Shetland, one of the northernmost islands in Great Britian. During the torch processions, the viking re-enactments, and the massive bonfire torching a huge Viking ship replica, everyone is dressed in costumes. It’s cold and dark, so you might want to dress up anyway so you stay warm, but this is just one of those events where it feels wrong not to join in on the fun.
St Patrick’s Day in Dublin
Anything green goes for St Patrick’s Day, but if you’re going to do it right, you’re going to do it in Dublin. With a ton of great pubs all within stumbling distance of each other, fantastic pub grub to keep your stamina, and wonderful countryside to go and get some fresh air to help you deal with the day after, this is one party not to miss. Bonus points for the fanciest hat!
Burning Man in Nevada
Some say Burning Man isn’t an event, it’s a lifestyle. Held yearly in the desert of Nevada, the event is unique in that everything you bring in you take out, and there’s no money exchanged – it’s more of a bartering system. Crews build amazing structures that culminate in a huge bonfire (the burning man). Costumes range from the fun to the weird – that is, if they’re wearing anything at all.
Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day) in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is, in fact, a fantastic place to be for Halloween – though it is mostly expats who dress up, but the tradition continues to grow in popularity. But for a raucous good time? Come dressed in your best orange costume. Koninginnedag translates literally a Queen’s Day, and it’s celebrated the 30th of April each year in homage to the Queen (though the current Queen’s birthday is on a different date – it’s her mother’s birthdate, actually). Expect wild canal parades, dusk-til-dawn parties, and the streets packed with fun.
Fantasy Fest in Key West
They call it Key West’s “annual baccanal,” which is saying something because Key West is a party town on a normal day. This fest is huge, with nearly three times as many people visiting than live on the island. Held on the last week of October, it’s good to know that not only is there a costume contest for adults, but also for pets too, so bring them and dress ‘em up!
Mardi Gras in New Orleans
How could we talk about costumed festivals without mentioning the famed New Orleans Mardi Gras? Despite the reputation it has, Mardi Gras has plenty of both family friendly events and more raucous nightlife, so depending on what you’re looking for, you’ll find it. Be sure to stop by for the famous beignets, but don’t get that powdered sugar on your costume! The New Orleans event includes the parade, numerous balls and smaller events, and of course the experience of touring the historic city during such a vibrant time!
Fasnacht in Basel, Switzerland
One of the largest festivals in Switzerland, nearly 20k people don a mask to take part of the festivities that happen Monday-Thursday after Ash Wednesday. Groups wander the streets Monday morning at 4AM playing carnival tunes…Other evenings are less organized, more of a cacophony of musicians scattered everywhere on the streets. The finale is a torch processional that is so bright and wild that many of the old houses along the parade route catch on fire, but a whole crew ensures that nothing gets out of hand. Those who have been say this is one of the craziest festivals they’ve ever seen. Don’t forget your mask!
Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland, Colorado
Last by not least, another opportunity to let your Halloween joy out, this time in March, where the streets of Nederland, Colorado are filled with dead people. There’s the coffin race, the parade, but perhaps my favorite thing of all: the re-animate yourself beer tent. Total genius.