While Mardi Gras is the unquestioned biggest celebration in New Orleans, Halloween is an excellent choice for visiting the city as well. The city is filled up with decorations, parties, and parades that lasts the entire month of October. From the annual Krewe of Boo parade that runs through the French Quarter to the multitude of costumes that can be found throughout Bourbon Street, there are no shortage of festivities through the entire month of October.
Private households get into the holiday spirit during Halloween as well with several houses going above and beyond for decorations. One excellent option for seeing several decorated houses is walking along St. Charles in the Uptown and Garden District sections of the city. This street has traditionally been the home to the city’s affluent population dating back to the early years of the city. It is now filled with Victorian, Greek, and Italian inspired mansions throughout a large portion of its length. Several of these houses get into the Halloween with their extravagant décor. One house of note that has become a New Orleans institution is the Skeleton House on the corner of St. Charles and Octavia. This house has been placing dozens of decorated skeletons on their front porch for years now, all decorated with an assortment of pop culture and celebrity references ranging from Harry Potter to Marilyn Monroe. A few blocks to the south of St. Charles Avenue, you will find Magazine Street. This street also has its own Halloween tradition known as Ghost Manor. These homeowners put on a real holiday show for the city complete with window projections and animatronic statues that sing a variety of Halloween songs ranging from This is Halloween from Nightmare Before Christmas to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Each song is individually synced to the animatronics, light show, and window projections. The full shows lasts close to 30 minutes and is played on loop during weekends in October. A little further north from this area of town, in the Lakeview section of the city; there is another New Orleans tradition for home décor known as the Kraken House. This private home is filled with giant inflatable tentacles coming out of the balconies and windows and is well worth the drive to see.
In addition to the private homes, the city also organizes their own festivities. The annual Krewe of Boo parade is a multi-hour parade that goes through the French Quarter as the sun is going down and is filled with the all the flair one expects from New Orleans. Between the giant floats, choreographed dancers, beads, and goodies being tossed into the crowd, and vibrant costumes; this parade is an excellent option to bring the whole family too to enjoy the Halloween season. While Krewe of Boo is the largest Halloween parade in the city, there are several smaller parades that also occur. One standout from these smaller options is the Garden District’s Anne Rice parade that is filled with fans dressed in their best Interview with a Vampire costumes. This parade starts at a bookstore in the Garden District that Anne Rice was known to frequent and finishes at the prolific writer’s historic home in the Garden District. Along the way, parade goers can see many examples of the historic New Orleans architecture that the city’s Garden District is known for. For those who want even more of the occult, October also features several vampire themed balls and parties where dressing up is highly encouraged. While haunted tours are offered in the city throughout the year, there is something special about doing these tours in October. The French Quarter also features many homes decorate for the season and this adds to the ambiance of the ghost tours. For those who want something other than ghosts; there are also voodoo and vampire themed tours to enjoy in the French Quarter. You can even enjoy a few drinks at the Vampire Café in the French Quarter where you can share a few drinks of sangria served in blood bags.
Once the sun goes down; New Orleans offers a lot of nightlife for adults to enjoy. While the infamous Bourbon Street contains a party almost every night, Halloween takes this up a notch. Dressing up in costumes throughout all of October is encouraged each night on Bourbon Street and visitors frequently take up the challenge. While not everyone is in costume, the vast majority tend to do so. The warm weather of Louisiana and anything goes attitude of Bourbon Street means that almost any costume is fair game to dress up in. You never know what you will see here during this time of year. The party on Bourbon Street lasts until 2 to 3 am each night. Bourbon Street has garnered a reputation as being one of the country’s top destinations for nightlife and this reputation is well warranted. There are very few rules on Bourbon Street and the street is filled with bars and clubs who always ensure that visitors are having a great time dancing the night away and listening to great live music. You can spend the entire night hopping from club to club along this street. Just follow the music.
Shows and concerts are also taking place throughout the city if you want an alternative form of entertainment. Whether is a nationally touring band that puts on a show at the nearby Orpheum theater or a local band putting on a show in the House of Blues directly in the French Quarter; there are no shortage of musical options to enjoy in New Orleans. Broadway shows also frequent the French Quarter at the nearby Saenger Theater in the French Quarter. In fact, this theater was where I spent my first Halloween in New Orleans, enjoying Broadway’s Book of Mormon before taking on Bourbon Street once the curtain closed on the show.
For those with kids, Halloween offers several neighborhoods that open to families from all over the city for trick or treating. The Uptown neighborhood by the Skeleton House is known for this where the street is blocked off to keep out cars to allow kids from all around the neighborhood to stroll through the streets and collect their candy. The streets are packed with kids in costume on Halloween night. Between the decorated Victorian mansions and hundreds of kids in costume packing the streets, I can think of few better places in the country for trick or treating during the Halloween season.
While New Orleans is fun the entire year, Halloween season really marks on the best times to visit this city. While I have had many incredible nights in the city, some of my best memories take place during Halloween. New Orleans deserves a spot on everyone’s travel bucket list. The city offers festivities year-round whether its Halloween, Mardi Gras, festival season, or Christmas; there is always something to do in the Big Easy. But those are stories for another day…