Halloween in New Orleans
If you thought that Halloween was just a night for the kids to go trick or treating with their parents in tow, you need to think again. Here in New Orleans, like nearly everything else, it’s different. Halloween, Crescent City-style, is second only to Mardi Gras for wild and crazy, dressing-up-in-costume kind of fun and it isn’t just for kids, either. Adults get to join in the merriment and craziness as well. In fact, it’s probably even more fun for the grown-ups than it is for the little ones!
It’s a night you might run into a vampire or a zombie or a pirate. New Orleanians are devilishly clever when it comes to devising imaginative and outlandish costumes. No other city in the world does Halloween better than us.
On and around All Hallows’ Eve in New Orleans there is something for everyone; from the smallest trick-or-treaters to the biggest party monsters. This is a city so rich in haunted history it is widely known as “The Most Haunted City in America.”
Haunted Tours and Spiritual Shops
You might want to start your Halloween adventure with one of the many haunted tours through the French Quarter or some other spooky part of the city. There are haunted houses Uptown, in the Garden District and elsewhere, if you know where to go or are with someone who does. And then, of course, there are the world-famous cemeteries where the dearly departed are buried in tombs aboveground. Hundreds of stories abound in which the ghosts of these “Cities of the Dead” make their presence known, some of which have actually been documented and visually captured.
While prowling around the French Quarter there are a number of Voodoo shops you can check out to learn a little more about the history behind these centuries-old spiritual practices. The spirit of Marie Laveau, the High Priestess of 19th century New Orleans, can still be felt in the vibes that surround you in some of these shops. You might even learn a few spells and mystical incantations. There are even shops catering specifically to vampires, believe it or not.
Some of these shops plan special events for Halloween, so make sure you stop by and get in on the action. You can read about them online by visiting the city’s Voodoo shopping page.
If you aren’t out on Halloween in costume, you are missing out on the most fun. But, what if you don’t have one? No problem. One of the city’s many costume shops will be happy to fix you up for the occasion. You can get anything from cat ears and bat wings and vampire fangs to the most over-the-top outfits you’ve ever seen anywhere. Including feather boas, multicolored wigs and masks for those who are into glamour.
And, once you’re in costume, you might find an open party or bar that’s heavy into the spirit of the evening. Most bars, shops and eateries welcome and encourage costumed guests on Halloween night and the fun doesn’t stop at midnight, either. In many places it goes it goes on till the first rays of daylight rise over the nearby Mississippi River.
One of the biggest Halloween celebrations occurs every year on Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny. Throngs of partygoers, including locals and tourists, take to the streets in their elaborate and frequently outlandish outfits. Of course, you can expect to find many kindred “spirits” among the frenzied throng and you might even run into a “blood” relative or two.
The French Quarter’s LGBT community is also out in full regalia for Halloween and you can join in the fun at any time during the evening. Ground Zero for the action is at Bourbon and St. Ann streets in the heart of the Quarter. Elaborate costumes, exciting galas, and drinking and dancing with friends characterize this festive celebration. The proceeds go to Project Lazarus, a home in New Orleans for people living with AIDS – so you know your good times are going to an even more important cause.
Krewe of Boo
As the official New Orleans Halloween parade, Krewe of Boo brings the celebration to life. With floats constructed by Kern Studios, America’s premier float-building organization, the parade frightens and excites the crowds. Kern artists design 3-D papier mâché and fiberglass props that mimic all of Halloween’s spooky creatures.
Parade riders throw various items to onlookers as they pass by, much to the delight of both children and adults. Parade throws include candy, chee wees, pralinettes, light-up medallion beads, voodoo doll pins and magnets, doubloons, and children’s toys. Unlike Mardi Gras throws, Krewe of Boo throws are all collectable or consumable, which cuts back on waste.
The Krewe of Boo Halloween parade usually takes place the Saturday before Halloween and processes through the French Quarter and Warehouse District up to the Convention Center.
“Boo at the Zoo”
If you’re looking for something a little more family-friendly, check out Audubon Zoo’s annual “Boo at the Zoo.” The Zoo stays open for the evening with entertainment, food, trick-or-treating, (not so) scary stories, fun rides, a haunted house, and more, plus an opportunity for the little ones to get up close and personal with some of the more friendly animals in the zoo’s collection.
Trick or Treating
The Louisiana Children’s Museum, located at 420 Julia Street in the heart of the Warehouse Arts District often stages Halloween-related events and activities for the little ones. Check with them as the date gets closer by calling 504-523-1357 or visit their website.
New Orleans also has its share of Haunted Houses set up each year by local churches, community organizations and private individuals. Local listings in the newspaper will give details as the dates get closer. A word of caution though: some of these Haunted Houses may be too scary for the youngest children. Parental discretion is strongly advised.