Forget the jack-o-lanterns, the tricks, the treats and the naff costume parties. Standard Halloween celebrations simply aren’t spooky enough for some people.
We’ve picked out six scary spots around the globe to make your eerie October trip truly frightening…
Paris catacombs, France
This city-centre ossuary is one Paris’s most chilling attractions, with its huge repository of human bones meticulously (and artistically) stacked beneath the streets of Montparnasse. Take a jumper for the temperature drop and before entering make sure you’re fit to climb the 83 steps on the way out. When you emerge above ground, recover with a drink in one of Montparnasse’s famous literary bars, such as La Coupole or Le Rotonde.
The Witch House, Salem, USA
Sit tight and have a knuckle handy to chew on if you dare to attend a session of ‘Tales at the Witch House’, eerie storytelling tours held in the former home of witch trial judge Jonathan Corwin. The tours take place every Friday and Saturday evening in October and there’s no hiding in the corner: you’re guided through lantern-lit rooms by costumed staff who are well versed in giving visitors the creeps.
Hoia-Baciu Forest and Bran Castle, Transylvania, Romania
You can always rely on Transylvania to bring the Halloween thrills. Not only can you visit Bran Castle, the imposing former home of Vlad the Impaler (blueprint for the character of Count Dracula himself), but you might also want to brave a walk in Hoia-Baciu Forest. This place might take the prize for eeriest photo opportunity, due to its dense crops of trees with unnervingly twisted trunks. Visitors claim to have witnessed all sorts of strange goings-on here, from UFO sightings to reports of malevolent spirits.
Isla de las Muñecas, Mexico, South America
This island is about as creepy as it gets. Its former caretaker, Don Julian Santana (who died on the island in 2001), took it upon himself to festoon the trees with thousands of hanging dolls (now rather worse for wear) as a tribute to a deceased young girl. Whether you believe the dolls are evil or lucky charms, they make a pretty spooky sight for your photo album. The best way to access the island is via boat to the Xochimilco canals.
The Black Forest, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
The dense Black Forest, stuff of fairy tales by day, and perhaps nightmares past dusk, retains a long legacy of supernatural sightings, not least the headless horseman spotted thundering past on his white steed near the former village of Wolmerspur. If that’s not scary enough, consider the other rumours of werewolves, dwarves and witches, not to mention nymphs dwelling in murky Mummel Lake… Take refuge at night in one of the many welcoming hotels and guesthouses in the area.
Shocktober Fest, Tulley’s Farm, Crawley, UK
For guaranteed squeals and frightening spectacles of a more theatrical kind, book your ticket for Shocktober Fest at Tulley’s Farm. This October event comprises 18 days of immersive Halloween entertainment. Among the 2014 attractions you’ll find Zombie paintball, a haunted hayride, a room full of jiving rock and roll clowns, and a drive-in cinema screen marshalled by sinister usherettes. Children are welcome – as long as they’re 15 or older and up for being spooked.