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Festivals are a day for rejoicing. In playing together we unite as a community, if only for a brief time. And what better reason to celebrate than Halloween. Each October thousands of cities around the world host festivals. For some communities the celebration takes the form of a costume party at the local recreation center. Others may celebrate with a carnival or a parade. For Halloween enthusiasts the chance to combine costumes, candy and general merriment with their fellow ghouls is a dream come true.


So, where are the best festivals? Which communities around the world play host to the ultimate Halloween celebrations-the kind of event devotees dream about attending. At the top of that list is the city affectionately called “The Witch City.”

Imagine, if you will, an entire city devoted to celebrating Halloween. Now, imagine that celebration occurs not just on Halloween but for a full 24 days. Sound too good to be true-well, it’s not! Such a festival occurs each October in Salem, MA during their “Haunted Happenings” event.


First celebrated in 1982, Haunted Happenings began as the dream of Joan Gormally, former Salem of Commerce Executive Director, and Susannah Stuart, former Director of the Salem Witch Museum. They envisioned Haunted Happenings as a way to both extend the tourist season in the area beyond labor day, and also bring national and international media attention to Salem. Originally a three-day weekend affair, the popularity of the event grew to a full 11 days in 1992 and last year occurred over 24 days beginning October 10 through November 2. Referred to by Mayor Neil J. Harrington as “The Ultimate Halloween Destination,” Haunted Happenings welcomes tens of thousands of Halloween enthusiasts each year.

Salem’s Permanent Attractions
Great Fun Attractions Held Throughout the Year

  • Drac’s Castle
  • Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour
  • House of the Seven Gables
  • New England Pirate Museum
  • Peabody Essex Museum
  • Salem 1630: Pioneer Village
  • Salem Trolley, Corp.
  • Salem Wax Museum of Witches and Seafarers
  • Salem Witch Museum
  • Salem Witch Village
  • Terror on the Wharf
  • Witch Dungeon Museum
  • The Witch House

Highlights of Salem Haunted Happenings
Just a sampling of the dozens of events available

  • Fright Train ride from Boston
  • Annual Salem Haunted Happenings Parade
  • The Salem Haunted Happenings Craft Fair
  • Festival on Salem Common
  • Annual Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo
  • The Witch Trial Trail
  • Salem’s Family Haunted Dinner Theater
  • Bizarre Bazaar
  • Children’s Broom Flying Class
  • Magic Extravaganza

Hundreds of events occur during Haunted Happenings that provide something for every member of the family. Besides Salem’s Permanent Attractions (see Insert), special events include parades, psychic fairs, costume balls, haunted houses, and tours of Salem’s great historic sites (see Highlights of Salem Haunted Happenings) take place.


Salem provides the perfect setting to celebrate Halloween. Congratulations to the folks who help make the festival a success each year. They have clearly met their goal of having an event where people can come and enjoy themselves and learn about Salem and its unique history. We salute Salem as one of the Ultimate Halloween Destinations!

For more information about Salem Haunted Happenings contact the Salem Chamber of Commerce (978/744-0004).


Back to Vol. 1, Issue 1

  1. love salem love , love what goes on every oct. and the people of salem have always been welcomming and friendly. I started going 12 years ago now i take my daughters 18 and 14 there really is somethin for every one …see you in october!

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