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When it comes to the scariest time of year, there’s no better city to visit than New Orleans on Halloween.

Sure, it receives heaps of attention for its crazy Mardis Gras parties in the spring, but what many people don’t realize is that Halloween is actually the best holiday to celebrate in this dark, strange place where vampires and ghouls roam.

Upon arriving in New Orleans, you’ll stroll past everything from ornate graveyard tombs to 18th-century mansions covered in ancient cobwebs. After enduring the yellow fever epidemic in the 1800s, as well as the abomination of African American slavery, this city is scarred.

Perhaps that’s why it’s been dubbed as one of the most haunted cities in the country. Many say that spirits from the past still haunt the streets, and at Halloween, that’s just what we want to hear. The city has moved past some of the worst parts in its history, but it still clings to that eerie sense of the supernatural.

Now, when All Hallow’s Eve rolls around, the city embraces the holiday with fervor. Whether you’re looking for Halloween parties full of booze and music or an unsettling ghost tour, New Orleans has exactly what you need to make this Halloween truly unforgettable.

If you decide to visit during October, here are the top Halloween activities you must check out.

Take a Cemetery Tour

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You might hear people say that not much separates the living from the dead in New Orleans, and surprisingly, they’re not kidding. There are more than 42 cemeteries located within the city limits, and they’re unlike any resting grounds you’ve seen before. The dead are stored in above-ground tombs that make up “Cities of the Dead.”

Finding a tour to take you on a daytime excursion through some of the best cemeteries is a great way to dip your toe in the gruesome history of this southern city. From the ghosts of voodoo queens to the troubled spirits of slaves and their owners, there’s no shortage of supernatural sightings and spine-chilling tales in this part of the country.

Wander Through a Real Voodoo Shop

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New Orleans Voodoo is one of the most symbolic and unnerving religions born in America, and it’s hooked its roots deeply into Louisiana ever since the mid-1700s. This particular brand of voodooism gave us the voodoo dolls and tarot cards you see in horror movies, and if you’re in New Orleans during Halloween, you have to take a dive into the practices.

If you’re on Royal Street in the French Quarter, pop into Erzulies Authentic Voodoo shop to see working voodoo altars and real-life practitioners who are ready to remove hexes or cast spells. Voodoo Authentica also offers an authentic experience with points, oils, amulets, and plenty of other commodities.

Buy a Drink at a Haunted Bar

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A bar crawl through the French Quarter of New Orleans will reveal that toasting to ghosts is a fairly common practice. For instance, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street claims to be one of the most haunted bars in the entire country. You can order a beer, then learn about how waves of terrible epidemics led to high mortality rates many years ago.

Another bar with a gruesome history is Pat O’Brien’s, where ghosts are said to frequent the Piano Bar area and the Ladies Room. Prepare to experience inexplicable cold spots, poltergeist activity, and the occasional missing coat or jacket.

Drop by the French Quarter’s LGBT Celebration

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This Halloween activity certainly isn’t as traditional as touring a voodoo shop or a dead city, but it is a great way to embrace the extravagance of New Orleans and its partiers. The French Quarter’s LGBT community comes out in full flair at the end of October. There are celebrations on Bourbon Street and St. Ann, and if you’re in town, you won’t want to miss these high-caliber costumes and raging dance parties.

Jam Out at Voodoo Music and Arts Experience

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Every October, thousands of people arrive in New Orleans to attend one of the most popular music festivals in the south. The Voodoo Music and Arts Experience always takes place the weekend before Halloween at the New Orleans City Park festival grounds, and it’s packed with partygoers adorned in festive costumes and disguises. Plus, there are roller coasters, food stands, and haunted houses to keep you entertained throughout the weekend.

This year, the festival’s lineup includes big names like Childish Gambino, Mumford & Sons, Arctic Monkeys, Odeza, and AJR. Grab a fried Oreo from a nearby stand, then rock out to live music from stellar performers. Don’t forget to dress up or you’ll stick out like a sore thumb in this crowd.

Watch Parade Floats at the Krewe of Boo

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Did you know there’s an official New Orleans Halloween parade? The Krewe of Boo will take place on October 20 this year and brings tons of spooky, family-friendly festivities into the French Quarter. Ever since 2007, crowds have turned out in the thousands to watch the parade. It’s full of 3-D paper mâché and fiberglass props, and you might even get some candy thrown at you by parade riders. Be sure to stake your spot out on the parade route so you don’t miss any of the festivities as they pass by.

The Wrap

Fall in New Orleans is gorgeous. Pair all of these events together and you’ve got yourself a trip that’s both frightening and fun. After all, where else can you run into a bloodsucking vampire, then turn around and devour Cajun food in an old haunted bar? Sounds like the perfect October vacation to me.