New Orleans: How the Most Haunted City in America Celebrates Halloween

There is perhaps no better place to spend October 31st than what many deem the most haunted city in America: New Orleans, Louisiana. Halloween is second only to Mardi Gras when it comes to celebrating holidays in New Orleans. With over forty spine-chilling cemeteries, an array of mystical voodoo shops, and so many haunted tours it’s impossible to count, a nonresident of this spooky Louisiana city may feel a little overwhelmed. With such a complex history, this is one town that stays scary year-round. Even so, when October hits, the mysterious ghouls that lurk behind every tombstone come out to play, and things get extra eerie.

The charming and mysterious city has been celebrated in countless films and television shows over the years. American Horror Story spent its third season homaging the dark characters that once haunted the streets of New Orleans. This year marks the tenth anniversary of Katrina, the hurricane that devastated the region. Despite natural events, the city and its residents have triumphed and refuse to let anything spoil a good party. This resilience and unwavering spirit is symbolized each year with some of the nation’s most extravagant and mesmerizing Halloween celebrations.

Here are our picks for some of the most harrowing haunts New Orleans has to offer:

Krewe of Boo Halloween Festival & Parade

Photo Credit: Richard Nowitz
Photo Credit: Richard Nowitz

Proudly named the official New Orleans Halloween parade, Krewe of Boo is a magical and astounding experience unlike any other. Thousands line the streets and watch in awe as the beautiful and horrifying creatures seem to come to life as they parade through the frighteningly famous French Quarter. Parade-goers cannot believe their eyes as they gaze upon the intricate designs, made primarily of 3D fiberglass and paper mâché by some of America’s most talented artists. Try not to get too hypnotized by this mystifying and esoteric environment and stay alert as candy, light-up beads, and unique collectibles such as mini pumpkins and voodoo doll magnets are thrown. Start gathering your ghastly garbs and preparing your thrilling threads now to ensure that you are just as freaky and outlandish as your surroundings!

The Killers and Thrillers Ghost Tour

It comes as no surprise that this haunted city is home to dozens of ghost tours to choose from, but those that really dare to be scared should check out the adults-only Killers and Thrillers Ghost Tour. The shocking stories of New Orleans’ most loathsome crimes and murders are too abhorrent for innocent ears, but those sixteen and up will revel in touring the town’s haunted brothels and the house of the infamous Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. The grim and hauntingly accurate accounts of the town’s tortured souls are expressed with such emotion and devastation, you feel as if you’ve taken a tragic and frightening trip back in time. Younger thrill-seekers looking for equally ominous tales of the city’s sinister history will enjoy The Ghosts of New Orleans Tour—a two-hour tour through the French Quarter that captures the spooky spirit while remaining more family-friendly.

House of Shock Horror Show

Don’t bring the kids along for the next stop on the tour: The House of Shock, one of America’s most extreme and controversial haunts. This year the theme is “The Resurrection,” featuring frightening, merciless beings such as creepy clowns and other fierce carnival freaks. This 25,000 square-foot attraction is so shocking—so unbelievably disturbing—that authorities have threatened to shut it down in fear that what lurks behind these walls is more than just skilled actors and elaborate special effects. The three founders and longtime friends Ross Karpelman, Jay Gracianette, and Steven Joseph just laugh it off, insisting the grisly scares are all in good fun. The creators couldn’t be more thrilled for the festival’s 23rd installment:

“We’re beyond excited about The Resurrection, as there was strong chance that The House of Shock was dead for good. The love and support we received from the community is both humbling and inspiring. We can’t wait for New Orleans to experience The Resurrection; we’re going big. Fans should prep themselves for a major coronary failure!” (Co-Founder Ross Karpelman).

What sets The House of Shock apart from other haunted attractions is that it’s much more than just a haunted house—it’s a full-on festival, with live music, a pyrotechnic stage show, and an extensive menu and full service bar at Hell’s Kitchen. All the eerie entertainment on the outside can’t prep even the bravest visitor from the unrelenting, grim horrors contained in this haunt’s core. Don’t take this attraction lightly—the more squeamish and easily-frightened patrons wishing to avoid many sleepless nights best steer clear of the gory, nightmarish fantasies in The House of Shock.

Scarecrow Trail

Of course, no Halloween-friendly city is complete without some family fun like the Scarecrow Trail, where businesses, families, schools, and other organizations gather to compete in making the best scarecrow. Participants can gauge their chances of winning if they know where their scarecrow-making skills fall as they choose from one of five categories: Traditional, Funny, Scary, Original, and Miniature—a separate contest for the younger artists. The scarecrows will then be judged at the annual Fall Garden Festival in the New Orleans City Park, a lively event featuring arts & crafts, live music, and other entrancing entertainment. Even after the winners are announced at the festival, all the hard work pays off as the spooky—and silly—scarecrows are on display all month long! Think you’ve got what it takes to ward off the crows and win over the judges? Don’t miss out on this fantastically festive occasion!

More Enchanting Events:

New Orleans is home to many other haunted attractions this time of year. For more family fun, check out Ghosts in the Oaks, an event featuring trick-or-treating, balloon animals, a pumpkin patch, and unlimited carousel rides for the little ghosts in the family. The Audubon Zoo’s annual Boo at the Zoo boasts some excellent activities for all ages, including a monster maze and a zombie-themed train ride.

In addition, music lovers do not want to miss the highly anticipated Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, with an impressive lineup that includes Modest Mouse, Slightly Stoopid, Third Eye Blind, Girl Talk, and many more! Other party-goers looking to have fun while supporting a good cause should check out Fall of the Pharaohs, a four-day festival filled with exciting galas, a wine raffle, and extravagant costumes and dancing galore! All proceeds go to Project Lazarus, a facility that provides care for men and women with AIDS.

No matter what’s up your alley when it comes to celebrating Halloween, New Orleans has it all. Boasting an assortment of haunted tours such as the New Orleans Vampire Tour and the Cemetery History Tour, there is something for everyone in this eerily beautiful and haunting city.

For more information on these haunted attractions and a full list of all the fall festivities in New Orleans, visit

What are your favorite Halloween spots to hit in New Orleans? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below, and don’t forget to subscribe so you can be the first to find out about the best scares of the season!

If you missed our Halloween destinations countdown kickoff, join us here.

So far, we’ve taken you to the haunted old south of Atlanta, GA, the spirited, Halloween-friendly Portland, OR, and Halloween in L.A. What city should be the next stop on our tour?

BONUS: Top 20 Cities for Trick or Treating!

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