Salem has become one of the biggest hot spots to celebrate Halloween. The monthlong festivities include costume contests, trick-or-treating, fairs, psychic readings, and haunted houses.
More than 250,000 people visit Salem in October, taking in a monthlong array of “Haunted Happenings,’’ and at least 75,000 more come on Halloween night.
The Haunted Happenings Grand Parade on Thursday, October 3, kicks off the month of activities.
Take a look at some photos and upcoming events during the city’s most festive season.
Tips from readers
Pictured: The Killer Clowns from New Haven during the Halloween festivities on the Essex Street Mall in Salem.
To officially kick off the haunted season, school children will walk from Shetland Park to Salem Common at 6:30 p.m. on October 3 in the Grand Parade.
This year’s theme is “Books Come Alive.’’
Check out photos from the 2011 parade.
In a city inundated with psychic shops and all manner of witch kitsch, the closure of the Salem visitor center, along with the historic Custom House and a popular tall ship, could hardly have come at a worse time.
While virtually all the most popular sites will be open as usual, the tall ship and Custom House were closed for the duration of the shutdown.
To fill the void, volunteers handed out maps and brochures at a makeshift visitor center in front of the federal center, doing their best to help people get their bearings.
The city also brought in portable toilets, replacing a key amenity of the visitor center.
Many tourists seemed unfazed by the closures, saying they were too happy about the beautiful weather to worry much about it. Most seemed content to just wander through the city, with no particular sightseeing agenda, or might sit back and let the tour buses do the work.
Salem’s rich history, from literary to maritime, draws nearly 1 million visitors annually. But the city is best known for the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, and features myriad businesses with haunted and spooky themes.
Tourism generates an estimated $100 million annually, about 25 percent of which comes in October.
Pictured: On Essex Street, Gianna Stone, of Missouri got into the Halloween spirit.
Some of the venues visitors can visit include:
The Carnival at Derby Street
The Haunted Neighborhood at the Salem Wax Museum
Pictured: Teens run through the House of Illusions haunted house at the Salem Wax Museum in Salem. They are wearing 3d glasses.
Salem historical venues
Some of the more historically-inclined tours include:
Pictured: The Dining room in The Witch House.
Tours in Salem
Need a guide? Here are some Salem services:
There are so many events happening nearly every day leading up to Halloween in Salem that it would be nearly impossible to list them all.
Here’s a list of some of the highlights but for a comprehensive list, visit our events page:
Traffic to Salem is expected to be pretty awful during the month of October, especially on weekends.
Visitors could take the MBTA train or bus services. [link]
Or there’s the Fast Ferry services.
If you insist on driving, there are a few parking options.
Pictured: Jarod Cooper from Maine dressed as George Washington. He helped fix his friend’s butterfly wings after getting off the commuter rail at the Salem Train Station before heading to the Halloween festivities on Essex Street
Mayor’s Night Out
On Friday, October 4, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll will lead trick-or-treaters across town starting at 5:30 p.m. to visit local merchants.
Salem residents can take advantage of free admission to local attractions (with proof of address) like museums.
Nearby at the Artists Row, visitors can participate in a pumpkin-painting party starting at 5:30 p.m.
Playboy Costume Ball
Rockafellas in Salem plans to host dining and halloween parties every weekend in October.
On Saturday, October 5, the venue is hosting a party for those dressed in provocative attire or smoking jackets.
Traditionally, as Halloween nears, Salem sees a rush for fortune-teller licenses.
The ordinance requires two years of Salem residency and five dollars from any reader practicing in the city
In this photo, Amber of Salem, Salem’s premier astrologer, deals tarot cards at Crow Haven Corner.
The Bewitched bronze statue facing Washington Street has become the most popular spot for tourists to take photos.
A pirate flag flying from the long-time home of the late Stephen Phillips, will usher in Halloween on Chestnut Street.
On Halloween, pirates will invade the Phillips house (pictured). Worms, a one-eyed pirate with a dark beard, will lead a crew of buccaneers to sing sea shanties in the red-brick carriage house.
The magic show at the Hawthorne Hotel will include a seance, and attempt to channel key persons associated with the 1830 murder of Captain Joseph White.
The Witch House
The Witch House was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, one of the magistrates who presided over the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692.
In its dining room, at a long table, Corwin sat with Judge John Hathorne, querying dozens of people about evil spirits and pacts with the devil. It’s one of the few surviving houses in Salem that was directly involved in the 1692 witch hunt.
House of Seven Gables
Secrets and hidden truths lie deep within the narrow hallways and winding staircases of Salem’s House of the Seven Gables.
Two theatrical performances make for a chilling visit to The House of the Seven Gables. The dueling dramas link the guilt and shame that haunted novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne.