All Hallows’ Eve, the night when the veil between the supernatural and physical worlds is most transparent and spirits roam the night, gaining their vengeance before moving on. Hence why we dress in costume, so that those spirits can’t recognize us and we can survive to celebrate All Saints’ Day (much like we celebrate Mardi Gras so that we can survive Lent).
In a city widely known for its haunted history, we celebrate our spirits in ways that other cities strive to match. While almost everywhere else in the United States Halloween is a night of trick-or-treating for the kiddos, but here we do things differently.
For the past four years I’ve spent my Halloween at the Anba Dlo Festival and Parade (NewOrleansHealingCenter.org). It moved to the New Orleans Healing Center two years ago and has been changing from my standing in a parking lot listening to great live music to a multi-story event with a silent auction, three live music stages, a DJ dance area, costume parade, multimedia art installations and so much more. Anba Dlo is Haitian Kreyol for “Beneath the Waters,” and, with the theme this year of “Infinite Blessings, Finite Resource,” this community festival honors the importance of water to our lives while celebrating the “multicultural and artistic heritage of New Orleans.” This year’s event will take place early, on Sat., Oct. 20 starting at 2 p.m. and lasting until 2 a.m. on Sun., Oct. 21 (must be 21 to attend).
Another of my favorite adult Halloween traditions is seeing Galactic perform at Tipitina’s. This year’s concert says it begins at 9 p.m. (though anyone who’s attended a concert on a holiday at Tip’s knows that it will probably be at least 10 p.m. before the openers go on) and will feature Corey Glover (of Living Colour) with special guest Soul Rebels. Tickets are available through Tipitinas.com and at the door though I suggest buying early, as this show tends to sell out (must be 18 to attend).
While we’re talking about music, the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience (TheVoodooExperience.com) at City Park, Oct. 26-28, has become a tradition for many New Orleanians and not just the college students. This year the experience is growing with more interactive art, a stellar line up of musicians and, for the first time, on-site camping. The inaugural camping experience ranges from general tent camping with basic amenities to a luxurious all-encompassing camping experience where concertgoers can arrive to move-in-ready 10-by-13-foot safari-style tents complete with cots, bedding and pillows, along with exclusive artist access throughout the site. With Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Green Day, Jack White, Skrillex, Nas, Bootsy Collins and lots more, there’s music for almost every taste.
If it’s “ghoulies, ghosties and long-leggety beasties, and things that go bump in the night” that you’re looking for, New Orleans offers that, too. You can take a tour of haunted spots, stay in a supposedly haunted hotel or drink at a haunted bar. You can visit the Cabildo (701 Chartres St., 568-6968, FriendsOfTheCabildo.org), which has a full weekend of events called the Ghostly Galavant, Oct. 26-28. That Friday from 8 to 11 p.m. is the costume party with entertainment by Los Po-Boy-Citos, food from local restaurants and beer and wine for $40 in advance. Saturday and Sunday feature tours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., for $20 with students to age 18 $10 and children get in free. Or go on the Hermann-Grima House Mourning Tour (820 St. Louis St., 525-5661, hgghh.org) when the house is dressed in, and decorated as if the occupants are in mourning.
Or you could visit the House of Shock (319 Butterworth St., Jefferson, HouseOfShock.com). Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, founder Ross Karpelman plans to make this haunted “festival” the biggest yet. Named Travel Channel’s “Most Extreme Halloween Attraction in the Country,” there will be a new outdoor Moss Maze, a new post-apocalyptic-themed Chainsaw Cage Maze, a psychotic Meat Processing Plant “where torture is the trade secret for the most tender meat,” flying beasts and more. (The trek through the haunted maze is said to take about an hour.) There will also be a new outdoor multi-media stage that will host live actors, stunts, pyrotechnics, freak acts and more while you wait for entry. House of Shock will be open every Friday and Saturday in October, plus Tues., Oct. 30 and Wed., Oct. 31. General admission to the haunted house is $25, with VIP admission for $50.
Newer to the scaring scene, The Mortuary (4800 Canal St., 483-2530, TheMortuary.net), has a theme this year of “Cirque Du Fear,” complete with sadistic clowns, vampires, gypsy fortune tellers, monstrous creatures of the night and games of chance where you might “face Death himself.”
General admission tickets are $25 and VIP “skip the line” tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door; for $55 you get the VIP ticket complete with Mortuary logo shirt and cap or for $88 you can grab a VIP “Frequent Fear Pass” (coupons available on their website for all nights except Saturdays and Halloween night). In addition, you can have your catered, full-service Halloween, birthday, bachelor or corporate party as a “360-degree horror movie” or tour the “haunt experience” as a group any day or night in October when the site isn’t in operation. The Mortuary is open for tours Oct. 5-7, 11-14, 18-21, 24-31 and Nov. 2-3. See the website for themed nights and more details.
I have always wanted to attend the annual Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Fan Club Ball (arvlfc.com). In its 24th year, this “Night of the Wolves,” titled “Anne Rice’s Wolf Gift Ball,” will take place on Fri., Oct. 26 at Gallier Hall and will feature entertainment by Saints of Ruin, Warchild and Lestat the Band, along with special guest authors including Sherrilyn Kenyon and a live auction of Anne Rice’s autographed keyboard on which she wrote The Wolf Gift. Known for the creative costumes in attendance, there will also be food by Geaux Gourmet and wares from Clothier Gabrielle Elyse and New Orleans Bone Co. The ball is held in conjunction with the third annual UnDead Con (more information and tickets available on their website).
Another event I can’t wait to attend is Halloween’s in New Orleans (HalloweenNewOrleans.com) – the “ultimate benefit weekend” says Dustin Woehrmann. The event is in its 29th year of donating 100 percent of proceeds to Project Lazarus and, new this year, The Trevor Project. Thurs., Oct. 25 is a black-tie event at the Ogden Museum with food, a silent auction and live entertainment; “This is a chance for locals and friends to show their dapper side before the craziness of the weekend sets in,” Woehrmann says. Fri., Oct. 26 is the “club” event at the House of Blues with DJ Corey Craig, where guests are encouraged to mingle, dance and “play” costume-free. Saturday’s “Monster Brawl” is the main event: a dance and costume party at the Contemporary Arts Center Sheds. This “gritty, sexy costume party” will feature a “locker room,” dancers, fighters, a boxing ring, outdoor activity area and a New Orleans Bounce show. Sun., Oct. 28 offers a “chill cruise” down the Mississippi River on the steamboat Natchez with brunch and live music.
But, if all else fails, throw on a fantastic costume (or even just an OK one) and head down to the Molly’s at the Market Halloween Parade (1107 Decatur St., MollysAtTheMarket.net/Halloween) ridership is open online for anyone who wants to ride! Always a blast and parading since 1995, these costumes never disappoint. After taking in the sights, grab a frozen Irish coffee and wander to Bourbon Street and/or Frenchmen Street and see what Halloween in New Orleans really looks like.
Tricks and Treats
Three alternatives to going door-to-door.
Park-A-Boo. Fri., Oct. 26; Sat., Oct. 27; Sun., Oct. 28; Lafreniere Park, LafrenierePark.org; Age 12 and under; each child must be accompanied by an adult. Featuring: The BOO House, Witch Way maze, Treat Street, face painting, costume contests, games, animal balloons, storytelling, live music, food, characters (including Sponge Bob, Elmo and Dora). Price: 13 and up, $7; 12 and under, $5; under 2, free
Boo at the Zoo presented by Carnival Cruise Lines. Fri., Oct. 19; Sat., Oct. 20; Fri., Oct. 26; Sat., Oct. 27; Audubon Zoo, ChNola.org; Age 12 and under. Featuring: Trick-or-treat houses with candy; Ghost Train; a haunted house (with both scary and non-scary options); games with prizes; two stages of live entertainment; Star Wars Stage Show; haunted maze; animal presentations; this year, Dinosaur Adventures Exhibit and Endangered Species Carousel included. Price: $17 per person (adult or child); under 12 months, free
Louisiana Children’s Museum Spooky Week & Museum Mash. Spooky Week, Tues., Oct. 23-Sat., Oct. 27; Louisiana Children’s Museum, lcm.org
Featuring: Spooky Week features – Halloween bracelet making; story time reading of If You’re a Monster and You Know It; make a self portrait inspired by Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”; and, on Tuesday and Thursday, make your own slime (please see website for hours for these events). Museum Mash features – Costume party with games with prizes;boo bubbles; Monster Mash Dance Party; and make a Halloween necklace. Price: Spooky Week: See website for details; Monster Mash: $10 for nonmembers and $5 for members (pre-registration recommended)