Nobody does Halloween like New Orleans. It’s a fact. We love to slip on a fresh persona, add a dash of glitter, and PARTY – and then do it in a mysterious setting. Think voodoo, vampires, above-ground cemeteries and giant homes with a gory past.
The potential for a tantalizing evening is boundless. But there are also plenty of opportunities for G-rated fun, whether you wander through neighborhoods with distinct personalities, scooping up sticky sweets along the way, drop by a Halloween party hosted by a beloved New Orleans institution, or host a festive gathering of your own. Trick or treat? Just take your pick.
PLACES TO GO, GHOSTS TO SEE
Nestled beneath the Huey P. Long Bridge in Jefferson, New Orleans Nightmare boasts more than 25,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor horror experiences, interactive exhibits spread across movie-quality sets, and special effects that will make you jump out of your skin. The sprawling spook show is open on select nights through Nov. 6.
New Orleans Nightmare will host its signature attraction – Phobia Sensory Overload in Complete Darkness – where dedicated daredevils navigate pitch-black labyrinths, relying solely on their sense of sound, smell, and touch.
It will also offer new attractions that explore such themes as “The Boogeyman,” hallucinogens that trick victims into feeling as though they’ve lost their minds, and a witch joined by spirits of the underworld, who terrorizes a town. Plus, you can enjoy Mini Escape Games that will make your heart race.
New Orleans Nightmare is open to everyone, but organizers say it is not recommended for small children, toddlers or babies. Folks who do attend can order food from the concession stand, and drinks from a full bar – for a bit of liquid courage.
General admission begins at $24.99. Fast pass and skip-the-line tickets are available starting at $34.99. They can be purchased online at neworleansnightmare.com and at the gate on show days. 319 Butterworth St., Jefferson.
One of the most terrifying attractions in the city has returned for the 2021 Halloween season. The Mortuary Haunted House has self-guided tours on select nights throughout October. Built in 1872, the mansion that houses The Mortuary was literally a mortuary, and it’s now surrounded by graveyards. The locale has been featured on Discovery Channel’s “Ghost Lab”, Syfi Channel’s “Ghost Hunters” and “Ghost Hunters International,” and The Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures.” So just a word of warning, what lurks behind these legendary walls will make thrill-seekers scream. Fiends and monsters hide throughout the mansion’s theatrical sets, waiting to scare anyone who enters.
General admission tickets, starting at $25, can only be purchased online; VIP tickets, starting at $50, are available online and onsite. The skip-the-line pass is available online for $125. The Mortuary experience is not suitable for children, pregnant women or people with heart conditions. 4800 Canal St., themortuary.net.
Although the Krewe of BOO! is branded as New Orleans’ “Official Halloween Parade,” it is so much more than a roving street party. Krewe of BOO! comprises a collection of boisterous events, beginning with a Royal Luncheon at House of Blues, on Friday, Oct. 22. The private luncheon is followed by a jazzy second line that winds through the French Quarter, before stopping by Pat O’Brien’s (718 St. Peter St.) for the Krewe of BOO!’s cocktail happy hour. The 3 p.m. gathering is free and open to the public.
That night, Krewe of BOO! and ScreamFest will stage the Captain’s Masquerade Ball for members only. But once Saturday rolls around, early-rising revelers are welcome to join Krewe of BOO!’s New Orleans Zombie Run. Dress up as a decaying zombie and make a mad dash for the finish line as the Big Easy Roller Girls hunt you down.
The two-mile race, presented and fueled by PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans, begins and ends at Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant (701 Tchoupitoulas St.). The race starts at 9 a.m., but onsite registration opens at 7:30 a.m. Entry costs $35 to $45. Race participants can also preregister online at neworleanszombierun.com and pay $25. You are guaranteed a race t-shirt if you register in advance.
Krewe of BOO!’s main event, the Halloween parade, rolls on Saturday, Oct. 23, at 6:30 p.m. Like Carnival, but with a creepy twist, the rollicking procession features decorative floats and dancing groups, plus seasonal throws and yummy treats. The parade appeals to spectators of all ages, especially kids, so feel free to throw on a costume and make the evening a family affair. The parade route stretches from Elysian Fields and Chartres Street, to Tchoupitoulas and Andrew Higgins Drive. Visit kreweofboo.com/parade for the full route.
But, wait! There’s more. Krewe of BOO!’s Halloween parade is followed by its Monster Mash costume party at Generation’s Hall (310 Andrew Higgins Blvd.). The scintillating celebration kicks off at 8 p.m. and includes costume contests, live entertainment, and lots of libations. Purchase tickets from kreweofboo.com/monstermash.
Both a major fundraiser and a frolicsome weekend for the LBGTQ community, Halloween New Orleans is back. This year’s theme: “The Arcade.” Halloween New Orleans (HNO 38) benefits Project Lazarus and runs Oct. 29-31.
Launched in 1983, Halloween New Orleans was established as a nonprofit organization, with the purpose of raising funds to support the mission of Project Lazarus. Project Lazarus provides transitional housing to homeless people living with HIV/AIDS. The weekend of festivities initially began as a dinner party meant to honor loved ones who died from AIDS, but it is now the largest cumulative donor to Project Lazarus. Over the past 37 years, thanks to the hard work of volunteers, the Hosts of Halloween New Orleans have raised almost $4.6 million for Project Lazarus.
On Saturday, the HNO GLO dance party and costume contest happens at the Howlin’ Wolf (907 S. Peters St.) There will be more dancing on Sunday – this time at Oz on Bourbon Street – followed by a jaunty second line. Tickets start at $80. Visit halloweenneworleans.com to view the options.
Note to the nocturnal: Endless Night’s New Orleans Vampire Ball happens on Oct. 30 at the House of Blues. Father Sebastiaan, an expert on vampire subculture and an Endless Night organizer, described the ball as “a Venetian masquerade, meets a vampire court, with the elegance of a burlesque cabaret and the energy of a rock concert.”
The events leading up to the Vampire Ball begin with a meet-and-greet on Thursday, Oct. 28, when Father Sebastiaan opens the “gates.” On Friday, guests are invited to the VIP registration, where they can hang with “fangsmiths” (artisans who create vampire fangs) while sipping cocktails and enjoying live music. The dress attire is “dark casual.” The gathering is followed by the Parisian-inspired Salon Noir, complete with a burlesque performance. Wear black or bust. Fangs and other vampire-related accessories are encouraged.
The festival’s grand gala happens on Saturday night, from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. and features an acrobatic “cirque” at midnight, live entertainment and a “group howl.” The dress code, which is divided into three levels – ranging from Venetian Carnival, with a New Orleans twist, to “formal vampire” – is strictly enforced.
Endless Night’s finale takes place on Sunday, with a masque soirée set to an “Eyes Wide Shut” theme. The rituals wind down at the break of dawn. Endless Night activities happen at The House of Blues (225 Decatur St.; 310-4999). The events will follow local and state COVID guidelines. Check endlessnight.com/neworleans for a detailed schedule and ticket information.
Visitors often arrive in New Orleans in search of a few particulars: good food, strong drinks and a decent spook. At the right place, all of the above can be found under one roof.
Several bars and restaurants in the region purport to be haunted, and perhaps most infamous among them is Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. The sturdy brick building was built in the early 1700s and, though historical documentation is limited, is said to have been the site of a smuggling operation run by Jean and Pierre Lafitte. The French brothers were forced to find alternate means of conducting their privateering business when the Embargo Act of 1807 prohibited American ships from docking at foreign ports. Jean allegedly took charge of smuggling goods out of Barataria Bay until he could traffick his treasures to New Orleans, where Pierre, himself a blacksmith, managed the commercial aspects of the business.
Though the manner and location of Jean’s death is often disputed, he is rumored to have made one last stop in New Orleans to hide some of his plundered wealth before he met his fate. Patrons at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop have reported seeing the pirate’s spirit standing in the shadows or staring out of the fireplace, ensuring no one ever finds his hidden treasure.
Just like Lafitte’s, Muriel’s Jackson Square, a staple of authentic Creole dining, has taken its haunted reputation in stride. Restaurant management attests that several ghosts inhabit the building, but chief among them is the spirit of Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, who once owned the site and took his life there after losing the property in a poker game. Guests have reported seeing strange shadows and hearing disembodied voices in the restaurant’s Seance Lounge.
An aptly labeled “Our Ghost” page on the Muriel’s website reads: “Those who have seen or felt a presence have never felt threatened, and instead we’ve welcomed an old kindred spirit to dine by always keeping a table reserved for Mr. Jourdan set with bread and wine.”
FUN FOR EVERYONE
If you don’t want your babies waking in the middle of the night, terrified of the slobbering monsters under their bed, check out these frightfully friendly events.
The Louisiana Children’s Museum (LCM) celebrates Halloweekend (October 30 and 31) with storytelling near a mock-campfire, pumpkin-painting activities, demonstrations that explore the life cycle of a pumpkin, and creepy crawler decomposers that nourish the soil.
Museum staff members will dress up all weekend as children’s book characters, and offer healthy treats. Guests are invited to get into the spirit by wearing a costume as well. LCM’s fall hours are Wednesday through Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Grown-ups and children two-years-old and older must wear a mask while inside the museum. Timed-entry tickets are required and available for purchase online (lcm.org) for both members and non-members. 15 Henry Thomas Dr., inside City Park, 523-1357.
Scout Island Scream Park will not take place this year, but New Orleans City Park will host family-centric, Halloween cheer with Ghost in the Oaks. Get a thrill while riding roller coasters or taking a spin on the Ferris wheel. Kids can also go trick-or-treating, traipse through a pumpkin patch or partake in festive arts and crafts. Food and beverages will be available.
The four-day event happens in the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park October 21 through 24, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Early admission starts at 5 p.m. Ticket prices are $15 for general admission and $20 for early access. Friends of City Park members receive a $3 member discount. Proceeds benefit City Park’s maintenance and preservation efforts. 7 Victory Ave., City Park, friendsofcitypark.com.
Terror in the Telling
There are some tales so widely exchanged, and so embellished with each iteration, that the act of telling them is just as much a part of New Orleans’ culture as the true histories they were born from.
Take, for instance, the LaLaurie mansion, where Madame Marie Delphine Macarty LaLaurie supposedly conducted tortuous medical experiments upon her slaves. While she undoubtedly owned slaves and subjected them to cruel, inhumane treatment, the extent of Madame LaLaurie’s abuse is disputed by historians who say rumors of mutilation and gruesome body modifications are the result of hearsay.
A similar lore-spun mythology gave rise to the story of the Casket, or Casquette, Girls. The legend goes that a group of pale and morally-corrupt girls arrived from France with nothing in tow save for small wooden boxes called cassettes. The Casket Girls were taken in by the Sisters of the Ursuline Convent, and their casquettes were stored on the third floor—but when, finally, the Sisters investigated the contents of these strange boxes, they were found to be empty. If not earthly possessions, what could have been carried in these casquettes? Lore and speculation naturally point to one result: the Casket Girls had been carrying bodies and themselves had been vampires all along.
In reality, the story of the Casket Girls needs no help yielding horrors. Women and girls as young as 14 were gathered from French orphanages, prisons and poorhouses and shipped to Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, where the men of the budding French colonies complained of a shortage of women. The women who survived the journey were married off and were expected to produce children, but many of them were deemed unvirtuous prostitutes and were blamed for contributing to an increasingly sinful culture.
While some of the Casket Girls adapted to their new lives, their treacherous journeys, lack of agency in their marriages and subsequent scorning suggests that the women were not perpetrators of monstrous acts, but rather the victims of them.
Get ready for Audubon’s always-popular, Boo at the Zoo. The annual Halloween hit happens October 20 through 24, and boasts spooky-but-safe activities for children. Costumes are encouraged.
Since the weeklong event is held during regular zoo hours, you can explore animal exhibits while there. Beware of slithering snakes, creepy crawlers and sharp-toothed reptiles! Contributions from Boo at the Zoo benefit Audubon Zoo and Children’s Hospital New Orleans. Guests pay the zoo’s admission price for entrance; Audubon members enter for free. 6500 Magazine St., 861-2537, audubonnatureinstitute.org.
On Saturday, October 23, the French Market District will hold the Boo Carré Halloween Haunt, with live, family-friendly entertainment from Johnette Downing and Bamzy Baby, fall-themed activities, trick-or-treating and a second-line. The celebration runs from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Food and beverages will be available from nearby restaurants. Admission is free, and costumes are encouraged. 1008 N. Peters St., frenchmarket.org.
If you are trying to avoid crowds this year, and you prefer your spooks on the subtle side, check out an outdoor play. On Saturday, October 30 and Sunday, October 31, The NOLA Project will host “Tell It to Me Sweet: A Winding Trail of Tales by Brittany N. Williams” in the Besthoff Sculpture Garden, right alongside the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). This live theater production takes a new look at old fables, pulled from European and African American fairy tales and folklore. The audience will meet wolves, wicked stepmothers, devils and ghosts over the course of an evening. Shows start at 7 p.m. You can purchase tickets from nolaproject.com. NOMA, 1 Collins Diboll Circle, 302-9117.
The New Orleans Saints take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Superdome on Oct. 31 at 3:25 p.m. Tune in for the football, but stay for the costumes. Saints fans are known for their flamboyant style and if the last Halloween-time home game is any indication, the get-ups at this game will not disappoint. From scary Who Dats to people wearing pumpkin helmets emblazoned with fleur-de-lis and witches draped in black and metallic gold robes, the Dome was full of spectacle. Even the Saintsations switched it up a bit. For a sneak peek of what you may see this year, or for your own costume inspiration, check out the Halloween 2010 Saints versus Steelers photo gallery on saintswire.usatoday.com.
A visit to a pumpkin patch feels like a full embrace of fall – and for kids, a countdown to Halloween. Sure, picking the perfect pumpkin for your jack-o-lantern or doorstep display is important, but that’s not the only reason to visit a pumpkin patch. The outdoor markets often feature music, big bales of hay, games, scary but cute decorations, and plenty of photo ops.
Here are pumpkin patches taking place throughout metro New Orleans. Check their Facebook pages for detailed schedules and updates.
First Presbyterian Church
5401 S. Claiborne Ave., 866-7409. facebook.com/fpcno.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
1031 S. Carrollton Ave., 866-0123, facebook.com/standrewsnola.
St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church
3412 Haring Road, Metairie, 887-4801, facebook.com/StAugustinesPumpkinPatch.
Houma Pumpkin Patch
1916 Highway 311, Schriever, 985-851-6915, facebook.com/houmapumpkinpatch.
St. Martin’s Episcopal Church
2216 Metairie Road, Metairie, 835-7357, facebook.com/STMChurch.
3425 River Road, Bridge City, 436-4343, facebook.com/bantingsnursery.
St. Paul’s Episcopal School
6249 Canal Blvd., 488-1319, facebook.com/stpaulslakeview.
Sugar Roots Farm
10701 Willow Drive, 766-7780, facebook.com/sugarrootsfarm.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS
Historic New Orleans is packed with blood-curdling amusement, all year round, but these attractions become especially menacing during the month of October.
Save Our Cemeteries – the only nonprofit touring organization in the city of New Orleans – guides cemetery expeditions through St. Louis No. 3 near City Park. It was originally a cemetery for victims of leprosy, but is now the resting place of such legendary New Orleanians as architect James Gallier, Storyville photographer E.J. Bellocq, and chefs Leah Chase and Paul Prudhomme. Tour guides will explain the city’s unique burial customs and the story behind jazz funerals. Save Our Cemeteries also leads tours across Lake Lawn in Metairie and throughout the Garden District. Tours last a little more than an hour and cost $25. Since a few local cemeteries are temporarily closed, check saveourcemeteries.org for the most current information. Or call 525-3377.
Gators and Ghosts hosts a variety of twilight ghost tours, ranging from $20 to $45. You can saunter through the French Quarter and investigate sites inhabited by the supernatural, perhaps because of a horrific tragedy that once occurred in that very spot. Or, you can hop on a bus and explore haunted locales beyond the Vieux Carré, including select cemeteries. Gators and Ghosts also hosts a daytime cemetery tour that examines the city’s famous aboveground cemeteries on Canal Street and the Hurricane Katrina Memorial.
All walking tours are less than a mile and take nearly two hours to complete. If you decide to book a tour, bring your camera. You may just capture some ghostly images. Gatorsandghosts.com, 888-481-8188.
Haunted History Tours offers a slew of tour packages, such as a haunted pub crawl, a deep-dive into the world of voodoo, and a 5-in-1 tour that covers ghosts, witches, vampires, voodoo and unexplained mysteries. Oh my! Haunted History Tours will take you outside the French Quarter and into the Garden District and Storyville, for cemetery and history tours. Prices range from $25 to $45. Hauntedhistorytours.com, 861-2727.
In addition to organizing journeys throughout haunted New Orleans – including a tour of the “dead and famous” – Bloody Mary will host séances, psychic readings, “How-to Voodoo & Hoodoo” classes, and a workshop focused on gris-gris bags and candle-burning. You can also wander through Bloody Mary’s Haunted Museum, situated in a 200-year-old building, and gaze upon crystals, spiritual charms, paranormal exhibits, a vast collection of voodoo dolls and potions from a voodoo pharmacy. 826 and 828 N. Rampart St., 909-6666, bloodymarystours.com.
If you are curious to learn more about voodoo or hoodoo – away from the touristy areas, that is – try Crescent City Conjure in the Marigny. The shop provides magical goods, witchcraft products, and a range of spiritual services and classes. Step in for an ancestral awakening candle, a blue sage cleanser, “Break the Curse” bath salts, chicken’s foot protection charms, and gris-gris bags that may lead to a love connection. Crescent City Conjure also hosts readings. 2402 Royal St., 421-3189, crescentcityconjure.us/.
History buffs, and individuals with an interest in the macabre, should check out Gallier House’s October exhibition – Creole Death and Mourning. You can tour the Victorian townhome and discover how 19th-century Catholic Creoles paid homage to the dearly departed. The one-hour tours run on weekdays from Oct. 1 through Nov. 1. Book your spot by visiting hgghh.org/events/gallier-mourning1. 1132 Royal St., 274-0748.
Spend a few minutes at the Skeleton House. Every fall, the majestic home on the corner of St. Charles Avenue and State Street becomes quite the skeletal spectacle. Its vast front yard is peppered with skeletons brandishing puns that pay homage to sports, pop culture, and local life. If you take the time to visit, you may meet “Howard STERNum,” “TromBONE Shorty,” “The DEADverly KILLbillies” or “Scarrie Underwood.”
After taking a break in 2020, Ghost Manor will once again illuminate Magazine Street with its eerie, multi-hued glow. The Victorian home, which rests on the corner of Magazine and Second Streets, is truly a sight to behold. A layer of fog covers the lawn, where the dead rise from their graves; a crew of skeletons guard the front porch; and skulls line a wrought iron fence. Ghosts flit through the air. The display runs from Oct. 15 through Oct. 31. Although the scene changes each year, you can get an idea of what it looks like by sifting through Ghost Manor’s Instagram page @ghostmanornola. Do not miss it. Ghostmanor.org.
Hungry like the werewolf?
Red Fish Grill will offer a three-course brunch on the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of Halloween weekend. Diners can add bottomless boozy drinks or indulge in creepy cocktails, such as the “vamp-a-rita” – a mixture of pineapple-infused tequila, hibiscus tea syrup, mathilde orange liqueur and pineapple juice. The rim of the glass is lined with black salt. Savage! 115 Bourbon St., 598-1200, redfishgrill.com.
On Saturday, October 30, The Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB) will host a “Halloween Boheme Brunch,” featuring the cuisine from chefs Colleen Allerton and Camille Staub of Luncheon. The theme is a nod to the bohemian origins of brunch in the French Quarter in the early 1900s, with updated versions of what may have been served back then, with a focus on seasonal, fresh ingredients.
Guests can also enjoy a-la-carte classic brunch cocktails, and punches from Eve Marie Haydel, the bar director for Dooky Chase’s Restaurant, and a coffee-based treat. Priced at $60 per person, the three-course brunch includes tax and gratuity (excluding alcohol). 1504 Oretha C. Haley Blvd., 569-0405; southernfood.org.
WHAT ARE YOU WEARING?
When it comes to costumes, we all take a different approach – one that mostly depends on our timeframe, budget and lifestyle.
If Halloween sneaks up on you, or you decide to dress up at the last minute, you can likely find a costume at major chains throughout the city or online. Party City, Amazon.com, Walmart, and Pottery Barn Kids are reliable bets.
But if you’d like to keep it local, consider Mardi Gras New Orleans as your one-stop Halloween shop. Each season, the Carnival depot stocks up on orange and black loot, costumes, tutus for little girls, headpieces, and glow-in-the-dark sunglasses. You can also scoop up ghoulish décor, plus tiny plush Frankenstein dolls, when you’re there. 2812 Toulouse St., 482-0000, mardigrasspot.com.
Revelers who decide to make their costume, or have someone make it for them, are in the right city. New Orleans is rife with creative talent – including artists and costume designers – and shops that sell costume accessories, vintage clothing, and crafting supplies.
New Orleans attorney and costume-enthusiast Laura Ashley loves to go all out on Halloween. Since 2008, she and her friends have dined at Galatoire’s Restaurant the Friday before Halloween – an event dubbed “Ghoulatoire’s.” However, her tribe doesn’t show up wearing something pulled off the rack from a big-box store. They choose a theme well in advance and sport custom-made costumes.
Think: a group of devils – from deviled eggs to “The Devil Wears Prada.” sensational funeral attendees, or a vibrant circus theme. After costume inspiration strikes, Ashley connects with local costume designers or design companies, such as Carl Mack Presents.
Carl Mack Presents stages out-of-this-world events, complete with live entertainment – and not just musical acts. Carl Mack can bring alligator handlers, contortionists, hula hoopers and fortunetellers to your next fancy party. If you’d like to watch ballerinas twirl inside six-foot, inflatable bubbles, Mack can make it happen.
Carl Mack Presents also boasts a costume closet brimming with thousands of imaginative garments, available for rent. Different themes to choose from include Venetian Carnival, pirates, the circus, burlesque and superheroes. Costumes start at $75. Prospective clients can contact Mack for an appointment. Carlmack.com; 858-8228.
Brittany Schall, the force behind La Adorna (@la_adorna on Instagram), creates wearable art that comes in eye-popping colors, often sculpted from shiny vinyl and other unexpected materials. Schall designs custom pieces for clients, and sells a select number of vestments that were made for runway shows – which she views as solo art exhibitions. Depending on how labor-intensive the item is, a custom piece may take anywhere from 48 hours to two weeks to create. Contact Schall at email@example.com to get started.
Artist Parrish Lee creates wearable art headpieces. Saint Claude Social Club (1933 Sophie Wright Pl., 218-8987) carries them all year round.
Check out The New Orleans Costume Center for one-of-a-kind costumes and all of the supplies you need to make one. The shop carries feathers, fabric, sequin appliques and trims, customized sashes, head turbans and – well – the list goes on and on. The New Orleans Costume Center can also connect you to a designer who will devise a look just for you. 2716 Royal St., 430-2493, saintclaudesocialclub.com.
For an extraordinary wig that’s destined to be the centerpiece of your costume, look no further than Fifi Mahony’s. But since you have to see these wigs in order to believe they exist, visit Fifi Mahoney’s Instagram page @FifiMahonys or drop by their charming boutique and have a look for yourself. While there, grab a set of fake eyelashes and a jar of body glitter. 934 Royal St., 525-4343.
Looking for a fab facemask (not the COVID-19 kind)? Head to Maskarade. Their upscale masks are fashioned from leather, papier maché, neoprene and other durable materials. You can opt for goofy, sinister, animalistic or seductive, but classy. No matter what, you will exude mystery. Oh, la la! 630 St. Ann St., 568-1018, themaskstore.com.
Uptown Costume & Dancewear is jam-packed with wigs in all sorts of styles, colors, and lengths, along with hats, capes, and other costume accessories. Searching for the perfect, feathered bustier? Try this place. 4326 Magazine Street, 895-7969.
No matter the time of year, Miss Claudia’s Vintage Clothing & Costume is a must-stop for folks who love to dress up. The Uptown shop sells zany apparel for both men and women, along with wigs, sequined hot pants, vintage purses, scarves, sunglasses, and shoes. Basically, you never know what you will come across. 4204 Magazine St., 504-897-6310.
For upscale vintage clothing and accessories – from brooches and headpieces, to boots and jewelry – visit Bambi DeVille’s boutique in the French Quarter. As a stylist, DeVille can help you assemble a glamorous get-up that screams Zsa Zsa Gabor, or a polished look that’s oh so Jackie O. 608 Chartres St., 491-0824.
You can also swing by Century Girl Vintage (2023 Magazine St., 875-3105, centurygirlvintage.com), which carries a carefully curated selection of garments and accessories from yesteryear, including formal gowns, clutch bags, and dazzling jewels.
Funky Monkey (3127 Magazine St., 899-5587, funkymonkeynola.com) and Buffalo Exchange (4119 Magazine St., 891-7443, buffaloexchange.com) are good bets for vintage clothing, accessories and overall quirky treasures.
If wearing sequins from head-to-toe is the name of your costume game, you can likely find a sparkling ensemble at the apparel shops already mentioned, or you can try Fringe + Co. They sell sequined jumpsuits, crop tops, high-waist party pants, and (so you can literally swath yourself in sequins) floor-length caftans. Fringe + Co. also offers ah-mazing tinsel jackets, as well as kids’ clothes. Fringe-co.com.
If you plan on assembling a costume from scratch – whether it’s simple or elaborate, check out New Orleans Craft Culture, a retail shop sparkling with ALL of the glitter, confetti, rhinestones, feathers and just about everything you need to assemble a fabulous costume. You can find body-glitter made by New Orleans-based companies, such as Elektra Cosmetics. Also, the folks who work there are passionate about crafting and they are happy to answer questions, or possibly offer advice on how make your costume idea come to fruition. New Orleans Craft Culture has offered workshops focused on the art of glittering, sewing and even second line umbrella designs.
They host private parties and community workshops. Unfortunately, a late summer surge in COVID-19 cases put the kibosh on group crafting, so check the nolacraftculture.com for updates. 127 S. Solomon St., 454-8837, or, 504-GLITTER, nolacraftculture.com.
Pro-tip: The day you costume, carry an extra pair of pantyhose, some Band-Aids and Advil, plus bonus glitter.
DECK THE HALLS WITH HORROR
You can’t have Halloween without creepy home décor, especially since the invention of the house float. Whether you are driving down St. Charles Avenue, where mansions are swathed in spooky, but elegant trimmings, or taking a stroll through your neighborhood, you are likely to spot some imaginative displays at work.
For an ominous tone in and around your home, follow Carrie Bart Marks’ advice. The local interior designer suggests choosing a theme – whether it be scary, silly or classic. (However, if you take the scary route, keep the automated decorations outside so that a cackling witch doesn’t startle you at 7 in the morning.)
When searching for decorations, Marks turns to Etsy.com and narrows her search down to New Orleans artists and businesses. That way, she can support local companies while shopping online.
A few of her favorite brick-and-mortar stores include Home Malone (various locations, homemalonenola.com), which sells seasonal door hangers made by local artisans, and Perch Home (2844 Magazine St., 899-2122, perch-home.com). The Magazine Street shop is the perfect destination for elevated, seasonal home décor items, such as velvety pumpkins available in various sizes and shades of the color wheel.
Marks is also a fan of Lou’s Ballz (lousballz.com), run by local architect Lou Tonore. You are likely familiar with Lou’s Ballz, whether you realize it or not. This is the company behind now ubiquitous Mardi Gras decorations – garlands of Carnival-colored plastic balls, strung across balconies and front yard fences.
For an outdoor Halloween spectacle that will stop traffic (a la house-float style) contact The Stronghold Studios. The New Orleans-based design company creates sculptures, massive props, and signs. They were also one of the major masterminds behind Mardi Gras house floats. Take a peek at their website (strongholdstudios.com) for an impressive portfolio of their work.
For high-quality, Halloween-themed tableware and décor that you will treasure for years to come, try local boutiques like Phina (phinashop.com, various locations), Lucy Rose (shoplucyrose.com, various locations), Hazelnut (5525 Magazine St., 891-2424, hazelnutneworleans.com) and Hilltop Shoppe (3714 Magazine St., 533-9670; hilltopshoppe.com).
NOLA Gifts & Décor (5101 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 407-3532, nolagiftsanddecoronline.com) carries door hangers, decorations and crafty doodads and toys for kids. Don’t be surprised if you leave with more than you need.
Even if there were no rumors of its spectral inhabitants (and there are many) the story of Le Petit Théâtre Du Vieux Carré, “The Little Theatre,” would be just as marked by mystery and tragedy. The building at 616 St. Peter St. predates the city of New Orleans as we know it, built a year after the 1788 Good Friday fire that destroyed more than 75 percent of existing structures in the city. And while the building was not a victim of that particular blaze, it was destroyed just five years later by the second inferno to sweep through the city: the Great New Orleans Fire of 1794.
After its reconstruction in 1797, 616 St. Peter was used as a governor’s mansion, an army barracks for U.S. soldiers during the Civil War and, eventually, fell into disrepair. It was not until 1922 that the building was purchased and restored by the Drawing Room Players, thus becoming one of the nation’s oldest and most storied playhouses.
What building, marked by natural disaster and war, could escape without attracting a few spirits of its own? More than three dozen spirits are said to walk in and around the building, including a bride who allegedly leapt from a ledge on her wedding day, uniformed Union soldiers in perpetual wait for their next battle, an actress who fell from the catwalk, a ghostly pianist, a nun who has been known to slap unsuspecting performers and crew members, and the tormented spirit of a former manager who is said to have taken his life in the theatre lounge.
One thing is certain: Le Petit Theatre is guaranteed to deliver a fantastic show, be it a musical, drama or comedy on stage—or a mystery, tragedy or horror behind the scenes.
There is no shortage of spectacles both fascinating and unsettling in the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum: porcelain pots once filled with squirming medicinal leeches, a trephination drill used to relieve headaches by puncturing the skull, and centuries-old hypodermic needles clutter glass displays alongside shelves packed with dusty opium bottles and gold-coated pills.
But aside from the museum’s odd trappings and spine-tingling medical devices, tales of the pharmacy’s creation, and legends of its present-day supernaturalities, add yet another layer of intrigue to this historic site.
The pharmacy opened its doors in 1823, when the country’s first licensed pharmacist Louis Defilho, Jr. arrived in New Orleans during the yellow fever epidemic. Defilho’s scientific approach to curing diseases was seen as revolutionary at the time: before Louisiana Governor William C.C. Claiborne passed an 1804 law requiring licensing examinations for pharmacists, apothecaries were often helmed by people with little training and no regulation, resulting in improper dosages and concoctions with no proven medical results.
Defilho went on to play a key role in treating the city’s outbreak of yellow fever (which had claimed the life of his own brother), as well as nursing other common ailments with prescriptions that sometimes included narcotics like cocaine and laudanum. Here, local lore takes a darker turn, when Defilho sold the pharmacy to Dr. Joseph Dupas in 1857. Dupas maintained a reputation for conducting experimental treatments that at best were ineffective, and at worst were deadly.
Visitors and staff of the pharmacy museum (which today is helmed by a descendent of original owner Defilho) have reported seeing the ghost of the crooked Dr. Dupas wandering the store at night, moving objects and setting off alarms. Whether or not there is truth to those accounts, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum is no doubt a harrowing reminder of an epidemic that once ravaged the city and was ultimately brought under control by mosquito regulation, though it remains troublesome in other parts of the world.
For sites that are home to thousands of New Orleans’ dead, the city’s cemeteries are said to be teeming with life—or rather, afterlives.
Aside from the more commonly sought-after tombs like that of Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveau in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 (kept under lock and key since 2015 following several acts of vandalism), the lesser-known cemeteries of New Orleans are just as charged with historical and cultural significance—and are just as likely to deliver a supernatural sighting.
St. Roch Cemetery, sprawling approximately 150 acres, contains the final resting place of legendary Storyville madam Josie Arlington. In her lifetime, Arlington ran one of the most extravagant brothels in the red-light district out of her four-story home on North Basin Street. However, after a fire destroyed the home, Arlington retired and turned her sights toward ensuring her elite status would be preserved in death.
To that end, she commissioned an exquisite marble tomb, adorned with stone torches and the statue of a woman pushing on the copper double doors. Soon after Arlington’s death on Valentine’s Day in 1914, two gravediggers reported seeing the statue stroll away from her post outside the tomb, while several other passersby claimed to have seen the stone torches burning with real fire. So rampant were these rumors that, distraught by the attention, Arlington’s family had Josie’s body moved elsewhere in the cemetery, in a location that remains secret to this day.
Meanwhile, Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District maintains its own ghostly notoriety for its large population of yellow fever victims. Although there are no named ghosts wandering among the rows of tombs, several paranormal investigators have recorded and released electronic voice phenomena, or EVPs, of the anguished spirits uttering phrases such as “Leave now,” and “Get us to the light.”