Spooky festivals across the world
Whether you spend months planning your Halloween party, or you prefer to curl up on the sofa with a hot drink and a vintage horror film, there’s something fun about getting a little creeped out. The UK’s version of Halloween may be little more than an excuse to dress up and eat our body weight in sweets, but there are plenty of festivals that take the business of spooking a little more seriously.
From the colourful celebrations seen at Mexico’s Day of the Dead, to more off-the-beaten-track creepiness in the USA, it seems that people worldwide love a scare as much as we do. So in honour of today, the Citybond team has rounded up some of our favourite spine-tingling festivals from around the globe, from the super spooky to the downright silly.
Day of the Dead, Mexico
Mexico’s famous Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is all about paying tribute to deceased family members and welcoming their souls so they can hear living people’s prayers. While this may sound a little morbid, if you visit during this time you’ll discover it’s more like a colourful celebration of life. This November 2nd festival includes building private altars dedicated to the dead, and decorating them with marigolds, sugar skulls, food offerings, and possessions of the ancestors being honoured. Revellers paint their faces with striking ‘skull’ makeup that has become famous around the world, and hold joyful parades and parties, which means it’s certainly not the most sedate celebration of death you’ll ever attend but certainly unique.
Hungry Ghost Festival, China
China’s Hungry Ghost Festival isn’t perhaps quite as terrifying as it sounds. The festival is based around the Chinese belief that the dead visit their living relatives at this time of year - and the ghosts deserve to be shown a good time. During the Buddhist and Taoist festival, families prepare meals for the ‘hungry ghosts’ and offer up entertainment by the way of outdoor evening performances, at which the front row of seating is reserved for the ghosts. Other offerings are also made, including the burning of paper money, paper televisions, and paper cars, with the aim that this will help relatives who have passed away reside comfortably in their new surroundings.
Walpurgis Night, Europe
Walpurgis Night is celebrated in various Northern European countries including Germany, Sweden, and Finland in springtime. The festival dates back to Pagan times, when people would hang foliage around their homesteads and leave offerings to the dead, but as time went on the festival was combined with the ‘Witches Night’, made popular by St Walburga, an English missionary who lived in Germany. While celebrations vary somewhat around Europe, generally you’ll find people playing pranks and lighting bonfires and fireworks to drive off evil spirits.
The Festival of Near Death Experiences, Spain
Spain is known for its quirky festivals, and the macabre display that is The Festival of Near Death Experiences is no different. Travel to Las Nieves at the end of July, and you’ll find a procession of coffins filled with the living. Yes, in order to give thanks to the ‘Saint of Death’ for their narrow escape, people are voluntarily paraded through the streets in coffins by their relatives, all of whom are dressed as if for a funeral. Even stranger is the sight of those with no family to carry them, who lug their own coffin around. While lining the sides of the streets are revellers who dance, light fireworks and eat the local delicacy Pulpo a la Gallega.
Frozen Dead Guy Days, Colorado, USA
If you like your spooky festivals off the beaten track then you’ll struggle to beat Colorado’s Frozen Dead Guy Days, which isn’t quite as historic as some of the other celebrations on this list. The cryogenically frozen body of Bredo Morstol arrived in the small Colorado mountain town of Nederland from Norway in 1989 via his grandson Trygve Bauge. A local company took on the responsibility for the body and to this day, it remains frozen in the Tuff Shed. On the first weekend of March each year, revellers arrive in Nederland to celebrate the frozen body of Grandpa Bredo by partaking in coffin races, brain-freeze contests, a salmon toss, and a whole host of other bizarre events.
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