Does the thought of having to find a costume for Halloween fill you with more dread than the haunting face of a man wielding a chainsaw? If so, Europe could be the answer. With some semblance of a cultural festival still being celebrated across the Channel you can take advantage of an excuse for a holiday without the dodgy eye make-up, fraying bandages and the handing out of ‘treats’ to hungry teenagers.
For a last minute trip Paris is the perfect option, and easily accessible. The city of love is slowly becoming one of horror for one night of the year only, but like the rest of Europe celebrates All Saints Day on November 1st, where the dead are honoured and the graves of loved ones are visited to pay respects. This also constitutes a national holiday so many attractions will be closed. The Paris Hop-on Hop-Off Bus takes in all the sights and runs all year, so while Parisians are paying their respects, the city can be explored. The route takes in all the most popular sites such as the Louvre, Champs de Mars, Notre Dame and the Champs-Élysée.
Although Halloween in its Americanised form is spreading across Europe, the focus remains on the scarier aspects of the festival. For a view of the city as dusk falls and All Hallow’s Eve gives way to All Saints Day on the 1st November, enjoy dinner at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant. Atmospheric and with incredible views, spend the evening above the spooks and squeals dining on spectacular French cuisine without a pumpkin in sight.
However, if creepy settings and chilling sights are more up your street, the Catalans in Barcelona use the dead for an excuse to take the day off work as well as the Parisians and merge All Saints Day with a celebration of the humble chestnut. Their gothic and historic city lends itself well to a spooky tour of crypts and cathedrals which house tombs and catacombs, venerated on this day of the year.
A Hop-on Hop-Off Barcelona bus tour in this city allows you to experience all its gothic glory, with the East route taking in the Barri Gòtic, the towering and iconic Sagrada Familia built as a colossal monument to the power and glory of God and divine spirits. The West route of the tour travels close to the Monjuic cemetery, covering one side of the hill of the same name it contains some of the most elegant and ornate monuments to the dead in Spain.
La castanyada (chestnut festival) supposedly marks the end of the summer and the descent into the cold winter, but as you will discover from the top of the Hop on Hop off bus it is an opportunity to catch one last glimpse of warming sun. And helps prevents vampires joining the tour along the way.