11 Spooky Ways to Celebrate Halloween This Year in Salem, Massachusetts

Cemeteries, psychic readings, and a satanic high tea.

Old Burying Point Cemetery
Old Burying Point Cemetery | CiEll/Shutterstock
Old Burying Point Cemetery | CiEll/Shutterstock

Every year, people from all over the country flock to the bona fide hub of horrors, Salem, Massachusetts. It is undeniably the perfect Halloween backdrop, complete with autumn leaves, pumpkin patches, and a rich, fascinating history that never gets old.

This year, Salem is better than ever, as the city reinvigorates this spooky season with psychic readings, an exhibit about what really happened during the Salem Witch Trials, horror fests, and costume contests. Enjoy a myriad of festive activities, and remember that Salem has a mask mandate in place for all indoor businesses through November 13. Keeping that in mind, here’s everything you can do to have your best Halloween yet in this spooky town.

Celebrate pumpkin season without getting too much of a scare at the newest version of the Hollowed Harvest. This year, the festival features an indoor Wicked Labyrinth full of 1,000 jack-o-lanterns. Sip on a cup of hot apple cider and wander around the family-favorite haunted labyrinth that is only offered in Salem. Tickets must be purchased in advance, so pick a time slot and grab a ticket here.

Peabody Essex Museum
Peabody Essex Museum

Gain a new perspective on the Salem Witch Trials

This year, the Peabody Essex Museum is subverting what we were taught about the Salem Witch Trials with the new exhibition “The Salem Witch Trials: Reckoning and Reclaiming.” The exhibit features rare, original documents from the trials, personal stories, artist statements, and interviews. Watch artists such as fashion designer Alexander McQueen and photographer Frances F. Denny reclaim the word “witch” and learn how the trials contributed to the inspiration behind their art.

Forgo your daily coffee and spend the morning sipping on tea and munching on tasty treats at The Satanic Temple of Salem. The former funeral home will be decked out with gothic decorations this Halloween, as well as a world-famous 8-foot statue of Baphomet, a deity worshipped in various occult and mystical traditions. Purchase tickets here.

Salem Haunted Happenings
Salem Witch Museum | Salem Haunted Happenings

Ride the Salem Trolley, if you dare

The Salem Trolley is the best way to take in as much of the Witch City as possible. Get a glimpse of the Salem Witch Museum, Old Burying Point Cemetery, House of the Seven Gables, Witch Dungeon Museum, and more. At night, it’s transformed into the Tales & Tombstones Trolley, which revisits long-ago murders, ghost stories, and haunted hotels and restaurants—it’ll basically scare your socks off.

The Salem Psychic Fair and Witches’ Market is the town’s longest-running psychic fair. Find unique enchanted gifts like voodoo dolls, incense, and enchanted candles at the Witches Market. Then meet practicing witches and delve into your destiny with crystal balls, Tarot cards, and palm readings—there’s even a couple’s reading. Register here for a 15- or 30-minute appointment.

The Witch House
Georgios Antonatos/Shutterstock

Unravel myths about the trial

The Salem Witch Trials were rooted in hysteria. More than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft, and 25 died, all because several young women pointed the finger at others. To this day, the infamous event is dramatized and misconstrued. The Myths and Misconceptions daytime walking tour debunks still-lingering common beliefs about that dark time. The one-hour tour stops at the Witch Trials Memorial and the 17th-century jail that held accused witches. Get your tickets here.

Visit all the film locations from ‘Hocus Pocus’

The Hocus Pocus sequel has the green light. Why not revisit its on-location sites sprinkled throughout Salem? There’s Pioneer Village (“Salem Village”), Phipps Elementary School (Max & Allison’s school), Ropes Mansion (“Allison’s House”), or Old Town Hall, the site of the Halloween party. Visit this list to pick your poison. Have some extra time? Wrap up the tour with a free screening of the infamous film at the Salem Common on October 22. (where most of the outdoor scenes were filmed).

The House of the Seven Gables
The House of the Seven Gables

This storied site is one of the oldest timber-framed homes in North America, and inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel of the same name. Over its lifetime, it’s grown from a two-room, two-story house into a 17-room, Georgian-style mansion measuring more than 8,000 square feet. Tickets also include a 30-minute audio tour of the gardens and grounds. Online reservations for the tour will be available on a rolling basis.

The Rebecca Nurse Homestead
The Rebecca Nurse Homestead | The Rebecca Nurse Homestead

Every innocent person who was persecuted or killed in the Witch Trials is a tragedy, but Rebecca Nurse’s story was a particularly egregious case. One of the oldest women to be accused of witchcraft at 71, Nurse had many defenders, but she was still hanged. Oral tradition dictates that her body was buried at this homestead. Guided tours begin at sunset and will educate you on the history of Rebecca’s family and home while leading the group to the Nurse Family Cemetery, Rebecca’s candlelit home, and the Salem Village Meetinghouse, where many of the Salem Witch Trials hearings took place. Tours run on Friday and Saturday nights throughout October. Purchase tickets online here.

Get off your feet and catch a horror flick before you go

Take a break from all that walking and dancing and tend to your cinephile heart by taking in spooky short films and terrifying features at the Salem Horror Fest. If you’re looking for something more low-key, the beloved Cinema Salem features gorey cult-favorites every Friday night in October for its own spooky series, Night Light.

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Kelsey Allen is an editorial assistant at Thrillist.