You're guaranteed to find a party no matter what time of year you visit New Orleans, but the Big Easy is perhaps at its second wildest (behind Mardi Gras) during Halloween. Holiday happenings abound along Bourbon Street, Frenchmen Street, and other lively hotspots. From music and art showcases to haunted hotels and cemetery tours, there are plenty of things to do and dress up for in New Orleans on Allhallows Eve.
New Orleans is home to a number of old cemeteries—hence its nickname, Cities of the Dead—some of them dating back to the 18th century. If you're looking to learn a bit of history while getting your thrills, consider taking a tour of one of them.
- Gray Line Tours offers a Cemetery and Voodoo Walking Tour, which includes admission to St. Louis Cemetery #1, round-trip transportation, and an authentic souvenir bag. During the tour, guests visit the tomb of the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau.
- Riverbend Charters offers a private tour (by car or limousine) of the New Orleans City of the Dead, educating guests about Southern burial customs and famous New Orleanians past along the way.
- New Orleans Ghost Adventure Tour is a two-hour journey through the Garden District's Lafayette Cemetery #1. It features an in-depth look at the cemetery and a walk past numerous mansions that date back to the early 1800s.
Party With Ghosts in the Oaks
This family favorite takes place in late October at the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park. It includes music, face painting, trick-or-treating, carnival rides, and an autumnal pumpkin patch. All proceeds go toward maintaining and improving the park grounds, so you'll be helping this City of New Orleans landmark whilst enjoying some Halloween fun. Ghosts in the Oaks 2020 will be a "Haunting at Home" edition featuring virtual fun runs and video check-ins from the city's most beloved personalities. Only 500 packages will be sold—each $99, accommodating four people—and the money will still go towards park upkeep. The virtual events will take place from October 24 to 25.
Boogie at the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience
The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience is a three-day music festival featuring some of the biggest names in rock, electronic, pop, and country. Past performers include Guns N' Roses, Brandi Carlile, Interpol, Beck, Bassnectar, The National, Post Malone, and more than 2,000 others. The event is spread over several stages and includes a host of food, drink, art, and merch vendors, all in New Orleans' City Park. Costumes are embraced, but not mandatory. In 2020, the festival was canceled.
Participate in the Krewe of BOO! Halloween Parade
The official New Orleans Halloween Parade since 2007, the Krewe of BOO! Halloween Parade almost rivals the size of Mardi Gras. On this evening, ghosts, goblins, and monsters descend on the streets of the French Quarter with thrilling, three-dimensional props and floats designed by the renowned Kern Studio in tow. The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. at Elysian Fields in the Marigny and goes down Canal Street to the National World War II Museum. You can either march in it yourself or watch from the sidelines. In 2020, the parade was canceled.
Bring the Kids to Boo at the Zoo
Benefitting the Children's Hospital of New Orleans and operations of the Audubon Zoo itself, Boo at the Zoo features three days of family-friendly activities such as a ghost train, a haunted house, games, and trick-or-treating. It's a not-too-scary alternative to the adults-only parties that traditionally occupy New Orleans' Halloween calendar. Over this special weekend, the zoo cuts its regular hours short for evening programming, all included in a $20 admission ticket. In 2020, the event was canceled.
Don Your Best Costume at Halloween New Orleans
A staple of the LGBTQ scene in New Orleans for over 35 years, Halloween New Orleans (HNO) is the official queer Halloween party of the city. A fundraiser for Project Lazarus, an HIV/AIDS assisted living facility in the city, this three-day party kicks off with the Lazarus Ball—a black tie-optional affair that includes a silent auction, food, and music—but the big party is on Saturday. Known as The Main Event, this costume-required dance party features a VIP lounge, a midnight cabaret show, and a costume contest for all attendees. On Sunday, Tea Dance on the Pier features food trucks, an open bar, and a unique setting on the New Orleans waterfront. 2020's HNO37 has been canceled.
Attend a Vampire Ball
Halloween and masquerade balls go hand in hand, and this is one of the most popular in New Orleans. The Endless Night Vampire Ball upholds a strictly-enforced and themed dress code, but the costumes will make you feel like you've stepped into another world. It's typically themed—"Black Magick" in 2019—and takes place at the House of Blues. Tickets are normally required and should be purchased in advance, but the ball was canceled in 2020. The organizers are slated to reveal virtual programming on EndlessNight.com.