How to Celebrate Halloween on a Visit to the United States

Halloween is quite low-key in Finland. The Prisma near my apartment only has a few small racks with decorations and costumes, while others such as Alepa and K-Market only have a few types of candy. Quite the difference from back in the United States! Halloween is the second largest commercial holiday in the United States (after Christmas) and for good reason. It’s an occasion to dress up (or down!), get creative, and of course, indulge in massive amounts of candy. Here're some of the things you can expect if you visit the United States for this holiday.

Costumes

This is the most obvious one. If you’re invited to a Halloween party and want to dress up but don’t know how, maybe stick to the classics. The top five most popular Halloween costumes for adults in 2017 are witches, vampires, zombies, pirates, and Avengers characters, though there're obviously people who go way out. Celebrating Halloween in Helsinki and still need a costume? Here're some quick and cheap ideas.

Trick-or-treating

This is probably the most well-known and classic event. Trick-or-treating is usually reserved for kids, but if you have a friend with a school-aged family member, ask if you can tag along. A lot of people giving out candies don’t mind the chaperones taking a piece. You can also go with a group of friends if you’re in a college-friendly area, though I can’t give first-hand advice on this, because…

Parties

Halloween is as much of an event for children as it is for adults. Instead of trick-or-treating though, they hold parties. Many bars have Halloween events which feature cheap drinks and costume contests. TimeOut and Thrillist are good websites to check for pub crawls and events in bigger US cities. Notable Halloween parties in the country include New Orleans’s Vampire Ball, New York’s Halloween Parade, and Hollywood’s Halloween Carnaval. Most places, from small country towns to the big coastal cities, also have events all month long, so there’s no shortage of things to do, and if you won't be in the United States on Halloween, then you still have the opportunity to celebrate.

Haunted Houses

Another classic, with varying levels of scariness. Ones in schools and neighborhoods with a lot of children might not be as scary, but there're some that go all out and include people chasing you with chainsaws or grabbing you to take you away from your group. You can find haunted houses nearly everywhere, from the local school to amusement parks. Here’s a list of some of the most famous ones in the country.

Pumpkin Patches

Pumpkin patches are not only places you go to pick out a pumpkin to carve when you get home, but they have plenty of activities. Mainly for kids, but adults can go too. Many have petting zoos, corn mazes, haunted houses, fresh and local food, and gift shops. Check out some adult-friendly ones here.

Burritos

Burritos? Or should I say, boorrito? Yes. Chipotle is a fast-casual Mexican-inspired restaurant, and if you go dressed up on Halloween you can get any of their main menu options for only $4, which is over 50% off the regular price. While the wait could be long, going was a fun start to my college Halloweens. In 2015 I even met someone dressed up as Katy Perry's famous backup dancer, Left Shark.

Sources:

National Retail Federation: https://nrf.com/media/press-releases/halloween-spending-reach-9-billion