How to Do Halloween in New Orleans
Halloween Decorations, French Quarter, by Jake Cunningham
In New Orleans, Halloween is much more than just a night for kids to go treat-or-treating, chaperoned by their parents. Just like with many other holidays, New Orleans ramps it up in its unique, signature style — complete with costume parties, balls, street celebrations, and, of course, a parade. If you’ll be in New Orleans for Halloween, you’re in for some ghoulish, outlandish treats. Here are our picks.
For two decades, Voodoo Authentica has hosted this celebration — which is not to be confused with the similarly titled and now defunct music festival in City Park. VoodooFest, held from 1 to 7 p.m. on October 31, at 612 Dumaine St. in the French Quarter, packs an incredible amount of information, entertainment, and voodoo-inspired gift shopping into one very full event.
Priests will be on hand to speak and teach on Voodoo, Louisiana’s version of the faith, and the music and spirituality associated with the Lwa — the spirits of the Voodoo pantheon. A small market set up outside the shop will sell practitioner-made potion oils, gris-gris bags, voodoo dolls, plus African and Haitian art (perfect presents for the upcoming holidays, maybe?). VoodooFest ends with a closing ancestral healing ritual.
Death and Mourning in New Orleans
Throughout October, the historic Hermann-Grima House, located in the French Quarter (820 St. Louis St.), changes up its historical tours to explore the mourning spaces of the 19th century. The house is swathed in somber colors to reflect the period of mourning for Marie Anne Filiosa Grima, mother of Felix Grima, who died on the property on October 15, 1850.
During a guided tour you’ll explore the property while learning about the religious and cultural significance of death for the Creole families living here in the 19th century. You can book a tour online.
Krewe of Boo
One of the city’s most impressive parades outside of carnival season is this child-friendly Halloween procession, which is happening this year on Saturday, October 21, 2023. The parade itself kicks off at 6:30 p.m., starting at Elysian Fields Ave. in the Marigny, and rolling through the Quarter to the Warehouse District. Expect plenty of floats, dance troupes and throws, all themed after monsters, spooks, and general ghostly goodness.
Additionally, that morning Krewe hosts its annual New Orleans Zombie Run, so don’t be surprised if a Saturday morning in New Orleans all of a sudden feels like a scene from 28 Days Later. This two-mile race starts at 9 a.m. and ends at noon, both at Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant (701 Tchoupitoulas St.). Participants are encouraged to come dressed as zombies and monsters. Registration for the race begins at 7:30 a.m. You can pre-register online ($25; $35-$40 the day of the race).
The fun ends at Generations Hall (310 Andrew Higgins Blvd.) in the Warehouse District with the Monster Mash party. This ticketed costume party starts at 8 p.m. (until); ages 18 and up to enter. The Monster Mash typically features live music, a costume contest, drink specials, and a big dance party. You can buy tickets online or at the door. Get the details on this year’s throws, where to watch, and the after-party, here.
Frenchmen Street Party
If you want to be in the heart of the action and don’t mind the crowds, head to Frenchmen Street in the Marigny on the day of Halloween. The celebration has become one massive street party in the past few years, popular with locals and visitors alike. It’s a great way to see some spectacular and clever costumes in one spot — and to show off your own, of course. Things really get going after 10 p.m., and there are plenty of bars to duck in and out of to recharge and replenish.
Haunted History Tours
There are many themed and historic tours to choose from, especially this time of year, and you can take your pick anywhere from the vampire and voodoo tours in the French Quarter to touring the world-famous cemeteries on Canal St. From the Garden District to Tremé, and around pretty much every corner in the French Quarter, the city has a story to tell.
“Haunted House” Decorations
There’s no shortage of over-the-top decorated houses in New Orleans around Halloween, but some really stand out. The best way to find them is to check the local listings for the ones set up in and around private homes as the dates get closer, but even a short walk around the French Quarter will unveil some awe-inspiring facades, all decked out in their Halloween best.
If you find yourself Uptown, the home of the local resident Louellen Berger’s at St. Charles Ave. and State St. is a sight to behold every year, with a 50-plus krewe of skeletons arranged on the front lawn to amuse with biting political satire and a play on the only-in-New-Orleans themes, with all the puns intended.
A spooky-fabulous display featuring holograms and projections outside the house on the corner of Magazine and Second Streets also goes above and beyond — with a narrated plot, dancing ghosts, creepy apparitions, and dazzling lights.
More Halloween in the French Quarter
Are you visiting with your kids this Halloween? There are plenty of family-friendly annual activities to enjoy in New Orleans this time of year. Be sure to read our feature on Halloween for Kids in the French Quarter and Beyond, to get an idea of what’s happening during the few weeks leading up to Halloween.
As you can see, New Orleans does Halloween with abandon, not to mention all the fall festivals going on between September and November. If you’re planning a trip to New Orleans this fall, book a historic boutique hotel in the French Quarter at FrenchQuarter.com/hotels, to stay close to all the action!