With a nod to this fall’s bumper crop of stylish, ghoulish supernatural shows (American Horror Story: Coven, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, the return of Walking Dead, and Sleepy Hollow), we went looking around the country for Halloween celebrations that offer a similarly creepy-elegant vibe. Not surprisingly, New Orleans (pictured) delivers the most, but we also found insect art in a country manor hotel, degenerate clowns in Las Vegas, and ghost-inhabited Gothic cemeteries throughout the South.
W Hotel Hoboken — Zombie Chic
W Hoboken’s Halloween-week package is an excellent enticement to get dressed up for Halloween twice this year, and splurge on a Big New York Weekend in a hotel that’s not technically in New York. The hotel is doing two parties and two pre-parties this year, and people who purchase the package get access to ALL the parties, plus two pre-party cocktails. The Saturday night party is themed Zombie Attack, and to help you get the perfect undead chic look like the lady pictured, the package also includes a makeup kit from cosmetics company Urban Decay (official slogan: Beauty with an Edge).
Tour de Graves, Charleston
Known as the “Garden of the Dead,” this landmark Southern cemetery is as picturesque as it is historic. As the oldest public cemetery in Charleston, poets, politicians and 2,200 Civil War veterans are all at rest under the elegant oaks on the banks of Cooper River. Though not found in Charleston’s historic district, this site is itself listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Megasoma at Umstead House, North Carolina
Artist Christopher Marley makes his pieces out of “natural materials,” and his particular genius is that he creates items that most people would never consider bringing indoors as art that they’re proud to hang on their walls. His exhibition at Umstead House, a genteel spa-hotel in Raleigh, features arthropods — that’s beetles and bugs in plain English — but other Marlowe works incorporate sea creatures, feathers, fossils and serpents, all of which died of natural causes and painstakingly “reclaimed” by the artist.
Absinthe at STK Vegas
Bawdy, fearless, beautiful, sometimes shocking and occasionally sinister (all within an intimate setting that doesn’t allow guests to keep their distance from the action), the acro-cabaret Absinthe has proven to be a sleeper hit for Caesars Palace. For Halloween, the wonderfully pervy host Gazillionaire, Green Fairy Melody Sweets, and the rest of the troupe move to STK in the Cosmopolitan for a very special “Absinthe in Wonderland” one night only show (Monday, October 28 at 9 p.m.). Make your reservations now for the Mad Hatter Tea-inspired feast, unique performances, and to experience STK transformed from a sleek steakhouse into a “whimsical forest utopia.”
Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls, New Mexico
Learn how to make Dia de Los Muertos sugar skulls as artistic as this colorful grinning abuelita at a special class offered by the Santa Fe Culinary Academy on October 30. Spots are still available and if you’re lucky enough to be near Santa Fe at the time, this is a great way to learn about one of Mexico’s most important cultural holidays. Plus, sugar skulls are much more aesthetically interesting than drugstore Halloween candy.
Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo, New Orleans
In American Horror Story this season, Marie Laveau is alive and well (or so it would appear, anyway) and is the owner of a hair salon in the 9th ward — which seems like kind of a step down for a legendary voodoo priestess. In the real New Orleans, her corporeal presence is no more, but her legacy is undiminished. No hair extensions at this shop, just psychic readings and occult items galore, and an altar where you may pay your respects to the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans.
Baoli’s “Black Swan” Bash, Miami
If you’re thinking of dressing as a “Cheerleader” or “VMA Miley” this year, there is one party in Miami that probably won’t let you in the door. It’s the annual “My Boyfriend is Out of Town” bash at Baoli, and despite the name, the costume dress-code is as elegant as Halloween can be. Ladies still show skin, but only in a sequined, silk-draped, Gothic-dungeon type of way. Last year (pictured), the theme was Eyes Wide Shut. This year it’s Black Swan, with gentlemen in black tie and ladies in “Midnight Ballerina.”
Queen Mary, Zombie Hangout — Long Beach, CA
The West Coast’s proud standard-bearer for creepy elegance is the retired ocean liner Queen Mary, a must-visit in Southern California if you’re intrigued by the paranormal. Though known as one of America’s most haunted places, this stately ship isn’t only beloved by ghost-hunters, it’s one of the featured attractions in the newly released Dead Sexy: The Walking Dead Fan Guide to Zombie Style, Beauty, Parties and Ghoul-Lurching UnLifestyle. In other words, shades should prepare to have their Queen Mary party crashed by a rather more colorful crew this Halloween.
Hollywood Cemetery — Virginia
Dusk falls on the Hollywood Cemetery in Virginia, where the venerable Jefferson Davis, two American presidents, six Virginia governors, two Supreme Court justices, twenty-two Confederate generals, and thousands of Confederate soldiers all rest for eternity. The same can’t be said for the Richmond Vampire, whose legend was spawned during a horrible tunnel accident in 1925. Urban legend has it that a creature covered in blood was seen emerging from the collapsed railroad tunnel, only to be chased to this cemetery where it hid in the mausoleum belonging to W.W. Pool, a bookkeeper.
So, whatever you want to do this year, whether it be chasing down a legendary vampire in Virginia or partying with your friends aboard the haunted Queen Mary, you should find something nearby that will be the perfect spooky answer to that irritating question, "What should I do for Halloween?"