Hocus Pocus and Halloween in Salem, MA

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Celebrating Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts has been on my bucket list for a long time. Most people know Salem as the location of the 1692 Witch Trials and, as a result of this dark past, Salem’s residents take All Hallows Eve very seriously. Salem actually runs a month-long celebration of Halloween called ‘Haunted Happenings’, with plenty of shows, exhibits and museum tours to be had throughout October.

Jasper and I were so excited to celebrate one of the best holidays in Salem, we felt we simply couldn’t do it alone, so my sister Molly came to join us, just for the occasion. And we tore it up: boss-witch style. Here is a list of what we got up to in this old town, full of darkness and intrigue…

“It’s just a bunch of Hocus Pocus!”

Molly and I (and our two other sisters) first encountered Salem as children watching the family film and cult classic Hocus Pocus, starring Bette Midler (Jasper *reluctantly* watched this film a little more recently). If you have not seen this hoot-a-second movie then you might want to skip this section (and make a mental note to watch Hocus Pocus ASAP). If you have seen it, then you may be surprised to find out that most of the film was actually shot in Salem itself! Which means that there are plenty of film locations dotted around town, including…

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The Town Hall. Remember this? Where Max and Dani’s parents get drunk and Bette Midler sings ‘I Put A Spell On You’? #classic

You can find Salem Town Hall at 93 Washington Street.

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‘Alison’s House’, home to the most boring looking Halloween party ever. AKA ‘Ropes Mansion’. And look who we bumped into….

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It’s the Sanderson Sisters!

You can find Ropes Mansion at 318 Essex Street.

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‘Max’s House’. That super cool window at the top remains intact- not blown up by witches and/or teenage angst. Note: this is a residential house, so no trespassing, loud noises, or sprinkling salt barriers around the premises.

‘Max’s House’ is a little drive out of Salem city centre at, 4 Ocean Avenue.

Halloween Night

If you want to feel famous for a night, get an amazing costume and come to Salem on Halloween. We spent hours wandering through the streets just taking photos of people and telling them how amazing they looked. It wasn’t just us though, we were part of many ‘fangirling’ hoards, scrambling for photos of the best-dressed. We figured that there are approximately 3 different types of costumes…

  1. Genuinely terrifying:

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2. Amazing, but nothing to do with halloween:

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3. Cult characters/people in terrible 90’s clothes (it can be difficult to tell the difference)

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Yes, this is us.

There is a feeling of friendship as people walk the streets. You see strangers dressed as related characters converse without breaking character; Little Red Riding Hood commenting on how big Grandma Wolf’s teeth are, the Mad Hatter inviting Alice to tea, the Pope catching up with Satan (not even joking). In any case, for a guaranteed great time, get yourself a costume and don’t forget your camera.

Honourable Mentions:

 Stickwork

This sculpture in the centre of town is pretty hard to miss. Created by artist Patrick Dougherty, this installation is created by woven sticks and branches to create a wholly natural, almost Pagan looking piece, which juxtaposes against the manmade surroundings. If you want to see it, you’ll need to be quick: the exhibit is only on view until 31st March 2017.

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Bewitched Statue

In the centre of town is a statue of Samantha from the 60’s sitcom ‘Bewitched’. It draws in a large crowd, which is perhaps why a fundamentalist Christian picked this spot to yell continuously for eight hours. This is the only picture I managed to get without him in…

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Beautiful Houses 

We probably spent a good two or three hours just wandering around the residential areas of Salem, gazing at their beautiful, quintessentially New England houses. If you love architecture, we suggest you do the same.

 

 

Halloween in Salem has now been ticked off my list, and it was everything I hoped it would be. If you love Halloween, Hocus Pocus, or just beautiful New England towns, get on your broomstick and fly over here!

 

What about all the witches though!? Don’t get your cauldron in a bubble; we’ve got a whole extra post just about Salem’s most famous residents. Find it here.

Witching Hour: Top Magical Spots in Salem, MA

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Salem, Massachusetts is the location of perhaps the most famous witch-hunt in human history and it does not shy away from its dark past. As a result, Salem has become a place of remembrance for those persecuted in the late seventeenth century with many memorials and museums dedicated to the victims of what is often considered one of America’s darkest moments.

A trip to Salem would be incomplete without visiting at least one of the following sites…

Salem Witch Museum

The Witch Trials of 1692 are Salem’s –and possibly one of America’s- most famous historical events. In the space of a few months, mass hysteria gripped this small Puritan town resulting in the executions of 20 residents. Salem’s Witch Museum is a hugely popular museum, which has an interactive display detailing the trials themselves. It is really interesting and informative (though a little corny!). If it’s your first trip to Salem, or you know little of the trials, we suggest you start here.

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Another must-see spot is the Witch Trial memorial site which shows the names of all those persecuted in 1692 etched into large blocks of stone. Many still lay flowers in remembrance. Next to the memorial is a large graveyard, home to graves of many Judges who presided over The Witch Trials. It’s pretty spooky walking through here after dark, that’s for sure.

 

The House of the Seven Gables

If Salem’s history interests you, visit The House Of The Seven Gables. Originally owned by Judge Hathorne, this beautiful -if bleak- house was also home to his great-great-grandson, author Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was famously haunted by his grandfather’s involvement in The Witch Trials.

The Witch House

One of the oldest houses in Salem and home of another judge, Jonathathewitchhouse1-lostness-co-ukn Corwin, this house, known as ‘The Witch House’, has been kept by the City of Salem as an example of everyday life in a late seventeenth century Puritan town. Take a self-guided tour through the building and learn about the, let’s face it, bleak lives of the inhabitants of Salem in 1692. Although a simple little museum, this was probably one of the most enjoyable and informative ones we visited. 100% go here.
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Witch Shops

Because of its ties with witchcraft (even though imaginary), Salem has become a Mecca for Pagans, herbalists and spiritualists who now call themselves ‘witches’. There are plenty of witch supply shops around the town that provide herbs, crystals and even cauldrons for those who want to practice ‘witchcraft’. Our favourite was a little shop called ‘Hauswitch’. We have to admit that we are a little obsessed with this shop. Not only do they sell beautiful home wear, art, and spell kits, but they run meditation classes and tarot card readings in the evening. It is a feminist heaven and I really want to join their coven.

 

Salem did not disappoint. Regardless of its busy tourist industry, it hasn’t lost any of its New England charm. If you love architecture, history, or just a good ghost story, it is well worth the trip. There really are few towns out there whose identities are so wrapped up with their own history, but when this happens it creates a place full of intrigue, energy, and…magic!