Halloween in Salem Massachusetts is a month-long spree of haunted happenings, séances, ghouls, ghost stories, witches, pirates, vampires, and the macabre.  

Salem starts decorating for Halloween in early fall.  By October 1st, you'll see Halloween decorations everywhere you look.  Even better, all the Halloween special attractions, shows, and and things to do are open, and continue welcoming guests all month.

Although visiting Salem makes a fascinating day trip from Boston at any time of the year, going in October gives you the perfect opportunity to experience this quaint coastal city's darker past along with plenty of present-day fun.

Getting to Salem from Boston for a day trip or weekend adventure is easy, especially if you hop on the fast ferry from Boston's Long Wharf.

Once you arrive in Salem, you'll notice that everyone is wearing colorful costumes, wigs, and fanciful (or macabre) make-up - so make sure you wear yours!

Salem Halloween Haunted Happenings Marketplace, Tours, & Parade 2023

Haunted Happenings Grand Parade  

Haunted Happenings Grand Parade in Salem MA for Halloween

The annual Haunted Happenings Grand Parade kicks off the festivities for Halloween in Salem in early October with music, pageantry, and floats.  The event, all performances, floats, vehicles, and displays will be stationary while attendees parade around the route, which includes the streets surrounding Salem Common and along Hawthorne Boulevard and Essex, Central, and Charter Streets.

Haunted Happenings Parade Route: Map courtesy of Salem Chamber of Commerce
Haunted Happenings Parade Route: Map courtesy of Salem Chamber of Commerce

Come and stroll by this fun and (maybe) haunted spectacle - and be sure to wear your Halloween best!

The Parade normally takes place on the first Thursday evening of the month - but check the Boston Event Calendar for October to confirm the exact date and time.

Haunted Happenings Marketplace

Haunted Happenings Marketplace in Salem MA for Halloween
Haunted Happenings Marketplace in Salem MA

The annual Haunted Happenings Grand Parade kicks off the festivities for Halloween in Salem in early October with music, pageantry, and costumed students from Salem schools marching from Shetland Park to Salem Common. 

Come and watch - and be sure to wear your Halloween best.

The Parade usually takes place on the first Thursday evening of the month - but check the Boston Event Calendar for October for the exact date and time.

Haunted Salem Witch City Tours - Plus House of the Seven Gables

Guides in colonial costumes Salem MA
Costumed guides in Salem MA

Spend the day soaking up witch trial history on this 7-hour Witch City Tour to Salem from Boston, which also includes a stop in beautiful coastal Marblehead. 

You can visit the Salem Witch Museum (or one of the other museums) and learn about witchcraft and the historical reasons behind the witch trials in Salem, Boston, and other areas. 

You'll also get to see Nathaniel Hawthorne's House of the Seven Gables, stop for lunch at Pickering Wharf, and explore more of Salem.  This seasonal tour takes place from June to October, and provides an easy, fascinating way to visit Salem.

Book your Salem Witch City Tour now

More Halloween Events & Things to Do in Salem

More halloween events in Salem MA

Throughout the month of October, numerous Halloween-related events such as pumpkin decorating, seances, haunted tours, and even a pet costume contest take place. 

Many of these events are free while others charge admission fees.  

Some events for Halloween in Salem are expertly done, while you'll cringe at how cheesy others are - but hey, it's all in good fun! 

Salem Witch Museums: Which Ones Should YOu Visit on Halloween?

Witch museums abound in Salem.  Once October arrives, they ramp up for Halloween with extra decorations, special effects, and blood-curdling screams. 

Here's a quick guide to several top witch museums and ghoulish attractions.  As you'll quickly discover, most focus more on chills and thrills rather than historical facts - so go expecting to maybe learn a couple of things but mostly just have fun.

Salem Witch Museum

Salem Witch Museum in Salem MA

Located in an authentic old gothic church worthy of inclusion in any horror movie, the Salem Witch Museum is the oldest of the witch museums and claims to be the most visited.  You'll see animated mannequins reenact the sad drama leading up to the Salem witch trials and executions, plus exhibits featuring present-day ideas about witchcraft. 

Adult admission - $12, or free with a Go Boston card

Location:  19 1/2 Washington Square North

The Go Boston card also gives you free admission to other top Salem destinations - Peabody Essex Museum and House of the Seven Gables - plus you get to skip most lines

Salem Witch Village

Salem Witch Village in Salem MA

Get ready for a guided tour of witchcraft through the centuries as you make your way through a "maze" of sets complete with mannequins, painted backdrops, and lights. 

The tour guides' narrative focuses on what's a witch, and what isn't, with lots of detail about present-day wiccans.  You'll also learn a bit about about Salem in 1692.  Aside from the rather creepy fake spiders dangling in corners, Salem Witch Village normally focuses on delivering information rather than fright.

But on October weekends, the emphasis shifts to Halloween as Salem Witch Village becomes Haunted Witch Village where ghouls and goblins do their best to scare the visitors.

Location:  282 Derby Street

More ways to explore the darker side of Salem:

Salem Wax Museum and Frankenstein's Laboratory

Salem Wax Museum

If you're a fan of wax museums, you'll probably enjoy the London-made figures in the Salem Wax Museum depicting local history from Salem's founding in 1626 through the witch hysteria of 1692. 

As a bonus, the museum also features other locals - Scarlet Letter author Nathaniel Hawthorne, bands of pirates, and more. 

Down in the dungeon - that is, the basement - you'll visit Frankenstein's Laboratory . . . if you can make your way through a maze, past grave robbers, and avoid the bats.

Location:  288 Derby Street

More Ways to Explore the Dark Side of Salem

4 Ways to Get to Salem from Boston

Insider Tips:  More About Halloween in Salem

  • When:  October.  Biggest revelry is on Halloween - October 31 and on the Saturday night before Halloween
  • Where:  Historic Downtown Salem
  • Tickets to witch museums:   Most charge around $10 or less.  If you are a AAA or CAA member, show your card and ask about discounts.  Free admission to Salem Witch Museum, House of Seven Gables, and Peabody Essex Museum with a Go Boston card
  • Hotels:  As soon as you know your dates, make reservations as Salem hotels book up very early for the month of October.  Check out Salem hotels
  • Easiest ways to see Salem:  Join a Salem Tour from Boston, and arrive in style on a comfortable tour bus; alternately, take the commuter rail from Boston, or hop on the Boston-to-Salem ferry
  • Check dates and times:  You'll find most Salem Halloween events listed in an online guide:  https://hauntedhappenings.org
  • Prefer to stay in Boston?  Find out about Boston's fun and scary Halloween events. 

What Caused the Salem Witch Trials?

Salem MA gravestone - witch trials

Salem's obsession with the supernatural started back in 1692, when two local girls accused their neighbors of being witches and the town exploded with hysteria.

Over the next 15 months, the Salem witchcraft trials left 20 people and 2 dogs - believed to possess "the evil eye" - dead, and hundreds more imprisoned. 

Although the persecution of witches died down as soon as it started and became regarded as shameful over the next couple of centuries, Salem has been promoting itself as "Witch City" for well over 100 years.

Today, Salem is home to an active Wiccan community - and the center of a festival throughout October celebrating its haunted past. 

Want to Spend More Time in Salem?

Check out our recommendations for Salem hotels, and use this Salem hotel map to find other great deals (enter your travel dates to get accurate rates)


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