The History of Halloween in Salem
Due to COVID-19, if you are considering a visit to Salem this October and you do not have lodging booked or tickets or reservations purchased in advance, the City of Salem recommends that you postpone your visit until 2021. Special events planned for Salem Haunted Happening have been canceled due to the pandemic and all venues are working with limited occupancy and public health guidelines. Thanks for your help as we work to keep everyone healthy and safe. We would love to see you another time.
Whether you are planning a visit to Salem this October or you are already here, you may be curious about why Salem is so synonymous with Halloween.
Salem’s connection to Halloween begins with the tragic events that unfolded during the Salem Witch Trials. The 19 innocent victims who lost their lives in 1692 were not witches, they were only so accused due to Puritan beliefs of the time. The Salem Witch Trials were later revived with Arthur Miller’s 1953 work, The Crucible, and again in 1992 during the tercentenary of the events and the unveiling of the Salem Witch Trials Memorial.
By 1982, the City has planned the first Salem Haunted Happenings Festival during Halloween weekend. The festival was an effort to provide family-friendly events for guests who were interested in visiting the “Witch City.” Following the first festival’s success with about 50,000 guests in attendance, the annual event has continued to grow each season, drawing everyone from families, couples, history buffs, and Halloween enthusiasts from all over the world.
Today, members of the modern Pagan and Witch communities have a home in Salem, where Samhain is celebrated each October recognizing the end of the harvest season and the coming of winter. The City’s modern witches have the unique opportunity of being able to share their beliefs and celebrations with both locals and out of town guests who come to celebrate the Halloween season in Salem.
Since 1982, Salem Haunted Happenings has evolved into a month-long celebration encompassing everything from family-friendly magic shows, to costume balls, psychic readings, haunted harbor cruises, ghost tours, and more. Whether you come to Salem seeking history, spooks, shopping, live music, or even a vibrant food and “spirits” scene, you are sure to find your own adventure this October at our Halloween Capital of the World.