My favorite Halloween movie hands down is the 1993 film Hocus Pocus.
This Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker scary/silly fun fest depicts Salem, Massachusetts, as being over-the-top into Halloween, as the movie’s protagonist discovers when he moves here with his family from California. Since he is surfer-cool, he thinks the whole witches and conjuring thing is silly and attempts to prove it by…well, I won’t ruin it for you. However, the movie has always made me wonder if, in fact, Salem is really that witchy this time of year. Turns out it is.
Salem is, of course, famous for the Salem witch trials, which took place between 1692 and 1693. It was the deadliest witch hunt in this country’s history. It seems a questionable thing to capitalize on, but Salem has embraced its sad history and rounded out the tragedy with the fun and frivolity that is Halloween. Landmarks include the seventeenth century Witch House, Gallows Hill, the Witch Trials Memorial, both a wax and witch museum, and even a statue to the television show Bewitched. All year long these sites are open for tours, but beginning in October, things really get spooky—like courses on witchcraft, a psychic fair and witches’ market, Ouija board Wednesdays, a costume ball, a Haunted Happenings parade, and, yes, a Hocus Pocus high tea.
If it’s your first time visiting one of these quintessential New England towns—which Salem is—you won’t be disappointed. Tree-lined avenues with brick and cobblestone walkways, tall Victorian and Colonial houses, quaint leafy parks, and twinkling streetlights are the hallmarks of the nation’s oldest cities.