As one of the oldest cities in America, it is no surprise that Philadelphia has creepy and reportedly haunted historical locations. Combined with numerous family-friendly festivals and terrifying events, the city is the ideal destination for a hair-raising Halloween break this October.
Alongside an abandoned prison and the World Heritage City’s many historical buildings and museums, Philadelphia is also home to some of the biggest and most terrifying haunted house events in the USA, including ‘Terror Behind The Walls’ at the sinister Eastern State Penitentiary. For those looking to celebrate Halloween with a wizarding twist, the neighbourhood of Chestnut Hill will also be hosting the annual Harry Potter Festival for two days from 20 October 2017.
‘Terror Behind The Walls’ at Eastern State Penitentiary
Located in in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, Eastern State Penitentiary was once one of the most famous and expensive prisons in the world with notable inmates including one of America’s most notorious gangsters, Al Capone. The allegedly haunted prison, which opened in 1829, was abandoned in 1971 and is now a National Historic landmark. Together with informational tours for the public, during Halloween, the eerie crumbling cellblocks also play host to the scariest haunted house event ‘Terror Behind The Walls’, a combination of five themed areas consisting of Hollywood-quality special effects and live actors. Not for the faint-hearted, this terrifying event is sure to get pulses racing. Tickets cost from approx. £15 ($19) per person, with half-price ticket rates available for children on Family Nights. For further information, visit www.easternstate.org/halloween.
Betsy Ross House
Built over 250 years ago and located in the city’s Historic District, Betsy Ross House provides travellers with the opportunity to step back in time to learn about Betsy Ross who is widely credited with sewing the first American flag. Restored and furnished with items that originally belonged to Betsy, her 18th century home opened to the public as a museum in 1898 and provides insight into a home of the period. For those on the hunt for unearthly activity, the building is also reportedly rich in paranormal activity, with visitors claiming to have spotted Betsy’s ghost weeping at the foot of her basement bed. Tickets cost from approx. £4 ($5) per adult and from approx. £3 ($4) per child. For more information, visit www.historicphiladelphia.org/betsy-ross-house/what-to-see/.
Harry Potter Festival in Chestnut Hill
From 20 October, Northwest Philadelphia’s charming neighbourhood of Chestnut Hill transforms into a world filled with wizards and witches for the annual Harry Potter Festival. Inspired by the much-loved fictional world created by J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter fans of all ages can explore the enchanting town of Hogsmeade and enjoy two days of spell-binding film screenings, sorting hat demonstrations, a scavenger hunt and even a Quidditch tournament. Muggles keen to arrive in style are invited to hop aboard the Hogwarts Express, which will make its way to the official Opening Ceremony after departing from Jefferson Station with Harry Potter, Hermione, Ron and Dumbledore look-alikes also on board to greet guests. For more information, visit www.chestnuthillpa.com.
Ghost Tour of The Haunted USS Olympia at the Independence Seaport Museum
From its very first voyage in 1895, the steel warship USS Olympia gained a reputation amongst sailors for being haunted and cursed and although now a maritime museum at the Independence Seaport Museum, at least 20 deaths have reportedly occurred on the ship through murder, accident or illness. Unsurprisingly, the naval ship is also a hotspot for paranormal activity, with visitors sometimes hearing the eerie voices of long-dead sailors echoing along the ship’s narrow passageways. Travellers eager to explore the ship’s creepy labyrinthine decks and possibly encounter unexplainable paranormal activity are encouraged to join The Ghost Tour, which will lead willing individuals though the spine-tingling nooks and crannies of the ship. Tickets cost from approx. £15 ($19) per person. For more information, visit www.ghosttour.net/hauntedphiladelphia.
Laurel Hill Cemetery
Founded in 1836, the Laurel Hill Cemetery is home to thousands of graves and exquisite monuments, marking the final resting place of notable burials such as Thomas McKean, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, along with around 40 Civil War generals and six Titanic passengers. Situated in a picturesque location overlooking the Schuylkill River, the cemetery was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1998, with only a few cemeteries in the nation receiving the honour. The fascinating cemetary is open to the public seven days a week, providing the perfect setting for a spooky walk among the shadows of the headstones and mausoleums. For more information, visit www.thelaurelhillcemetery.org.
For more information on Philadelphia, visit the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau’s website, www.discoverPHL.co.uk
About Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau
Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), www.discoverPHL.com, a private non-profit membership corporation, is the official Tourism Promotion Agency for the City of Philadelphia globally, and the primary sales and marketing agency for the expanded Pennsylvania Convention Centre. The PHLCVB competes with its counterparts worldwide for convention and tourism business. The organization has divisions dedicated to the multicultural, sports, and life sciences markets.