knitted bears

5 Best Indie Holiday Craft Fairs

Unique gifts can be found at craft fairs. To avoid kitsch, attend an indie craft fair this holiday season. Support local artisans, feel good about giving gifts from the heart, and have fun shopping!

What is Indie Craft?

The indie craft movement began online in 2006. According to Crafty Superstar, it is “… the visual contradiction of combining granny craft techniques with punk sensibilities.” Traditional craft skills blend with modern, unconventional style and materials to blur the lines between art and craft. Indie craft holiday fairs feature items that combine contemporary art with traditional craft techniques.

San Francisco Etsy Indie Holiday Emporium 2017

November 25-26, 2017 @  Pier 35, San Francisco

Etsy is the online marketplace for handmade items and vintage goods. It can be overwhelming browsing crafters on the internet. Etsy local events allow you to “shop in your backyard” and support local indie crafters. The San Francisco Etsy Indie Holiday Emporium is held at Pier 35 in the Embarcadero. The SF Etsy team has curated over 200 local artisans for the event. There will be small batch food sellers. Admission is free. Some of the featured vendors are Birch & Brush wooden bowls, Rocky Body Leather laser cut bracelets, and POPup foldOUTs‘ intricate paper cut art. This is the fifth year of the SF Etsy Indie Holiday Emporium.

Urban Craft Uprising Winter Show

December 2-3, 2017 @ Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, Seattle

Seattle’s Urban Craft Uprising helps vendors turn their hobbies into full-time careers. The winter show features over 150 curated and juried makers. 16,000-holiday shoppers attend the event looking for “unique, high quality, hand-crafted alternative to ‘big box’ stores and mass produced goods”. It is the largest indie craft fair in the Pacific Northwest. Olander Earthworks, Kind Apparel, and Moo-Young are just a few of the extraordinary crafters exhibiting at this event. Admission is free.

Chicago Holiday Renegade Craft Fair

December 2-3, 2017 @ Bridgeport Art Center, Chicago

Over 250 indie craft makers will vend at the Chicago Holiday Renegade Craft Fair. Renegade Craft Fairs are the “world’s largest curated showcase of independent craft and design.” Chicago is the home city of the first Renegade Craft Fair. RCF has now spread to 12 different major cities including London, San Francisco, and Denver. The “vibe” of the fairs is:

Equal parts entrepreneual incubator and community gathering space, it all culminates in a lively celebration of contemporary craft and design culture. Our Fairs feature hundreds of makers, interactive elements, inspired locales, artisanal food and libations, great music, and good times.

The Chicago RCF includes DIY workshops in addition to modern indie crafts. From jewelry to apothecary, unique creativity abounds. Indie crafters such as Grayling Ceramics, Peoples Garment Company, and Ply are sure to make holiday shopping easy.

Crafty Supermarket

December 2, 2017 @ Music Hall Ballroom, Cincinnati

Featuring local Ohio makers, the Crafty Supermarket expects 6000 shoppers to attend their holiday market. Local food and demo tables are just a few highlights of this popular event. This juried show is best attended at the beginning or end of the day to avoid large crowds. The Crafty Supermarket Holiday Show is the high point of holiday shopping in the Midwest. One-of-a-kind gifts can be found from makers like Paper Acorn, VintageLiz Leather, and Circle Circle Jewelry,

Indie Craft Experience Holiday Market

December 10, 2017 @ Yaarab Temple, Atlanta

Indie Craft Experience (ICE) Holiday Market is an intimate shopping experience. More than 50 craft and vintage vendors will be on hand while DJ Zano spins the tunes. ICE thinks it’s important to support local artisans. Part of their mission is to educate consumers about how buying crafts is impactful.

Guys. To be abundantly clear: we want for you to buy handcrafted gifts this holiday season. We think it’s really important. Imagine your hard earned 💵 going directly to a super talented person who works really hard. Way better than sending it off to a chain of middle men and a big box store.

The first 100 shoppers get free swag bags. Admission is $5. Big C CopperEmNyx Metal Studio, and Hollerbach & Tompkins are amongst the exceptional makers on hand.

Indie Holiday Craft Fair 2017 Dates

  1. San Francisco Etsy Indie Holiday Emporium-San Francisco, CA; Nov. 25-26
  2. Urban Craft Uprising Winter Show-Seattle, WA; Dec. 2-3
  3. Chicago Holiday Renegade Craft Fair-Chicago, IL; Dec. 2-3
  4. Crafty Supermarket-Cincinnati, OH; Dec. 2
  5. Indie Craft Experience Holiday Market– Atlanta, GA, Dec. 10
christmas tree lights

Macy’s Christmas Light Show, a Philadelphia Holiday Tradition

If you’re anywhere in the Philadelphia region between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, there’s a holiday tradition in Center City at the historic Wanamaker Building, occupied by Macy’s, that’s a must-see. The Macy’s Christmas Light Show has delighted young and old since 1956, and it’s completely free.

The Light Show

In the Grand Court of Macy’s, a four-story high light board twinkles with over 100,000 LED bulbs, surrounding the 40-foot Macy’s Magic Christmas Tree. Julie Andrews narrates the stories of The Nutcracker, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and more accompanied by music at the beginning and end of the show from the Wanamaker Grand Organ. It’s difficult to take your eyes off the show when it’s on, but if you can look around for just a moment and catch a young child wide-eyed with awe, it’s worth missing a scene or two.

Visitors can stand or sit on the floor of the Grand Court to look up to see the show that runs about 12  minutes. They can also head up to the second or third floor and grab a spot along the railing overlooking the Grand Court. In fact, the railings directly across from the Light Show on the second and third floors are some of the most coveted viewing locations.

The Wanamaker Grand Organ

Built for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, the Wanamaker Grand Organ was transported to Philadelphia and installed when the building was built. It’s now a National Historic Landmark. The organ is played regularly Monday through Saturday throughout the year. If you can catch a noon performance of the Light Show on those days, you’ll be able to hear the opening and grand finale played live by an organist. At most other times, the organ music is recorded.

On Saturday, December 9 only, Macy’s will hold its annual Christmas in the Grand Tradition Concert in the Grand Court. The concert features Peter Richard Conte on the organ with flugelhornist Andrew Ennis and singer Jillian Patricia Pirtle. The concert is free, and the 8pm showing of the Light Show follows.

Meet me at the eagle

A large statue of a bronze eagle, also created originally for the St. Louis World’s Fair, sits in the center  of the Grand Court and can’t be missed. For over 100 years, it’s been the meeting place for people who want to find each other in the building. It’s tradition to say to others that you’re meeting for The Light Show, “Meet me at the eagle.” It’s also tradition to take your photo in front of the eagle before or after the Light Show.

What to do next

The Light Show, grand as it is, lasts only about 12 minutes, but that doesn’t mean the holiday experience needs to be over. Head up to Macy’s third floor or out of the Wanamaker Building for other Philadelphia holiday events.

  • Dickens Village: On the third floor of Macy’s is a free, 600 square foot walk-through “A Christmas Carol.” Wander through various scenes from the classic holiday story, reading aloud passages as you go.
  • Visit Santa: Also on the third floor of Macy’s is a Victorian Santa, who hears the Christmas List of those who sit on his lap. He is always up for taking photos that can be purchased on site. Santa’s  last day at Macy’s is Christmas Eve.
  • Reading Terminal Market Holiday Trains: An interactive, 500-square-foot model railroad display has 17 working train line and a little more than one-third of a mile of track. The free train display is in Reading Terminal, just a couple of blocks from Macy’s.
  • Comcast Holiday Spectacular: One of the world’s largest highest resolution LED displays is at the Comcast Center, a short walk from Macy’s. During the holidays, it presents a free, 15-minute video performance featuring dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet and a magical sleigh soaring through Philadelphia’s skyline.

Where to eat

Center City Philadelphia has no shortage of great casual and fine dining locations, but here are two that seem particularly suited to a day of holiday activities.

  • Reading Terminal Market: Just a couple easily walkable blocks away from Macy’s is the famous public market with over 80 vendors and a wide variety of restaurants and food counters under one roof. You can get a Philly Cheesesteak, a DiNic’s Roast Pork Sandwich (which the Travel Channel says is the best sandwich in the country), seafood, burgers, Amish baked goods, Po Boys, ice cream and more. (12th and Arch Streets)
  • Magiano’s Little Italy: This upscale Italian chain restaurant is a perfect place for a family lunch or dinner after walking the chilly streets of Philadelphia. You can order individual dishes or order a family-style dinner. (1201 Filbert Street)

Locations, dates and times

  • Macy’s Christmas Light Show: Top of every even hour from open to close. November 25-December 31. 1300 Market Street.
  • Macy’s Dickens Village: Continual during stores hours. November 25-December 31. 1300 Market Street.
  • Macy’s Visit Santa: Continual during stores hours. November 25-December 24. 1300 Market Street.
  • Reading Terminal Market Holiday Trains: Continual during market hours. November 24-December 31. 12th & Arch Streets.
  • Comcast Holiday Spectacular: Daily, at the top of the hour, 10 am-8 pm (except 5pm on weekdays). November 23-January 1. 17th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
macy thanksgiving day parade

16 Surprising Facts About Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

On November 23, Macy’s will hold its annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. You probably know it as the loud, bright, slick event broadcast on TV before dinner is served and football starts. But the parade’s history is a pretty interesting walk through American history. An annual tradition since 1924, each year it gets a little splashier. The 2017 line-up will feature 25 giant character balloons, numerous floats, and more than 1,000 cheerleaders, dancers, and clowns and tons of people cheering in the streets. So hold on to your balloon strings, here at 16 weird, highly amusing, and fun facts about this only-in-America spectacle.

Four new balloons will debut this year.

New characters being added to the lineup include Olaf from Disney’s “Frozen,” a new version of the Grinch (he’ll be a “ballonicle,” or balloon that’s attached to and moved by a vehicle), and characters from “Super Wings” and “Paw Patrol.”

Balloons are inflated the night before the parade.

During the afternoon and evening before the parade, the balloons are inflated near the American Museum of Natural History just off Central Park West. The chore has become a spectator event, with people lining the streets and restaurants to watch the entertainment.

No seats or tickets are sold.

There are no designated seating areas for the parade, and no tickets are sold for it, making this a free event. (The bleachers you see on TV are for Macy’s employees.) To get a good viewing spot from the sidewalks, many spectators arrive by 6:30 a.m.

Some floats require as many as 90 handlers.

Hello Kitty looks sweet as candy, but she’s as tall as a 3-story building. It takes 90 handlers pulling her ropes to walk her through the parade.

In the early 2000s, Macy’s added a contemporary twist to the parade.

The retailer worked with artist Jeff Koons to feature funky balloons by contemporary artists such as himself, Takashi Murakami, and Keith Haring; the floats are now known as the Blue Sky Gallery.

Marching bands face stiff competition to get in.

Approximately 300 bands apply to appear in the parade each year, but just 12 are selected, making it quite a point of pride to be chosen.

Goodyear used to make the balloons.

For nearly six decades, Macy’s partnered with rubber company Goodyear to design and make all of its balloons. But in 1984, Macy’s took the job in-house. The Superman balloon – one of the last made by Goodyear – was also one of the longest at 100 feet.

In 1971, there were no balloons.

A torrential downpour grounded all of the inflatables for the first time ever. NBC aired clips from the previous year spliced in with the live feed.

President Kennedy was shot and killed just four days before the parade.

Macy’s grappled with canceling the event in 1963, but apparently the Kennedy family called to insist that the show must go on.

A nationwide shortage of helium once caused the parade to be held up, literally.

In 1958, the U.S. government asked Macy’s to forgo using helium due to a severe shortage of the gas. (It’s also used by scientists.) Macy’s agreed, but planners didn’t let that stop the parade – they used cranes instead to hold up balloons, which were inflated with air.

The parade was canceled during World War II.

The helium shortage wasn’t the only time Uncle Sam came calling. In 1942, the parade came to a stop when World War II broke out and rubber from the balloons was donated to the war effort. It didn’t start up again until 1945, after War’s End.

Bounty hunters once vied for balloons after the parade.

For the first few years of the parade, Macy’s had no plan for deflating balloons; they were simply released at the end of the route. From 1929 to 1932, the company attached tags that offered $25 gift cards to anyone who returned them. The crowd went crazy: Bounty hunters shot them down; two aviators caught balloons them mid-air. But when a 60-foot tiger balloon landed on a house on Long Island, a vicious tug of war erupted before the animal was shredded into pieces. The next year, parade officials corralled balloons themselves.

The first parade was thought up by employees.

It was 1924 when a group of Macy’s workers first asked the retailer to put on a parade about giving thanks and in celebration of the forthcoming Christmas season. “Many in the group [were] first-generation immigrants wanting to show pride in the new place their families [called] home,” explains Macy’s website.

In 1928, some balloon handlers floated off the ground, too.

Helium was used for the first time in 1927 to keep balloons afloat. But getting the technicalities right was still a work in progress. As a result, the following year, some balloon handlers were lifted 10 feet off the ground, and stayed that way for the length of the parade.

Each balloon fits into a 12-by-8-foot box, and takes just 15 minutes to deflate.

Because the parade’s floats and balloons have to be stored at a warehouse (an old Tootsie Roll factory) in New Jersey, the balloons come apart in sections and then are folded up, placed in boxes, and shuttled across the Hudson River to wait for their next appearances.

Snoopy has appeared more times as a balloon than any other character in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Charlie Brown’s famous canine pal first appeared in the 1968 parade. Since then, seven balloons have been made in his likeness, and Snoopy has appeared 40 times in the famous parade.


Creative Spark

Creative Spark Winter Market for Handmade Holiday Gifts


With Black Friday coming up, you may be preparing to “shop until you drop,” getting the perfect gift for every single person on your list. But have you considered something a bit more… unique. The Creative Spark Winter Market is December 2nd and it features 34 artists showcasing their unique handmade items. It’s a great way to support your local community. Admission can be a modest monetary donation or a non-perishable food item for those in need. Make sure you don’t miss the Royal City Ukulele Ensemble who will be performing.


Nerdtino, the First Laxtinx East Coast Comic Book Convention, Debuts in Philly

What began as a social media group has blossomed into a full celebration of Meso-American geek culture with the launch of the Nerdtino Expo.  Taking place Saturday, November 18, at Taller Puertorriqueño’s El Corazón Cultural Center – with the added convenience of El Guaco Loco taco truck on-site –  Thomas E. Delfi, executive director and founder, has a geek-tastic day planned. Here are just a few of the highlights:

(Photo by William Alatriste, provided to El Diario)

Café Con Comics: Boricuas in the Comic Book Industry – Program Room A, 12pm Host: Edgardo Miranda Rodriguez, creator of La Borinqueña

The latest stop on his nation-wide book tour, Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez will discuss the creative journey of creating La Borinqueña and the deeper history of Puerto Ricans in the Comic Book Industry. He recently curated Arte de La Borinqueña at the Casita Maria Center For Arts & Education, which is on view through January 6, 2018. Proceeds from the exhibition will go directly towards the Hurricane Irma recovery effort in Loíza, Puerto Rico.

Brujos Screening – Program Room B, 1pm Host: Writer & Director Ricardo Gamboa

‘Brujos’ still courtesy of Ricardo Gamboa

Brujos is a dynamic web-series that blends Latin American soap operas, American sitcoms, and critical theory as it follows 4 gay Latino grad students—that are also witches—as they navigate magic, nightlife, intimacy, and final papers while trying to survive a witch-hunt.


Comic Book Writing Workshop – Program Room A, 2pm
Hosts: Mighty Writers El Futuro, writer Carlos José Pérez Sámano

Join in on Part 1 of our Comic Book Workshop Series, a 101 on the writing process where you will have a chance to design your own stories and bring them to life! Bring a notebook and writing tools, some materials available!

CosFight Stage Fighting Demo –Courtyard, 3pm Host: CosFight

Join professional actor and stuntman Tico Flores and fencing coach Moses Sistrunk Jr. for CosFight! The Cosfight Star Wars themed panel teaches stage combat, stunt and fight choreography. You’ll learn how to put together a Lightsaber fight sequence by doing. You’ll also learn about some of the tricks and secrets used to stage fight scenes!

Pixar’s Coco Screening – 4pm Host: Cartoonist & Creative Consultant Lalo Alcaraz

Turn down the lights and sneak in a snack for a screening of exclusive footage from Pixar’s Coco!


Diversity & Representation in Geek Media – Program Room A, 4pm Hosts: Allegriana, Cosplay & Fantasy Model, Author Sabrina Vourvoulias, Ink & Latin@ Rising

Photo via @allegriana

We’ve come a long way, but where are we exactly? Join cosplay model Allegriana and author Sabrina Vourvoulias in a discussion about representation in geek culture, as performers, fans, and creators.

Tickets to Nerdtino are $25 at the door. Student rate is $20, and children 12 and under are free with paying adult. Sponsors and friends include Esperanza College, Amalgam ComicsTaller Puertorriqueño, Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.



vintage antiques

The Delaware Antiques Show Is a Collector’s Paradise (but Newbs Are Welcome, Too)

For more than 50 years, the Delaware Antiques Show has brought fabulous functional and decorative arts objects to its curious attendees. Begun in 1963 as a fundraiser for a local hospital, the show has grown into one of the most acclaimed antiques gatherings in the country.

Today, it’s held at the Winterthur Museum, located in Wilmington and focused on early American decorative and applied arts, and proceeds benefit the institutions educational programs. From November 10–12, sixty distinguished dealers will offer some of the finest American antiques and decorative arts, including furniture, paintings, rugs, ceramics, silver, jewelry, and more. Though this show is relatively small, it is mighty – savvy collectors come here to seek out favored dealers and unique treasures they won’t find anywhere else.

If you’re not a diehard collector, don’t fret. The show is still fun to attend, and although the antiques dealers here are truly passionate, a big part of the show is focused on education. A wide variety of objects from public and private collections are on loan every year, creating a gallery-like exhibit space that has included everything from spice cabinets to weathervanes. This year’s exhibit, on loan from the Biggs Museum, features fine and decorative art objects of Mid-Atlantic regional significance from 1700 till the present day. Guest lectures are also part of the program, and the 2017 keynote will be delivered by award-winning architect Gil Schafer III, whose new book, A Place to Call Home, hit the shelves this fall.

If you’re new to collecting – or just curious about historical artifacts – seek out the “Find!” signs that dot various booths. These highlight objects of special interest; allow them to spark conversation with the dealers standing by. Most dealers love to talk shop about their wares and are excited to chat about collecting and their own passions.

Collecting should be fun, not intimidating. Many antiques shows openly welcome newbies, and the Delaware Antiques Show is no exception. Their down-to-earth guide, Tips for New Collectors, offers excellent advice for acclimating to the scene. The first pointer most experts propose? Collect what you enjoy. Whether that’s sailors’ Valentines or ball-and-claw chairs, look around, fall in love, and bring a new treasure home. A big added bonus? The State of Delaware has no sales tax, which should infuse your purchasing with all the more pleasure.


Photo by Klim Levene and Creative Commons.
Photo by Klim Levene and Creative Commons.

Loi Krathong, Thailand’s Festival of Lights

If ever there was a magical-looking festival, Loi Krathong in Thailand is it. A celebration to celebrate the release of any grievances from the past, the holiday, sometimes also called the Festival of Lights, is an enchanting event. Held annually across the country (this year on November 3), the festival’s origins are somewhat obscure, but the primary origin story calls it an homage to the country’s many rivers and goddess of water, which run like veins through the land.

Today, the holiday marks a ritual of absolution, a time to say goodbye to any misfortunes of the past year, and hope for upcoming luck. Participants create small boats – float-like structures made from banana tree trunks, bread, or sometimes Styrofoam – then make a wish and set them free, with a lit candle and incense upon their back. Celebrants often place locks of hair, nail clippings, or even bits of old clothes on the “boats” as a symbol of sending off the past. If the boat floats off out of sight, it’s a sign of good things to come.

Photo by John Shedrick and Creative Commons.

Made in the shape of lotus flowers, the krathong, or boats, represent symbols of Buddhism, Thailand’s primary religion. The candle represents knowledge and wisdom, the incense is purity, and the flowers stands for praying monks.

Regardless of religious affiliation, though, anyone is invited to participate, and visitors can join local revelers at various rivers and ponds and other waterways. Hotels also offer rituals, too, often right in the pools on their properties. In addition to Bangkok, the island of Sukhothai holds a massive celebration. In Chiang Mai, and across northern Thailand, Loi Krathong, which is held all over the country, coincides with the lantern festival called Yi Peng, where thousands of floating lanterns are released into the sky.

Each year, Loi Krathong is held on the night of the full moon during the twelfth lunar month (usually November by the Western calendar), at the end of the rainy season and the rice harvest. With its thousands of floating, flickering candles, dancers, and flowers everywhere, it’s a mesmerizing sight.

Photo by Klim Levene and Creative Commons.

Photo by Klim Levene and Creative Commons.


Day of the Dead

A Festive Remembrance of Departed Souls: Day of the Dead

Originating in Mexico, Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a mix of religious and cultural elements: indigenous Aztec (the festival for Mictecacihuatl, The Lady of The Dead) and Catholic (Spanish conquistadors, All saints and All Souls Day). Preparations begin October 31st, and from November first through the second, the dearly departed are honored in festive and symbolic ways.


Altars are a focal point, whether in the home or at the cemetery. Decorations – or “ofrendas” (offerings) – include sugar skulls, flowers, and candles. The ofrendas also feature favorite objects of the honoree like musical instruments, food and beverages, clothing, and books.

Families also spend hours in cemeteries tending the graves of the deceased. Weeds are pulled, grass is cut, and ofrendas – especially marigolds, which are thought to attract the souls of the deceased – are arranged. Prayers, remembrances, and laughter, accompany picnics of calabaza en tacha (candied pumpkin), tamales, and pan de muerto (a sweet bun-shaped roll with a sugar topping).

Some of the most recognizable images from Día de los Muertos are calacas (skeletons) and calaveras (skulls). These sassy bones are often living the whimsical life – hanging out with their cat, talking on their smartphone, performing as rock musicians, or drinking beer. Whether purchased in figurine, chocolate, wrestler, oilclothcandle holdersugar skull, or balloon form, these icons have a growing place in the mainstream North American consciousness.

An Artful Fiesta

Leading up to the holiday, we checked in with Veronica Olivares-Weber, art teacher, community organizer, and Guadalajara native, on her preparations for the annual Arts Council of Princeton Día de los Muertos celebration. When prepping for the festivities, it’s all hands on deck, including Veronica’s husband Oscar, along with their daughters, Valeria and Kyara.

JC: How elaborate are your plans prior to the big fiesta?

Veronica: We start the planning of activities and events months in advance. The actual preparations, and implementation of the planning stage, start three to four weeks in advance. With the support of the Arts Council of Princeton, the help of Princeton High School student volunteers, and community members, we work on the arts and crafts, make the sugar skulls, and create the decorations needed. We also work on the altar, which is the most important part of the celebrations. We make it all from scratch. I also start contacting and securing food vendors, the mariachi band, other participants, and the dancers (whenever they are available). While it is long, it is actually a fun process. I would like to thank the Princeton Shopping Center for sponsoring this event for many years now and for providing a unique venue for the celebrations.

JC: What has it meant to you, as young Mexican-American women, to be such a big part of the preparations?

Valeria and Kyara: Being a part of the preparations has allowed us to connect and learn about one of the most important parts of our heritage. It has been very important to us, especially due to the fact that we do live in a predominantly white town. It has also meant we can share our culture and traditions with our community, which is something that has always been important not only to us, but to our family.  The interesting thing about Day of the Dead, is it is not a religious celebration, but instead, a celebration of life and death. A celebration consisting of colorful music, flowers, altars, food, and families. Our ancestors believed in welcoming death, and celebrating the life of those who have passed onto a better life. Something that we also really love about Day of the Dead is the fact there is the central figure of “La Catrina,” otherwise known as the “Lady of the Dead.” Being a part of the organization of the celebration has been an amazing experience for both of us, as well as our family.

Let’s Celebrate

Día de los Muertos in Princeton, NJ takes place Saturday, November 4, 3-5pm, Princeton Shopping Center, 301 N Harrison St. The event is free of charge and family-friendly. Enjoy strolling mariachis, decorate sugar skulls, get your face painted, and snack on food from Surf Taco.

This year, the Arts Council will introduce a Catrina/Catrin Contest. Work your best version of José Guadalupe Posada’s iconic “La Calavera Catrina” and you might win a prize.

From Alabama to Wisconsin, there’s bound to be a celebration in your state – click here for listings of other Día de los Muertos celebrations throughout the U.S.







haunted house

Stupid Scary Haunted Houses From Coast To Coast

When my seven-year-old son asked me to take him to a haunted house attraction along the boardwalk in Santa Cruz while we were on vacation, I happily obliged. That was stupid. It wasn’t even *that* scary, but 1) I hate horror movies, haunted houses, and being freaky scared and 2) who even takes a seven-year old into a house of horrors? Bad decisions, Mommy. Bad. Decisions. Which further begs the question of why I would pitch this story, when researching it would mean I’d have to find the goriest, most heart-stopping, anxiety-inducing haunted houses that exist in this free country of ours? It’s not like the Internet doesn’t have pictures of these places posted on its pages, you know. And you can’t un-see that stuff. Anyway, if you’re the kind of person who likes that sort of thing, here you go. I guess I’ve obliged the horror-seeking once again. Whoops.

Dent Schoolhouse, Cincinatti

Charlie the janitor was not a nice guy. Legend has it he killed the children who taunted him. Now, his spirit haunts the Dent Schoolhouse, where his crazy, creepy. clown friends and other tortured teachers roam the hallways, too. This house of horrors is located in an actual school built in 1894, so the lunch room and gym are appropriately grim, but it’s the basement and boiler room – Charlie’s personal domain and gore factory – that will really get you screaming.

Haunted Hoochie, Pataskala, Ohio

The Haunted Hoochie at Dead Acres bills itself as a “full sensory assault,” so you can expect to be literally grabbed by the throat and fully terrified. Actors, not animatronics, do the shoving and chainsawing here. According to one review, “I got a little blood on me,” is a common comment during the tour.

The Mortuary, New Orleans

This self-guided haunted house takes visitors through a huge, historic, New Orleans mansion that was actually an operating mortuary for 80 years. Surrounded by real cemeteries, The Mortuary is a heart-stoppingly scary setting for the deranged mortician, vampires, witches, zombies, skeletons, and other ghoulish creatures waiting to accost you inside. Whatever irrational fears your head may harbor, this haunted mansion will bring to life. Oh, and there will be live snakes, bats, rats, cockroaches, and spiders. Also ghosts – the place is said to be crawling with paranormal activity.

Terror Behind the Walls, Philadelphia

This event is so freaky, it already earned its own article on this blog, but no respectable list of terror factories would be complete without it, so I’m mentioning it again. Terror Behind the Walls takes place in an actual abandoned prison that is, of course, said to be haunted. The hidden passages and cell blocks you’ll find yourself stuck in aren’t decorated to look decrepit and creepy, though – that’s the actual interior of the rundown, Eastern State Penitentiary. It’s a massive and intimidating. gothic complex. Better pull yourself together, though, if you’re going to survive the zombie riots, jailbreaks, infirmary experiments, and general carnage going on inside.

McKamey Manor, Nashville and Huntsville, Alabama

The mother of all haunted houses, Makamey Manor, is a truly terrifying, full-immersion experience. Twenty-one and older only, please, plus a 40-page waiver, proof of health insurance, a note from your doctor (not kidding), and a background check are all required before you step inside. Once you do, expect extreme physical contact, as well as lots and lots of blood. You may be dragged, dropped, shoved, gagged, or bonded. Side effects include immense anxiety and wanting to go home. The event used to be a five-hour tour you could do with friends, but owner Russ McKamey has upped the stakes. Depending on how well you do, we’re talking 10 hours or more of barely legal fun.

Stupid Scary Haunted House Locations

  1. Dent Schoolhouse -Cincinnati, OH
  2. Haunted Hoochie -Pataskala, OH
  3. The Mortuary -New Orleans, LA
  4. Terror Behind the Walls -Philadelphia, PA
  5. McKamey Manor -Nashville and Huntsville, AL