Travelling to places to visit sites or partake in events associated with death and the macabre has been carried out by tourists since the eleventh century - this has been given the title ‘dark tourism’.

So, what is it about places of death or calamity that attract flocks of tourists each year? Is it the holistic view that dark tourists visit these sites as a way of remembering a tragedy or to better educate themselves. Or is it that we simply like to be thrilled and entertained?

What ever the reason may be, what better time to throw yourself into dark tourism than Halloween? Here are a variety of destinations around the world where you can do just that.

Poveglia Island – Venetian Lagoon, Northern Italy

Poveglia Island is 1 of 118 islets surrounding the Venetian Lagoon. It has long been described as one of the most haunted places in the world, with many tales suggesting that the Venetians are too superstitious to take anyone there.  
Its history is unnerving, stories discuss Poveglia’s role as a quarantine island for victims of the plague and there are many rumours of doctors performing unsolicited experiments.

Venice had very strict sanction laws and those who were sick or even merely suspected, were rounded up and taken to the island. According to historical estimates, as many as 150,000 people died here and countless of those were buried on the island.  

In 2014, Mike Deere, a photographer from Reading paid a local fisherman a hefty price to take him to the island. The local agreed to do so, agreeing to transport him and pick him up. However, he refused to stay on the island whilst Mike captured his photographs. According to sources, Mike described his time on the island by saying, “Beyond the initial landing point, the natural decay has an unrivalled purity to it that I've never seen anywhere else. Although, I'm not going to forget the soil composition of the burning grounds in a hurry”.

Barriletes Gigantes Festival, Guatemala Barriletes Gigantes Festival, Guatemala

Barriletes Gigantes Festival – Guatemala

Barriletes Gigantes or ‘giant kites’ is an ancient festival which coincides with All Saints Day and is held on the first and second day of November each year. Enormous and beautifully vibrant kites soar high above into the blue skies of Guatemala.

Locals gather together in cemeteries and partake in this festival as a way of honouring the dead. The kites are decorated using traditional papel picado techniques, with messages attached to the tail. They are believed to warn away evil spirits, keeping them at bay - and they are also a way of communicating. The locals trust in the idea that the higher the kites fly the closer their messages are to reaching their loved ones in heaven.

The most spectacular highland villages to cast your eyes on this event are in the villages of Santiago Sacatepequez and Sumpango, around a 30-minute drive from Guatemala City.

Dia de los Muertos, Mexico Dia de los Muertos, Mexico

Dia de los Muertos – Oaxaca, Mexico

Dia de los Muertos or ‘Day of the Dead’ is an annual festival which celebrates those who have passed. It’s a joyful homage to generations of ancestors and developed from the belief that it is disrespectful to mourn the dead. This is because to the people of Mexico, death is considered a part of life’s rich tapestry.

The festival is a combination of Hispanic and indigenous culture and references this throughout - As well as Catholicism, a religion which is considered significant to the country of Mexico.  

The people of Oaxaca decorate altars in bright Cempaspuchitl flowers (marigolds) and these act as a shrine for the dead. It is thought that the scent of these flowers helps to guide spirits from the cemetery to their family home.

The locals paint their faces and dress up, with the various vibrant colours that you see used to represent different meanings such as, unity, life and happiness. Each day of the festival, live music is scheduled, local dishes are served on the streets, and celebrations take place into the early hours of the morning in cemeteries.

Akershus Festning, Oslo, Norway Akershus Festning, Oslo, Norway

Akershus Festning – Oslo, Norway

Few places in Norway are notorious for stories of the supernatural than the Akershus Festning. A castle which for 700 years guarded Oslo’s inner harbour. It was also a prison for some of Norway’s most terrifying criminals. With sentences often involving gruelling physical labour and controversial disciplinary techniques.

For many years, people have reported sightings of ghostly figures along the fortress and a number of the guards have experienced weird and frightening sensations whilst on duty.
Hear about Akershus Festning’s history, as well as its ghostly tales during a guided ghost walk. Visit the official tourist board of Oslo to find out more.

Written by Nicole Cunningham

The Sunvil Family

By The Sunvil Family

31st October 2018



The Sunvil Family
The Sunvil Family
The Sunvil Family

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