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Saturday, 26 November 2011

Goth travel: Salem, Massachusetts (USA)

In an issue of Gothic Beauty, darkly elegant designer extraordinaire Kambriel describes Salem, home of the (in)famous Witch Trials, as 'a mecca for those seeking a haven - a place to enjoy yourself unencumbered by the judgement of others, and one which revels in its bewitching charm. Nowadays, Salem's year-round spirited celebration of the magic of Halloween makes it a very Goth-friendly locale.'

Most people plan their trip to Salem in October, the height of the tourist season. During this time there is a grand celebration of 'Haunted Happenings' - in effect, Halloween goes on for three whole weeks. But by all accounts, the off-season is an equally good time to plan your pilgrimage. Excellent for the more anti-social types who'd like to avoid the majority of tourists (oh, and hotels will be cheaper, of course!).

Like Burley in the UK, Salem revels in its witchy heritage, and is filled with shops selling all kinds of themed goodies and paraphernalia. The town also boasts many museums and attractions, including the Witch Museum, The Museum of Myths and Monsters, haunted houses, the Witch Village and several walking tours (break in those New Rocks!) such as the Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour.

Salem also hosts the annual Festival of the Dead. This event incorporates several smaller events such as the Witches' Halloween Ball, a Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo, a Vampire's Masquerade Ball, a dumb supper, seances, ghost hunting, and an event called Mourning Tea. Its website describes the festival as "an annual event series that explores death’s macabre customs, heretical histories, and strange rituals."

Salem is, of course, a town loaded with historical interest for us darkly-inclined types, and thankfully has long since moved on from its occult-hating past. Its burial grounds are described as 'uncrowded and peaceful', and the famous ship, the Friendship of Salem, still rests upon the coastline.

You can also see the House of Seven Gables, which looks like the Addams Family's holiday home and inspired Nathanial Hawthorne's famous story of the same name. It's full of secret passages and reportedly has an incredibly creepy atmosphere.

Toxic Tears
View her blog here. Image is copyrighted, used with permission.
I hasten to add that Toxic was not in Salem when this picture was taken, I just couldn't find any uncopyrighted Salem images...

13 comments:

Under_The_Stairs said...

Someday I hope to make it up there.Sounds like great fun.

Melanie~"Fangirl"~Light said...

The House of Seven Gables is really beautiful. The time I was there I was only a kid, and I wish I could remember more of it. It does have a creepy atmosphere in a good way in the sense that it didn't scare me away.

Thanks for talking about Salem! It's a small place, but it has a really cool atmosphere. I considered going to college in Boston so I could visit easily and check out the events. Salem really stirred my interest in the dark and spooky. The witch trials are really fascinating.

Nightwind said...

I went there once, as a kid but really need to visit there as an adult. Once I lived relatively close to Salem. Now, I'm half-way across the country. Maybe I'll get there one day. It would be great.

Rora Monroe said...

I recentley went to salem and I have to say it is one of the most amazing places I have ever been. The secret passageway in the house of seven gabels was the coolest thing ever. All the different occult and new age shops had their own special feel to them. It is somewhere that is worth the trip to go

Cali said...

I live in ct so i should really make a better effort to get up there. Maybe as a special occasion.

Anonymous said...

I went to Salem less than a year ago, actually, for a school trip, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I'm definitely going to be back to visit soon! :)

Nephälia VonDämonen said...

I live in a small town only 20 minutes away from Salem by train (there's a station just down the street from me)! I went there nearly once a week in the summer. I prefer not to go during tourist season- it's CRAZY. I'd love to go for Halloween though, at least one time in my life. I like to just walk around and look in the shops, talk to some people, and things like that. I've never done any sort of tour because they're so expensive and I'm a jobless high school student. I did however go into one of the "haunted mansion" scare house tour things because the guys working it that day were bored (it was May- far off from tourist season) and begged my friends and I to go in for $2 a piece instead of the regular $8. It wasn't scary, but it was fun! ...not $8 fun though 0_o

I have some advice for incense buyers- buy it in Salem. It's rather cheap there. I've gotten 16 sticks (pick your own- not preboxed)for a dollar there at best, and a decent price is 8/$1. I never pay more. Although it seemed more expensive this year than it was last year :[

I know my way around Salem pretty well, and I like the people who work in the shops there, they're generally friendly and since I go there often they recognize me, which is nice ^-^ I'm thinking of moving there when I leave my house.

Unlacing the Victorians said...

My mom made a pilgrimage to Salem about 15 years ago. It was just as subculture friendly then as it is today, from the sounds of it. I myself am planning on going there at some point in the near future- maybe next spring or summer, although I think it really would be lovely in the fall with the leaves changing.

Le Professeur Gothique said...

Ed and I lived in Salem for two years and loved every minute of it. My suggestion is to go either in May or September -- it's not too hot, not too cold. Isn't rainy. And all of the stores are stocked to the brim with goodies. In May they are getting ready for the summer rush; in September they are getting ready for Halloween. It's a fabulous city!

Mira said...

Ever since I read the book Death Makes a Holiday (an excellent book about the history of Halloween,) I've been a little uncomfortable about Salem. I used to love going there, but the book pointed out the ethics of a place where innocent people were executed being turned into a place to buy kitchy memorabilia based on the accusations. Still, there are lots of great museums, and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in history.

Sakara said...

Salem is odd in that its revelling in a history of persecution, where people were murdered after being accused of witchcraft when in fact it was very much about a jealous young girl not getting her own way and causing mass hysteria and then the deaths of innocent people.. At least Burley in the UK actually has a true 'witch' connection, how ever loose.

GothBarbie said...

Salem is a fun town to spend a long weekend! There are tons of cool shops, lots of GREAT FOOD and plenty of nice people. If it wasn't for the awful New England weather, I may have gone along with Industrial Ken's plan to move there. Now I told him, I'll only agree if we summer in Salem and winter in New Orleans.

docspond said...

Hello,
Salem, Ma is beautiful in the Fall. To walk around under the changing foliage amidst the ancient houses down the lanes Hawthorne traveled. Lanes that have tunnels below them in which his uncle and his friends used to absconded through to get to the brothels. Tunnels in which they might run into a Secretary of the Navy, a Superior Court Justice, or even a president or two. With a wink they know their secret will be well kept because of the complicity they share. You might even walk above the route that the nations most famous murderer used on the way to his brothel or his victim's house. Traveling to Salem can be quite romantic in the Fall as the leaves change along with your opinion of our quaint little city. Come by and enjoy a truly interesting Salem walking tour on the Salem Tunnel Tour.
www.salemtunneltour.com
Cheers,
Chris

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