Friday, October 31, 2014

Vampire Tourism: Top Spots For Undead Travel

BY AARON SAGERS
(Originally published at Travel Channel)

If you have a thirst for vampire tourism, there are countless undead spots worldwide to sink your teeth into -- we’ve dug up the top 10 vampire destinations to get your spook on.

1. Mercy Brown's Grave
Located in a church cemetery in Exeter, RI, is the grave of Mercy Brown, aka “New England’s Last Vampire.” When she died in 1892 at the age of 19, Mercy was the third member of her family to succumb to tuberculosis (aka "consumption"). As part of the larger 19th-century New England vampire panic, some folks believed Mercy was feeding off humans, so they exhumed her body and burned her heart, giving a mixture of the ashes to her sick brother to ward off evil.


2. Vampire Lestat Reunion Ball
Hosted by the Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Fan Club, this annual New Orleans ball celebrates 26 years in 2014. The Interview With The Vampire scribe herself was in attendance for the 25th anniversary, which also includes elaborate costumes, live music and an auction. The ball is also held in conjunction with the club’s UndeadCon literary convention.

3. Endless Night Vampire Ball
Described as a “Venetian masquerade ball mixed with a vampire court,” this gala is the pretty much the hottest vampire party around. Founded in New York City in 1996 by modern vampire personality (and author/fangsmith) Father Sebastiaan, the gala is held in NYC (on Halloween Night), as well as in Berlin, Paris, London and Amsterdam, while the main event takes place in New Orleans and lasts from 9 p.m. until 4 p.m. the next day.

4. Transylvania, Romania
This region in central Romania is inextricably linked to vampires. The town of Sighisoara was the Dracula. Today, you can visit the Sighisoara home where Vlad was supposedly born, as well as Poenari Fortress, Bran Castle and Hunyad Castle, all of which claim to be the “real” Dracula’s Castle. Also visit Transylvania’s Tihuta Pass, a high mountain pass in the scenic Carpathians, where Stoker set part of his novel. And there is the Castel Dracula, which is a modern structure that evokes the creepy imagery of the count's castle.
supposed birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s

5. Forks, Washington
Once largely known as a logging and sport fishing town, Forks is now largely associated with Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga books. The town puts on “Twilight” tours of book locations, such as the Swan and Cullen homes, and the La Push community, which is home to the real-life Quileute tribe of the fictional Jacob Black. A Stephenie Meyer Days celebration is held the weekend closest to character Bella Swan’s birthday of Sept. 13.

6. Mystic Falls Tours (Covington, GA)
The Vampire Diaries’ fictional town of Mystic Falls, VA, is actually Covington, GA, located about 30 miles from Atlanta. Covington is also home to the Mystic Falls Tours, a year-round 3-hour excursion that gives fans extensive peeks into sets around town -- such as the Mystic Grill, the Town Square and the Gilbert House. Fans also see film sets, such as the show’s Lockwood Mansion (the Worthington Manor, in real life). And while the tour organizers can’t promise it, visitors do occasionally encounter filming in progress.

7. Whitby, North Yorkshire, England
Though London's Highgate suburb is a close contender, this English town on the Yorkshire Coast is arguably the more important Dracula town in all of England, having figured prominently in Bram Stoker's Dracula as the place where the Russian schooner Demeter crashed ashore. The book is celebrated through the biannual Whitby Gothic Weekend, as well as at the Bram Stoker's Dracula Experience fun house. A visit to Whitby also requires a visit to the Bram Stoker Memorial Seat at the south end of Spion Kop on the West Cliff, which inspired Stoker to set part of his novel here.

8. Los Angeles

The City of Angels is also the city of the undead -- if you know where to look. A must-stop is the Vampire Lounge and Tasting Room, which rumor has is owned by a coven of vamps. Fans of True Blood should visit Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, the filming location for vampire bar Fangtasia. And if your blood runs hot for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, check out Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House, which served as Angel’s mansion, and Torrance High School, also known as Sunnydale High.

9. Prague
Very few “real” vampire (or revenant) graves from the ancient past have ever been discovered, all of which makes a 1,000-year-old site, with 14 bodies in it, discovered near Prague, in the town of Celakovice, so unusual. The bodies had been decapitated and weighted down, along with other measures, to prevent them from becoming vamps. Beyond this gravesite, Prague abounds with vampire lore and local tours about its undead residents.

10. Musee des Vampires (Paris)
Paris is frequently featured in vampire fiction, because the City of Light can also become a macabre City of Darkness. The ultimate vampire destination in Paris is the Musee des Vampires. Behind the red door of this by-appointment-only museum is a rich collection of vampire artwork, books and masks. Additionally, the museum hosts a nightly banquet that includes a guided tour, discussions and games.

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