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These Holiday Haunts Will Terrify You

These haunted attractions keep the scares alive through the entire holiday season.

Blood Prison Christmas Incarceration
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  • Photo Credit: Blood Prison

‘Tis the season—and if you’re anything like me, all the festive cheer and bright lights, gifts and decorations, bring along their own sense of dread. Maybe it’s the fact that another year is about to end, or that we’re going to have to interact with our (extended) families once again, along with all the anxiety and awkward conversations that entails. Whatever the reason for this seasonal unease, there’s something cathartic about being able to find an escape in the form of horror. 

If you thought haunts only happened during Halloween season, you’re in for a real surprise (or should I say, scare?). Haunts continue across November and well into the holidays. Though some of the themes may shift, swapping out Michael Myers or other ghouls for deranged renditions of elves and perhaps Krampus himself, the spirit of the haunt remains as much about a good immersive scare.

We scoured the country seeking out some of the best holiday haunts perfect for a holiday escape.

Related: Happy Holidays from the Devil: 19 Freaky Krampus Cards

Midnight Terror Haunted House’s “Christmas Fear”

Midnight Terror Haunted House
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  • Photo Credit: Midnight Terror Haunted House

This attraction based in Oak Lawn, Illinois, has been called one of America’s scariest haunted houses—and throughout December, they revamp the horror to be a little more festive. Santa’s Workshop is transformed into a “Workshop of Fear”—with his normally joyous and spirited helpers morphed into vessels of terror. “Christmas Fear” adds in a haunted maze—dubbed “Silent Night Maze”—where there’s even promise of an interactive snowball fight. “Midnight Terror” decks things out with toy soldiers, nutcrackers, and even a drunk mall Santa to battle even the bravest guests. 

Related: 30 Scariest Haunted Houses in America

Haunted Christmas NYC

Haunted Christmas NYC
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  • Photo Credit: Haunted Christmas NYC

Sticking around New York City during the holidays could be its own sort of haunt, if only because so many people board flights out of the city. Ratchet up the fear with Haunted Christmas. Considered to be one of America’s best holiday attractions—it’s even been added to New York City’s official tour guide—Haunted Christmas is one of the city’s best options during the 2021 season—especially with Blood Manor, a long-running staple that limited its season due to the pandemic. You can expect demented snowmen, elves more interested in harvesting your soul rather than making you gifts, and a vengeful Santa seeking the naughty list—which just so happens to include every single guest.

Sir Henry’s Haunted Christmas

Sir Henry's Haunted Christmas
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  • Photo Credit: Sir Henry's Haunted Trail

Floridians take notice: Sir Henry’s Haunted Christmas is right of I-4—and is considered by ScareFactor to be the number one horror attraction in Orlando. Sir Henry touts two haunted trails and a laser tag game across its lineup of spectacles. In December, the grounds are cast with a festive glow thanks to an array of Christmas lights, with Sir Henry and his minions ready to make you second guess the meaning of Christmas. Walking those trails, don’t be surprised to see snowmen too. Snowmen in Florida? That alone is worth a fright.

Related: Mari Lwyd: The Holiday Horse Skull of Wales

Dread Hollow

New Year's Nightmare
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  • Photo Credit: Dread Hollow

Dread Hollow offers one of the few holiday haunts that take place around the New Year and early January. Based out of Chattanooga, Tennesee, Dread Hollow has designed an experience they call “New Year’s Nightmare.” The premise of the haunt involves guests traversing the aftermath of a massacre at Raven’s Gate Prison in 2020. Those brave enough to enter will encounter a cursed location, with smoke cast against every space—concealing its apparitions and dangers. The other two locations encompassing Dread Hollow are the Harker Home, where the family members wander seeking replacement body parts for their patriarch, Doc Harper, and the Hyde Island Research Facility, with all its machinations and bizarre experiments. If you’re looking to start the new year with a brutal scare, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Dread Hollow.

Related: ‘Tis the Season for Murder: 17 Winter True Crime Books That Will Give You the Chills

Blood Prison

Blood Prison Christmas Incarceration
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  • Photo Credit: Blood Prison

Escape from Blood Prison: Christmas Incarceration takes place in a real prison, one of the few haunts that dares to meld fact with fiction. The Ohio State Reformatory is transformed to include a deconstructed half-warden, half-Santa-like figure taking command over the prison’s various cellblocks—each of which have been peppered with snow, otherworldly prisoners, and all sorts of dark menaces waiting in those cells for unsuspecting guests. The Ohio State Reformatory isn’t just any prison either; it was used in films like The Shawshawk Redemption. Too bad though, because in Christmas Incarceration, there are no friends or means of creating a tunnel to escape.

Related: America’s 7 Most Haunted Prisons