In his book, Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, historian Nicholas Rogers says that Halloween originated as a pagan Celtic festival of the dead related to the Samhain, the Gaelic harvest celebration in Great Britain marking the beginning of winter. So that would make Great Britain the perfect place for the world’s largest festival of witches, which it is. Witchfest International is held in London each year. While much of the festival is deadly serious (pun intended) with academics and historians discussing paganism and witchcraft, the festival does have a lighter side. There is a workshop where you can learn to make your own magic wand. This year’s keynote speaker is British historian Ronald Hutton of Bristol University in England who’s one of the world’s foremost experts on witchcraft and Wicca. There is a day-long introduction to Wiccan course and a celebration to patron goddess Artimes.
Jeff Thoreson is a travel writer based in Washington, DC.