Drawn to the Dark: Explorations in Scare Tourism around the World

Couchsurfing has given me the ultimate Halloween adventure. As a life-long horror and monster fan, I spent a year traveling the globe to seek out monster characters in various cultures. After reaching out to hosts in eleven countries and telling them about my plans, I was thrilled to discover people who were as ecstatic about the adventures as I was. With their help, I had the privilege of attending shows starring Krampus in Austria, the Oni and Namahage in Japan, witches and devils in Germany, the Busójárás in Hungry, and so many more. My gracious hosts were delighted to teach me about what it meant to grow up with these traditions, and to share their experiences and insights with someone who had traveled so far to learn about them.

In addition, I was also able to share my own love for Halloween. Many towns I visited ran Halloween-style haunted attractions–venues that I have enjoyed, worked for and written about for more than twenty years. Although some of my hosts had known that these local shows existed, they had never before gone through them. I therefore got to take my host in Mexico through his first experience of “Screamville,” my host in Transylvania through “Castelul Groazei,” and my host in Hawaii through “Dr. Carnage’s House of Horrors.” With each experience, my new friends and I then compared and contrasted these monstrous characters from different parts of the world, from Hollywood-inspired icons to mythical creatures of ancient legend.

After a year of travels and another year and a half of writing, I have published a book about the journey. The book is entitled Drawn to the Dark: Explorations in Scare Tourism around the World. I was truly honored to be able to share the experiences, insights, and friendships I made with all of my hosts. A very special thank you to the wonderful people who make the Couchsurfing organization possible, and for allowing these types of life-changing experiences to take place every day!

Gratefully yours,

Chris Kullstroem

Namahage Chris and Hikaru

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