Halloween is a half-hearted affair in the UK. Students will mix concoctions in punchbowls, couples will revel in the novelty of a fancy-dress party next door, while parents guide small children from house to house where people like me sit in darkness and fail to acknowledge the existence of their front door.

Meanwhile in New York City, the world's biggest party is kicking off and blowing away the cobwebs. Halloween in the US is more than trick-or-treating and a smear of fake blood, and the centuries old Gaelic tradition is a big deal in the Big Apple. You may be passing through at the end of October or you may consider making a trip solely to see the city explode in costume and colour, so here's what you can expect from Halloween in New York City: 

NYC Halloween Parade 

There are few official parades where the public can turn up unannounced and participate, but if you're in costume then join up to 60,000 others as well as dozens of bands, puppets, dancers and floats. If you're not part of it, make sure you're a spectator - it's wild, unpredictable, loud and fantastical. The Annual Parade will be on October 31 at 7 pm

Hit the underworld 
There'll be a maze of road closures throughout Soho, Greenwich and the West Village before and during the Halloween Parade and traffic will be at a standstill in nearby neighbourhoods, as oppose to its usual gnat's pace. Skip the cabs and jump on the subway - chances are you'll be straphanging with a zombie or two.


Party time! 

NYC will most likely be partying throughout the weekend before Halloween - Saturday 28th around Bleeker St and MacDougal St in Greenwich Village will be a fury of party-goers in costumes. Plenty of bars will capitalise on the good times and charge a cover; you'll find a handful that won't charge but expect a queue. Many restaurants and clubs will throw Halloween parties - these are usually ticketed events.

Costumes are mandatory 

Obviously costumes aren't mandatory, but you will be in the minority if you're in Greenwich Village and not wearing one. Costumes don't have to be Halloween-related; last year I spotted 33 Chilean miners in one bar and Spongebob Squarepants being felt up by Catwoman in another. If you're going to be part of Halloween in NYC, embrace it!

Family friendly 

Children can enjoy Halloween in New York City as much as the adults. Head to some of the more residential neighbourhoods such as Manhattan's Upper West Side or Astoria in Queens, and every store will have candy and treats to hand out to the miniature Spidermen and princesses that dot the sidewalks. Make sure you hit the stores with the kids before late afternoon - that's when window signs appear to report all the goodies have gone.

"Twitchhiker – How One Man Travelled the World by Twitter" is Paul's book about his social media adventure around the world, published by Summersdale and available on Amazon.