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The allure of dark tourism: legend tripping and ghost seeking in dark places.

Ironside, Rachael



Dennis Waskul

Marc Eaton


Legend tripping is a common activity that has traditionally been characterized by adolescent exploration of supernatural folklore for the purpose of testing the legends’ credibility and demonstrating the adolescent’s bravery in the face of supernatural danger. For others, legend-tripping may entail more nefarious motives, as they seek to vandalize and desecrate places associated with these stories. Recently, legend tripping has been commercialized, perhaps most notably in the form of ghost tourism. For businesses and sometimes entire cities, local ghostly legends offer an opportunity to differentiate themselves in the market, while also providing visitors with an opportunity to engage with these dark histories in ways that are exciting, experiential, and educational. For those participating in ghost hunts and tours, these activities are a unique way to explore issues of mortality, spirituality, and morality. Ghosts and their legends allow us to confront complex and potentially troubling questions about life and death. In a society so preoccupied with hiding the reality of death from public view, ghosts and dark places are a means by which we can engage with this reality as though witnessing it through a veil. In ghost tourism, death is right before our eyes and yet somehow just beyond our grasp.


IRONSIDE, R. 2018. The allure of dark tourism: legend tripping and ghost seeking in dark places. In Waskul, D. and Eaton, M. (eds.) The supernatural in society, culture and history. Philadelphia: Temple University Press [online], chapter 5, pages 95-115. Available from:

Online Publication Date Jul 31, 2018
Publication Date Jul 31, 2018
Deposit Date Nov 28, 2019
Publicly Available Date Nov 28, 2019
Publisher Temple University Press
Pages 95-115
Book Title The supernatural in society, culture and history
Chapter Number Chapter 5
ISBN 9781439915240 ; 9781439915257
Keywords Legend tripping; Ghost tourism; Ghost hunts; Ghost tours
Public URL
Publisher URL


IRONSIDE 2019 The allure (592 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2018 Temple University Press. Personal use of this material is permitted. Permission must be obtained for all other uses from Temple University Press.

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