India has a rich heritage and a vibrant culture – thanks to thousands of years of booming civilizations. No other country offers as much diversity in landscapes, religions, cultures, or festivals as India.
And thanks to this diversity, there are hundreds of festivals celebrated in India for many decades. No matter the time of the year, be rest assured that there is always a festival celebration happening in some corner of India. If you are a serious photographer or a cultural enthusiast, festivals in India can be quite fascinating and enchanting to watch!
The many different festivals in India are a massive list, which will probably take me weeks, if not months to cover. And even then, chances are that I still might be missing on the whole bunch of festivals which are very regional, and not well known. So, let’s start with a list of festivals of India that can give you a glimpse into this colorful and diverse nation! This goes beyond the religious festivals of India and lists some of the celebrated and important festivals of India ranging from culture, region, music, and so on.
Now, let’s dive into it, shall we?
Rann Utsav at the Great Rann of Kutch, Gujarat
What better way to kick-start the new year than visiting the Great Rann of Kutch during Rann Utsav? Almost a 4-month-long festival (Nov 1st to 20th Feb), Rann Utsav is just one of its kind.
Gujarati handicrafts, outdoor activities, and varieties of cultural performances, it is hard to pass upon. Especially, in the glowing white sand of Rann on a full moon night. It is truly an experience of a lifetime.
Jaipur Literature Festival, Rajasthan (Jan 23rd – Jan 27th)
Jaipur Literature Festival has grown to be the ‘greatest literary show on Earth’. It has transformed from a modest beginning to welcoming over a million book lovers from the country and the world. This five-day program usually takes place in the third week of January. It brings together a diverse mix of writers, thinkers, humanitarians, and so on into one stay and helps in thought-provoking debates and start dialogues. The festival is hosted in Diggi Palace, Jaipur in the backdrop of the stunning Rajasthan cultural heritage.
Konark dance festival at Konark, Orissa(19th – 23rd)
Located on the banks of Bay of Bengal, Konark Temple is a well-known World Heritage site dedicated to the Sun God. Apart from the intricate carvings and the elaborate design of the Konark temple, Konark Dance Festival takes the spotlight in February each year.
It features performances of classical dances like Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Kathak and Chau dance at the Natyamandir. The dance performances in the backdrop of the sun temples thus make this festival in February a no-brainer for the culturally enthusiastic ones.
Nyokum Yullo in Arunachal Pradesh
Nyokum, a prominent festival in Arunachal Pradesh celebrates the interesting cultural heritage and ethnicity of the Nyishi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. This festival is celebrated to invoke the spiritual forces in nature to ensure harmony and prosperity for the people. Interestingly, you won’t find any idol in this puja.
March – Holi in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh ( 8th – 13th )
Flushed with the festive spirit in the month of March, the holy city of Vrindavan is a delight to watch. In celebrations of one of the most vibrant and fun festivals of India – the festival of colors. People from all communities converge to celebrate this festival – irrespective of caste, gender or race. North India celebrates Holi on a grand scale – although, Holi celebrations in Vrindavan and Mathura is just other-worldly.
If you are looking for something unconventional, maybe you could check out Phoolon wali Holi (Holi with flowers) in Vrindavan.
If you have more time on your hand, visit one of the oldest cities of India, Varanasi on a full day city tour (Boat ride included)
International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh
A 7-day festival celebrated in the month of March, International Yoga festival gathers yoga practitioners from all around the world – spiritual thought leaders, master yoga teachers, wellness specialists, and so on. You can embrace and learn different styles of yoga on this rejuvenating festival. The festival is held at Parmarth Niketan Ashram, the largest ashram in Rishikesh.
Easter Sunday in Panaji, Goa( 16th )
Who doesn’t love Easter baskets brimmed with a variety of chocolates and colorfully decorated eggs? Enter Easter Sunday. An auspicious day for the Christians – it marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ upon his death on Good Friday.
Consequently, the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Panaji attracts the largest crowd and is the principal focus of festivities in Goa. After the mass, crowds line up on the roadside to witness the procession carrying the wooden cross.
Besides beaches in Goa, there are many other places to explore in Goa. For instance, go on churches and a Spice farm tour in Goa.
Or for foreigners who love Indian cuisine, it can’t get better than attending a Vegetarian and Vegan Cooking class in Goa.
Thrissur Pooram in Kerala (April-May)
Celebrated in the Malayalam month of Medam in the day when the moon rises with the Pooram star, Thrissur Pooram is an annual Hindu festival held at Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur. It shows an assembly of gods from all over Kerala – it is considered as a meeting of Devas. It is one of the greatest gatherings in Asia and attracts many foreign tourists to witness the grandeur of Kerala.
International Flower Festival in Gangtok, Sikkim (1st to 31st)
Don’t you just need an excuse to escape to the lofty mountains and the beautiful lakes of Sikkim? The international flower festival in Gangtok just happens to be one of them.
The natural topography and climate make Sikkim ideal for sundry flora to flourish naturally. Ergo, many species of rhododendron, orchids, gladioli, cacti, roses, ferns, and alpine plants are displayed during the show. Also, Yak safari is a crowd favorite during the Flower Festival.
Idul-Fitr in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh (26th)
Celebrated fervently by millions of Muslims, Id festival and the month-long fasting prior to that – known as Ramzan. There are usually lines of street food with varieties of meat to gorge upon during this time in the Muslim dominated areas.
Cities such as Lucknow, Delhi, and Hyderabad see joyous celebrations and fanfare during Id.
While in Hyderabad, go on a private full city Sightseeing tour.
Jagannath Rath Yatra in Orissa
Rath Yatra or Chariot Festival is held in the city of Puri in Orissa associated with Lord Jagannath. The presiding deities of Jagannath temple (Puri’s main temple) – Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra, with the celestial wheel, are removed from the temple in a ceremonial procession to be taken to Gundicha temple on an annual visit.
It is the oldest Rath Yatra taking place around the world, and its depictions can be found in Bhrama Purana.
Hemis festival in Jammu and Kashmir ( 3rd – 4th )
The desolated desert landscape of Leh Ladakh needs no introduction. The road trips to Leh from Delhi or Manali is just as breathtaking as Leh. To top it off, Hemis festival in July is just icing on the cake. It is hosted every year in Hemis Gompa – the largest and richest Buddhist monastery in Leh.
During the festival, the locals deck up in traditional attire with cummerbunds, vibrant headgears and loads of jewelry. However, the most mysterious form of celebration is the mystic mask dances (Chams performance) accompanied by musical drums, longhorns, and cymbals. Apparently, this 2-day festival is remembered as the birth of Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism.
Nehru Trophy Boat race in Kerala ( 13th )
A boat race in God’s own country is something that will surely put you in awe. It is a significant part of the culture and tradition of Kerala. Evidently, the Nehru Trophy boat race held in Punnamada Lake near Alappuzha attracts viewers from far off corners of the world. Watching the snake boat races amidst lush greenery is just a pure spectacle. One of the most well-esteemed boat races in India.
When in Kerala, check out the typical houseboat day cruise in Alleppey.
On the other hand, I highly recommend to explore offbeat village backwaters in Kollam, and I’ll guarantee you’ll forget all about Alleppey houseboats.
Gogamedi fair in Rajasthan
This festival is celebrated in honor of Gogaji who is venerated as a saint and a Snake God. Usually conducted in the month of August – September every year in Hanumangarh district, Rajasthan. More about the Gogamedi fair here.
Ziro Music Festival in Arunachal Pradesh (21st – 24th)
In the mood to listen to some top-class Indie bands and folk music while gazing at the vast expanse of the mystic Himalayan range? Well, look no further. Ziro music festival would be a perfect venue to do just that.
Tips for visitors – Make sure you have appropriate permits to access the area – the Inner Line Permit (ILP) for Indians and Protected Area Permit for foreigners.
This 10-day festival, celebrated in the historic city of Mysore – the land of Wodeyars, attracts people from all over the world. It is a Hindu festival starting with Navarathri and ending with Vijayadashami. Mysore Dasara celebrates the victory of good over evil. Legends say that Goddess Durga killed the demon Mahishasura, after which the name Mysuru was derived from. Usually held in September – October every year.
Diwali in Punjab
Indians celebrate Diwali every year uniting various communities and regions. The festival of lights is one of the most brilliantly lit and one of the popular festivals of India with legions of lights illuminating millions of households.
Historically, it marks the homecoming of Lord Ram from exile back to his kingdom. A grand puja of Goddess Laxmi ensues in the evening and end the day with bursting crackers. Ideally, it is best witnessed in UP, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Delhi.
Pushkar festival in Rajasthan (28th Oct-4th Nov)
Rajasthan is one of those culturally rich states in India with umpteen number forts and palaces. Pushkar fair is widely popular as a testimony to the vivid sights, moods, and aromas of Rajasthan.
Pushkar Fair, in all likelihood, is a mega event of Rajasthan in which thousands of camel owners visit the city to participate in a medley of events. In addition, camels adorned lovingly in colorful garbs, jewelry and silver bells, are one of the great attractions of the fair. A variety of musicians, dancers, acrobats, magicians, snake charmers, and food stalls are also present to delight the onlookers.
Consequently, temple dancing, folk, and classical music, arts, and crafts bazaars are some of the festival highlights. Maybe, you can check out the Camel Beauty contest too. Additionally, an International Hot Air Balloon Festival is also organized during the fair.
Also, while in Rajasthan, explore Jaipur through a Private City Tour. Or visit the city of lakes Udaipur on a private day tour (Boat ride included).
Hornbill Festival in Nagaland (1st-7th )
Ever wondered how the indigenous warrior tribes in the far eastern state of Nagaland live their lives? Well, here’s your opportunity to find out in the month of December.
Locally known as The Festival of festivals, the Hornbill festival is one of the most cherished and the largest celebrations in Nagaland. And plentiful displays of handicrafts, handloom, multi-cuisine, local food stalls and a rich amount of rice beer definitely makes it worth your time.
Evidently, evenings are lighted by the thrilling Hornbill National Rock Concert in which bands from all over the country and abroad participate. Also, Naga chilly eating competition and pork eating festival attracts a huge crowd and evokes much fanfare and excitement.
Losoong Festival in Sikkim
Losoong is a grand festival in Eastern India that celebrates the start of a new year in Sikkim. Based on the Tibetan Calendar, Losoong is celebrated on the 18th day of the 10th month which is usually in December. Apart from Bhutias, the Lepcha tribes celebrate this festival as well, but they call it Namsoong. In Sikkim, it’s celebrated in Phodong and Rumtek monasteries. It’s also celebrated in the neighboring countries of Bhutan and Nepal.
This post serves to give an idea about the famous festivals in different parts of India during different months of the year and in no way extensive. I’ll keep adding to more festivals to this post as and when I find the time. Watch out!
So, what are you waiting for? Book your accommodations at these locations right away by entering the city below! Given that these towns would be busier during the festival season, so it’s ideal to book accommodations as soon as you can! Ideally, at least three months before to get good deals, and best stays.
Do you have a list of favorite festivals in India? And, which of these festivals are you going to attend this year? Let me know in the comments below.