India is often associated with it's festivals and vibrant celebrations, and it’s not only the religious ones we are talking about. There are plenty of cultural, music, food and other fests going on all year around and some of them are too crazy to be real. Well, that makes it all the more exciting, doesn’t it? Here are some of Skyscanner's favourites. Perhaps you could plan your next vacation around these?
Snake Boat Race, Kerala
Vallam Kali literally means boat game, but can be translated to boat race in English. This is one of the most colourful and popular annual events in Kerala as Chundan Vallams (snake boats) race against each other in the beautiful backwaters of Alleppey. These races are normally held from July to September each year but the main one – the Nehru Trophy Vallam Kali –takes place on the second Saturday of August every year and it is indeed a sight to behold. If you are visiting Kerala around that time, it might be a good idea to stay in one of the houseboats to be the centre of all the excitement.
Strawberry Festival, Panchgani
Panchgani is fondly known as the Switzerland of India, because of its gorgeous hillscape and fabulous weather! Couple that with a deluge of strawberries and you will probably have a quick winner for a weekend getaway. Organized by Mapro Garden, one of the most popular strawberry farms in the region, the Strawberry Festival is held in March/April every year. Walking between rows of strawberry plants with your loved one and plucking fresh fruit sounds oddly charming, doesn’t it? You will find various stalls selling strawberries and strawberry products, so don’t forget to get your fill of jams, preserves, dried fruit chunks, pickles and what not.
Desert festival, Jaisalmer
The Desert Festival of Jaisalmer takes place in the month of February at the Sam Sand Dunes, 42 kms from the main city. This one is a vibrant cultural extravaganza with cultural events, folk music and dance, camel races, turban tying competitions, food fests and more. The highlight of the event is the brilliant performances by Rajasthani folk artists under the full moon against the backdrop of picturesque dunes.
![jaisalmer-festival-rajasthan] (http://content.skyscnr.com/b3fb75255f5effaa8f8735e89e11f9b5/jaisalmer-festival-rajasthan.jpg "Folk performers at the Jaisalmer festival")
Goa Carnival, Goa
The sheer magnificence of the Goa Carnival draws people from all over the country. The festival has been celebrated as a precursor to the abstinence of Lent and it is a time when the whole of Goa comes to life. The parades that take over the cities are as grand as they come, with bands, floats and traditional dances. Evenings are time to party hard and feast on exotic Goan cuisine. The float parade in Panaji is led by King Momo, who declares the decree of “eat, drink and be merry” – which is essentially what the spirit of Goa is all about.
Madras Music Season, Chennai
If you are a connoisseur of classical music, you will love being at the Madras Music Season, which is hosted every December–January in Chennai. Spanning over six weeks, the event comprises a number of large and small Kutcheris (Carnatic music concerts) that are performed by highly competent musicians. The concerts take place in the afternoons and nights, and consist of all sorts of Carnatic music compositions and improvisations. The best talent is featured in the evening sessions, with the bulk of tickets available at reasonable prices. Stay at the Chettinadu Mansion, which is a 10,000 year old, architectural marvel situated in Chettinadu, one of the hidden treasures of Tamil Nadu.
Rann Utsav, Gujarat
Rann Utsav is a celebration of life, festivities and culture of Kutch and Gujarat. It is a landmark event spanning over two months, attended by visitors from India as well as abroad. There will be horse rides, camel safaris, bird watching, pool table, table tennis, ATV riding, para motoring, archery, giant chess and net cricket. The colourful fairs held near the beach or the lakeside are all about festivity, fervour and flamboyancy, while the organized tour around Kutch is an ideal occasion to explore the unique geographical beauty of the region and experience the warmth and hospitality of the tribal people first hand.
Ziro Festival, Arunachal Pradesh
Named after the picturesque Ziro valley in Arunachal Pradesh, this music festival is a great opportunity to explore this naturally blessed corner of North-Eastern India. The Ziro Festival of Music is an outdoor music festival that showcases the independent music scene in India. Spread over four days, the festival is hosted by members of the Apatani people in Ziro. By staying in tented accommodation right at the venue you can enjoy 24/7 uninterrupted music.
Taj Mahotsav, Agra
In the land of the magnificent Taj Mahal, Taj Mahotsav began in 1992 to celebrate the cultural glory and vibrancy of India. Held between 18th Feb and 27th Feb, the festival starts with a road procession with decorated elephants and camels – just like the victory processions of Mughal Emperors and warlords, complete with drums, trumpets, folk dances and more. Skilled crafts men and artisans all over India come here to display their art and craftsmanship. The performances, food and fair make for a memorable experience.
Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai
The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is the place to be for anyone with a love for art and literature. The events start on the first Saturday of February and continue right up to the second Sunday of February. You’ll find a wonderful display of art by world-renowned artists under the visual arts section and several stalls selling handmade artsy knick-knacks. The Literature Section has book launches, workshops and discussions with well-known authors. There are also heritage walk organized to give people an insight into the city’s heritage.
Uttarayan festival, Gujarat
Every year, Gujarat celebrates more than 2,000 festivals, but the International Kite Festival (Uttarayan) is one of the most awaited events – right up on the list with Navratri. Months before the festival, homes in Gujarat begin to manufacture kites, which come in all shapes, sizes and colours. The day symbolizes harvest, and every family can be seen on rooftops, indulging in cheerful rivalry to outdo each other in kite flying skills, and cooking up delicious traditional Gujarati feasts. It is indeed a sight to behold as the skies over Gujarat come alive with colourful kites.
Comic Con India, Delhi
This one is a treat for comic lovers and fan-fiction geeks. The main edition of Comic Con India is held annually at New Delhi and express editions annually at Mumbai and Bangalore. Comic Con aims to bring together Indian comic lovers and comic book publishers, helping both sides to explore and generate creativity in this fine art. The event witnesses a spectacular line-up of events, including launches, experiential activities, fan sessions, special panels, cosplay contests, autographing sessions, gaming tournaments, and the coolest comic books and merchandise.
Hornbill Festival, Nagaland
Also called the ‘Festival of Festivals’, the Hornbill Festival is held every year in the first week of December, at Kisama Heritage Village in Nagaland. This grand event is organised by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments, and showcases a mélange of cultural displays all under one roof. One of the major highlights of this festival is the Hornbill International Rock Festival that is held at Indira Gandhi Stadium, where the best local and international rock bands perform. For visitors, the event translates into a closer understanding of the people and culture of Nagaland, and an opportunity to experience the food, songs, dances and customs of the region.
Sinshastha Kumbh, Allahabad
Kumbh Mela is the most significant religious congregation for Hindus across the country, where thousands flock in to bathe in the sacred Ganga. It is also the world’s largest religious gathering, held every third year at one of the four places by rotation – Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain. One of the major events of Kumbh Mela is the Peshwai Procession, marking the arrival of the members of an akhara or sect of sadhus at the Kumbh Mela. There will be crowd and chaos galore, but it will be an experience you will never forget.
Rongali Bihu festival, Assam
Bihu denotes a set of cultural festivals of Assam and is celebrated by the Assamese diaspora around the world. Rongali Bihu, celebrated in the middle of April is a fertility festival, where the Bihu dance with its sensuous movements using the hips, shoulders and arms by young women is actually a call out to celebrate their fertility. The festival is usually marked with community help in temporary thatched accommodations called the Bhela Ghar or Meji Ghar which are specially built for the purpose on fields where the crops have already been harvested. Come to watch and learn how the young generation in Assam celebrate this amazing ritual dance!
Planning your trip to these places around festival time can double up the fun. Now that you know the dates, book your flights in advance using Skyscanner’s mobile app and get amazing deals on airfares.