Have you ever visited God’s own country? Kerala has it all from fantastic backwaters, lofty mountains, plenty of waterfalls, tea, and coffee plantations and more. Not to forget the number of festivals in Kerala.
The monsoons usher the festival season in Kerala, which the fierce drumbeats across the state herald. You can see the towns light up, decorated elephants march across towns while the rivers fill up with large 100 feet long snake boats only in God’s Own Country -Kerala.
Festivals in Kerala
Most festivals in Kerala celebrate ancestral traditions passed down through generations. Whether it is the state festivals Onam, Christmas or Eid or seasonal festivals like the boat races, everyone enjoys these festivals together. See magical figures come to life during a Theyyam performance, stroll across various churches and mosques to enjoy perunnals, take part in music and dance festivals or get ready to see the snake-like boats move like the wind during the races.
Kerala Festival Calendar
|Name of the Festival||Dates||Places|
|Snake Boat Festival||15th July -15th September||Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta|
|Theyyam Festival||23rd-26th Feb /28th Dec – 1st Jan||Kasaragod|
|Onam||August -September||All over Kerala|
|Temple Festivals||November-end -Mid-May||Thrissur, Palakkad, Alappuzha, Kollam, Kannur|
|Vishu (Malayali New Year)||April||All over Kerala|
|Attukul Pongala||February -March||All over Kerala|
|Christmas||December||All over Kerala|
To get a better idea about exact dates and places check here. You can also visit www.keralatourism.org for more details before your holiday. We at Skyscanner picked a few places you must visit if you’d like to experience festivals in Kerala to the fullest.
Snake Boat Races
It’s that time of the year when many tourists plan a trip to Kerala if they are keen on experiencing the ever-popular snake boat races held between July and September. Called “Valllam Kali” – these traditional boat races held all over Kerala use various kinds of long paddle boats like the Chunadan Vallam, Odi Vallam, Churulan Vallam, Veppu Vallam, Vadakkanody Vallam, Iruttukuthy Vallam, and Kochu Vallamare.
Some races to check out are the Nehru Trophy Boat Race held on the second Saturday of August every year on Punnamada Lake near Alappuzha (Alleppey). Watching these 100-120 ft boats with 90-110 oarsmen moving in tandem while racing down the channel is unforgettable and exciting. Another race to see is the Aranmula Boat race held during Onam in August or September. This race is a two-day event in Aranmula near the Sri Parthasarathy Temple.
Capture decorated Palliyodams, with 100 rowers, 25 vocalists and 15 helmsmen on celluloid forever. Other impressive races you can enjoy are the Kallada Jalotsavom on the Kallada River, in Kollam, Champakulam Moolam Boat Race on the River Pampa, and the Payippad Jalotsavom on the Payippad River in Alappuzha.
The Theyyam Festival
Temple and church dance and dance forms have been an integral part of Kerala’s culture. These magnificent and colourful dances are popular ritual dances that celebrate spirituality and devoutness more so in Wayanad and Kozhikode. This magnificent dance festival has Dravidian roots highlighted through a combination of dance, music, drama, and mime along with a harmony of musical instruments like the Elathalam, Kurumkuzal, Chenda, and Veekkuchenda.
Held between December and April in a few temples the festival attracts thousands of art photographers, tourists, and others. Flamboyant costumes heavily made-up faces and intricate masks offer a potent visual for these vigorous dances. With more than 400 forms of the Theyyam, you can experience some popular forms like Kari Chamundi, Pottan, Vishnumurthy, Veerali, Raktha Chamundi, Bhagavati, Gulikan, Nagakanni, and Mutiappan.
Some of the best Theyyam dance festivals held in Kannur at the Muchilot Bhagavathi temples, Pulimuthappan Kavu, Sree Mavilaakkavu. Another place to see these dances is the Mallom Kollam Temple in Kasaragod.
One of the most important and biggest festivals is the Kerala festival Onam. It marks the end of the harvest festival that lasts for a fortnight. Be ready to take part in activities that take place during the festival. Of course, do keep an eye out for the beautiful Onam pookalams i.e a floral Rangoli. Experiencing the Thripunithura Athachamayam, a street parade accompanied by large floats, decorated elephants, traditional Kerala arts, and musicians.
The parade moves through the whole town of Thrikkakara, which is where the festival Onam first began. Get a chance to explore the street stalls, decorated town and take part in floral Rangoli competitions. Make time for the feasting on sumptuous traditional fare, the Pulikalli -the tiger play, the Aranmula snake boat race. Some of the best places to enjoy these festivities in Kerala are Trivandrum, Alleppey, Thrissur, Palakkad, and Kannur.
Read more: Best time to visit Kerala
This is not one festival, but a group of festivals held in temples across Kerala. Named after the temples these 9-10-day festivals celebrated between end of November and mid-May are majestic and extravagant are held between the end of November and mid-May.
Mark your calendars and be ready to see parades of adorned elephants, old-style percussionists and other musicians, imaginative and vibrant floats with people dressed as gods, and plenty of fireworks during the temple festival. Remember, it will be crowded and noisy, but the festive atmosphere makes it worthwhile.
The Thrissur Pooram held at Vadakkunnathan Temple is one of the best temple festivals in Kerala and one of the largest. Other festivals you can plan on attending are the Alpashi Utsavam at the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Attukal Pongala at Attukal Bhagavathi temple, Chettikulangara Kumbha Bharani festival and others. Most temple festivals take place in Palakkad, Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha, Kollam, and Kannur.
To book flight tickets and hotels
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