Awe-striking, jaw-dropping, fascinating, prodigious or simply… amazing, call it what you want, India stands for all of it. Dig a little deeper into its myriad of cultures, and you’ll be lost in the mysteries and intrigues that the entire length and breadth of the country is dipped in. India is a travel destination unlike any other. Let me take you in the sea of big and small festivities ranging from cattle fair to religious festivals to the celebration of good harvest year or that of flourishing tourism…. all through the year! The best way to travel in India? Plan around these cultural festivals in India…
India Art Fair, New Delhi
Taking place annually in the capital city of New Delhi, India Art Fair is the biggest fair of modern and contemporary Indian art in the world. The festival reflects the country’s fast-developing art scene, as well as offering curated insights into the cultural landscapes of neighbouring states. The fair’s programme draws together galleries, artists, private foundations, arts charities, artists’ collectives, national institutions, cultural events and festivals.
The Fair sees a particularly strong representation of leading Indian galleries, deepening its audience’s engagement with the region’s creative landscape. Complementing the fair’s regional perspective, carefully selected galleries from across Asia, Europe, North and South America showcase their globally-recognised artists.
Dates: 30 January – 2 February 2020
Rann of Kutch festival also called as Kutch Festival or Just Rann Utsav, A Three month Long Celebration held at the edge of White Rann. In Gujarat Tourism there are eight hubs and one of the best hub is Kutch Tourism, as a part of Kutch Tourism, Gujarat Tourism Started to Celebrate Rann of Kutch Festival or Rann Utsav where tourist can stay near white Rann of Kutch with the option of Standard and Luxury Tents accommodation. Every year during winter for three month as a part of Gujarat Tourism and Kutch Tourism a Govt. of Gujarat decided to set up a Tent City Near white Rann. During Kutch Festival thousands of people gathers to witness Rann of Kutch festival or Kutch Rann utsav to see Kutch attractions or sightseeing places of Kutch.
Dates: Ongoing till 23rd February 2020
Surajkund Crafts Mela, Faridabad
The curtains go up on the acclaimed annual Surajkund International Crafts Mela from 2nd February onwards, a celebration of Indian folk traditions and cultural heritage. The Surajkund Mela is unique as it showcases the richness and diversity of the handicrafts, handlooms and cultural fabric of India, & is the largest crafts fair in the world.
The Mela is organized by the Surajkund Mela Authority & Haryana Tourism in collaboration with Union Ministries of Tourism, Textiles, Culture and External Affairs. For the 34th Surajkund International Crafts Mela-2020, the state of Himachal Pradesh has been chosen to be the Theme State. At least 20 countries & all the states of India will be participating in the Mela.
Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, South Mumbai
The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is annual festival, nine days long, commencing always on the first Saturday of February and closing always on the second Sunday in February, in the Kala Ghoda area of South Mumbai, India.
The festival sections are visual arts, dance, music, theatre, cinema, literature including children’s literature as a sub section, workshops, heritage walks, urban design and architecture (2014), food, a dedicated section for children, and a vibrant street section including stalls selling eco friendly, hand made arts and crafts wares. Entry to all events is free to all (only restricted by the size of the venues) and costs are met through corporate sponsorship.
Losar Festival, Ladakh
Losar is noted to be the most important festival for Tibetan Buddhism in Ladakh. This gleeful festival marks the beginning of the New Year and it is celebrated with zest and gaudy. Losar is celebrated hopefully in Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan and each has their own traditions. Ready to welcome the new year with wealth and bliss. However, during Losar in Ladakh, the Buddhists offer their religious belief before their deities in the shrines and Gompas. Throughout the festival, you are bound to find mingling cultural events, rituals that have been followed since ages and also traditional and ancient performances such as dance and folk songs. Although, there may be no fixed date for the auspicious occasion, the dates are usually fixed as per the Lunar calendar.
Holla Mohalla, Punjab
Hola Mahalla is an important Indian Sikh festival held in Anandpur Sahib in Punjab which follows Hindu festival of Holi. Unlike festival of Holi, when people playfully throw colored powders on each other, Hola Mahalla is an occasion for the Sikhs to demonstrate their martial skills. Sikhs gather here in large numbers to witness a very impressive and colourful procession of Nihangs, in their traditional attire displaying their skill in the use of arms, horse riding, and other war-like sports. The fair is also known for community service as langars (voluntary community kitchens) are held by the locals for serving traditional cuisine to visitors to this festival. You will have all this unique experience and also get a chance to visit Amritsar, city of “Golden Temple” and spiritual Capital of India “Rishikesh” as well as historical city of Delhi.
Dates: 10th till 12th March 2020
Yoga Festival, Rishikesh
IYF-2020 or the International Yoga Festival 2020 is all set to be one of the largest yoga events ever organized and is a must see for all yoga enthusiasts. The annual International Yoga Festival is organized by Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, India.International Yoga Festival is grounded in the authentic origin of Yoga. Practise and learn from masters from the Traditional Yoga Lineages from India, as well as masters of International well known yoga schools & styles. During this one-week Festival, you will have the opportunity to participate in over 60 hours of Yoga classes from world-class Yoga teachers practicing multiple styles of Yoga including Kundalini Yoga, Power Vinyasa Yoga, Iyengar Yoga and Kriya Yoga.
Dates: 1st till 7th March 2020
Elephant Festival is celebrated in Jaipur, Rajasthan, every year during Holi celebration, usually in March. The major attractions of the festival are elephant polo and elephant dances. The Elephant festival also features the tug-of-war game between an elephant and 19 men and women. The culmination of the Elephant Festival is the colourful parade of bedecked lavishly decorated elephants as well as horses and camels wearing luxurious saddles, anklets, ear danglers, head plates, and other jewelry. The procession also includes chariots, palanquins, and lancers.
However, animal rights activists have expressed concern about animals being covered with artificial colours. Because of these concerns, the festival was cancelled in 2013 and 2014.
Date: 10th March 2020
Tulip Festival, Srinagar
One of its kind in India, the Tulip Festival in Kashmir celebrates the blooming season of the magnificent Tulips. Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden adds to the natural beauty of Srinagar. Nestled on the foothills of Zabarwan Range, the largest tulip garden in Asia presents a stunning view of the Dal Lake. The seven terraced garden was built with the intention to promote tourism and floriculture in Kashmir. Tulip Festival is hosted in Kashmir Valley during the onset of Spring Season. You can get ready to be a part of it this year.
Dates: 1st April till 30th April 2020
The Aoling Festival
The Aoling Festival (sometimes spelt as Aoleng) is a festival celebrated by the Konyak Naga people and takes place at the Kisama Heritage Village which is 12 km from Nagaland’s capital Kohima. The Aoling Festival celebrates the arrival of spring and prays for a good upcoming harvest. The celebrations are held in the first week of April and coincide with the start of the Konyak New Year. However, dates can change as the festival is celebrated in villages across the district with no defined schedule. During the Aoling Festival many rituals take place including dancing, feasting and sacrifices that are meant to appease the divine spirits in order to bless the land with a good harvest
Dates: 1st till 10th April 2020
Mount Abu Summer Festival
The Summer Festival, Mt.Abu is held every year during Buddha Poornima, organized by the Rajasthan Tourism, Municipal Board, Mt.Abu & District Administration. The festival celebrates the warmth and cheerfulness of the people of hill station, their colorful life and vivacious nature. The hospitality of the people, their lively culture and exotic location make this festival a memorable experience during your tours to Rajasthan. This festival is one of the most popular fairs and festivals of Rajasthan.
Mount Abu Summer Festival commences with the singing of a ballad which is followed by folk dances which mesmerize the spectators. Exciting boat race is organized on the Nakki Lake add variety to the festival, proceeded with a ceremonial procession, with folk performances of Rajasthan & Gujarat states organized. The grand finale of the Festival displays glittering fireworks.
Dates: 8th till 10th April 2020
Puri Rath Yatra
Ratha Yatra is a regional holiday observed in Odisha, India. It is celebrated on Ashadha Shukla Paksha Dwitiya (second day after the new moon in the month of Ashadha). This means it is usually held in late June or early July, during the rainy season in Odisha and its observance of the Ratha Yatra of Jagannath dates back to the twelfth century.
Ratha Yatra is the most popular and anticipated festival of the year in Odisha and means the festival (yatra) of the chariots (ratha). The chariots stay in the Gundicha Temple for a week before being brought back to the Jagannath Temple via the Mausi Maa Temple, where the deities are ceremoniously offered poda pitha, a kind of baked cake which is usually only eaten by the poorest in society.
Date: 23rd June 2020
This is the time when the summer knocks at the door of Ladakh and the wait of Ladakhi people gets over to celebrate their largest festival Hemis. It is celebrated in the courtyard of Hemis Monastery, it holds a two-day celebration in honor of their Guru. People of Ladakh believe that he was a reincarnation of Lord Buddha. He fought with demons for the people of Ladakh and showed them the path of spirituality. Many International and National tourists gather here at the beginning of June to celebrate the Hemis festival. This festival is organized by the head of Lama. The local people are dressed up in their finest traditional outfit for the festival celebration. The Lamas perform sacred masked dance known as Chaam. Mask dancers perform their dance along with musical instruments like drums, longhand cymbals. These performances portray the victory of good over evil. Displaying of beautiful handicrafts of Ladakh is another highlight of the festival.
Dates: 30th June 2020 till 1st July 2020
Champakulam Boat Race
The Champakkulam Boat Race is one of the most-awaited events in the calendar of Kerala, has an origin which dates back to centuries in time. This spectacular snake boat race is held on the River Pampa on the day of the ‘moolam’, which is followed in accordance to the Malayalam month of Midhunam. The day is considered to be especially sacred as it is the day when the Deity at the Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple was installed.
The celebrations include magnificent water floats and decorated boats, the songs of the oarsmen called Vanchipattu and the most exciting Chundanvallom race. Chundans are type of boats that are over 100 feet long with elevated prows. The striking procession of water floats, decorated boats with vibrant parasols and performing arts welcomes the spectator before the race.
Date: 4th July 2020
Onam is celebrated at the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of the solar Malayalam calendar (Kollavarsham). It falls in August or September each year. There are four main days of Onam. The most important day of Onam (known as Thiru Onam or Thiruvonam, meaning “Sacred Onam Day”) is the second day. Events to look for, should you be in Kerala for Onam, include: “pookkalam” flower arrangements, boat races, tiger dances, cultural women’s dances, traditional music, donning of colourful masks and costumes, martial arts contests, and religious offerings and worship.
Dates: 22nd August till 2nd September 2020
Ziro Festival Of Music, Ziro Valley Arunachal pradesh
Founded by Bobby Hano and Menwhopause guitarist Anup Kutty in 2012, Ziro Music Festival in Arunachal Pradesh has many great Indie artists under its name like Steve Shelley, Lou Majaw, Shaa’ir n Func, Indus Creed, Lee Ranaldo, Menwhopause, Guru Rewben Mashangva, and Peter Cat Recording Co among others. The list is continuously growing and this time, it’s much larger than before! Located in Lower Subansiri district in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, the picturesque green valley is a perfect place for an independent artists music festival. A festival that together some of the best musical talents of India to a diverse audience hungry for some original cool music. A vibrant mixture of art, music, and culture, Ziro Festival 2020 has now become a “go to” destination for the youngsters and hip enthusiasts who want to get high on music.
Rajasthan International Folk Festival
Jodhpur Rajasthan International Folk Festival is a 5-Day-Long celebration of Rajasthani art and culture right at the foot of the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur’s the Thar Desert. It is a charitable, non-profit partnership project of India’s two biggest heritage trusts – Mehrangarh Museum Trust and Jaipur Virasat Foundation and also been recognized by the UNESCO as a People’s Platform for Creativity and Sustainable Development.. Coinciding with Sharad Poornima, the brightest full moon night in India, the Jodhpur Rajasthan International Folk Festival hosts a series of spectacular concerts and other events, annually, in and around the Mehrangarh Fort. It always witnessed a huge turnout, and hence it is recommended that you book your tickets way in advance. The nights of music, dance, and other folk arts in the desert will surely thrill you!
Dates- 10th October till 14th October 2020
Bathukamma represents cultural spirit of Telangana. Bathukamma is a beautiful flower stack, arranged with different unique seasonal flowers most of them with medicinal values, in seven concentric layers in the shape of temple gopuram. In Telugu, ‘Bathukamma’ means ‘Mother Goddess come Alive’ and Goddess Maha Gauri-‘Life Giver’ is worshipped in the form of Bathukamma – the patron goddess of womanhood, Gauri Devi.
Historically, bathukamma meant “festival of life” and was celebrated to thank Goddess Parvati for her blessings for the crop harvest and income she helped generate this (current) year and again ask her blessing for the next year.
Dates: 15th till 23rd October 2020
Dharamshala International Film Festival
When filmmakers and longtime Dharamshala residents Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam started the Dharamshala International Film Festival in 2012, their main aim was to give the local community a platform for good alternative cinema. Five years later DIFF has become one of India’s leading independent film festivals and draws audiences from across the world.
For one long weekend each year DIFF brings the world to Dharamshala. Film lovers find their way to screenings, Q&A’s with filmmakers, panel discussions and masterclasses. All of the town’s diverse communities come together to make the festival a success.
Dates: 7th till 10th November 2020
Pushkar Camel Fair 2020 is a must-see festival for tourist visiting Rajasthan, India. The Pushkar Camel Fair also known as Pushkar Fair or Pushkar Mela, is one of the world’s largest camels trade fair. More than 30,000 camels are traded during Pushkar Camel fair every year. Apart from cattle and camel trading, the Pushkar Camel Fair in parallel holds a festival of folk music and dances, Ferris wheels, magic shows, cultural events and competitions. Such as Tug of War– games for women teams and men teams, Longest Moustache – a competition for Moustache Lovers, Matka Phod, Bridal competition, Rajasthani Group Dance, Camel Race, Camel Decoration (Gorband), Camel Dance Competition, Wrestling Competition, Matka Race for women.
Dates: 22nd till 30th November 2020
Kochi Muziris Biennale, Kochi
The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an international exhibition of contemporary art held in Kochi, Kerala. It is the largest art exhibition in India and the biggest contemporary art festival in Asia. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an initiative of the Kochi Biennale Foundation with support from the Government of Kerala. The exhibition is set in spaces across Kochi, with shows being held in existing galleries, halls, and site-specific installations in public spaces, heritage buildings and disused structures.
Dates: 12th December 2020 till 10th April 2021
Hornbill Festival, Nagaland
The Hornbill Festival is held at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama which is about 12 km from Kohima. All the tribes of Nagaland take part in this festival. The aim of the festival is to revive and protect the rich culture of Nagaland and display its extravaganza and traditions.
The week-long festival unites one and all in Nagaland and people enjoy the colourful performances, crafts, sports, food fairs, games and ceremonies. Traditional arts which include paintings, wood carvings, and sculptures are also on display. Festival highlights include the traditional Naga Morungs exhibition and the sale of arts and crafts, food stalls, herbal medicine stalls, flower shows and sales, cultural medley – songs and dances, fashion shows, the Miss Nagaland beauty contest, traditional archery, Naga wrestling, indigenous games, and musical concert.
Dates: 1st till 10th December 2020