The land of cultural and traditional pluralism; India guarantees a long list of festivals in its every passing month. No matter in which month you are landing here, festivities will always surround you. In this blog, we bring you the best of the celebrations that are bound to take place in the month of December in India.
From electronic music festival to classical manifestos, religion oriented to leisure art, these Indian festivals and events are certainly amongst the top ways to joyously live the final days of the passing year. Here’s what the country has in its store for December:
A cultural affair in the backdrop of a world renowned Sun temple gets the town of Konark jubilates in music and dance every year. The town started with this trend of celebration in the year 1986, and ever since then, it has been attracting a great number of art and music lovers from all over the world. Ranging from classical acts like Bharatnatyam, Odissi and Kathak to folk oriented Manipuri and Chau performances, the festival depicts the traditional dance forms of India in the most graceful manner.
Musical performances from the maestros also become the highlights of this 5 day long festival. Artists and groups from all corners of the country participate in this cultural fiesta. Over the time, the festival has pushed its horizons. Owing to this, the festival now attracts a sizeable amount of handicraft and sculpture artists to showcase their work amidst all the talents. Thus, it is your lucky chance to witness the rich cultural heritage of India in a more artsy way.
Where: Open air auditorium, Natamandir, near the Konark Temple.
International Sand Art Festival
In India, art has always been appreciated; irrespective of its nature and form. Justifying this very statement is the International Sand Art festival, held in the town of Konark in Odisha. It is also a double bonus for tourists traveling to this part of India as it coincides with the famous Konark festival.
With sand sculpture of Mona Lisa, Laughing Buddha and Save the Girl Child being the star attractions of the festival’s previous year engagements, it’s not hard to frame an idea about the potential of the artists who take part in this renowned festival. It started with a much local approach, but competition erupted when international artists started making more and more entries every year. One of its kind in India, it will bring back your nostalgic childhood memories on the beach.
Where: Chandrabhaga Beach, Konark, Orissa.
Northeast of India is amazing and so are its festivals. One of them which is certainly the biggest extravaganza in this part of India is the Hornbill festival. Binding the Naga civilization tightly to its cultural and traditional roots is the Hornbill festival. It started solely as a festival of Nagaland, but sooner it evolved in to a big culture event for the whole of northeast India. It is a week-long celebration that displays the mystical diversity of this corner of the country.
Named after a bird, Hornbill festival features traditional dance, music and sport of the Naga tribes. Hornbill is a great opportunity for mainstream India to get well versed with these hidden cultural treasures. Besides the cultural performances, the celebrations of Hornbill involve great culinary delights; delicious cuisines served with locally made rice beer.
Where: Kisama Heritage Village (near Kohima town), Nagaland.
The Great Rann of Kutch is truly a remarkable place to visit in Gujarat. What describes its beauty is not just the shimmering white sand, but a plethora of cultural hues that speak of traditional Gujarati customs and its folklores. One of these remarkable hues is displayed by the Rann Utsav, which is actually a carnival that celebrates the unique nature of Rann with craft, music and dance.
Such an artistic interpretation of the ethnic and cultural ethos of the Rann attracts connoisseurs of art from far off places of the world. The festival knows no boundaries and it touches the diversity that is entangled in both the rural and modern Gujarat.
Where: Dhordo, Kutch, Gujarat.
Feast of Francis Xavier
One of the most sacred events for Christians of Goa and all over the world, ‘Feast of Francis Xavier’ involves honoring of the great saint St. Francis Xavier through various ceremonies. Every year during this day, the mummified body of the saint which is placed in a silver casket inside the Church of Bom Jesus in Goa is visited by thousands of tourists, particularly from Europe and Asia.
The saint was believed to have immense healing power, thus catching one glimpse of his sacred body makes the church highly crowded. The festival lasts for seven days which also includes a grand feast, followed by a grand fair in the city.
Truly a must attend event in Goa during December.
Where: Bom Jesus Basilica, near Panaji, Old Goa.
Much like an extension of the revered Deepavali festival, Karthigai Deepam is also marked as a festival of lights. When the former is celebrated for two days in the northern half of Delhi, the latter is marked by a 10 day celebration in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. However, the celebrations of this festival resembles a lot to that of Deepavali; decoration of homes with lamps and lights.
Tiny lamps that illuminate houses and streets during Karthigai are believed to be miniature replicas of the fire linga of Lord Shiva. The mythology says that Lord Shiva took the form of a flame on this very day. Owing to this, people call this festival as Maha Deepam too.
The sole motive behind Karthigai Deepam is to keep bad things at bay and welcome the holiest things in life. Its festive days are marked by various traditional processions of various Lords, special feasts and temple ceremonies.
limax of the festival is the most interesting; the 10th day. It witnesses a special ceremony which starts as early as 4 o’ clock in the morning. Thousands pray at the Arunachaleswarar temple where the Bharani Deepam is lit. The mega ceremony starts in the evening, when a mammoth gathering of people takes form at the top of the Tiruvannamalai hill and again a special lamp is lit in respect of Lord Shiva.
Where: Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu.
Magnetic Fields Festival
This artsy affair is one of the newest in India. Collaborating the talents of around 500, the Magnetic fields festival features band and DJ performances. The music front of the magnetic fields take place in a beautifully restored 17th century palace hotel. Owing to the vintage (Shekhawati) appeal of the venue along with some of the grooviest international creativities, the festival sure is a fantasy carnival. You can either choose to stay in luxury suites of the hotel or in furnished tents; just like the gypsies. Out here the tent facility goes by the name ‘Bedouin Village’.
Where: Alsisar Mahal, Shekhawati region of Rajashtan. (5 hours from Delhi/4 hours from Jaipur).
Chennai Music Festival (Madras Music Season)
It is the biggest celebration of classical music and dance which swings the whole of Chennai in the last month of every year. One can call it a cultural extravaganza, which invites artists from all walks of classical (Carnatic) music and dance from every region of India. Much like the Woodstock, the Chennai Music festival is a dream for every classical artist; musician or dancer. Other than performances of more than a 1000 South Indian artists, the festival features lectures, seminars and demonstrations linked to various other art forms of India.
Where: Music halls all over Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
Delhi Street Food Festival
The national capital of India is very much appreciated for the variety of its street food. Keeping this spirit alive, the National Association of Street Vendors of India organizes a festival especially for the street food lovers. Entries of various food items from all over India become the main highlight of this mouthwatering festival. Hot and spicy, sweet and salty, whatever your taste buds demand, you will not go home disappointed from here.
Where: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Gate 14, Bhisma Pitamah Road, Pragati Vihar, Lodi Colony, Delhi.
Enchanted Valley Carnival
Bringing back the time of the gypsies, who were popular of their haywire notions of living and their love for music; the Enchanted Valley Carnival is for the music celebrators of the different kind. This one of a kind music festival boasts of a fully-fledged campsite in natural verdant surroundings. It is the idea of building a strong camping brand in the country that has evolved itself into an electronic music hub also.
Music lovers travel here, enjoy the battle between some of the biggest names across genres like house, techno, trance, fusion and India, spend the leisure time at camps and get indulged in adventure activities. In a nutshell, the ‘Enchanted valley carnival’ is a power packed trip on its own.
Where: Festival Arena, Aamby Valley City, Maharashtra. (2 hours drive from Mumbai).
Shilpgram Art and Craft Fair
Rajasthan’s best handicraft exhibitions; Shilpgram Art and Craft fair is an annual affair that attracts artisans from all over India; the numbers of which cross 400. The main idea is to promote the folk art of Rajasthan across ethnic and geographic diversities of India. Owing to this, the site gets fully packed with stalls selling the exotic art work of the state. Besides, folk dance performances and cultural programs also add to the charm of this rural celebration. Thus, the fair is a must visit for shoppers interested in true Rajasthani artwork.
Where: Shilpgram, near Udaipur, Rajasthan.
Nestled coyly in one corner of India is West Bengal, the cultural extent of which holds a very large perimeter. This can be guessed by the number of fairs and festivals celebrated on its soil every year. One is especially dedicated to its cultural richness; the Poush Mela, which packs up the last days of the year with its celebrations. To be precise; the festival is in honor of the foundation of West Bengal’s university town of Shantiniketan by Maharishi Debendranath Tagore. Amongst the various festivities that take place in Shantiniketan, Poush Mela is considered the most significant. The festival showcases cultural performances at a large scale. This primarily includes folk theatre, folk music & dance and the regional Bauli music of West Bengal. Handicraft shopping is also a major highlight of the Poush festival.
Where: Shantiniketan, West Bengal
Cochin (Kochi) Carnival
Culturally disciplined and high on traditions; God’s own country, Kerala also knows how to party. Although their style is slightly different from the usual. Known as the Kochi carnival, it is one of the most awaited festivals in the region; processions of which takes place at the Kochi fort. Highlights of the carnival include games, fairs and dance; the preparations of which usually begin months before.
The carnival resembles a lot like the Portuguese way of celebrating; parades in fancy costumes, and it merges into the celebrations of the New Year’s. During that time, massive processions along with fireworks take place at the streets of Kochi. Various sports activities like bicycle race, beach volleyball and swimming in the sea become part of the carnival. Moreover, recreational activities like tug-of-war and floor drawing (Kalam Vara) are also its major highlights.
Where: Fort Kochi, Kerala.
It’s the birthday of Lord Jesus!. One of the most popular festivals of the world, Christmas is celebrated with great zeal everywhere. Even in India, which has a population of less than 5% Christians. Skip the northern part of the country and you will find the traditional Christmas wave flowing in almost every corner.
Particularly in Goa, which has a number of Portuguese styled churches built all across its lands. It is certainly fascinating to see these churches shine in glittering decorations during the time of Christmas. Celebrations take over the streets with people dressed as santa claus and elfs. You can even travel to Kolkata, Kerala and northeast regions of India to watch the festive spirits of Christmas.
Where: Various locations in India.
International Odissi Dance Festival
By the above mentioned festivals in Odissi, you would have possibly got a hint of the state’s inclination to the classical art forms of India. Another entry in our exclusive list of festivals and events in December 2015 is the International Odissi Dance festival, which highly focuses on Odissi. A dance form that was created in the temples of Orissa, Odissi finds a special mention in this renowned festival.
Practitioners of this classical dance form perform in group, duet or solo at the festival. The beautiful and skillful art of Odissi have risen to great glories since its inception days. Owing to its international stature, audiences can enjoy dance performances of foreign artists as well. Besides dance performances, this international festival also demonstrates workshops and lectures.
Where: Rabindra Mandap, Bhubaneshwar, Orissa.
Sunburn Festival Goa
Now this one’s a real killer. The biggest outdoor music festival in India; Sunburn, is the prime reason for millions of tourists to travel to Goa in the winter months. What to say about it; the festival has got its fans from all over the world and over the successful years of its run up, it has established itself as a rage amongst party hoppers.
The festival features numerous acts of well-known global artists and DJs, which get followed by cruise and beach parties. Sunburn goes on for three days but its celebrations on the beaches feel never ending.
Where: Vagator, Goa.
Mamallapuram Indian Dance Festival
Mamallapuram, which is also known as Mahabalipuram is highly renowned for propagating the rich cultural heritage of South India. It showcases this heritage not only through architectural temple wonders, but also through various art forms of dance and music. True to every word of this statement is the Mamallapuram Indian Dance festival, which presents a wide range of folk and classical dances from all over India.
The dance festival takes place against the backdrop of the town’s famous rock sculptures. Such cultural attractions in the vicinity sets the mood just right for a festival of this nature. Popular dance forms of India like Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Odissi, Kuchipudi and Kathakali are the major highlights of this 4 week festival.
Where: Arjuna’s Penance, Mamallapuram, near Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
Mt Abu Winter Festival
It’s the occasion to experience the warmth of culture and civilization when your surroundings are bitterly cold. Such experiences are common at the Mt. Abu winter festival in Rajasthan. The festival is renowned for its folk performances of Rajashan and its nearby states; Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab.
Other than such cultural glimpses, the winter festival also shows its competitive sport traits in the form of boat race in Nakki Lake, Panihari Matka race, Skating race, band show and a tug of war that usually takes place between foreign as well as domestic tourists. Other participatory events at the Mt.Abu winter festival include Musical chair game, Mehndi Mandana and Deepotsave.
Where: Mt Abu, Rajasthan