India changes every 50 kilometres and so do the cultural practices. In a country with such diversity, attending the various festivals is an irresistible idea, especially when the weather is on our side.

Hornbill Festival, Nagaland

The introverted state of Nagaland comes to live in the first week of December. Travellers from across the work visit Kisama to witness week-long traditional dance performances, archery and other sports, and arts and crafts from the state. The Indian Hornbill is a part of the tribal Naga folklore which lends its name to the festival. The festival displays local craftsmanship such as the bead jewellery, wood cravings, paintings, while serving some experimental Naga cuisine in the food stalls.

Dates: December 1 till 10, 2018.
Location: Kisama, 12 km away from Kohima.

Read about my travel to Arunachal Pradesh here

Winter Festival at Mount Abu, Rajasthan

The annual Winter Festival held in the last week of December in the beautiful hill station of Mount Abu. A number of colourful activities like kite flying, fairs and concerts and bright fireworks entice guests to this fest. It also includes exhibitions and dance performances. The festival sees a good contribution from local folk artistes who perform in the event. Typically held for three days, it commences with a procession at Nakki Lake Chowk.

Dates: December 29 to 31, 2018.
Location: Mount Abu, Rajasthan

Winter festivals India
A typical day in Mount Abu. Photo courtesy: Selmer van Alten/Flick CC.

Khajuraho Dance Festival, Madhya Pradesh

At Khajuraho Dance Festival, elegance comes to life with the historical temple as a backdrop. Comprising a number of classical performances from Manipuri, Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Odissi, Kathak and Kuchipudi dance forms, this festival hosts the most celebrated dancers from across the country. The festival has seen artistes like Geeta Chandran (Bharatanatyam), Aruna Mohanty and Troupe (Odissi) and Preeti Patel and Troupe (Manipuri).

Dates: February 18-24, 2019.
Location: Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh.

Get a snippet of Rancha village in Madhya Pradesh from my experiences here

Rann Utsav, Gujarat

Rann Utsav is spread over three months, every winter. During this time, full moon nights are scheduled with special performances, celebrations and activities. Guests are expected to stay in tents on site, the Rann of Kutch. During this period, this part of the western state is colloquially called ‘the tent city’. Every year, Rann Utsav grows more adventurous. This year there are outdoor sports like paramotoring and ATV (All-terrain Vehicle) for the thrill-seekers. Others can unwind with leisure activities like star gazing or a game of chess. The main focus of the festival, however, remains on vibrant music and dance performances, and creations by local artistes (artwork and crafts).

Dates: November 2018 to February 2019.
Location: Rann of Kutch, Gujarat.

Winter festivals India
Tents in Rann of Kutch. Photo courtesy: Kaushik Patel/Flickr CC.

Goa Carnaval

Goa Carnaval or Carnival is a loud celebration parading across the streets of Goa. The festival is usually held before Lent and celebrates life, laugh and harmony. The parade, which passes through Mapusa, Panjim and Madgaon, have people dressed in fancy costumes, sport flamboyant masquerades and dance to lively music. This gala show is simultaneously supported by a number of events, such as contest, gigs and cooking competitions. Exclusive to Goa, this festival is not celebrated anywhere else in the country.

Dates: March 2-5, 2019.
Location: Across Goa.

Winter festivals India © Amrita Das
Across the state marking the big event.

Get a detailed guide to Goa Carnaval here

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Amrita Das

I have been a travel and culture independent journalist. My bylines have appeared in many publications worldwide including National Geographic Traveller India, Lonely Planet Magazine India, The Indian Express and World Travel Magazine. A fellow of Media Ambassadors India-Germany 2019 program by Robert Bosch Stiftung and Centre for Media Competence, University of Tübingen. Currently, I am the photo editor for RoundGlass Sustain, a wildlife and conservation e-publication. I live in India.

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