Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in India

Christmas is one of the top festivals around the world. India’s Christian population comprises just 5% of the world’s Christian population. However, Christmas is one of the most enjoyed festivals of the land and India is considered as one of the best places to enjoy tropical Christmas with a little Indian heritage feel. There are also numerous places in India where you can enjoy the traditional jingle-bells styled Christmas. Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Lord Jesus, needs no introduction. Christmas falls on Dec 25th of every year.

Apart from the feast, parade, and ceremonies, Christmas is the celebration of sharing, rejoicing, and togetherness. This festival is celebrated with zest in many parts of India. Are you planning to visit India during Christmas time?

Here is a guide to enjoy Christmas in India.

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How is Christmas Celebrated?

Feast and wine make an integral part of the celebration. You can find many luxury hotels conducting buffets, Santa Claus visit and much more. From the religious point of view, the celebration starts on Christmas Eve with feasts, programs and mass in churches around the country.

Significance-of-Christmas-in-India

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Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in India

1. Goa

christmas celebrations in goa

This is one of the regions with a large catholic population and it is the best place to enjoy a traditional style Christmas with a fusion of Portuguese and Indian celebrations. Christmas carols would cover the streets putting the Christmas cheer in the air. Every church will have masses and feasts. Many streets and almost all the houses will have Christmas decorations. The market places will be decorated and gift items would be flooding. The best of all is the Fountain has Latin Quarter of Panjim, where you can find bands, carols, feasts, masses and many other traditional elements of celebrations.

Top churches to visit in Goa are Basilica of Bom Jesus, Santa Cruz Church, and Se Cathedral.

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2. Kolkata

St.Andrews-church-Kolkata

St. Andrews Church

Kolkata is one of the best places to enjoy Durga Pooja and at the same time, it is one of the top places for Christmas too. The Park Street Christmas parade is the iconic attraction of the festival and it is one of the crafted ceremony in which, the entire street is filled with lights, the shops will be packed with Christmas goodies and freshly baked traditional plum cakes, Santa Clauses, carol singers and much more. The Christmas celebrations start on the 22nd of December and go way past Christmas and end on December 30th.

The next best attraction of Kolkata is the Saint Paul’s Cathedral, which is famous for the Christmas Eve special mid-night mass. This 19th-century Cathedral will be flourished with lights and decorations. Those who visit the Cathedral also visit Bow Barracks for live Christmas celebrations and events, which start on December 23rd and ends only by New Year’s Eve.

Top churches to visit in Kolkata are St. Philomena’s Cathedral, St. Paul’s Cathedral, St. Andrews church and others.

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3. Mumbai

Christmas in Mumbai

This is a place for a traditional celebration, especially in the suburbs area of Bandra, which has a higher Catholic population. The churches in this area are famous for feasts and mid-night masses. The best of all is the Saint Thomas Cathedral. The Hill Road of Bandra will be covered with Christmas decorations and the shops will be filled with festive goodies. The fishermen communities are the oldest Christian groups in this region. If you are looking for an Indian styled Christmas, visit Matharpacady Village, which has been celebrating Christmas for the past 200 years. The village church will be decorated and you can find a large feast, which is open for all.

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Top churches to visit in Mumbai are St. Thomas Cathedral, Basilica of Our Lady of Mount, Afghan Church, and others.

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4. Delhi

christmas celebration in Delhi

This is one of the few non-coastal areas, where you can enjoy Christmas at the top-notch level in India. The Connaught Place is the best place for Christmas events and shopping. Visit Sacred Heart Cathedral to enjoy special programs and celebrations.

Top churches to visit here are Sacred Heart Cathedral, St. Alphonsa’s Church and St. James Church.

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5. Kerala

Christmas in Kerala

The churches of Kerala will be gleaming with lights and decorations. You can find large trees outside many churches, which are open for the public to decorate. The best part of all is the Cochin Carnival, which is celebrated along with Christmas with cultural events, processions, rituals and much more. The carnival ends on New Year’s Eve with burning an effigy of Santa Claus. On New Year’s Day, there will be a cultural procession.

Top churches to cover during Christmas are St. Francis Church, Basilica of our Lady of Dolores Church and Edathua Church.

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6. Shillong

christmas-in-shillong

This is a north-east India destination famous for cultural beauty. A major part of the population in this city is Christians and obviously, Christmas is one of the top festivals of the land. The churches and local homes will be decorated with beautiful lights, making the nights more merrier. Mid-night masses, feasts and cultural functions are conducted in the churches. The market regions will be filled with goodies. You can find carols on the streets bringing the Christmas cheer.

Top churches to cover are Mary Help of Christians Cathedral and others.

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7. Pondicherry

christmas-celebrations-in-pondicherry

Pondicherry was under the control of France in the past and today, the culture and lifestyle of the region are very much linked with France. Thus, it is very easy to enjoy a traditional French-infused Indian styled celebration here with religious gatherings, masses, feasts, cultural programs, and others. Many bonfire celebrations and parties are conducted on the beach during Christmas. The hotels will be conducting their private parties and you can find Santa Clauses around the city, trying to bring the smile in people.

Top church to enjoy Christmas in Pondicherry is Domus Dei Cathedral.

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8. Bangalore

christmas-in-bangalore

Starting from gingerbread man to turkey dinner, this place is famous for the traditional western-styled Christmas. Do you miss Christmas at home? It is time to head towards Bangalore of Karnataka. The central part of Bangalore is famous for numerous churches and thus, the celebration will be at the peak during this time. Do you know that churches in this region have English culture? Visit MG Road to get the Christmas feel with joyous carols, festival shopping and bakeries filled with exclusive Christmas goodies.

Top churches to cover are St. Patrick’s Church, St. Francis Xavier’s Cathedral, All Saints Church and Infant Jesus Church.

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9. Sikkim

christmas-in-Sikkim

Sikkim is very different than the other destinations expressed in this list. This is the place for anyone wanting to enjoy a calm Christmas without any hassle or crowd. Sikkim has a very small Christianity population and this is the place to enjoy white Christmas with snow, carols and campfires. A few churches around the region conducts carols throughout the city. You can always hear jingle bells in the air. The markets will be filled with gifts, the smell of roast meat and cake. The pubs are the best place to enjoy Christmas here. Celebrations will go beyond midnight and you can find many live bands in action during Christmas Eve.

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Top churches to cover are Baptist Church of Sikkim, Hope City Church, and St. Thomas Church.

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10. Manali

Christmas-in-Manali

Apart from being one of the top snow destinations in India, Manali is also getting more tourists during Christmas for those who want to enjoy a snow-filled Christmas. Every hotel and resort in the region arranges Christmas decorations, Santa Claus, snowmen, carols, and other elements to give a holistic Christmas experience. You cannot find a lot of churches around here for enjoying Christmas feast but, the hotels will provide a complete traditional Christmas cuisine including rum cake, wine, five-course dinner and so on. Christmas Eve is usually celebrated with bonfires, snowball fighting, carols, group dinners and so on.

Top churches to cover are Arcot Lutheran Church, Gilgal prayer house Church, and others.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Christmas In India

Q. Which is the best place to celebrate Christmas?

Christmas is celebrated around the world but, not all places would be gleaming with beauty, joy, and cheer during the celebration. Are you planning a Christmas vacation?

Here are the top places to visit.

  • Bethlehem – traditional Christmas with pilgrimage vacation
  • Santa Claus Village of Finland – reindeer forest, amusement park, Santa Claus house and others for children’s dream vacation.
  • New York City – modern Christmas with ice skating, Nutcracker performance, Rockefeller Christmas tree and others for a sightseeing vacation
  • Bondi Beach of Australia – DJ, band, bonfire and music throughout the night for backpackers Christmas.
  • Vatican City – nativity scenes, midnight mass, roasted chestnut, carols, and others for a traditional vacation
  • Dublin – 12 days of shopping, ice skating, carols and others for a colorful Christmas
  • Nuremberg – gingerbread, proffer toys, mulled wine and much more for a fairytale Christmas

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Q. Which countries are hot in December?

  • Sri Lanka of South-East Asia
  • Cartagena of South America
  • Myanmar of Asia
  • India of Asia
  • Perth of West Australia

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Q. What do Indians do for Christmas?

Compared to other countries, Christmas is infused with a lot of traditional Indian cultures which are derived from other religions. Just like the other parts of the world, midnight masses are the iconic religious element of Christmas. It is usually followed by a massive feast. Most of the feasts are conducted like a pot luck.

These feasts are usually grand with tens of dishes and are usually open for all. Usually, Churches are decorated with Poinsettia and other local flowers. Candles are lit all around the church. In some southern states, small clay lamps are lit instead of candles. Every Christian household will have at least a lit star out in their balcony. Some prefer to have Christmas trees. Some states use mango leaf garlands to decorate the house, which is a traditional Hindu style adapted for Christian celebrations.

Carols are common in Catholic rich regions. You can find Christmas cake all around the market. However, most of those are not home-made plum cakes. You can find coconut-based dishes, a lot. This is due to the fact that most of the coastal regions have a high number of Christians and coconut is very common in these beach regions. To appreciate the birth of Lord Jesus, many houses create nativity scenes with figurines. Santa Claus is a common factor around the world. Every church has a Santa Claus who comes around giving small gifts to kids. The concept of asking for presents to Santa Claus by sitting on his lap is not common in India.

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On Christmas morning, the PJ photographs and gifts under the tree are not common. However, there will be a grand feast in every home. They make it a point to invite friends and families of all religions and creed to home for a grand dinner. Some homes invite pastors for a group prayer. By evening, people choose to go for a small picnic or even visit beaches to spot the sunset. Some prefer to just relax after a heavy meal.

Q. What do Indians eat for Christmas?

In general, Christmas fruit cake, wine, and traditional festive food make up the Christmas meal in India. Usually, the main dish during Christmas is biriyani or pulao. Some Catholic families go with turkey biriyani. Spicy curries of pork or other meat are served along with the main dish. Rose flavored desserts are common like rose cookies, rose cakes or rose-milk.

Top traditional Christmas dishes of India are:

  • Fruit cake, usually plum cake
  • Allahabadi cake
  • Mathri biscuit
  • Kheer
  • Roast chicken
  • Bebinca (traditional Goan Christmas dessert)
  • ChhenaPoda (traditional Odisha Christmas dish)
  • Christmas cookies
  • Vindaloo (Christmas pork dish of Goa)

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Q. Where Can You Spend Christmas in India?

Top places to visit for a grand Christmas in India are:

  • Goa
  • Shillong
  • Kerala
  • Pondicherry
  • Lansdowne
  • Sikkim
  • Kolkata
  • Mumbai
  • Delhi
  • Chennai
  • Shimla
  • Ooty
  • Dadra and Nagar Haveli
  • Gulmarg
  • Daman and Diu
  • Bangalore
  • Hyderabad
  • Manali

Q. Top churches to visit for a perfect Christmas in India are

  • St. Paul’s Cathedral of Kolkata
  • Basilica of Bom Jesus of Goa
  • St. Philomena’s cathedral of Mysore
  • Christ Church of Shimla
  • St. Thomas Church of Thrissur

Q. Top Indian destinations for white Christmas (Christmas with snow)

  • Auli of Uttarakhand
  • Gulmarg of Jammu and Kashmir
  • Manali of Himachal Pradesh
  • Shimla of Himachal Pradesh

Q. Top places in India for Christmas shopping are

  • German Christmas Market of Mumbai and Delhi – traditional homemade plum cakes, cake pop, chocolate brownies, Santa Clause figurines, ornaments, and others
  • Stalls of Cochin Carnival in Kerala
  • Street markets of Goa – best place for European products, lightings, ornaments, nativity clay figurines, and others
  • Park Street market of Kolkata – fruit cake, walnut cake, ginger wine, grape wine, lightings, figurines, Santa Claus dress, Christmas trees, and others.

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If you are looking to have a holistic Christmas vacation, take up the signature luxury train itinerary of Palace on Wheels during Christmas. In 2019, you get to start the Christmas with the luxury train itinerary on Dec 15th or, you can end the itinerary with Christmas enjoying the Christmas Eve on Palace on Wheels by taking the itinerary that starts on Dec 18th. For more departure dates, visit https://www.thepalaceonwheels.org/departures.html and start booking.

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