10 Most Popular Winter Festivals of India
Winter is one of the most pleasing times in India. The winter season is the peak tourism season in most states of the country. Indian tradition celebrates everything beautiful, and thus, you can find numerous festivals. Besides, winter is the harvest season for many staple crops, and thus, you can find harvest festivals during this season. If you are visiting India during winter, you will never regret it.
Here are the top 10 winter festivals to enjoy during your visit to India.
1. Gujarat Kite Festival
This festival is a part of the Gujarat culture since 1980. As the name indicates, it is a kite festival. A specialty kite market is erect for buying kites and kite materials. People fly many interesting, colorful kites in the sky. Kite fights take place during this festival. You can even find traditional international kites of America, Japan, Italy, Chinese, and others. Late at night, the lantern kites fill the sky with vivid colors and is a delight to watch.
2. Hornbill Festival
The Hornbill festival is a cultural festival of the tribes of the region. This festival focuses on the art, culture, cuisine, and lifestyle of the tribe. Top activities to enjoy during this festival are war dance, national rock concert, traditional games, headhunting ritual, and others. A night market is open throughout this festival (eleven days),where you can find unique souvenirs and try local cuisine. The best of all is the local rice beer of this land, which stansas a sacred drink during this festival.
3. Lohri Festival
As mentioned before, winter is abundant with harvest festivals. Lohri is also called the Sanmukhi or Gurmukhi. This festival also celebrates the winter solstice, the day with the shortest sun hours and longest night. This festival covers many interesting activities like feast, gathering, rituals, folk dance and music, bonfire, and much more. The three main crops of this festival are peanuts, gur, and rewi. The iconic celebration of this festival is the Bhangra dance performance.
4. Bikaner Camel Festival
The camel festival of Bikaner is one of the famous and interesting fair of Rajasthan. This fair takes place for two days, and you can find numerous camel based events like the camel beauty contest, camel race, camel parade, and others. You can also find several cultural celebrations like puppet shows, acrobat shows, folk dance and music, fire dance and others. During this fair, the ground holds numerous stalls, which sell exotic items like camel leather articles, pottery items, craft items, camel milk sweets, and others. Some tourists camp in the fairground overnight and enjoy dance and music performances late at night.
Destination: Tamil Nadu
The Pongal is the harvest festival of Southern India. This four-day festival focuses on thanking the Sun God, Rain God, and cow for providing a great harvest. Many rituals and celebrations take place. Cow fight (jallikattu) is an iconic cultural game of Tamil Nadu. During this festival, a sweet delicacy made of rice and jaggery is served (Pongal). You can find many folk dances and music celebrations throughout the state during this festival. Temples conduct special rituals during this day. Visit the villages of Tamil Nadu during this festival to enjoy many cultural activities and games.
6. Manali Winter Carnival
This festival celebrates joy and color. This winter carnival is a part of Manali culture since 1977, and this festival focuses on the Himachali tradition and all winter sports. Thus, this festival is the right time to enjoy adventure sports like skating, skiing, and other snow activities. Many cultural celebrations like folk dance and music performances, cultural games and other activities take place during this carnival. You can find many stalls around the area to buy souvenir items and taste the local cuisine. Skiing is an important activity to enjoy during this carnival.
7. Jaisalmer Desert Festival
The Jaisalmer desert festival is one of the famous winter festivals of Rajasthan. This four-day celebration takes place in the Thar Desert of Jaisalmer. This festival is the best time to enjoy many cultural attractions like traditional dance and music celebrations. Many local games like turban tying contest, mustache competition, beauty contest, and others take place for the locals. Many street performances also takes place in many stages in the ground. Most of the tourists camp in the fair region to enjoy a bonfire and other celebrations. If you are looking for a cultural vacation, this desert festival is the best celebration to enjoy while travelling through the Palace on Wheels luxury train.
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8. Rann Utsav
Destination: Rann of Kutch, Gujarat
Month: October to February
This festival takes place for the entire winter season. During this festival, a temporary city is erected in the middle of the cold white salt desert. This festival is a carnival, where you can enjoy numerous cultural performances like dance, music, drama, puppet shows, and much more. Many adventure sports are also open for tourists during this celebration. Workshops for meditation, yoga and other spiritual experiences will be conducted. The tourists camp in the desert, take part in the activities and enjoy a vivid time. The best time to visit this fair is during the full moon nights.
9. Nagaur Fair
Destination: Nagaur, Rajasthan
Month: February or March
The Nagaur cattle fair is the second famous cattle fair of the land. Do you know that more than eighty thousand cattle exchanges take place during this festival? Apart from the trade, this festival is one of the most colorful activities in Rajasthan. Dance, music, street shows, camel race, puppet shows, juggling, cockfights and many other activities take place for four days. The fair ends by late evening, and the tourists and merchants camp in the fairground to enjoy a bonfire and other cultural celebrations to pass the night. On the last day, fireworks are conducted to mark the end of the celebration. If you miss Nagaur Fair, try to take part in the Pushkar Fair of November.
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10. Rajasthan Winter Festival
Destination: Mount Abu
This festival is celebrated to welcome tourists to the land during the peak tourism season. Mount Abu is a hill station located in this desert state. A large fair is conducted during this festival, and you can find masterpieces of local artists for sale in this fairground. Apart from shopping for souvenirs, you can enjoy music and dance celebrations, traditional games, kite contests, boat races, and others. Gair, Daph, and Ghoomar dance performances are the iconic attractions of this festival.
Indian follows the lunar calendar, and the exact date and month of these festivals might vary. However, these festivals will fall in the winter season. This is not an exclusive list. There are numerous other winter festivals of the land like Goa carnival, Pushkar fair, Magnetic field festival, Konark dance festival, December music festival, Mamallapuram dance festival, New Year celebration, Christmas and so on. During the festivals, the demand for tickets and accommodations will be very high. Thus, plan your vacation as soon as possible and pre-book all the required amenities.