25 Fun Festivals in India for 2018

In India, festivals are not just a source of joy, but a way of life. Being a highly diverse nation sailing amidst the various cultural tides, the flavours and colours you get to witness here during these bouts of festivities are truly unsurpassable. These celebrations not only prove to be a great escape from our mundane routines, it also lets us embrace our traditional and modern roots beautifully. It is the time when people get to come out of there beehives and leverage some leisurely moments for themselves.

While many of these festivities have been a part of India since ages, there are some new additions to it that are equally splendid in terms of vivacity and fun. Embodying the current melange of old and new, here is the list of the most popular upcoming Festivals in 2018 in India that should definitely make into your bucket list.

Festivals in January

Jaipur Literature Festival - 2018

 

Image Source: Flickr/USEmbassyNewDelhi

Date: 25th January to 29th January, 2018

Venue: Diggi Palace Hotel, Shivaji Marg, Jaipur Rajasthan

Jaipur literary extravaganza is undoubtedly one of the most touted events of the year with being a centre stage for literati, bibliophiles and worldwide acclaimed authors who grace the platform with their charismatic presence and exemplary thoughts. Known to be the greatest literature festival in the world, this 5-day annual celebration takes place at the end of the January every year and has been a great joy for anyone who shares a love for books, intellectual debates and knowledgeable pursuits. 

The venue for this lit fest is the Diggi Palace Hotel which is hardly 15 minutes away from the city of Jaipur and can be accessed for free. While the place with its enormous variety of engagement, from insightful dialogues of award-winning writers to engaging discussions with collegiates and book enthusiasts, provides ample food for your thoughts during the day, the Musical Nights held in the evening beckons you for a delightful relaxing experience. The festival completed a decade in 2017 with its theme- ‘The Freedom to Dream- India at 70’ which was the major point of discussion amidst visitors. With numerous priced speakers such as Alan Friedman, Atima Mankotia, and Amy Tan, the event is sure going to top it off amid people in 2018. Ensure to take some time off your schedule to enjoy some delicious eateries and drinks in the varied shops there while you are at it. 

Tips: Registering yourself online will save you a lot of time. Ensure to keep the registration number with you to get the entrance ID. For a cheap stay, go for one of the various Havelis or if you are planning to stay in a hotel, it will be wise to do the reservations beforehand to avoid unnecessary hassles.  

Jaisalmer Desert Festival

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Date: 29th January to 31st January, 2018

Venue: Sam Sand Dunes, 42 km from Jaisalmer, Rajasthan 

There is no doubt that when it comes to festivals and cultural delights, Rajasthan has a number of gems hidden in its pocket. One of such jewel is the famous 3 day long Jaisalmer Desert Festival held in the last week of January. The festival in Rajasthan is known for its honest display of culture and tradition of the state that is otherwise rare to see in the growing scenario of modernization. It provides an up close and personal look at every aspect of Rajasthan and its people, from their multicoloured vivid apparels to traditional dance performances and camel races. 

Come here for a magical experience and immerse yourself in the world of varied eccentric yet fun competitions such as ‘Mr. Desert’ and ‘Longest Moustache’. Not to mention the evenings full of bon fire and lively performances that only seems to make this entire visit more fascinating and charming for visitors.

Make the most from your trip with this India itinerary 2 weeks.

International Kite Festival, Gujarat

Image Source: Flickr/KaushikPatel

Date: 7th January to 14th January, 2018

Venue: Sabarmati Riverfront, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 

From lip-smacking culinary to quintessential colourful attire to its very own unique dance form- Garba, Gujarat is a state known for its brilliant culture that has been its pride and honour for years. The state hosts over hundreds of festival every year with International Kite Festival being a major event among all. Conducted between 7th January to 14th January, the International Kite Festival or Uttarayan as it is popularly called, is held on a large lush landscape of the Sabarmati Riverfront of Ahmedabad beckoning hordes of people from all around the world to come here and be a part of its grand celebration. With thousands of colourful kites adorning the blues of the sky, various master kite runners happily challenging each other for kite fights and the good cheer being so apparent in the air, you can literally feel the happiness float around you. 

Not only that, the festival also provides a great platform to showcase one’s creativity and skills. While the event takes place only for few days, the preparation starts months before with people doing their best to outlast each other. You can witness each and every kind of kite from monstrous dragons of china to Japanese rokkaku kites to high-tech modern ones, it has everything to make your visit a fulfilling and happy one.

Tips: Pre-bookings of accommodation will be a wise choice as the place is known to get crowded later. 

Apart from these, you can find various other music festivals gracing the season with ample amount of fun and vibrancy. One of the prominent ones being The  Nariyal Pani Festival. The Nariyal Pani Festival is inclined towards the modern music and is a great refuge for people to enjoy and have fun.

Nariyal Pani

Dates: 26th January to 28th January, 2018

Venue: Alibaug, Morapada, Rewas Road, Maharashtra

Festivals in February

Taj Mahotsav

Image Source: Flickr/RaviKant 

Date: 18th February to 27th February 2018

Venue: Shilpgram, 500-600 Metres from the eastern gate of Taj Mahal, Agra 

Being one of the major events held in the month of February, Taj Mahotsav is nothing that has been unheard of. Not only it is one of the largest musical fairs held in India but also a unique and renowned one, given it being centred on Taj Mahal, its grandeur and history. Held in the city of Agra every year, this 10-day long event goes on to see a number of visitors, from artists, musicians to local folks, who come here to showcase their talent and experience the magnificence of the festival.

The event takes place in the Shilpgram of Agra city where it is set against the splendid backdrop of Taj Mahal. Every year the place comes alive with beautiful dance performances, folks and ghazals which with their brilliance is enough to leave you mesmerised. As if that is not enough, the place also organises food festivals for foodies. Accommodated with a wide variety of culinary items and with chefs creating magic with their spoons, this food extravaganza is definitely something to look forward to during your visit.

Explore exciting places and activities with these best Agra tours.

Goa Carnival

Dates: 10th February to 13th February, 2018

Venue: Panjim, Mapusa, Margoa and Vasco da gama

Nothing can beat Goa when it comes to fun and extravagance. The city truly embodies the essence of joviality which is easily evident in all its aspects. Of course, festivals are not unaffected by this either. Goa Carnival, one of such major events, is the prime example of Goan spectacle which has been known lure thousands of tourists from all over the world every year. 

What started as a small celebration symbolising the Portuguese influence on the city, has today transformed into full-fledged extravaganza where a three-hour long parade adorns its bustling streets alongside numerous singers, dancers, clowns and performers. You can watch the parade just walking by or be a part of its madness yourself. The performances and skits seen in the carnival are usually based on the ancient Goan culture and stories and provides you with a peek at what its history had been like. All about feast, joy and entertainment, this Goan fest starts around 3 PM in the afternoon and ends with a red and black ball held at Panaji.

While you stay here, have a look at other things to do in Goa.

If you wish to soak in the culture of Rajasthan and enjoy its folk music while camping in the sand dunes, you must not miss the Ragasthan Music Festival. A great way to end February on a good note, camp on site and bond with others who share the same taste of music with you. 

Ragasthan Music Festival

Date: 23rd February to 25th February, 2018

Venue: Desert Glamping, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Festivals in March 

Holi in Mathura and Vrindavan

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Dates: 1st March &  2nd March, 2018

Venue: Mathura and Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh 

Holi is a great affair among Indians, there is no doubt about it, but what makes this festival even more interesting is the international appeal it embodies. People from all around the world come here in holi to witness the festivities which seems to colour the whole nation with happiness and mirth. While the festival is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm throughout the country, certain places have, for one reason or another, been more popular, specifically among foreigners to celebrate their holi in. 

Two of such places are Mathura and Vrindavan. Popular for their own kind of holi commonly known as ‘Braj ki Holi’, the celebrations that take place here are usually month long and known to be a pure marvel. In Braj (the region around Mathura and Vrindavan) you can see varied kind of Holi, from ‘Laddoo ki Holi’ to ‘Phoolon ki Holi’ and ‘Lathmar Holi’ with the latter having a major significance in the area. Lathmar Holi is basically a holi played with sticks following the age old legend where women of Barsana playfully beats the men of Nand gaon recreating the way Lord Krishna and Radha used to play it. Fused with the unique touch of customs and traditions, the Holi in Mathura and Vrindavan as bizarre as fun, to be honest, and something that definitely must be witnessed at least once in your lifetime.

Ellora Aurangabad Festival

Image Source: Flickr/KhalidAhmed 

Dates: Yet to be announced

Venue: Soneri Mahal, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar University, Near Garware Stadium, Aurangabad, Maharashtra 

An exotic festival held near the rocky plains of Ellora grotto and is quite popular among people for being one of the most enticing events in the city. What is the most enthralling about this fair is its vibrancy and diversity. The place is renowned for seeing a swarm of musicians and performers from different states coming together to create an atmosphere like none other. Held in the March month of every year, this music festival lets you indulge in the varied aspects of Indian culture, from instrumental to classical and folk and have a peek in age-old traditions that have been so exquisitely a part of our history and dare we say life.

Fascinated by Ellora caves? Then check out the most historical caves in india!

Festivals in April

Jodhpur Flamenco And Gypsy Festival 

Dates: Yet to be announced

Venue: Meharangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan 

The Jodhpur Flamenco and Gypsy Festival is a great example of how the magic happens when two different cultures come together to create something new and extraordinary. This unique celebration takes place in the month of April every year and paves way for Rajasthani Folk performers to meet with flamenco and gypsy dancers from all across the world and share their arts with each other. The festival provides one of the rare opportunities to witness the beautiful amalgamation of art and culture and once again proves the fact that art has no boundaries. 

Thrissur Pooram Elephant Festival 

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Date: 25th April 2018

Venue: Vadakkunathan Temple, Thrissur, Kerala 

For anyone who truly wants to witness the colours of South India and its hospitality must definitely come here for a nice festive treat. The Thrissur Pooram Festival is a 7-day long celebration that takes place in the Vadakkumnathan Shiva Temple in the Thrissur city of Kerala and has been celebrated by the people with great enthusiasm for past three centuries. The cornerstone of this celebration was put forth by its former king Raja Rama Varma who established the temple for his people back then so that they can pay their respects to Lord Shiva. 

The extravaganza has become an integral part of Malayali culture ever since. It starts with flag hoisting ceremony followed by firecrackers ceremony on the fourth day and main event on the sixth day when pooram star is observed in the sky alongside moon. The star attraction of this event is, of course, the elephants. More than 30 well-bred elephants donned in fancy headdress, elaborate ornaments and finely drawn painting adorns the streets of the Thrissur where they go head to head with each other in various competitions. With myriads of things you get to experience here, from illuminating firecrackers, to elaborate decorations and mouth-watering delicacies, this quaint city in God’s Own City bedazzles you in every way possible for a period of 7 days. 

Festivals in May

Ooty Summer Festival

Date: Whole of May 2018

Venue:  

  • Cultural Programs- Breeks HADP Open Air Stadium, Ooty
  • Flower Show- Botanical Garden, Ooty
  • Rose Show- Government Rose Garden, Ooty
  • Fruit Show- Sim's Park, Coonoor
  • Dog Show-  Government Arts College, Ooty
  • Spice Show- Gudalur, Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu
  • Vegetable Show- Nehru Park, Kotagiri, Tamil Nadu
  • Boat Race-  Ooty Lake

Unlike other highly elaborated extravagant fests, Ooty Summer Festival also known as Summer Festival in the Nilgiris is a quiet celebration held amidst the greens of Nilgiri mountains every year in the month of May. Organised and propelled by Tamil Nadu Tourism Department, the festival is comprised of the series of events takes place throughout the month including flower show, fruit show, dog show, rose show, spice show and numerous cultural performances. 

Since it is a month long event, you can visit it anytime during the month to enjoy the event you are fond of. Be it the flower show held in the botanical garden in the third week of May to the rose show which takes place in the second week, or the two day events of fruit show and dog show held in the last week of May, the place has everything you might need for an eventful yet serene experience.                                       

Festivals in June

Sindhu Darshan Festival  

Image Source: Flickr/SilverBlue 

Dates: 12th June to 14th June, 2018

Venue: Near the bank of River Sindhu, Leh, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir

As the name suggests, Sindhu Darshan Festival is a popular festival in Leh celebrated to honour the great Sindhu River which is considered to be a deity among folks. The festival takes place on the bank of Sindhu River and is renowned among people, both native and foreigners for being an exemplary blend of multiple cultures and diversities. One can feel the spell in the air, the vivacity and liveliness of the people, the beautiful water-filled earthen pots gathered from varied rivers and the exotic dance performances performed by native artists. Not to forget the grand reception that follows the entire event. From mouth-watering food to mind boggling music, the event is packed with loads of attractions that you might not want to miss anyhow. 

Hemis Gompa, Ladakh 

Image Source: Flickr/EnricoBellesia 

Dates: 23rd and 24th June, 2018

Venue: Hemis Monastery, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir 

Carnivals in Ladakh are a great delight to watch as it is one of the oldest of fests. Held amid the snowy plains of the surrounding, Hemis Gompa Festival is a popular festival frequented by hundreds of visitor every year who come here to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava. The festival is held in the largest monastery of Hemis Gompa and revered as a great religious celebration among Buddhist followers. Visiting this festival will let you have an unique experience, something totally different than what we see in other parts of India. The local people are decked in vibrant traditional garbs participating enthusiastically in the events. Masked Lamas dancing in the old beat of the traditional music and other dance performances that are performed in the Monastery will surely bewitch you for a captivating stint.

Ladakh International Film Festival

Date: 3rd week of June (Estimated)

Venue:  Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir

The festival is all a movie junkie would ask for. Close to the highest point in Ladakh, the Ladakh International Film Festival is set up to showcase the best works in the industry and encourage the budding talents for greater heights. An interesting fact about the event is its underlying theme. The event’s main purpose is to support the noble cause of prevention of the endangered species and contribute to biodiversity conservation. Be it the enthralling venue nestled amidst the misty-hued surrounding or the scenic view you get to witness there, Ladakh International Film Festival never cease to amaze its visitors who come here for a joyful evening filled with world class movies, celebrities, and bountiful entertainment. 

Festivals in July

Puri Rath Yatra

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Dates: Rath Yatra- 14th July 2018

           Bahuda Yatra- 23rd July 2018

Venue: From Jagannath Temple to Shri Gundicha Temple, Puri, Orrisa

The spectacular 'Rath Yatra' that is held in Puri every year is surely a sight to be witnessed. The Rath Yatra or Chariot Festival is an event sacred to the people of India and is known to be celebrated with great splendour and gaiety. This nine-day long event starts from the temple of Jagannath Puri where the massive chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balarama, and Goddess Subhadra are being donned heavily in lavish gorgeous regalia which are then taken to the famous Shri Gundicha Temple amidst an enormous vibrant celebration. The festival is accompanied by millions of devotees and pilgrims who come here from all around the world to be a part of its divinity. The deities remain in the temple for 9 days after which they are hailed back to the main temple amidst the same procession and grandeur. The ending procession is known as Bahuda Yatra. During these two days of the festival, the city comes alive with vivid colours, showcasing the zest among people. Visitors from all over the world come to see this huge celebration, which with all its grandiose and magnificence leaves a lasting impression on everyone.

Festivals in August

Nehru Boat Race

Image Source:  Flickr/AntaraChattarj

Dates: 11th August 2018

Venue: Punnamada Lake, Kerala 

God’s Own Country, Kerala is known for many things, from lush greenery to pleasant pristine waters to deeply rooted traditions, but one thing which really distinguishes it from others is its long massive boats and equally engaging boat races. Locally called as Vallamkali, these traditional boat races are among the most popular sports in Kerala and prime attraction in many events held throughout the year. One of such elaborate boat races is Nehru Boat Race that takes place in the month of August. 

The event is organised annually in the Punnamada Lake of Kerala where hordes of people come to witness or participate in numerous beautiful races and immerse themselves in its vibrant festivities. The events entail competitions between different kind of boats including Churulan Vallam, Odi Vallam and Veppu Vallam which compete against each other to win the race. While all of them are unique in their own right, the one which attracts the most attention is Chundan Vallam or Snake Boat Race giving the event its alias - Snake Boat Race Festival. Surely a great event to visit your family with.

Plan to stay at these best resorts in Kerala.

Festivals in September

Ziro Festival

Dates: To be announced

Venue: Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh

When it comes to festivals in India, there are not many that can claim to be an organic or aggro pro kind of festival, which automatically makes the Ziro Festival a hit in our Fest list. Held in the Ziro Valley of Arunachal Pradesh, this 3-day cultural celebration is all about nature, music and, the core values that Apatani Community residing there beholds.

Started a few years ago by the Apatani Tribe as a manifestation of their rich cultural and traditional heritage, the festival features a lot of attractions for its visitors. From impressive indie music to lip smacking culinary items, the festival has its fair share of perks that are surely going to lure you in. Here, the scenic surrounding, calm atmosphere, and homely people, all come together to provide you a good time.

Festivals in October

Rajasthan International Folk Festival

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons  

Dates: 24th October to 28th October 2018

Venue: Meharangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan 

Rajasthan International Folk Festival, also known as RIFF is a great musical fiesta organised in the city of Jodhpur every year. Started in 2007 with an aim to encourage the folk music amid youth, the festival today has established itself as the most revered musical phenomenon, not only in India but all across the world. More than 250 performers from different countries grace the stage of RIFF with their impeccable performances and indigenous art. 

The event is organised in the Mehrangarh Fort and been a top podium for native performers and international artists to share the stage and collaborate with each other for beautiful art pieces, from jazz, gypsy to quintessential Rajasthani folk.

Mysore Dasara 

Dates: 10th October to 19th October, 2018

Venue: Mysore, Karnataka

Held during the period of Navaratri, Mysore Dasara is the joyous celebration of power, truth and divinity. The festival goes on for 10 days ultimately culminating on the Dussehra. While Navratri is a festival celebrated throughout India, Dasara held in the Mysore city of Karnataka holds a significant place among all, thanks to the number of events and programs organised during this period. 

The last two days of Mysore Dasara sees an elaborate procession with numerous elephants, camels and horses donned in refined embellishments walking through the city. The surreal scene of decorated camels along with the numerous dance groups and vibrant music makes the event even more joyful and blithesome. 

Festivals in November

Pushkar Camel Fair

Image Source: Flickr/RakeshRanjan 

Dates: 15th November to 23rd November, 2018

Venue: Pushkar Fair Grounds, Rajasthan 

If you haven’t been to this fair, you are definitely missing something. Every year, in the month of November, Pushkar, the holy city of Rajasthan, organises a major camel fair coined as 'Pushkar Camel Fair' which is deemed to be one of the greatest animal fairs in the world. During this time, Pushkar becomes the major trade point for farmers to buy and sell their cattle and not only that, the fair is equipped with folk music and dances, acrobat performances and traditional puppet shows which makes it even more interesting of a fair to experience and enjoy. With women and men decked in traditional Rajasthani attires walking around the little stalls in the sidelines and children waiting near the rides for their chance, this Indian mela has a specific familiarity to it, which is enough to let you have to walk down the memory lane and relive the old days again.

Rann of Kutch

Image Source:  Flickr/KaushikPatel

Date: 1st November 2017 to 20th February 2018; 1st November 2018 to 28th February, 2019

Venue: Rann of Kutch, Gujarat 

Despite being held amidst the vast plain of deserts, the Rann of Kutch festival arguably is one of the most glorious, versatile, and lively festivals you will ever come across. The festival goes on for 3 long months starting from November and pretty much delivers everything you might want to know about the Gujarati culture and traditions. It lets you have a close peek into different aspects of this beautiful state through music and arts. Among many things that you get to witness here- musical concert and folk dances along with elaborate camel races, one which particularly stands out to me is the delicious traditional cuisine cooked by native experts and served under the vast blue sky. Anyone who have experienced it would definitely agree with it being one of the most extraordinary experiences of their life. From large bonfires, effusive tents to high-end bird watching, Rann of Kutch Festival has enough surprises to leave you flabbergasted yet content.

Taj Mahal Balloon Festival

Dates: Yet to be announced

Venue: Near Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh

Although it has been recently started, Taj Mahal Balloon Festival can easily be counted among the most intriguing festivals in the country. The fest is 3 days long and takes place in the near grounds of Taj Mahal where 15 Balloon experts from all over the world including United States, United Kingdom, and Germany gathers and compete with each other in a battle of talent. Visitors coming to see the festival will find a lot of things to indulge in. 

The hot air balloon adorning the skylines of the city while painting a colourful picture of the marvellous monument of Taj is truly a sight to behold. Ensure to go for a ride and witness the breathtaking view of the city from up above. Not to mention the Night Glow festival, a musical festival where varied artists from all across the globe get to showcase their talent. Filled with music, dance, and loads of entertainment, the festival is the modern way of enjoying the beauty of Taj and surrounding.

Tips: You can go for the popular Sky Waltz Balloon Safari, a wholesome package that offers a number of attractions including Taj Sky View, Night Glow, Dining and  Sightseeing.

Of course, when it comes to India’s grandest festivals, the festival of lights need to have a special mention here. Diwali has been a huge affair in India since ages and has been celebrated with much mirth and enthusiasm throughout the country. This year it will be knocking your doors on 7th of November. Make the best of it by spreading happiness and light in the life of others. Be a part of someone else’s happiness and you will find that you don’t have to go far to find yours.

Festivals in December

Hornbill Festival, Nagaland

Dates: 1st December to 7th December 2018 

Venue: Naga Heritage Village, Kisama, Near Kohima, Nagaland

If you are a kind of person whose world revolves around music and not just any music, but the wild and unique, then friend this might be for you. The Hornbill festival is just as crazy as it sounds. The festival is dedicated to exploring the un-tread boundaries of Naga culture and its engaging art forms. Celebrated in the Kohima city of Nagaland, it is one of the largest cultural festivals that gets celebrated in the town. 

Apart from music, the festival lets you have an up close look into the culture and traditions of Nagaland. You can feel the affluence of their music at the same time find yourself drawn to the individuality and depth of their rich heritage.

India is a country of festivities, and with so many options available for you, picking out your perfect entertainment stint will hardly be an issue. Won’t it?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A nomadic soul in the quest of self-realization, Nikita lives on the mantra - 'As you sow, so shall you reap' ...

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