Goa in December - 12 Unique Things to Experience
On a balmy December night as I walked down the quaint streets of Goa, lined with tall coconut trees, the distant echoes of Christmas carols stopped me in my tracks. Listening to the melodious sound made me realize how Goa is much more, along with being a party destination. Moreover, if you want to bask in the spirit of festivities during December, then this is the place to be! While you are in the most happening state of India to celebrate Christmas and New Year, there are places you must visit and activities that you must partake in. With numerous places to visit in Goa in December and a plethora of things to do, I wouldn’t be surprised if one gets baffled. So, here is a list that would let you make the most of your winter-vacation in Goa.
1. Attend the Midnight Mass
The many churches in Goa turn into places from a fairytale on Christmas eve. Decorated with shimmering embellishments and illuminated with many lights, these churches look no less than a charming castle with a glittering Christmas tree kept in a corner. The musical carols sung by the sweetest voices and the chiming church bells enliven the spirit of Christmas. People warmly greet each other, exchanging sweets as well as gifts. Escape a crowded beach party and attend the Midnight Mass organized by one of these churches to collect a different experience. One of the best churches to attend such midnight mass is Mae de Deus Church in Saligao.
2. Go on a Crib Trail
Watching the birth of Jesus being depicted through art objects and elaborate decor is something one must not miss when in Goa during Christmas. Goans put their heart into bringing alive the nativity scene by expertly blending art and nature. With the use of hay, tiny man-made figures, and other materials, locals erect the model of a barn or cave where Lord Jesus was believed to be born. Kids as well as adults indulge in the activity of crib making with much fervor. Walk through a simple neighbourhood of Goa and you will see a trail of cribs that showcase creativity at its best. What more, you can participate in this fun activity of making a crib to soak in the solemnity of Christmas.
3. Make and Burn The Old Man
If you are someone who visits Goa just to party hard on a New Year’s eve, chances are you haven’t heard of this age-old tradition. A custom that holds its strong since centuries, ‘burning the old man’ signifies putting behind the past year and ringing in the new. Kids and adults, together make effigies representing old men, usually holding an alcohol bottle. They stand as a symbol of the typical village drunkards. It is fun watching the kids have a great time asking for donations to save the ailing old man. At the strike of midnight these dummies are set ablaze and are bid goodbye. From the collected donations, the kids along with adults throw a party to celebrate the New Year. Join in, in the making and burning of the old man to bond with the locals and be a part of a fun ancient tradition.
4. Have a blast at the Anjuna Beach New Year Party
Goa is undoubtedly the heaven of party animals. With the most happening clubs, bars, and casinos, New Year celebrations in Goa turn out to be the wackiest. But, you will encounter the most sizzling new year party at the Anjuna beach. You simply get hung over the hippie atmosphere at this party where there are a variety of drinks, the loudest music and many people with the devil-may-care attitude. The party is set ablaze by DJs who play music that makes the public groove to its beats. Not-to-miss are the scrumptious Goan dishes offered at the beach shacks like Curlies.
5. Swing to the Rhythm of the Mandovi River Cruise
No vacation in Goa is complete without a boat cruise. One of the best things to do in Goa in December is taking an evening cruise with your loved one to enjoy the breathtaking vistas of the sparkling river. You can sit and enjoy watching the performers presenting traditional Goan dances or you can let your hair down and tap your feet along with them. The boats look dazzling with the extra strings of lights and stars put over it during Christmas and New Year celebrations. Hop onto a cruise and enjoy the new year’s eve with your special someone while swinging to the rhythm of the Mandovi river.
6. Enjoy a Party Silently at the Palolem Beach
Put on the wireless headphones and groove to your own favorite music at the Silent Noise Party on Palolem Beach. While many party places are facing a ban on loud music after 10:00 PM in Goa, Palolem beach has come up with this unique solution to counter the problem. Being the only place to offer such a unique party, it is rapidly gaining fame amongst party animals. Several party goers have given a thumbs up to this headphone party that allows them to shake a leg until early morning hours without disturbing others. Head towards this place when in Goa in December and party hard till you drop.
Must Read: Travel tips for first time visitors to Goa
7. Watch New Year Fireworks on the Goa Beaches
What better way to welcome the new year than watching the beautiful display of fireworks at the beaches. Just lie under the sky full of stars with your loved one and wait for the clock to strike midnight. The sky gets illuminated with a variety of crackers that are a treat to watch. An activity that doesn’t cost you a dime but gives you joy to the fullest, this is a must do when in Goa on New Year’s eve. Many of these beaches will also have live bands who play just to entertain you and pass time the melodious way.
8. Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church - Enjoy their feast
Built in 1541, this whitewashed church hints of the beautiful Baroque style of architecture, famous during the Portugal reign in Goa. Located in Panjim, the capital city of Goa, this church proudly sits atop a hill. The church comes alive every year on December 8, when it holds the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The church stands illuminated with countless lights, while its vaulted roof adorns blue and white flowers. Being in Goa during this time of the year, you must attend the feast which is followed by a procession of the brass band. The funfair is bid adieu with a display of fireworks.
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9. Be a Part of the Liberation Day Celebrations
19th December marks the liberation of Goa from the Portuguese reign and the day is celebrated with much enthusiasm in the state. The celebrations include torch processions that start from three different places in the state and meet up at the Azad Maidan in Panjim. Here, the local school children then perform their folk dances which are a treat to watch. The performances are put up with much vigour that stand worthy of a huge round of applause. The cultural floats, march past, and the national integration songs are the highlights of the function. Notable people who have contributed in various fields are bestowed with awards. Join this event in Goa in December and celebrate the independence of Goans along with them.
10. See the tiny turtle hatchlings uo;scurry” towards sea at Morjim and Galgibaga Beach
While you are on a spree of attending numerous beach parties, there is something happening very slowly yet steadily at the Morjim and Galgibaga beach. If you head towards these beaches just in time then you will be greeted by teeny tiny turtle hatchlings making their way towards the sea. Known to be the best nesting sites that are given special attention by the state government, these beaches have become a beloved home for the endangered Olive Ridley Turtles. The sight of hundreds of miniscule turtles heading towards the sea is simply spectacular and makes the kids squeal with joy. Just make sure that you do not disturb the serenity of the place or touch the eggs which is considered to be a punishable crime.
11. Enjoy the Mando Festival of Goa
Goa has its own share of rich culture which is a perfect blend of Goan and Portuguese customs. The annual Mando Festival in Goa perfectly displays this through the traditional Goan folk song and dance. If you are a die-hard romantic, then this is a must-visit festival for you. While the wistful music will tug at the strings of your heart, the rhythmic dance will make you tap your foot. The songs mirror love through their lyrics and the dancers dressed in traditional costumes, truly bring out the romantic essence through their moves. Attend this festival in Goa in December which will certainly entertain you and give you an insight into the traditions of Goa.
12. Shop until the Wee Hours at the Saturday Night Market
Ain’t sure what to wear in Goa? Head towards the happening Saturday Night Market at Arpora. Go stall hopping and you will find a variety of western as well as traditional clothes here. Along with clothes, there are food stalls that will tempt you to try the mouth-watering dishes. This vibrant market turns into a gala place during the Christmas celebrations in Goa when there’s live music being played and the alleyways are flooded with lights. You will see this market place buzzing with public until the wee hours enjoying themselves to the fullest. The jovial ambiance of this market in Goa will certainly woo you. The glee and merriment comes to an end only around 5:00 AM in the morning.
While Goa is definitely the best party destination to celebrate December, you can enjoy this month of festival by trying out a few of the offbeat things mentioned above. Party hard or explore other options, we are sure you will anyway have a great time when in Goa in December.