Most of us know of famous fests around the world with a trip to the next Tommorowland, Coachella, Oktoberfest and Burning Man planned in our bucket list. But how many of you have already check listed the 10 most famous cultural fests in India? If you failed to notice – India, the hub of varied tradition and vivid culture – is also the venue to some landmark global events – such as the legendary Kumbh Mela and the yearly Jaipur Literature Fest. Adding on each year are new events that are celebrating India’s rich landscapes, music, dance, history, and also our growing market of independent cinema and music.
So here is the list to this years cultural fests in different states – so that you can plan your India travel around these events starting January to December, 2018:
Jaipur Lit Fest
When: 25th – 29th January 2018 | Where: Jaipur, Rajasthan | Website
Geek or no geek – this literature fest is for you! Held every year in the month of January, the Jaipur Lit fest is proudly quoted as “the greatest literary show in the world” or “the Kumbh of Literature”. Recording a vast footfall, the fest is one of the only events of this scale that has been free to attend since its very start. Aesthetically organized in the world famous Diggi Palace in the Pink City of India, the fest celebrates and brings together world’s greatest writers, thinkers, humanitarians, politicians, business leaders, sports people and entertainers on one stage who express and engage in thoughtful debate and dialogue.
With great food, quirky merchandise stalls and evening performances to follow, the event keeps you going with excitement from morning to night – an experience worth attending not only once – but every following year.
Kala Ghoda Arts Festival
When: 3rd to 11th feb 2018 | Where: Mumbai, Maharashtra | Website
Another 9 day festival that has reached its peak of popularity over the past few years – is the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. Almost like a melting pot of every cultural dimension, the fest celebrates – visual arts, dance, music, theatre, cinema, literature, food, holds workshops, heritage walks, previews urban design, and also becomes a little flea market with a vibrant street section including stalls selling eco friendly, hand made arts and crafts wares. The event is a great day spent around creativity and design, showcasing the best of Mumbai and installation-design each year.
Sula Wine Fest
When: 3rd + 4th February, 2018 | Where: Nashik, Maharashtra| Website
Love wine and love music? Well, the Sula Fest is just that combination. Held in the Sula Vineyards near Nashik city of Maharashtra, the fest if often quoted as India’s premier gourmet world music festival. Presented by India’s leading winery brand – Sula, once again the fest brings out a heady mix of music (Indian and international artistes from across genres including rock, folk, blues, electronic and reggae music), wine, drinks, food, fashion and shopping amid the scenic views of the open vineyards.
Surajkund International Crafts Mela
When: 2nd to 18th February, 2018 | Where: Faridabad, Haryana| Website
Going strong over the past three decades, is the Surajkund International Crafts Mela, organized by Haryana tourism each year. If you have been looking for a sourcing event that is truly global in nature and its scale – this Mela brings together the vivid arts and crafts of India and other SAARC nations under one creative space.
Attracting over millions of visitors each year, most of which are foreigners – the event is a great place to experience cultures from different parts of the world and shop traditional and authentic crafts of each participating region. From handloom fabrics, to pottery, carpets weaving, bamboo making, and much more – the creative arts on display in Surajkund are without a doubt a must wait for every edition – both to attend and participate.
Ziro Music Festival
When: Last week of September, 2018 | Where: Ziro Valley, Anurachal Pradesh | Website
Are you the music-traveler kinds? Welcome to the Ziro Valley. Four days of celebrating the independent music scene of India, this music festival is till date one of its kind in the country. Held in the Ziro valley of Anurachal Pradesh, the event was a brainchild of Bobby Hano and Menwhopause guitarist Anup kutty, founded in 2012 and has been growing in scale and popularity ever since.
The most novel part of the fest is not only the unique selections of music and artistes, but also the fact that you can camp in the valley while you are at it, and enjoy the tunes surrounded by some breathtaking misty mountains.
When: 1st November 2017 to 20th February 2018 | Where: Kutch, Gujarat| Website
We all are fascinated with the wondrous vision of the Great Rann of kutch, the “white desert” located in the Thar Desert in the Kutch District of Gujarat, India. But have you ever imagined visiting a festival of traditional Indian dance and music, under the full moon, while you camp in the tents within the desert lands, and indulge in activities such as golf cart, ATV Ride, camel cart excursion, paramotoring, meditation, yoga and enjoying Gujarati culture.
This is what is on offer at the Rann Utsav – the jewel of all outdoor festivals in India. A great opportunity to explore Gujarat, its boundless white desert and all of Indian culture, all in one go!
Dharamshala International Film Festival
When: First week of November, 2018 | Where: Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh | Website
If you are a lover of independent cinema from all over the world – the Daramshala International Film Festival should come as no surprise to you. What once started as a mere attempt to provide the locals with good alternative cinema from across the globe, has today become one of the most popular film festivals in India attracting a good amount of foreign audience as well.
Set in the perfect ambience of the mesmerizing hill station of Dharamshala, (which is also the head quarter of Dalai Lama), the official website of the festival also states, “Momos in one hand, cappuccinos in the other, film lovers find their way to screenings, Q&A’s with filmmakers, panel discussions and masterclasses. All of the town’s diverse communities come together to make the festival a success.”
When: 15th to 23rd Nov, 2018 | Where: Pushkar, Rajasthan | Website
Described as a carnival of color, tradition, livestock, and faith, all in one place – the Pushkar Fair, also known as the Pushkar Mela or the Pushkar Camel Fair – is held in the town of Pushkar in Rajashan, India. As per the official website, the fair is, “a spectacle on an epic scale, attracting thousands of camels, horses and cattle and visited by over 400,000 people over a period of around fourteen days.”
A highly rated travel experience to India, the event is not only used as a ground to trade livestock, but is also an important pilgrimage season for Hindus to the Pushkar lake. For travelers who wish to attend just to experience the liveliness of this vivid fair – there is also a luxury tented camp on offer – a stylish and welcoming retreat for tourists from all over the world.
When: 1st to 7th December, 2018 | Where: Nagaland | Website
The north eastern states of India have always been known to preserve their culture, and have a rich tribal existence till date. The state of Nagaland, much of which is still dependent on agriculture as its main economic occupation – is known to celebrate the Hornbill Festival – one of the largest celebrations of its indigenous warrior tribes. The festival is named after “Hornbill” – the most revered bird species whose importance is reflected in a number of tribal tales and cultural expressions.If you are looking for a festival experience that is full of authentic tribal ceremonies, decorations and celebrations – this festival visit is sure to include – drinking, eating, singing and dancing – all in Nagaland style.
When: 15th January – 4th March, 2019 | Where: Allahabad, UP | Website
Did you know that the Kumbh Mela of India is over 2000 years old? Well, yes. Celebrated every three years – moving around in four different cities – Ujjain, Haridwar, Nashik, and Allahabad – The Kumbh is a Hindu Pilgrimage festival attended by lakhs of devotees who seek to wash away their sins in the holy river waters. Coming up in January 2019 in Allahabad – the festival needs to be planned way in advance as the last edition of the Kumbh in Allahabad in 2013 recorded a crowd of approximately 10 crore people.
While it is a festival of faith for Hindus across the globe, a lot many foreigners are known to attend the event too for some great photography opportunities – documenting the sacred rituals performed by the various saadhus and several holy men that belong to different hindu sects – the Nagas, Kalpwasis and Urdhawavahurs.