December is not just a wait for the year to end. It is the month when India gears up to celebrate the best of art, culture and festivities. Here are some of the top fairs, festivals, and celebrations held across the country this month.
Dates: December 1 – 10, 2016
Where: Kisama Heritage Village, Kohima, Nagaland
Named after the bird sighted in this part of the country, the Hornbill Festival of Nagaland is a unique cultural event that celebrates the vibrant tribal heritage of North East India. The festival showcases the stunning natural beauty, the folk music and dance traditions, the rich warrior culture of the tribes and the indigenous handicrafts of the region. The Hornbill Festival attracts thousands of tourists to Kohima every year.
When: December 1 – 5, 2016
Where: Konark Temple, Odisha
The Sun Temple of Konark is known for both its architectural beauty and spiritual significance. The dance and music festival held here each year in December adds to the temple’s brilliance. The festival is known to showcase Odissi, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Bharatnatyam, Mohiniattam and other classical dance performances from different parts of India. It is attended by thousands each year. The festival is accompanied by a grand fair. The International Sand Art festival is held in the Chandrabhaga Beach of Konark at the same time. It attracts a number of sand sculptors and artists from all parts of the world.
When: December 1 – 3, 2016
Where: Kumbhalgarh, Rajasthan
This three-day festival held in Kumbalgarh Fort in Udaipur is a classic showcase of Rajasthan’s colourful and rich cultural heritage. From folk song and dance performances to puppet shows, art shows and competitions, the festival presents tourists with a sample of the very best of royal Rajasthan.
Feast of St. Francis Xavier
When: December 3, 2016
Where: Basilica Bom Jesus, Panjim, Goa
St. Francis Xavier is held in great regard across the Christian world. His mummified body is laid to rest in a casket in Goa’s Bom Jesus Basilica. Each year, his annual celebration is held in Goa and a cultural festival marks the occasion. A grand feast accompanied by a large fair is also held here. The mass at the Basilica is a major draw.
Magnetic Fields Festival
Dates: December 9 – 11, 2016
Where: Alsisar Mahal, Shekhawati region, Rajasthan
One of India’s newest and most luxurious festivals, the Magnetic Fields Festival of Alsisar Mahal is a great tourist attraction. It defines the luxury of Rajasthan’s erstwhile royal households and combines this with great music. All in all, the festival is a great hit with tourists.
Date: December 10/11, 2016
The birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad is celebrated as Milad un-Nabi. The date of this celebration may vary according to the Islamic lunar calendar. Prayers and processions mark the celebrations in many parts of the country.
The Sacred Pushkar
Dates: December 10 and 11, 2016
Where: Pushkar, Rajasthan
The brand new festival at Pushkar in Rajasthan conducts many yoga, meditation and healing sessions along with music and cooking workshops.
Date: December 12, 2016
Where: Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu
This is one of the most spectacular festivals celebrated by Hindus in Tamil Nadu. The main festival is held in the temple town of Tiruvannamalai. A number of festivities and processions are held all through the day and later in the evening, a massive lamp is lit atop the Arunachala Mountain. People across the state light oil lamps in their households in resonance and pilgrims complete their annual pilgrimage to Tiruvannamalai by circumnavigating the sacred mountain.
Shilpgram Art and Craft Fair
Dates: December 21-30, 2016
Where: Shilpgram, near Udaipur, Rajasthan
This is not just another arts and crafts fair. Shilpagram is a village of artisans near Udaipur in Rajasthan. The annual craft fair is a great platform for tourists to get acquainted with the rich handicrafts and arts of the region and buy from over 400 different craftsmen and artists who come here to showcase their products. Accompanying this is a wonderful cultural program as well.
Madras Music Festival
Dates: Mid-December, 2016 to mid-January 2017
Where: Chennai, Tamil Nadu
December is a much anticipated month for the people of Chennai for it brings with it the “December Season” or the Music Season – an annual festival of classical music and dance. Hundreds of Carnatic music performances are held in auditoriums across the city as the “Season” spills well into January. In recent times, this has also become the time for classical dancers to hold shows in the city.
Dates: December 23 – 26, 2016
Where: Shantiniketan, West Bengal
The Poush Mela of Shantiniketan is one of the most awaited cultural festivals and fairs in the eastern part of the country. The carnival started as a small fair initiated by the Tagore family and other Brahmo Samajis of Bengal but is now an annual festival featuring baul music and other folk music and dance performances of Bengal. A number of handicraft vendors set up stalls and the festival attracts crowds in huge numbers. Winters in east India are mild and it is a great getaway for people living in other parts of the state.
Cochin (Kochi) Carnival
Dates: Last week of December, 2016
Where: Fort Kochi, Kerala
The very vibrant Cochin Carnival is quite different from regular Indian fairs. The carnival is a continuation of the Portuguese New Year celebrations held during the colonial times. The carnival features huge dance processions, food from various parts of the state, bike races, cultural competitions and games, sporting events and firework displays. The carnival ends with a grand New Year’s celebration.
Mt. Abu Winter Festival
Dates: December 29 – 31, 2016
Where: Mt. Abu, Rajasthan
Mt. Abu is a unique tourist destination. Though located in the desert state of Rajasthan, it is beautiful, green and full of flowing rivers and waterfalls. The annual winter festival of Mt. Abu features a number of song and dance shows, some traditional and some contemporary. Musical band shows, mehendi competitions, skating competitions and games, puppet shows, boat races, horse races and firework displays make it a grand affair.
Dates: December 28 – 31, 2016
Where: Pune, Maharashtra
If electronic music is your thing, do not miss out on the Sunburn Festival to be held in Pune. Last year, it was held on the beaches of Goa and attended by over 3 lakh people. This is the 10th Sunburn Festival to be held this year and will feature artists and DJs from across the world.
Kanathoor Nalvar Bhoothasthanam
Dates: December 28, 2016 – January 1, 2017
Where: Kanathoor village, Karasgod, Kerala
Theyyam is one of the most colourful and impassioned dance forms practised in Kerala. The Kanathoor Nalvar Bhoothasthanam is an annual Theyyam festival held in Karasgod district where about 400 theyyam performances are held in a matter of two to three days. These are dedicated to the Feminine Divine. The festival draws a huge audience.
Date: December 25, 2016
The birth of Jesus Christ is one of the most celebrated holidays across the world. Most metro cities of India celebrate Christmas with great enthusiasm but the celebrations in Goa are unique and certainly well worth joining in. The best places in India to celebrate Christmas include Pondicherry, Shillong, Kolkata, Bangalore and Mumbai.
Date: December 25, 2016 (first day)
While the population of Jews in India may be rather small, this does not dissuade them from observing Hanukkah in a significant way. Hanukkah lights shine in many cities of India and the more important celebrations can be seen in Mumbai, Kolkata and in parts of Kerala. Many Jews (and people of other faiths) assemble at the Gateway of India each year on the first day of Hanukkah and the public lighting of the Menorah is a grand celebration. The oldest synagogue in India, which is in Kolkata, is a sight to behold.
Mamallapuram Dance Festival
Dates: End of December, 2016 to mid- January, 2017
Where: Arjuna’s Penance, Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu
Mamallapuram, one of the best known historic towns of Tamil Nadu and the capital of the Pallava kings, is known both for its beautiful architectural marvels and beaches. The town is home to a classical dance festival showcasing the best dances from across India.