Wednesday, 22 March 2017

8 Winter Festivals in India that are Worth Travelling – Culture India

Whether you're looking for an excuse to party or end the year on a meaningful note, winter is the best time to trip on culture. Whether it's a celebration of local customs in the hills of Nagaland or a dance music festival on a Goan beach, each of these festivals offers a unique way of experiencing a destination and bonding with like-minded folks. A heady mix of glamour, culture and unbridled fun, they are the perfect way to drown out the winter blues. Take your pick from music, art, cinema and dance, and get ready to join the jamboree.

International Sand Art Festival and Konark Festival, Odisha

19-21 Feb 2017

The seaside town of Konark is already famous for its 13th-century Sun Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was designed as the cosmic chariot of the sun god Surya. Its most impressive features are its gigantic stone wheels driven by galloping horses, but a closer look also reveals intricate carvings of rulers, armies, animals, performers and mythological figures. This rich heritage is the perfect stage for two parallel festivals of dance and art in early December. Organised by the Odisha tourism board, the Konark Festival shines the spotlight on classical dance forms such as Odissi, Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Manipuri. The performances are held in a magical setting, in an open-air auditorium under the night sky with the magnificent Sun Temple as the backdrop. A crafts fair and food festival are also organised alongside. If you need more reasons to visit, this is also the time when the International Sand Art festival is held at the beautiful and quiet Chandrabhaga Beach nearby. Sand artists from India and other countries come to Konark to make breathtaking sculptures using just sand and water.

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Hornbill Festival, Nagaland 

When: 1-10 December, 2017

A fusion of colour, music, dance and food, the week-long Hornbill Festival celebrates the culture and traditions of Nagaland's 16 tribes and is one of the state's major crowd-pullers. Named after the bird, it is held at the Kisama Heritage Village, situated near the capital Kohima and surrounded by green valleys and hills. During the day, the village reverberates with the sound of drum beats and folk songs, performances of war dances and head-hunting rituals, and local games. The festival packs in everything from adventure car and bike rallies, to fashion shows highlighting Naga textiles. Brave souls can try their luck at the chilli eating contest, where participants have to eat the fiery bhut jholokia or the hottest chilli pepper in the world. There's a carnival-like atmosphere all around: shops selling beaded jewellery and bamboo products and tribal huts which double up as restaurants serving local delicacies such as rice beer. After sundown, the focus shifts to the Kohima Night Bazaar's food and handicraft stalls, and the tremendously popular rock and metal festival that features the region's best bands.

 Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, Kerala

December 12, 2016 until March 29, 2017

First held in 2012, the second edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale promised to transform the historic port town of Cochin into an open-air art gallery once again. Dubbed as India's first contemporary art biennale, it is spread across three-and-a-half months and brings together artists from over 30 counties. Called "Whorled Explorations", its inspiration is the city's history as a vital centre of maritime trade, astronomy and mathematics over the centuries. Curated by Indian artist Jitish Kallat in 2014, it comprises of a series of film screenings, art exhibitions, cultural programmes and children's workshops organised in heritage sites spread across Fort Kochi and Ernakulam. The main venue, Aspinwall House, is a large sea-facing mansion which was originally the office of a trading company. A unique chance to see the past meet the present, this is also the ideal season to explore Cochin's cosmopolitan history and the surrounding backwaters.

Kerala Tour

 Sunburn Festival, Goa

When: 27-29 December, 2017

Sunburn, India's first and biggest EDM festival will return to north Goa's Vagator Beach for its eighth year at the end of December. Known for its mix of Indian and international DJs, it features big names from all genres of dance music. In 2014, the festival plans to up the decibels with a line-up of 150 artists, with multiple stages for EDM genres such as dubstep, house and psy trance. You can also expect huge stages, good acoustics, plenty of drinks and food, and after-parties. In case you want to take a break from all that head-banging, there are flea markets, sunset cruises, and adventure sports like zorbing, volleyball, bungee jumping and stunt biking.

 Magnetic Fields Festival, Rajasthan

The second edition of this boutique music festival unfolds in the dream-like setting of the Alsisar Mahal, a 17th-century palace-turned-hotel in Shekhavati. Known as Rajasthan's open art gallery, this area is dotted with painted havelis decorated with colourful, centuries-old frescoes. Marrying this heritage with alternative dance music, it brings together a mix of Indian and international artistes. The three day jamboree includes night-long music sessions, pop-up parties, morning yoga sessions, workshops and demonstrations by local artisans, costume balls, and an array of food stalls dishing out local delicacies. Expect stylish flourishes everywhere—the accommodations include palace suites with painted walls and ceilings and antique furniture as well as luxury tents set up in the bedouin village camp just outside Alsisar Mahal.

 International Film Festival of Kerala, Kerala

Dec 04 - Dec 11, 2017

Widely considered to be one of India's best film festivals, the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) has been regularly drawing film buffs for the last two decades. It screens a well-curated set of recent national, international and regional films in Malayalam. Spread across various theatres in the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, its retrospectives and selection of otherwise hard to see world cinema attracts a loyal stream of cinephiles and regulars year after year. In between films, you can hop between the city's British-era museums and sneak off to the beach towns of Kovalam and Varkala close by.

Rann Utsav, Gujarat

A vast glittering expanse of white, Gujarat's Rann of Kutch is carpeted with salt marshes and inhabited by numerous tribal and nomadic communities. This beautiful and barren land comes alive during the government-backed Rann Utsav, a celebration of the area's people, history and culture. Held for three months every winter, the desert carnival offers a mix of folk music and dance performances, camel rides, as well as adventure sports such as dirt biking and hot air is ballooning. The crafts bazaar showcases local artisans working with colourful Kutchi embroidery, hand block printing, wood carving, seashells and silver jewellery. Guests can stay in comfortable desert tents on the outskirts of the Dhorad village, situated on the fringes of the salt desert. There are also safaris to the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary in the Little Rann of Kutch, the home of the endangered wild ass and several exotic bird species; the white sand Mandvi Beach; and Kala Dungar, the highest point in the region.

Rann Utsav, Rajasthan
 December Music Festival, Chennai

Every December, music is in the air in Chennai. One of India's biggest cultural festivals, this month-long extravaganza is the best time to see and hear the finest classical musicians and dancers in south India performing live. The festival dates back to 1929, when Chennai's oldest sabha or concert hall, the Madras Music Academy held its first conference. Deeply rooted in the city's cultural ethos, this period is locally known as the Kutcheri (concert) Season, the December Season or simply the Season, as most of the concerts are held in December, one of the most pleasant months in Chennai. The focus is on instrumental and vocal Carnatic music as well as traditional forms, with the performances spread across various sabhas in the city.


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