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The Insider Guide: India's Festivals

| Words by Ellena Johnstone |

The insider guide to India's festivals...

Festivals are the beating heart of India, capturing the essence of India’s vibrant culture and spirituality.

From the kaleidoscope of colour that is Holi, to the weird and wonderful Jaisalmer with its moustache-growing contest (yes, really!), a festival is the ultimate way to enrich your journey through India. Here are our top picks:

Jaisalmer Desert Festival, Rajasthan

Chhatra Sagar

Jaisalmer Desert Festival is held every year in February. A riot of colour, the festival is famous for its less usual celebrations – like camel racing, turban tying and impressive moustache growing! During three days of celebrations, the Thar Desert is alive with traditional folk music and dance and, in recent years, there has been the introduction of the coveted ‘Mr Desert’ contest!

Pushkar Mela, Rajasthan

Spices, Cochin

Pushkar Mela, held every November in Rajasthan, is the world’s largest camel fair. The ultimate sensory overload, Pushkar attracts desert tribes, nomads and international visitors alike who all flock to this five-day event for traditional music, dancing, snake charming and, of course, camels. The dromedaries are bought, sold, raced, ridden, dressed up and entered into beauty pageants across the five day festival.

Holi, across India

Boats, Cochin© Jamenpercy | Dreamstime.com

Holi is the ultimate Indian festival – a true Kaleidoscope of colour. Held every February or March across India and Sri Lanka, Holi sees hordes of festival-goers fling brightly coloured dye and water balloons at each other as part of enormous street parties. There’s no escape – everyone gets involved during Holi! Celebrations vary wildly from region to region, and the festival can last anything from one day to sixteen. Besides the dye-flinging, there are more intimate celebrations across the country the day before the celebrations, known as Purnima Day.

Want to experience India’s incredible festivals for yourself? Talk to our India Specialists about a private tour, or look out for our special India festival departures.