Most Famous Fairs and Festivals of India
India’s beauty lies in its colorful culture, enchanting history and variety of traditions which led to numerous celebrations. India celebrates every single event starting from harvest to lunar cycle. If you want to experience the kaleidoscopic beauty of the land, the best time to visit is during any festival. Here are the Most Famous Fairs and Festivals of India to explore in 2020.
1. Modhera Dance Festival of Gujarat
Also called the Uttarardh Mahotsavaor, this festival is a cultural celebration inside the premises of Modhera Sun Temple. Apart from cultural performances, the locals also present many unique rituals, art exhibition, storytelling, and others.
The region around the temple will be filled with numerous stalls for shopping and cultural sightseeing. Closer to the temple, sand art exhibition also takes place during this festival. This festival is celebrated to mark the end of the harsh winter and the beginning of the Sun’s movement towards the north.
Every year, this festival takes place on the third week of January.
Date – 19th to 21th January 2020
2. Pongal of South India
Pongal is the harvest festival of the land. It is celebrated with different names throughout the country. However, the best of Pongal celebration is enjoyed in Tamil Nadu. On the eve of the festival, locals form a bonfire to burn old things from home and fields to indicate the end of problems in the past and a fresh start.
First day is dedicated to Sun God for the prosperity of the harvest.
Second day is dedicated to the cattle, especially oxen and cows. Many games and cow tackling fights take place in village regions.
Third day is for family outing and to visit relatives to bond. A sweet delicacy named Pongal is the main dish of this festival.
Date – 15th to 18th January 2020
3. Konark Dance Festival of Odisha
The land has numerous dance festivals and this is one of the largest and most colorful one. The Konark Dance Festival takes place inside the Konark Sun Temple. This festival marks the beginning of movement of Sun, which indicates the end of winter.
Although it is a dance festival, other forms of cultural elements like music, drama, mythology, and others are also performed. Many small stalls will be erected around the temple for souvenir shopping and delicacy tasting.
Date – 1st February to 3rd February 2020
4. Jaisalmer Desert Festival
The Jaisalmer Desert Festival is a tourism festival, which marks the end of the tourism season. The Thar Desert region will be filled with stalls where you can find numerous dance, music, and other cultural performances.
Top activities to enjoy during this festival are fire dance, folk dance and music performances, camel race, beauty contest, moustache contest, turban tying contests, acrobatic shows, camel safari, and others.
A large market region will be erected in the fairground, where you can find many souvenirs like leather articles, camel skin articles, heirlooms, spices, and others.
Date – 17th to 19th February 2020
5. Goa Carnival
As the name indicates, this is a carnival, which is assumed to be an Indian version of Cinco de Mayo. This three-day festival is all about party, parade, celebration, and fun. The major parade of Panjim is the main celebration of the day.
People dance, sing, wear costumes, bring large banners, and others to the parade. It is a very colorful event, which starts in Panjim and moves to numerous destinations like Vasco da Gama, Mapusa, and others.
Many hotels provide bonfire, ball night, and other celebrations for the guests. Visit any beaches of Goa at night for beach parties all night long.
Dates – 22th to 25th February 2020
Explore more about Goa Carnival
6. Nehru Trophy Boat Race of Kerala
Kerala is famous for its backwaters. On the Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha, the traditional snake boat race takes place. This festival is called as Vallam kali and it takes place right after monsoon, in the second week of August.
The race includes tens of long boats with more than 100 rowers in each boat. The race takes place for 1.4 km along the channel. This is one of the most colorful and nail-biting activity to enjoy in Kerala.
Date – 8th August, 2020
7. Pushkar Mela
Pushkar Mela is a traditional camel fair, which was once a trading event. The merchants stayed back in the trade ground at night and entertained themselves with dance and music.
Today, it has become a cultural and traditional event of trading, music, dance, culture, and food. Apart from the camel trading, you can enjoy many activities here like camel race, camel beauty contest, camel parade, tug-of-war, folk dance and music performances, puppet shows, acrobat shows, magic shows, and others.
A large stall will be erected where you can buy leather articles, textiles, spices, camel milk delicacies, camel skin articles, paintings, and others. Some people stay back in the fairground to enjoy bonfire, camping, and other activities.
Date – 22th to 30th November 2020
8. Bikaner Camel Festival
This is quite similar to the Pushkar Camel Festival. You can find many cultural activities like folk dance, music shows, camel parade, beauty contest for camels, street acrobat shows, puppet storytelling, fire dance, and others.
The fairground also holds a large market for shopping. The main element of the festival is the camel trading. You can watch the traders in action. Most of these cultural shows are used by the traders to promote their animals.
Date – 11th to 12th January 2020
9. Hornbill Festival of Nagaland
While most of the festivals of India are commercialized by corporates and tourism department, only a few tribal festivals remain untouched by commercial elements. One such festival is the seven-day celebration of Hornbill Festival, which takes place in Nagaland.
This tribal celebration includes many cultural activities like dance and music performances, local tribal games, carnival events, floral galleria, and others. The most significant celebration of this festival is the Warrior Log Drum dance. You can find many stalls to buy tribal souvenirs and other articles.
10. Puri Rath Yatra of Odisha
This is the annual temple car festival of the Puri Jagannath Temple. The temple car (chariot) procession from the Puri Jagannath temple to the Gundicha Temple and back to Puri Jagannath Temple is the main element of this festival.
During the procession, dance, music, chorus mantra chanting, and others take place. Special rituals take place in both the temples. By evening, many cultural performances take place inside the temple. The regions around the temple will be filled with stalls for souvenir shopping.
Date – 22nd July to 23rd July 2020
11. Hemis Festival of Ladakh
This is the annual festival, which takes place in the Hemis Monastery of Ladakh. This festival is famous for dance, music, exhibition, and colorful rituals. This festival celebrates the birth of Padmasambhava, the spiritual leader and founder of Tantric Buddhism.
The main element of this festival is the masked monk dance. Ancient scripts and scrolls of the monastery will be open for tourists and locals to watch. Viewing those scrolls is said to bring prosperity.
Date – 30th June to 1st July 2020
12. Lohri Festival of Punjab
This is the harvest festival of the region. The festival is celebrated with many cultural activities like folk dance, music, feasts, bonfire, and others. The best of all is the iconic Bhangra dance ceremony. This festival also marks the day of Winter solstice, when the day is shortest and the night is longest. Main ingredients used for the celebration are rewi, peanuts and gur.
Date – 13th January 2020
13. Jaipur Literature Festival
This is the largest literature festival of the country. The Literature Festival takes place in numerous places in Jaipur. The best of all the events take place at Diggi Palace. More than 300 speakers take part in this festival to provide seminars, lectures, debates, book shows, book publishing events, and much more. Stalls will be erected to showcase the works of budding artists.
Date – 23rd January to 27th January 2020
14. Elephant Festival of Jaipur
This festival is celebrated on the same day as the Festival of Colors (Holi). During this festival, the royal wealth of the land, elephants are celebrated. You can find numerous elephant based activities like elephant dance, elephant polo game, and others take place.
The best of all celebrations is the large procession, which includes decorated elephants, horses, camels, and others. Many locals sing and dance along with the procession and the rest sprinkle colored powder on the animals.
Date – 10th March 2020
15. Rann Utsav of Kutch
This is the longest festival of the country, spanning for two months. This is the winter festival of Rann of Kutch, the salt marsh desert of Gujarat. During this festival, tourists visit a temporary city, which is erected with numerous stalls for cultural and adventure activities.
You can find service providers who offer many adventure activities in the desert. Apart from this, you can find dance performances, music shows, puppet shows, street arts, storytelling, handicraft sales, and others.
People love to camp and enjoy the night in the desert. The best time to visit the festival region is during full moon night.
Date – 28th October 2019 to 23rd Feburary 2020
Read more – Travel Guide to Kutch – Land to Diversity
16. Winter Carnival of Manali
This is a winter celebration, which promotes winter adventure activities and the tradition of Himachali people. This is the festival for adventure enthusiasts. You can find numerous adventure activities like skiing, skating, and others. Apart from adventure activities, you can find many cultural celebrations like dance, music, local games, shopping for souvenir, and so on.
Date – 2nd January to 6th January 2020
17. Khajuraho Dance Festival
This is a dance festival, which takes place inside the Khajuraho group of monuments. This is a weeklong dance festival, which showcases solo and group dances of each region. Dancers from around the country take part in this festivals of India.
You can enjoy dances of numerous forms like Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Kathakali, Dhandiya, and others. An open-air market is conducted right outside the temple region for souvenir shopping.
Date – 25th February to 3rd March, 2020
18. Marwar Festival of Jodhpur
Marwar Festival is the celebration of bravery of the kings and warriors of Marwar. This festival is celebrated with dance, music, and cultural performances. You can find many puppet shows, dramas, dance-dramas, story narration, and other activities which express the bravery of the men and women during war.
Date -12th October to 13th October, 2020
19. Gangaur Festival of Rajasthan
This is an important religious festival of Hindus in Rajasthan and surrounding regions. This festival includes rituals, colorful processions, shopping, delicacy tasting, and others. This is a 16-days festival, which is observed by the womenfolk of the region.
Among tourists, the final day of the festival is of great importance. The procession is the main element of the festival. It starts at City Palace (Zaani Deodhi) and ends at Talkatora. The main dish served during this festival is Ghevar.
Date – 10th March to 27th March 2020
20. Teej of Rajasthan
Teej is a cultural celebration of Rajasthan, which is observed to welcome the monsoon. This festival is celebrated by the womenfolk, who swing and dance in green attire as a representation of welcoming the rain. Mythological, this festivals of India is celebrated to rejoice the union of Lord Parvati with her consort, Lord Shiva. The main celebration of the festival is the grand procession with folk dance, music, and other celebrations.
Date – 23rd July to 24th July 2020
21. Holi (throughout the country)
This is the festival of colors, which is celebrated for various reasons, according to different mythology. In general, it is the celebration of colors. After morning rituals, people spray colored water and powder on each other. The best places to visit to enjoy Holi are Mathura, Vrindavan, and others. Visit Manipur to enjoy a similar festival on the same day. It is called Yaoshang Festival.
Date – 9th to 10th March 2020
22. Ganesh Chaturthi (throughout the country)
This is a Hindu festival celebrated for Lord Ganesh. The festival is celebrated for nine days. On the first day, people buy clay idols of Ganesh and perform rituals to the idol. On the last day, a grand procession of millions of people takes place towards any waterbody where the idols are immersed in the water, to represent circle of life.
For the nine days, pandals are erected at specific locations where rituals, spiritual songs, and other performances take place. Maharashtra is the best place to enjoy this festival.
Date – 22nd August 2020
Read more – Famous Festivals of Mumbai – Ganesh Chaturthi
This is a nine-day festival, celebrated by Hindus. For the nine days, one form of Durga is celebrated per day. Different parts of the country celebrate this festival for different reasons. For the nine days, many pandals will be erected.
In the pandals, you will find different styles of dance, music, and cultural celebrations. A pyramid of dolls will be presented as the centerpiece of the pandal. Each day a different delicacy is served.
Although the entire country celebrates Navaratri, the best of the celebrations are enjoyed in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Vadodara, and others.
Date – 17th October to 25th October 2020
24. Durga Pooja
This is quite similar to Navaratri, but it is a ten-day festival, which is celebrated to rejoice the victory of Good over Evil. This festivals of India ends with the Dusshera celebration on the tenth day. Kolkata is the best place to enjoy this festival. Top attractions during Durga Pooja are dance, music, cultural activities, and more.
25. Diwali (throughout the country)
Diwali is the festival of lights. People celebrate this festival with numerous delicacies and bursting crackers and fireworks. The festival is celebrated to mark the day of return of Lord Ram and Sita from their exile. The temples conduct many rituals during this day. Locals decorate their houses with small earthen lamps. Diwali is one of the most famous festivals of India.
Date – 14th November 2020
Read more – Famous Places for Diwali celebration in India
26. Christmas (throughout the country)
This is the celebration of birth of Jesus Christ. Churches of the country conduct many feasts, prayers, and many cultural performances. Malls and Churches provide Santa Claus activities and large Christmas trees can be found in numerous places. Top places to enjoy Christmas are Goa, Daman and Diu, Kerala, and others.
Date – 25th December 2020
Read more – Christmas Celebrations in India
If you are planning to visit India during any festivals of India, remember to pre-book every service and facility. The demand for tickets and accommodations will be sky high during these festivals. So, plan as early as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions about Famous Festivals of India
Q. Which are the national festival of India?
A. National festivals of India are Republic Day, Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti.
Q. Which state in India is known as the land of festivals?
A. Nagaland, is known as the “Land of Festivals”. This is one of the most famous state of North East India.
Q. Which city is known as ‘City of Festivals’?
A. Madurai located in Tamil Nadu in South Region of India is known as the ‘City of Festivals’ in India.
Q. Which are the biggest festivals of India?
A. Biggest festivals celebrated in the country of India are Holi, Diwali, Maha Shivaratri, Ramadan, Navaratri/Durga Pooja, Dussehra, Janmashtami and Ganesh Chaturthi
Q. Which are the famous festivals of North India?
Q. Which are the famous festivals of South India?
A. Famous Festivals celebrated of South India are Onam, Mysore Dasara, Pongal, Thrissur Pooram, Ugadi, Mahamaham Festival, and Hampi Utsav.
Q. Which are the famous festivals of Rajasthan?
A. Famous Festivals of Rajasthan are Teej, Rajasthan International Folk, Pushkar Camel Fair, Desert Festival, Nagaur Fair, Summer and Winter Festival, Kite Festival, Mewar Festival, Brij Holi, and Kota Adventure Festival.
Q. Which Indian festivals are celebrated in the winters?
A. Lohri, Bihu Magh, Makarsankranti, Jaisalmer Desert Festival, Bikaner Camel Festival, Manali Winter Carnival, Kutchh Rann Mahotsav, Goa Carnival, Konark Dance Festival, Mount Abu Winter Festival and Hornbill Festival.
Q. Which are the monsoon festival of India?
A. Monsoon Festivals of India are Puri Rath Yatra, Ganesh Chathurthi, Teej, Raksha Bandhan, Onam, Janmashtami, Hemis Festival, Behdienkhlam, Sao Joao, Ganga Dussehra, Adiperukku and Raksha Bandhan.