Festivals in India

There are thousands of festivals, fairs and celebrations in India each year. All the major festivals of India are fascinating for the locals, but our experience has taught us that some are much more interesting for a visitor to experience, while other festivals, although extremely important to the natives, do not offer much of an opportunity for visitors to really experience the actual celebration. As an example, India’s biggest festival, Diwali (unlike Dev Diwali in Varanasi), is primarily celebrated by families in their homes, just like Christmas. The listing of festivals linked below is listed in an order on what we feel are the most interesting for a visitor.

Name of Festival / Fair 2022 2023
Pushkar Camel Fair (Pushkar) 1st - 8th November 20th - 27th November
Dev Diwali (Varanasi) 7th November 26th November
Holi (North and Central India) 18th March 8th March
Chennai Dance and Music Festival (Chennai) December/January December/January
Diwali (All India) 24th October 12th November

Dev Diwali Festival
diwali festival

Dev Diwali Festival Quick Reference

  • What is Dev Diwali?
  • Dev Diwali is the festival of lights of the God, the biggest festival of India's holiest city Varanasi.

  • When is Dev Diwali?
  • Dev Diwali is celebrated on the occasion of Karthik Purnima. Dev Deewali celebrated on November 26th in 2023.

  • How is Dev Diwali celebrated?
  • Dev Diwali is celebrated on the occasion of Kartik Purnima when the Ghats of Varanasi come alive with thousands of Diya’s (earthen lamps) and vivid murals made out of powdered colors. Dev Diwali is a tribute to holy river Ganga by the people of Varanasi. Houses are decorated with oil lamps and colored designs on their front doors, processions of decorated deities are taken out into the streets of Varanasi.

  • North India Tours

About Dev Diwali Festival

Diwali is Hinduism's biggest festival and is even celebrated by people of other faiths throughout most of India. It is a night of joyous celebration that has many similarities in how Christmas is celebrated in the United States, with a doze of 4th of July fireworks thrown in.

Homes and other building's facades are beautifully decorated with oil lamps and candles, gifts are exchanged, ceremonial prayers are offered, and then come the incredible fireworks that every family rejoices with!

Diwali's origins are based on the Hindu Epic, Ramayana. Lord Rama and his family returned to their ancestral land after 14 years of banishment, and the kingdom held a celebration unlike any seen before.

Varanasi is Hinduism's holiest city and is an incredible destination for explorers to experience at any time of year. Continuously inhabited for over five thousand years, the sights, experiences, smells and sounds of the city cannot be described in words. The countless rituals and ceremonies on the banks of the holy river are permeated with a spirituality that is seldom, if ever, experienced elsewhere.

Multiply the Diwali festivities by ten and you get Dev Diwali, the Diwali of the Gods. Celebrated 15 days after the countrywide festival, on the holiest night of the Hindu lunar calendar, this festival combines all the elements of the mainstream festival with the religious fervor of the holiest night of the year in Hinduism's most sacred city.

You will be witness to the spiritual intensity of the preparations, the passion of the pilgrims, and the colors of their rituals, while walking on the Ghats after your sunrise cruise on the Ganga. During your sunset cruise to view the main festival ceremonies, unlike Varanasi tours during other parts of the year, you will not walk on the main Ghats. You will experience this from the protected environment of your boat. This is because 3 to 4 million pilgrims visit Varanasi during Dev Diwali and the average rural pilgrim has no concept of personal space. Movement on the Ghats is only possible as a part of a sea of people, with each person completely sandwiched between the bodies around them.
Pushkar Festival & Fair
pushkar camel fair

Pushkar Fair Quick Reference

  • What is the Pushkar Festival?
  • The Pushkar Camel Fair is a religious festival that coincides with a massive cattle auction and various other festivities.

  • When is the Pushkar Festival celebrated?
  • The Pushkar Camel Fair will be held 20th - 27th November in 2023 .

  • Where is the Pushkar Festival held?
  • The Pushkar Camel Fair is held in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India.

  • Please Watch the Video on Our Festivals Tours page

About Pushkar Festival and the Camel Fair

The small town of Pushkar is spread around a holy lake that has been a pilgrimage destination for centuries. Devout Hindu’s from Rajasthan and neighbouring states visit the destination throughout the year to immerse themselves in the sacred water, but the numbers increase significantly during the days leading up to Kartik Poornima, one of the the holiest days in the Hindu lunar calendar.

Pilgrims start arriving a few days before the most auspicious day, praying to the God Brahma at his temple near the lake, and immersing themselves in the holy water. Our guests get to witness colorful religious processions parading through the streets of the now bustling town, where gypsy bazaars have cropped up everywhere.

The Pushkar Camel Fair takes place at the same time. It is the finest opportunity to explore true rural Indian culture in the heart of Rajasthan. As fall sweeps through the arid state of Rajasthan in North India, thousands of people begin driving herds of camels, horses, and cows towards the town of Pushkar for this yearly holiday that combines all the hallmarks of a typical country fair with the flair of the Hindu religion into a truly unique festival.

For most of the year, Pushkar is a quiet town resting on the banks of its holy lake, but the Pushkar Fair turns this usually sleepy village into the most colorful destinations in the world. Parades, camel safaris, acrobatic performances, races, and livestock pageants are just a few of the intriguing spectacles that can be spotted during the Pushkar Camel Fair.

Like most festivals on the Indian subcontinent, the holiday’s dates are determined using a lunar calendar, and as such, dates can shift several weeks each year. Typically, the Pushkar Camel Fair falls between late October and early November.
Go to the Pushkar Festival Page
Diwali Festival
diwali festival

Diwali Festival Quick Reference

  • What is Diwali?
  • Diwali is the Festival of Lights in India.

  • When is Diwali?
  • The dates vary, but typically the holiday is between October and November. Diwali Festival celebrated on November 12th in 2023.

  • How is Diwali celebrated?
  • Bright lights, candles, temple ceremonies, fireworks, and food are all part of the 5 day Diwali celebration.

  • North India Tours

About Diwali Festival

The annual festival of Diwali is an Indian celebration of the victory of light over dark, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair.

A five day festival held before and after the darkest day of the year, Diwali is celebrated across India by practitioners of the Hindu, Jain, and Sikh religions with varying themes. Families prepare for the celebration by cleaning their homes, dressing in new clothes, preparing special foods and sweets, and lighting candles and lanterns to invite good fortune from the gods.

The holiday spills into the streets of cities across India with performances by acrobats, musicians, and plays. Fireworks light the night sky in colorful blossoms, and the spark and pop of firecrackers thrown from the hands of children and adults illuminate the streets across the Indian subcontinent. Families and friends exchange gifts, and share elaborate meals and desserts together.

The lights, smells, tastes, and sounds of this jubilant festival draw travelers from across the globe for luxury tours of India. The holiday dates are selected using the Hindu lunar calendar, and fall annually sometime between October and November.

A busy time for the local populace and travelers alike, advance planning for trips during this holiday season is recommended. Diwali is celebrated across the subcontinent from the smallest villages to bustling cities like Delhi and Mumbai.

Cultural enthusiasts on tours in India relish experiencing one of India’s largest and most festive holidays. The sights, smells, and flavors of this ecstatic holiday remain fresh in memory long after the fireworks have faded from the night sky of India.

Most Indian families dress in their very best for the holidays, but western wear is fine for travelers unless they plan to attend any activities at temples, shrines, or other holy sites where modest clothing covering shoulders, arms, and legs is recommended.
Go to the Diwali Festival Page
Holi Festival
holi festival

Holi Festival Quick Reference

  • What is Holi?
  • Holi is India’s Festival of Colors.

  • When is Holi celebrated?
  • Holi typically falls towards the end of February or the beginning of March on western calendars. The date for Holi celebrations in India during 2023 is March 8th.

  • Where is Holi celebrated?
  • Holi is celebrated throughout the Indian subcontinent, as well as in numerous other countries around the globe.

  • How is Holi Celebrated?
  • From sunup to sundown, Holi is celebrated with a riot of color, music, and dance in virtually every public place in India.

About Holi Festival

Holi, the Festival of Colors, is one of India’s most recognized holidays. This festival, held annually near or on a full moon, celebrates the end of winter and the onset of spring with a riot of colors, sounds, music, and dance.

City streets across India erupt into a playful, carnival atmosphere during Holi as revelers spend the day throwing handfuls of dye at each other, dancing, singing, and playing mischievous pranks on each other. Parades of musicians and dancers are a common sight on many city streets across the nation, and public parks and temple grounds often see large and joyful gatherings of people. The holiday is universally celebrated across caste, class, and creed.

While there are a number of religious connotations and ceremonies that go along with Holi, like the traditional Holika Bonfire held the evening before, the holiday is mostly a secular event where neighbors, friends, and family gather together to celebrate the first blooms of spring.

India’s Holi festival coincides with Vernal Equinox, and as such the dates of the celebration vary from year to year. The festival is usually held towards the end of February or the beginning of March on western calendars.

The Holi festival is a great opportunity to get a taste of the subcontinent’s thrilling and distinct culture during one of our luxury tours of India. The riot of activity, sound, music, and color is one of the most unforgettable holiday experiences in the world, and the festival’s inclusive nature means foreigners are often active participants in the daylong celebration.

Holi is typically celebrated across India from the smallest villages to the largest cities. While there is some regional variations in the length of the festival, it typically runs all day and finishes with the setting of the sun, when festival goers head home to clean up, done their finest apparel, and head back out to exchange gifts and warm greetings with their friends, family, and neighbors.

During the daylight hours, it’s best to wear some older clothing you don’t mind getting a permanent color adjustment, and a good pair of stout shoes.
Go to the Holi Festival Page
Chennai Dance & Music Festival

Chennai Dance & Music Festival Quick Reference

  • What is the Chennai Dance and Music Festival?
  • The Chennai Dance and Music Festival is a celebration of traditional South Indian dance.

  • When is Chennai’s Dance and Music Festival?
  • Chennai’s Dance and Music Festival is held annually between December and January.

  • Where is the Dance and Music Festival Held?
  • The Dance and Music Festival is held in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

About Chennai Dance & Music Festival

The Chennai Dance and Music Festival showcases the ancient art forms of a number of South Indian dynasties. These performances originated as part of Hindu temple ceremonies, and combine speech, mime, dance, and music into opera-like celebrations of Hindu mythologies.

The annual festival is in mid-December or early January in the city of Chennai, the capital of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. A number of organizations participate to prepare venues for the performances across the city, but the most splendid of these shows are held on the grounds of the city’s many ancient Hindu temples. Over the course of the festival, hundreds of productions are performed by several thousand artists.
Go to the Chennai Dance & Music Festival Page