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.