Besides being a top holiday and wedding and convention destination, now, the world also heads to Goa for the festivals. This list is for those who might be looking for something more, to make their time in Goa engaging. If that sounds familiar, perhaps these festivals will interest you?
One of the most awaited annual events to happen in Goa, the Carnival is Goa’s answer to Rio de Janeiro’s world-famous festival of the same name. Usually held prior to the commence of Lent, the Carnival is a time of revelry, celebration, colour and happiness and sees the state pull out all the stops on cultural and theatrical displays. Streets come alive with decoration, light displays and every locality starts to build their floats for the tableau. On the day of the Carnival, key areas of the main towns, Panjim, Vasco, Mapusa and Margaon are cordoned off for a special procession of all the floats, mixed eith live music and dance performances, much like in Rio. Although it is a key even for Goans the spirit of Viva Carnival! attracts enuthusiastic tourists from the world over.
When: 9th-12th February 2014
Go if: You can’t afford to go to Rio but want a taste of the carnival anyway.
If there was ever a Hindu response to the hugely popular Carnival in Goa, it has got to be the Shigmotsav! This carnival marks the end of winter, and welcomes spring, with an array of colourful celebrations. Panjim wears a festive look in the run up to the event, with decorations along the streets, as preparations get underway. On the main day, a parade consisting of a spectacular display of Goan Hindu ethnicity and mythology is on show along 18th June Road, where people gather in large numbers, to catch a glimpse of the celebrations. From tableaus to traditional group dances, folk performances of dance and music to enormous papier mache structures of Hindu devas and asuras telling tales of folk lore and mythology, flank the processions. Usually, the day ends with the Chief Minister conferring a prize for the Best float or display of them all.
When: About a week before Holi, usually in February.
Go if: You have a strong penchant for Hindu culture, music, dance and celebration.
Probably one of the most anticipated Indian festivals in the film arena is the International Film Festival of India that is held in November every year, in Goa. Envisioned as a platform to promote, showcase and celebrate excellent cinema from around the globe, it is a 10-day event that opens with a bang at Entertainment Society of Goa, usually with a renowned Bollywood and Hollywood star gracing the occasion. For cinema buffs, this is an extravaganza not worth missing, because an affordable registration fee entitles you to a movies pass to catch (regional, English, Hindi and foreign language) movies across three venues over ten days. Some screenings are followed by interaction with the filmmaker or actors while some days the events include a master class in an aspect of film-making.
When: Usually in the second half of November.
Go if: You love movies enough to watch them endlessly for ten days.
Goa Arts and Literary Festival
For the bookworms and lovers-of-art amongst us, the good news is that Goa is also home to an annual art and literary festival. Usually about five days long, the Goa Art and Literary Festival is held in Panjim and brings together an eclectic collection of literary activity.
You can look forward to book launches, readings, face to face interactions with writers from around the world, debates and discussions about the arts, theatre, music and exhibitions in a small and intimate gathering of some of the most celebrated literati in the country. If the shindig at Jaipur is a little out of reach, come to Goa.
When: Usually in the first week of December.
Go if: You are a literature fest junkie and want to club a festival with a holiday in the beachy state.
We’re pretty sure you don’t need any more reasons to visit Goa, but if you do plan your trip around these events and give yourself something special to do, and some unforgettable memories to take back form Goa.