Where to Go in January: Feast in Goa, Go Fly a Kite in Gujarat

From wildlife safaris to a street food mela, start the New Year with a bang.

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Revel in live music, watch wildlife movies and go on jungle safaris at this three-day fest. Photo by: India Pictures/Getty Images

Ranthambore Festival, Rajasthan

The second edition of Rajasthan’s Ranthambore Festival brings together the best of folk music, folk dance and wildlife. The magnificent Lake Nahargarh Palace hotel in Sawai Madhopur district, a 4.5 kilometre-drive from the Ranthambore National Park, will host the fest between 19 and 21 January. Other than deep-forest safaris, on the menu is an open-air screening of S. Nallamuthu’s documentary Tiger Dynasty. Wildlife filmmaker Mike Pandey and conservationist Bittu Sehgal will deliver talks. Farhan Akhtar and his band, and Fiddler’s Green, an acoustic folk jam band from Kolkata, will also take stage here. There are also pop-up souks, secret suppers, open mic performances and naked-eye astronomy.

(Tickets starting Rs3,000. Find out more on here)


Feast of Three Kings, Goa

Held annually atop a hill at Our Lady of Remedios, the Goan Feast of Three Kings is celebrated with great pompous. Photo courtesy: Remedios Chruch

Stalls selling spices, cashews and yummy Goan treats pop up outside the Our Lady of Remedios church during the feast. Photo courtesy: Remedios Church

The coastal state is ready to host the Feast of Three Kings, a carnival held after 12 days of Christmas to celebrate the visit of the Wise men or the Three Kings to Jesus, and his baptism. While the main feast is held inside the Our Lady of Remedios church atop Cuelim Hill, festivities spill over to the neighbouring South Goan villages of Cansaulim and Arossim too, all between 6 and 15 January. Pop-up stalls, for instance, sell everything from cashews and spices to deliciously home-cooked Goan meals. Also, on the final day called Epiphany, it might be worth tagging along three little boys from the three villages who march to the church, enacting the kings’ visit, down to carrying gifts for baby Jesus.

(Entry free. Also, check out Goa Tattoo Festival, Tito’s Arena, Baga, on 12, 13 and 14 January.)


International Kite Festival, Gujarat

Locals and tourists bring out their best kites to put up an ariel spectacle. Photo by: Anand Purohit/Getty Images

During the week-long festival, all rooftops in Gujarat are raided. What follows next is some friendly kiting and lots of drama. Photo by: Anand Purohit/Getty Images

Gujarat’s skies will be polka-dotted with kites. Blue, red, purple and pink, they will soar and spar between 7 and 14 January. Makar Sankranti, or the kite festival, marks the end of winter and is a significant day for farmers, as it’s considered to be one of the most important harvest days in India. During the week-long festival, daytime activities come to a halt and rooftops are raided. What follows next are friendly kite battles. There are breaks of course, perfect to dig into yummy Gujarati staples like ladoos, undhiyu and Surati jamun. While all of Gujarat gears up for Makar Sankranti, it is best enjoyed on the riverfront of Sabarmati in Ahmedabad, where 186 skilled kite-flyers from more than 31 countries engage in some mean kiting. Keep an eye out for kite-maker and kite-flyer Rasulbhai Rahimbhai, whose most remarkable feat remains an aerial spectacle of flying 500 kites attached to a single string.

(Entry free. Find out more here)


National Street Food Festival, Delhi

Street food vendors from India's 25 states set table in New Delhi with indigenous flavours from the country. Photo courtesy: Maachli

Loosen your belt, skip a meal, before heading to this gastronomic extravaganza. Sleep-inducing fare is guaranteed. Photo courtesy: Maachli

The ninth edition of National Street Food Festival is back in New Delhi’s Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium between 12 and 14 January. Food vendors from across 25 Indian states will set up 500 stalls. Put together by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), this gastronomic extravaganza indeed plates up plenty for both foodies and health-conscious eaters. Banarsi Tamatar Chaat, Kerala’s lip-smacking Malabar Biryani and Payasam, Delhi’s eminent Daulat ki Chaat and Gujarati fafda-jalebi all find place here. Other than serving up a rich, sleep-inducing fare, the event will also see a performance by Virginia-based rock band High Roller. To keep children hooked, there are magic shows and interactive games and activities.

(Tickets Rs100 (available at the venue); 10 a.m-10 p.m.; Find out more here)


Mukteswar Dance Festival, Odisha

Eminent Odissi performers grace the premises of the 10th-century Mukteswar Temple. Photo by: Visage/Getty images

Graceful Odissi performances matched to mardal beats are a given at this dance festival. Photo by: Visage/Getty images

The Mukteswar Dance Festival, held between 14 and 16 January, is a perfect excuse to plan a trip to Odisha, especially for architecture buffs and Odissi dance lovers. The three-day festival will see Odissi performers dance to the beats of mardal against the gorgeous backdrop of Odisha’s 10th-century Mukteswar Temple. Namrata Mehta of Kaishiki, an Odissi Dance Institute started by dance guru Daksha Mashruwala, will inaugurate the festival with her solo act. The line-up also includes artistes such as Sarita Mishra and Manisha Manaswini. Whilst there, do step inside the temple. Its eight-petal lotus ceiling is an absolute delight.

(Entry free; 6 p.m.-8.30 p.m. Find out more here)


Jaipur Literature Festival, Rajasthan

The palatial Hotel Diggi Palace serves as a venue for the much awaited Jaipur Literature Festival. Photo Courtesy: Hotel Diggi Palace

Hotel Diggi Palace’s doorways and havelis are dressed and ready for the Jaipur Literature Festival to kick in. Photo Courtesy: Hotel Diggi Palace

India’s most awaited literary festival is back, this time between 25 and 29 January. To be held in the frescoed doorways, banquets and havelis of Hotel Diggi Palace, the event, much like every year, boasts of a stunning line-up. Look out for Amy Tan, author of the widely adapted book The Joy Luck Club; critically acclaimed filmmaker Anurag Kashyap; former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai; Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, Michael Rezendes of The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team; British essayist Pico Iyer; and philanthropist and writer Sudha Murty.

(General online registration is free; delegate pass starting Rs3,000. Find out more here)




  • Pooja Naik is Senior Sub-Editor at National Geographic Traveller India. She likes to take long leisurely walks with both hands in her pocket; channeling her inner Gil Pender at Marine Drive since Paris is a continent away.


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