Bright, spring festivals and bold gardens blossom in March, bringing plenty of excuses to get outdoors. From celebrating the colours of Holi in India to dancing an Irish jig in Argentina, here’s what to experience and where to do it.
March 1-7 | Rishikesh, Uttarakhand— Held at the banks of the River Ganga, the annual International Yoga Festival presents a massive allure for those seeking peace and wishing to escape the humdrum city life. With thousands of attendees and yogis pooling in from across the world to Rishikesh— famously considered the birthplace of yoga—activities like deep meditation sessions at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram; bhajans and kirtans; and ancient yogic practices of Pranayama, Hatha Yoga and Yog Nidra act as key events to help discover the inner chi.
March 6 | Tel Aviv, Israel—In Israel’s cosmopolitan seaside city, Tel Aviv Street Party Rave marks the Jewish holiday with live music, dancing in the streets, and food stalls offering up local treats, such as hamantash, a stuffed cookie filled with jam, chocolate, or dates. Crafts and fashion for sale and wildly dressed locals up the party vibe.
March 9-10 | India—With rainbows on the ground in the form of friendly pichkari wars and plates of gulaal, the festival of colours warrants a celebration in India. Several states also celebrate Holika on the same day, where men and women burn a dummy of an asura (demon) named Holika, who, according to Indian mythology, had been burnt at the pyre by the god Vishnu—signifying the eternal triumph of good over evil. In Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura and Vrindavan, go for the phoolon ki holi, played by widows with flowers.
March 8 | Palakkad, Kerala—The Chinakkathoor Pooram celebrations comprise of a colourful milieu of puppet shows, traditional orchestra performances and folk dances to drum beats. While these activities are crowd pullers enough, what sets the festival aside is a unique procession of majestic elephants, as they gallantly march through the streets of Palakkad. You wouldn’t want to miss out on this view.
March 8 | Los Angeles, California—“The City of Angels” is home to the largest population of Persians outside of Iran, making it one of the best places to celebrate Nowruz (Persian New Year). One of the country’s biggest celebrations, the Farhang Foundation’s Nowruz Festival offers up dancers, musicians, and puppeteers performing centuries-old arts form. And be sure to sample nan-e berenji, traditional cardamom-flavoured rice cookies studded with poppy seeds.
March 17-18 | Buenos Aires, Argentina— Argentina’s lively capital gets an Irish accent for El Día de San Patricio (St. Patrick’s Day). Street parties mix and match cultures with Latin-infused Irish fare and dance sessions combining tango and jig steps. Don’t forget to stick around for the annual parade down the wide, tree-lined Avenida de Mayo, where locals dress as fairies and leprechauns and local bands perform.
March 2-May 10 | Lisse, Netherlands— Less than an hour outside Amsterdam, Keukenhof Gardens shows off nearly 80 acres of tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths—check the website for what’s in bloom and when. Hilltop trails above the plots offer views and photo ops of the splendour. Other attractions include an indoor pavilion with petal-themed art and more flowers plus tours of the grounds via bike or canal barge.
March 21 | Goa—Walls beautified with murals depicting scenes from ancient mythology; local dancers donned in traditional attire and the famous ‘Shigmo Parade’ are just a few of the many things that make Shigmotsav, a Goan festival celebrating spring and its good harvest, one that cannot be missed. In some ways, the festival is also considered a Goan version of celebrating Holi, with the addition of float parades typical of any Goan carnival. Popularly known as the festival of the common people, it is mostly celebrated by the Konkani diaspora as a tribute to the Indian god of love, Kamadeva.
March | Ratnagiri, Maharashtra—A drop in their global count has earned the olive ridleys the ‘vulnerable’ tag by the WWF, and the need to protect them has become paramount. The Velas Turtle Festival held in the small coastal town of Velas aims to do exactly that, while also allowing nature and wildlife lovers a close-up of the turtles, as they gather together at the Velas beach in hundreds through March to hatch eggs. While viewing the extraordinary phenomenon, attendees are also given a crash-course on wildlife conservation, and offered homestays near the beach which hold promises of rich Konkani food and a chance to experience the local Konkani lifestyle.
Sanjana Ray is that unwarranted tour guide people groan about on trips. When she isn't geeking out on travel and history, she can be found walking around the streets, crying for Bengali food. She is former Digital Writer at National Geographic Traveller India.
Starlight Williams is an editorial researcher and writer at National Geographic.