Top destinations to celebrate Christmas in India

Gingerbread cookies.
Image courtesy: ©sack/Getty Images/iStockphoto

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – of mistletoes and midnight mass, of carols and candy, of snow angels and secret santa! As the temperature drops, the festive spirit seeps in bringing people together over the holiday season. Whether you’re a lover of warm fires, fancy parties, grand feasts or an adrenaline rush, we got you covered as we jingle our way through the top destinations to celebrate Christmas in India.

Also read: Why you should visit Darjeeling during Christmas

Also read: The essential guide to Christmas and New Year in Goa

Also read: A world tour of Christmas dinners

 

The ultimate getaway for a White Christmas.
The ultimate getaway for a White Christmas.
Image courtesy: Swarandeep via Thinkstock

Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir

For the seekers of adventure and tranquility, this heavenly hill station is the ultimate getaway for a White Christmas. Popularly known as the ‘heartland of winter sports’ in India, the Gulmarg Gondola transports passengers to the top of the Kongdoori Mountain, shoulder of the Afarwat Peak where skiing enthusiasts and snowboarders are mesmerized with a pristine view of a lifetime. Celebrate the life of Christ at the quaint Victorian wonder, St.Mary’s Church in the Shepherds Valley during their special Christmas service. If a relaxing day at the spa strikes your fancy head to the luxurious Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa. A massage amidst the pine and fir trees, white powder and majestic mountains accompanied by a hot chocolate makes the perfect setting for a winter wonderland.

Children of God!
Image courtesy: ©Sachin Uplaonkar/Lonely Planet

Mumbai

You know its beginning to look a lot like Christmas with the holiday themed store window displays and inviting sales. A nip in the air, cozy cardigans and a high-spirited city is Mumbai during Christmas. Be it the lit up houses in the charming lanes of the trendy suburb Bandra or the last minute tree shopping madness on Hill road, the vibe is unmissable. Attend the midnight mass at the legendary Mount Mary’s Basilica and gorge on delectable meaty pies, classic plum cakes and tarts at the scented bakeries in the neighborhood. Dance your night away at one of the holiday parties in the luxury hotels of the bay, or drunch yourself at a mighty Christmas brunch over delicious cocktails (Bastian, Cafe Zoe, The Table) If you’re musically inclined, the calendar this time of the year has exciting gigs at venues such as the iconic NCPA or The Quarter, newly renovated at the Royal Opera House.

It's all about the gut-busting roast.
It's all about the gut-busting roast.
Image courtesy: ©zoomphotographics/Getty Images

Puducherry

Or as the locals call it Pondy is for the bohemian soul and for the gourmand. With 7% of it’s population following Christianity, it isn’t that surprising a Christmas destination. Yellow colonial houses, anglicized street names, quaint boutiques and a gorgeous beach promenade will add a dreamy European flavor to your holidays. Home to some of the best French food in the country, the Christmas dinners are elaborate comprising of turkey, steaks, roasts and other specials. The Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges and Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus are churches truly worth visiting where you can celebrate the merry occasion with people from all over the world. Spend a day walking around the spiritual and easy Auroville. The bakeries and cafes, Bread and Chocolate in particular, serving as the name suggests locally made breads and chocolate (Mason and Co.) will add just the right amount of savory and sweet crunch to your Christmas.

Kerala

God’s own country is one of the most exciting places to celebrate the December festivities in India. Whether you’re in the backwaters of Kollam, on the beaches of Kovalam or Varkala, or on the hill station of Munnar the cakes are loaded with wine, the curries with coconutty deliciousness and it is a holly jolly Christmas. To get an insight into the culture of the state as well as of the colonial era, attend the Cochin Carnival at Fort Kochi, a week long festival that kicks off on Christmas day and ends in the New Year. Colorful and entertaining, there’s a lot to see and do at this action-packed fiesta. Almost all churches are aesthetically decorated retelling stories of the birth of Jesus Christ and other momentous occasions of his life. The entire state echoes of carols wishing you a Merry Christmas and lending a cheerful soundtrack to your holidays.

Fireworks by the beach is a grand event in Goa.
Fireworks by the beach is a grand event in Goa.
Image courtesy: ©Sharon Lapkin/Getty Images/Moment Open

Goa

The sun, the sand and the sea? We’ll always have Goa. Dancing, dining or de-stressing? Goa is still the answer. In India, Christmas is almost synonymous with Goa and if you indulge in the celebration here, you’re going to wish if it could be Christmas everyday. Dress your finest (with comfortable footwear, you’ll soon read why) and attend the Midnight Mass at one of Goa’s innumerable churches. Or simply go crib-hopping admiring the beauty of the churches and their decor followed by fireworks on the beach (Candolim, Baga, Calangute, Vagator in the north and Colva, Bogmalo in the south) After the pleasantries and niceties, it is time to loosen up and go dancing to one of the local hotspots or the iconic Christmas dance parties with live bands. Dance the night away and welcome Christmas day by watching the sunrise. The best is yet to come, i.e, the big fat holiday lunch. Roast Turkey, Sorpotel, Xacuti, Vindaloo, Kulkuls, Plum cake, Marzipan, Bebinca, Feni… (Zeebop by the Sea, Martin’s Corner, Gunpowder) Lastly, surround your family tree, exchange presents and have yourself a merry little Christmas!

AUTHOR'S BIO: When she's not working behind-the-scenes on Bollywood films, Writer/Assistant Director Bharati Kandhari is indulging in her unhealthy obsessions of New York, coffee and banana pancakes. Mentally playing her life as a musical montage, she is on a constant lookout to satiate her wanderlust and find her La La Land.

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