‘Tis the season to be merry! There’s something about December that gets everyone into a joyous mood. Adding to the flavour of the month that brings the curtains down on the year are the colourful festivals- from Christmas that gives you every reason to cheer to the many music and dance festivals, each more delightful than the other. Take a look at some of the major ones we’ve shortlisted for you.
When: December 1-3
The footfalls in this fort town increase many times over in the winter months not just because of its mighty walls- believed to be the longest after the Great Wall of China- that hark back to a historic past but also a colourful three-day festival organized here. From a distance itself, you are sure to be charmed by the sounds of folk music coming from its mighty ramparts, and soon after you walk in, a mela of vibrant folk dance and music performances by local artistes, puppet shows and shopping experiences have you enthralled.
When: December 1-5
This is a time, perfect for dance and music lovers, to visit the imposing 13th century architectural gem at Konark in Odisha- the Sun God’s stone chariot. Every evening, against its beautiful backdrop, the sounds of music lures them to the Konark Festival that hosts some of the best classical artistes from across the country on its magnificent stage called the Konark Natya Mandap. This is not all, an interesting art fair offering Orissa’s famous handicrafts including patachitra, applique and filigree work, paintings on palm leaves, etc and a variety of cuisines adds to the colour and festive mood of this festival.
International Sand Art Festival
When: December 1-5
Started as recently as in 2015 on the beautiful Chandrabhaga Beach of Orissa, the Sand Art festival is fast becoming a huge draw for visitors from across the world for the gigantic sculptures created on the golden sands of the beach sure take their breath away. Artists from many countries take part and it is fascinating to walk around and watch the artists creating mammoth sand sculptures of abstract figures, human and animal forms using a variety of objects.
When: December 1-10
All roads lead to Nagaland that could easily be counted as one of the most picturesque regions of India when it is time for the Hornbill Festival. Named after the beautiful hornbill bird that is much revered in the region- even though it is not a common sight here anymore- the festival offers a platform not just for folk artistes belonging to the different tribes of Nagaland, but also from its neighbouring states to perform. It’s fun seeing people gather in the amphitheatre to see a range of fun-filled, vibrant dance and martial art performances. The exhibition area here offers a variety of local eats, together with handicrafts created by local artists that make for perfect souvenirs.
Serendipity Arts Festival
When: December 15 – 22
The fourth edition of The Serendipity Arts Festival will offer a series of exciting exhibitions and cultural performances. And there is much to look forward to including a photography exhibition by Ravi Agarwal, Rahaab Allana’s trans-media curatorial project to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the German art school Bauhaus, jazz music performances and concerts by international and Indian artistes, etc. There will also be presentations on traditional Indian handicrafts, culinary workshops, sunset cruises and a farmers’ market.
Chennai Music Festival
When: December 15 – January 1
For lovers of South Indian Music, Chennai is the place to be in the second half of December. Also referred to as the Madras Music Season by music connoisseurs, it features performances by both the top of the line artistes as well as amateur musicians. Huge Carnatic music concerts and the smaller ones called kutcheris are organized at different venues across the city. This is also the time for a number of music workshops, seminars and discussions on Carnatic music.
When: December 25
Where: All over India
From days before Christmas, its festive flavour gets everyone into the mood for merry making and fun. And no, this is not just restricted to Christians but members of other communities too. From days before, markets and malls across the country especially in metro cities, are beautifully decorated. It’s fun time particularly for children who love the excitement and enjoy the gifts. Choir groups that give presentations at different venues are well attended affairs as are the beautiful mass ceremonies at churches. Later it’s time for raising a toast, feasting and exchange of gifts.
Mamallapuram Dance Festival
When: December 25 – January 25
Counted among the major architectural gems of India, the 7th century sculpture of Arjuna’s Penance at Mamallapuram becomes the backdrop to one of the most well attended festivals of Indian music and dance. For close to a month, artistes from across the country gather to present diverse forms of classical dances such as Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Odissi, Mohini Attam and Kathakali together with the folk forms that are sure to charm all visitors.
When: December 27 – 29
Attended by people from more than 50 countries, the sprawling Vagator Beach in North Goa comes alive with house, EDM and pop and its recent line-ups have included dance royalties like Martin Garrix, Afrojack and many other big names. Besides headlining acts by Garrix, The Chainsmokers and Julian Jordan, among others, Sunburn will feature underground house and techno acts as well.
Mount Abu Winter Festival
When: December 29 – 31
Where: Mount Abu
Amidst stunning vistas of a hill station in a desert, this three-day winter festival starts off with a colourful parade that moves past the streets of Mount Abu towards its picturesque Nakki Lake. As evening descends, a ceremony called deepdan in which hundreds of earthen lamps are lit and set afloat on its placid waters presents a beautiful sight. Visitors can be a part of interesting sporting events such as cricket matches and rowing competitions and shopping. Evenings are reserved not just for classical and folk dances such as sufi kathak, daph, ghoomar and gair, but also for qawwali and mushaira, classical poetry recitation programmes, that are not to be missed.