Its Spring time, although chill is still in the air. Time of romance and enjoyment. Carnival time at places around the world. Time for some of the best festivals for different tastes- whether it is dance, theatre, crafts, books or just fun. Presenting top 10 ideas to travel in India in February, might not be in that order as each one of them has its own speciality. Go ahead..
1. DESERT FESTIVAL
Once a year in winter and in the middle of the continually rising and falling stark yellow sands of the great Thar Desert, the empty sands around Jaisalmer come alive with the brilliant colour, music and laughter of the Desert Festival. The festival is organized by the Department of Tourism around January-February. The very rich and colourful Rajasthani folk culture is on show here for three days. Rajasthani men and tall beautiful women dressed in their bright costumes dance and sing lingering ballads of valour, romance and tragedy. Traditional musicians attempt to outdo each other in their musical superiority. The high points of the festival are – puppeteers, acrobats, camel tattoo show, camel races, camel polo, traditional procession, camel mounted band , folk dances, etc. Proud moustached villagers, dressed in their ethnic best come astride their picturesquely caparisoned camels to join in the camel dances and competitions of camel acrobatics. Tug of war and Panihari Matka race are the events where visitors to the fair can participate and enjoy the thrill and taste of traditions. The turban tying competitions are big draws and laughter. The Mr. Desert competitions, which are focused around the length and style of moustaches and rustic physique wrapped in traditional costumes, many visitors.
When: 1-3 February 2015
2. KHAJURAHO DANCE FESTIVAL
Every ancient monument has a fascinating story to tell. But few match the mystery wrapped around the temples of Khajuraho in central India. Once the capital of the great Chandela Kings, Khajuraho today is a quiet village of a few thousand people .It is also the setting of the Khajuraho Festival of Dances which draws the best classical dancers in the country every year, who perform against the spectacular backdrop of the floodlit temples. The seven-day extravaganza is a unique treat for connoisseurs from all over the world. The Khajuraho Festival of Dances draws the best classical dancers in the country who perform against the spectacular backdrop of the floodlit temples every year in February/March. The past and the present silhouetted against the glowing sun as the backdrop becomes an exquisite backdrop for the performers. In a setting where the earthly and the divine create perfect harmony – an event that celebrates the pure magic of the rich classical dance traditions of India. As dusk falls, the temples are lit up in a soft, dream-like ethereal stage. The finest exponents of different classical Indian styles are represented – Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Manipuri, and many more.
When: 20-26 February 2015
3. SHEKHAWATI FESTIVAL
The land of Havelis. The land of Frescoes. The land of Martyrs. The land of organic revolution in India. These are a few of Shekhawati’s many sobriquets. Joining the hallowed ranks of that list is yet another sobriquet-THE LAND OF THE SHEKHAWATI FESTIVAL. For the last 15 years, Shekhawati has played host to one of India’s unique cultural festivals. The Shekhawati Festival involves not only every villager of this large province but also people from all parts of India and the world. While the main activity is centred around the huge Surya Mandal Stadium in Navalgarh, Shekhawati Festival is truly a celebration of the various aspects and locales of Shekhawati. The locals get a chance to exhibit their prodigious skills. Famed artists and craftsmen from every corner of Rajasthan use this festival as an opportunity to display their talent to the world. There are organised tours to the famed portals of famous Havelis, forts and temples of the region. For those seeking in-depth knowledge of arts and crafts of the region there are seminars and workshops.One of the unique aspects of this festival is the emphasis laid by the Morarka Foundation on the organic way of life. This must the only festival in the world where every participant and spectator including scores of villages from near and far are served organic food for all the 4 days of the festival. The food court with more than 50 food stalls serve only organic delicacies for the entire duration of the festival. Visitors get a chance to savour a entire range of Indian cuisine with the knowledge that the fare is completely organic. Tourists also get a chance to be amidst pristine pastoral environs and enjoy organic farm food at eco-tourism organic lunches. Here tourists from all parts of the world get a first hand experience of the entire process of growing and cultivating organic food even as they get a taste of the end product on their plates. The Aravallis run through this region and the presence of this rocky barrier comes as a surprise in this flat and arid landscape, dotted here and there with picturesque dunes and colourful Havelis. A peep into the culture of Shekhawati gives us insight into the life of everyday India, seen through the lens of art and architecture. It helps us understand the vivid tapestry of Rajasthani and Indian life as it was lived in the glorious days of yore and continues to date!
When: 5-8 February, 2015
4. TAJ MAHOTSVA
This 10 days long carnival is actually a vibrant platform that gives you information of India where you can find India’s rich arts, crafts, cultures, cuisine, dance and music. Taj Mahal is the most beautiful historical place of India which tells about incredible India. Taj Mahotsav is organized by UP Tourism and it is a source to increase Indian Tourism. This cultural bonanza was started in year 1992 and since then its grandeur has reached to greater heights. This festival also figures in the calendar of events of the Department of Tourism, Government of India. A large number of Indian and foreign tourists coming to Agra joins this festivity in the month of February. One of the objectives of this craft mela is to provide encouragement to the Artisans. It also makes available the magnificent work of art and craft at the most reasonable and authentic prices that are not inflated by high maintenance cost. About 400 legendary artisans from different parts of the country get an opportunity to display their exquisite works of art. To name a few among them are the wood/stone carvings from Tamil Nadu, Bamboo/cane work from North East India, Paper mash work from South India and Kashmir, the marble and zardozi work from Agra, wood carving from Saharanpur, brass wares from Moradabad, hand made carpets from Bhadohi, Pottery from Khurja, Chikan work from Lucknow, silk & zari work from Banaras, shawls & carpets from Kashmir/Gujarat and hand printing from Farrukhabad and Kantha stitch from west Bengal etc. Apart from the exquisite craft work you can experience the majestic and magnetic performances by artistes from every walks of life. The soul-stirring performances will engulf you to the extent of casting a spell. Throughout the Mahotsav, one can experience a profusion of folk & classical music & dances of various regions, especially the Brij Bhumi, performed the way they used to be centuries ago. The experience is so enthralling that you would not stop yourself from joining with the folk dancers. Besides the folk, the Mahotsav also exhibit the performance from the world renowned artistes from classical, semi-classical and popular art forms. Beside being the right destination for the arts & crafts, the Mahotsav is also a delight for the connoisseurs of good food as it is the ideal place to pamper the taste buds of the visitors with endless varieties of scrumptious dishes. Some of the oldest exponents of the cuisine-art prepare the lip-smacking dishes. One can also relish the typical preparations from the interiors of Uttar Pradesh. Funfair is the biggest attraction for children in the festival. It is a complete family entertainment which offers thrill and amusement for every one. Teenagers and adults enjoy various rides and roller coaster while children are happy with small ride such as merry-go-round, Train-rides and Ferris wheel.
When: 18-27 February, 2015
5. BHARAT RANG MAHOTSAV
India’s biggest theatre festival hosted by National School of Drama. With 12 participating countries, 82 productions in 23 languages and performances by 125 groups, the 17th edition of the Bharat Rang Mahotsav will begin from February 1 here.This year’s edition has been conceptualised and designed with the theme of ‘Breaking Borders’ and will organise World Theatre Forum on this topic where theatre luminaries from all over the world and across the country will come together to interact with the audience. Bharat Rang Mahotsav was established a decade ago by the National School of Drama to stimulate the growth and development of theatre across the country. Originally a national festival showcasing the work of the most creative theatre workers in India, it has evolved to international scope, hosting theatre companies from around the world, and is now the largest theatre festival of Asia. The 17th Mahotsav will include several national and international performances, and various associated events in a wrap-around program.
When: 1-18 February, 2015
6. DELHI BOOK FAIR
Claimed to be Asia’s biggest book fair. New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF) held for the past 41 years, is now a major calendar event in the publishing world. NDWBF 2015 is scheduled from 14 to 22 February 2015 at the centrally located Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. The Fair is organized by National Book Trust, India, an apex body of the Government of India, under the Ministry of Human Resource Development. This year Singapore has been chosen as Guest of honour country. Singapore has long been known as a melting pot, and a crossroads of Asia. Fifty years after independence, how has this nation-state’s literature developed? Featuring authors who write in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil, illustrators of children’s picture books and graphic novels, as well as publishers of fiction, poetry, non-fiction and academic books, the Singapore Pavilion at the New Delhi World Book Fair will showcase how Singapore’s latest writing and illustration draws upon its multicultural roots to present a distinct Asian voice. Korea has been selected as the Focus Country in New Delhi World Book Fair. Korean Publishers Association would represent Korea as the Focus Country in New Delhi World Book Fair. The main slogan for Korea as the Focus Country in New Delhi World Book Fair 2015 is “Books opening the mind, Doors opening the Future.” In the various cultural exchange based program, KPA will organize special exhibitions for Korean children’s books as well as traditional Korean culture, so that Indian publishers and visitors indirectly experience the development of Korean publishing industry, and also the lifestyle of Korean.
When: 14-22 February, 2015
7. SURAJKUND CRAFTS FAIR
One of the most awaited fairs of north India happens to be very close to Delhi. Comes right at the nick of spring. With dates fixed for every year, it makes easier for travellers to plan. A marvellous mix of handicrafts, folk arts and folk dances makes it a crowd puller. With lots of food stalls representing different states, it has lot more to offer. Hosted by Haryana Tourism, this fair also has a large entertainment value. With Valentine Day coming towards the end of the festival, young ones from NCR find it tempting to have some funtime at Surajkund. This year visitors at the upcoming Surajkund Mela will be able to take a joy ride in a helicopter and enjoy an aerial view of the fair and surrounding areas. State-run helicopter operator Pawan Hans says it will be offering joy ride services to the visitors at the Surajkund International Crafts Fare which begins February 1 at Surajkund in Faridabad (Haryana). Every year, a country is chosen to be the Partner Nation that showcases the best of its art, culture, traditions and heritage during the Mela fortnight. Lebanon is the Partner Nation for the 29th Surajkund International Crafts Mela-2015. The craftspersons, cultural troupes and master chefs from Lebanon will present their talent and skills to enthrall the visitors at the forthcoming Mela. Artists from many other states also actively participate. Craftsmen from Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and other states display their art. Every year, a theme state is chosen for the Mela, which highlights the state in totality from its architecture to fine arts and crafts. Chhattishgarh has been chosen as the Theme State for the 29th Surajkund International Crafts Mela-2015. The state will showcase its tribal heritage and culture, which is still found well-preserved in the forests of Bastar. A mobile app has been launched for the public, which can be downloaded for free on smartphones IOS (Apple) and Android operating systems.
When: 1-15 February, 2015
8. GOA CARNIVAL
India’s answer to carnivals of Brazil, Caribbean and Europe. Carnival came to Goa with the Portuguese in 1510. This is the local version of the carnival celebrated worldwide before Mardi Gas. In the localised version parade is lead by local King Momo. This three day event is the place where all the colors of Goa come out in a glorious swagger and sweeps away the local as well foreign folks with its charm and charisma. Goa is almost synonymous with fun, music, food, entertainment and merry making and without any real doubt the only place in India that breaks away from the general image of the country as a conservative nation. It can be attributed to the historical fact that Goa was under Portuguese rule in the past and is still in its hang over. The Goa Carnival was started by the Portuguese rulers and since then it it has become an integral part of Goa. During the Carnival days Goa enters into a different zone of its own and become very crowded place. from every part of the world travelers come to enjoy the Goa Carnival. There is celebrations everywhere. Food and drinks are in plenty in accordance with live performances and multi-colored processions. The scene of Goa Carnival resembles some fairy tale descriptions where people hop around in jovial mood with masks on, fireworks, fortune tellers, group of dancers and and above all happy people all around. Music swings into Goa Carnival quite naturally. The myriad facets of the Goan music compels any onlooker to jig with it. The stylish Spanish guitar, the casual drum beats and the soulful voice are enough to make you move your feet. It is a perfect gateway for everyone who is on the verge of a virtual breakdown in today’s dull, dreary and mundane world. For this year Geovani Bosco Santimano has been selected as King Momo and is the chosen one to rule over the Carnival festivities scheduled in Goa between February 14 and 17. He will lead the Carnival float parades to be held in Panaji, Margao, Vasco and Mapusa.
When: 14-17 February, 2015
9. Sufi Sutra International Sufi Music Festival
Back for the fifth year, this Sufi music festival is set to feature top Sufi and traditional folk musicians from Denmark, Iran, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Punjab, Rajasthan and West Bengal. Sufi music is qualified as “soul music” for Muslim mystics. It’s often used to transcend the physical realm into the spiritual one. There will be music workshops all day and free concerts all evening, as well as an exhibition. Sufi Sutra is an annual three day peace music festival held in Kolkata that brings about convergence of ideas on truth, harmony, peace and divinity. The cultural dialogues have developed mutual knowledge on world Sufi and traditional music and created scopes for performances to the visiting countries augmenting livelihood for the rural artists from India. Last year Sufi Sutra travelled to Patna and this year its travelling to Goa (hosted by Kala Academy). Dhaka is also hosting Sufi fest on Jan 27-29 (organized by Blues Communication) and Delhi is also hosting Sufi festival on Feb 10-11 (hosted by ICCR).
When: 6-8, 2015. Workshops 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Concerts: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
10. KALA GHODA ARTS FESTIVAL
Mumbai’s favourite cultural festival, the nine-day Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, is all set to kick-off on February 7. The KGAF calendar this year features dance, theatre, music and literature events, in addition to art installations, workshops, heritage walks and film screenings. This year’s festival also has a special section on urban design and architecture. Kala Ghoda this year has new elements in every section, and new venues and events. The opening ceremony will witness 70 dancers presenting a visual feast, based on the theme for the year — Sparsh [Hindi for Touch]. The venues this year include the historic Asiatic Library for literature workshops, while The Irish House will host stand-up comedy sessions. To reach out to more people, the literature and theatre sections will feature events in 20 different languages. The theatre fest is so grand and multi-lingual this year, we call it Rang Boli — a theatrical celebration of languages. This section will feature 51 performances. A new feature in the literature section is a long evening of prose that we have titled The Rampart Row Reading. It will be held at the Artists Centre gallery. For those looking forward to the diverse calendar of events, the return of the festival hasn’t been soon enough. The festival is quirky and fresh, bringing to us the best of art and culture. The art installations are amazing; the literature events enriching. The nine-day festival adds to the beauty of the city, with its rich programmes. Kala Ghoda is a festival so rich and diverse, yet binding us together. Music performances are exemplary, with elite artists performing for the whole city. It captures the city’s culture and gives the new generation a chance to connect with it.
When: 7-16 February, 2015