India has a very diverse culture and each region has its own style of celebration. If you love exploring the culture of India, you must attend these unique and lesser-known festivals of India.
With the second-largest population in the world and the biggest democracy, India offers an endless variety of cultures and beliefs. It’s a country, where you will step into a new kind of cultural community every few hundred kilometers and this also brings with it a variety of customs and celebrations.
We, Indians don’t just accommodate all but celebrate life to its fullest. It can literally be called the ‘land of festivals’ where rich cultures, traditions, and beliefs coexist at their vibrant best.
There are several prominent festivals that are celebrated across the country and include the Durga Puja in West Bengal, Ganapati Chaturthi in Maharashtra, Diwali across the country, Holi specific to Northern India but again celebrated all over, Dushera as the alternative to Durga Puja for the rest of the country, Guru Parav, Janmasthami, Eid-Ul-Fitr, Bihu, Onam, Pongal and many more.
With more than 1.30 billion people living in this country and being divided among several states and regions with unique cultural identities, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the diversity. For someone looking for an opportunity to understand a particular culture or region, these festivals become the key.
Lesser-Known Festivals of India
If you are a traveler with the motive to enjoy Indian traditions at its best, the first places to look would be the regional traditions and how they are celebrated. While we already know about the common Indian festivals, here are 18 more interesting ways people celebrate life in regions across India.
#1 Bikaner Camel Festival
The Bikaner Camel Festival is 2 day long celebrations specific to the Indian state of Rajasthan. The festival is dedicated to the camel that has been serving the people in the desert through the ages.
Also referred to as the ‘Ship of the Desert, the animal has been a medium of transport and the main means of sustaining livelihood in this part of the world. The festival marks brightly dressed camels marching in the sandy backdrop of the Junagarh Fort.
Both camels and owners dress in their colorful best and the celebration is marked by local music, breed competitions, folk dances, camel races, and more. Travelers can enjoy the tradition while also savoring Bikaner Bhujia, a delicacy in Rajasthan. There’s a lot to see, understand and photograph.
Bikaner Camel Festival 2022 Dates
8th & 9th January 2022
Location – Bikaner, Rajasthan
#2 Kerala Village Fair (Gramam) – Cultural Festival in Kerala
Celebrated every year in Mid-January, the Kerala Village Fair opens up the lush villages of Kovalam along with their unique culture for the seeking traveler.
The festival sees a typical Keralian village being recreated with the traditional Nalukettu house, the chayakkada, and much more.
This is the opportunity when you get to witness several subdued traditions come alive in the form of music, folk dances, and other festivities.
You will also be seeing artisans work on the traditional handlooms and spinning wheels. If you are visiting the Kerala Village Fair, don’t miss out on enjoying the ‘Meen’ and the ‘Kappa’!
Kerala Village Fair Dates-
It is celebrated every year in January month. For the year 2022, dates have not been announced yet.
Location – Kovalam Beach
#3 International Kite Festival Ahmedabad
The Internationally recognized Kite Festival is among the biggest festivals celebrated in Western India. Also known as Uttarayan, it marks the closing of the harvesting season.
Though the biggest events happen across Ahmedabad, the Kite Festival is celebrated across the state wherein, everyone comes out of their house and celebrates nature by flying kites, a wide variety of it.
You will literally be amazed by the designs that they come in. the festival happens in Makar Sankranti every year in the month of January. Since the sky literally comes alive with colors, the festival is visited by tourists from across the globe.
International Kite Festival Dates
It happens in January month every year. For the year 2022, dates have been not declared yet.
Every year in January Kite Flyers from around the world gathered at Sabarmati River Front Ahmedabad to fly their designer kites in the sky and it looks colorful as various designs, shapes, colors kites are flying high in the sky. You also get to savor a wide variety of Gujarati delicacies like “Undhiyu & Jalebi” at this festival.
#4 Goa Carnival – Cultural Festival in Goa
The Goa Carnival is held every year in Mid-February and is a weeklong event that sees new age festivities. You can expect both folk music and rock bands to perform during the days of the carnival!
Who started the Goa carnival?
The celebration was introduced by the Portuguese who have now settled in Goa for more than five hundred years now.
What happens in Goa Carnival?
Travelers to the Goa Carnival can expect a vibrant new age nightlife, music, live performances, western dances, and peasantry of all sorts. The main event of the festival is the last day of the event where performers dance in the customary red and black dresses.
When is Goa Carnival in 2022?
26th February to 1st March
Where is Carnival in Goa?
Panaji, Vasco, Mapusa and Margao
#5 Bihu – Harvest Festival of Assam
What is the festival of Bihu?
Bihu is among the most important festivals in the northeastern state of Assam and celebrated thrice every year. Each of the celebrations however marks a unique phase centered on the crop harvesting cycle of the local people.
The celebration is also the equivalent of New Year for Assamese and is marked by preparation of local delicacies, worshipping of cows, wearing colorful dresses, and praying the local gods for a prosperous year ahead.
This is among the most colorful festivals of India and is worth a visit for every inquisitive traveler.
How many Bihu are there in Assam?
There are three important Bihus that are celebrated in Assam. Bohag, Kati & Maagh.
Bihu Festival Dates
- Bohag Bihu will be celebrated from 14th April 2022 to 16th April 2022
- Kati will celebrate in October month (dates are yet to
- Maagh Bihu was celebrated in January month.
#6 Ooty Summer Festival- One of the Famous Summer Festivals of India
Celebrated every year in the month of May, the Summer Festivals in Ooty are organized by the state tourism department and the Ministry of Tourism.
What are the Best Shows of the Ooty Summer Festival?
The festival sees a lot of events including Rose Shows, Flower Shows, Dog Shows, Fruit Shows, Vegetable Shows, Boat Races, and lots more. It’s a kind of event celebrated in the heart of the Nilgiri mountains and will be worth a visit if you are close by and especially if you have an affinity for flowers!
Ooty Summer Festival 2021 Dates
15th May, 2021 to 19th May, 2021
#7 Hemis Festival
What is the meaning of Hemis festival?
Celebrated in the backdrop of the Himalayas every June, the Hemis festival is one of a kind opportunity to see the lifestyle and culture of the indigenous people of Ladakh.
The festival attracts Buddhist devotees from across the globe and the whole magical land of Ladakh goes into a colorful mood.
It’s a fiesta celebrated in Ladakh Gompa, marking the 10th day of the Tibetan Lunar Year.
Another reason for the celebration is also marking the birth anniversary of Guru Padma Sambhava, the father of Tantric Buddhism.
Everyone dresses up strikingly and performers entertain the audience in the rich and vibrant masks. Traditional music using longhorn drums and cymbals accompany the festivity.
Hemis Festival 2021 Dates
4th July 2022 & 16st July 2022
Festival Location – 45 km from Leh
#8 Champakulam Boat Race – Oldest Boat Race in Kerala
The oldest of boat races in Kerala, the Champakulam Boat Race and Festival will be an experience you shouldn’t miss.
Held every year in Champakulam of the Alappuzha district, the day sees the largest sporting event in the world that tests the skills, speed, and endurance of the participants.
Races are held across various categories including Nehru Boat Race, Chundan (snake boat), churulan, iruttu kuthi, veppu, and many more.
The races are held on River Padma on Moolam Day. The other boat race is the Nehru Trophy boat race which held at Punnamada Lake, Alappuzha. This boat race held on the second Saturday of every August month.
Champakulam Boat Race 2021 Dates
12 July 2022
#9 Pushkar Fair – Camel Fair in One of the Oldest Cities of India
Hailed as the largest camel fairs in the world, the Pushkar Fair is a five-day event held every year during October-November in Pushkar, Rajasthan.
The main motive behind the fair is the buying and selling of livestock but to make the days interesting, several events are organized throughout the day and include Matka phod, bridal competition, longest mustache, and many more.
Everyone is at their colorful best and travelers and photographers from across the globe flock to witness the assemblage.
Tourists can found many colorful Camels with wonderful stylish attire and body print. In November month tourists can also enjoy the hot air balloon festival in Pushkar and enjoy the ride in the sky.
Pushkar Camel Fair 2021 Dates
11th November 2022 to 19th November 2022
#10 Hornbill Festival – Most Popular Music Festival in India
Celebrated by the tribes of the north eastern state of Nagaland, the Hornbill Festival is a unique event that you can’t miss. Usually held in the first week of December, the festival sees unique cultural displays and is aimed at protecting the rich ethnic culture of Nagaland.
Participating in the festival is mandatory for every Naga and this consequently gives us a unique glimpse into their unique identities, marked by food, music, dances, and customs.
Hornbill Festival 2022 Dates
Usually starts from 1st December & celebrated till 10th December.
#11 Hampi Festival – Popular Festival in Karnataka
Celebrated in the princely state of Vijayanagar, the Hampi Utsav marks the rich traditions and culture of the ethnic Kannadigas.
The festival is hosted in the backdrop of the Hampi ruins, a World Heritage Site, and sees colorful handicrafts, puppet shows, traditional musical presentations, decorated elephants, folk songs, light and sound shows, and much more.
The whole town of Vijayanagar is decorated at its best and renowned artists performed from across India participate in the events. The event is usually held in the month of January every year.
Hampi Festival 2022 Dates
Around 9th November 2022
#12 Haridwar Kumbh Mela
The Kumbh Mela has deep religious sentiments attached to the Hindu culture. Celebrated across Hardwar, Allahabad, Ujjain, and Nasik, the celebration is marked by pujas, fairs, and a lot of festivities centered on Hindu traditions.
Maha Kumbh Mela is held once every 12 years (varies in Site) and the exact date is determined through zodiac studies.
Though the exact origin of the Kumbh Mela is unknown, it is believed to be deeply linked to Lord Vishnu. If you have been looking to understand the rich Hindu traditions at its core, Kumbh Mela would be the place to be.
A huge assemblage of devotees and tourists occur at the banks of River Ganga to witness the event. This is an event you shouldn’t miss.
Traditionally 4 fairs are recognized as Kumbh Mela – Haridwar Kumbh Mela, the Allahabad Kumbh Mela, the Nashik-Trimbakeshwar Simhastha, and Ujjain Simhastha.
These Kumbh Mela rotationally held at 4 places every year in Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik, and Ujjain.
Duration: January, February, March, April
Location : Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain
#13 Sula Festival – Biggest Vineyard Music Festival in India
Sula Festival is one of the coolest & underrated festivals celebrated in India. This festival is celebrated in Sula vineyards near the city of Nashik. Sula festival was started in 2007 by Sula,
India’s leading winery and it has a mix of great music, wine, drinks, food, fashion, and shopping at scenic and beautiful Sula vineyard.
This festival invites leading Indian and international artists to perform in the festival including rock, folk, blues, electronic, and reggae music.
As a traveler, you can enjoy many things at Sula Festival like soma & little Italy, wine tastings, grape stomping, dancing, music concert, tarot reading, body art, and many more.
This festival is open for all except kids as there might be high decibel music which might affect kids.
Location – Sula Vineyard, Nashik
Sula Festival 2021 Dates
6th February, 2021 and 7th February, 2021
#14 Tarnetar Mela – One of the Biggest Fair in Gujarat
What is Tarnetar Mela?
Tarnetar Fair is celebrated every year in the Surendranagar District of the state of Gujarat, for three days in the Hindu calendar dates of Bhadarva Sud – 4th, 5th & 6th or during the Gregorian calendar months of Aug.-Sept
The fair is a replica of Draupadi’s swayamvara is a grand colorful and romantic fair of Gujarat. The fair is mainly centered on young tribal men and women seeking marriage partners. Famous in the state and the country, the festival is becoming popular among foreigners too.
Now the most interesting thing, you will like to know!! The individuals participating in this swayamvara have a special dress code. A woman wearing a black zimi (skirt) indicates that she is married, but one wearing a red zimi, means she is unmarried and probably seeking a partner.
And for the grooms looking for brides, the dress code is the colorful dhotis, artistically designed waistcoats, and a turban, with striking umbrellas, which woman chooses to find her partner.
Celebration at Tarnetar Mela
Not only this match-making thing, but there are also more things to appreciate here, like the ethnic Gujarat folk dance, music, costumes, and the arts.
One can’t stop their legs from dancing on the incessant throbbing of the drums. The people attending the fest dance the whole day on the classical beats and enjoy themselves to the fullest.
Besides the celebration, there are a lot more to see and appreciate here. There are various stalls decorated with local handicrafts, arts, dresses, and more.
One may enjoy the festival and take back the souvenir with them as well. So before the time runs up, do make your plan for the upcoming Tarnetar Mela.
Tarnetar Mela 2022 Dates
29 to 30 August 2022
#15 Losar Festival – Most Important Festival in Ladakh
The Losar Festival in Ladakh is celebrated every year, for 15 days during the months from January to March. The actual dates are revealed every year as per the Lunar calendar.
This festival is celebrated as the beginning of the New year and is the most awaited festival of the peoples residing in Ladakh/Tibet.
People start preparing for the festival for many days. The houses are cleaned and decorated. The old unused items are discarded believing that all evil omens will be warded off from life ensuring well-being and prosperity to the people.
There are bright and colorful decorations everywhere and lavish offerings called ‘Lama Losar’ are made.
How Lohar Festival is Celebrated?
The festival starts with the religious offerings to Goddess Palden Lhamo, by the monks belonging to the Namgyal monastery. The Goddess Palden Lhamo is considered to be the supreme authority of the protectors of Dharma. The Dalai Lama leads every ceremony.
Day two is the gathering in the hall of Excellence of Nirvana and Samsara. This is famous by the name King’s Losar. It’s mainly the exchange of greetings between the dignitaries.
Day three marks the joining of local people as well in this grand festival. The actual celebration with joy and colors begins then.
So if you happen to visit Ladakh during this festive time, do not forget to miss this festival. The memories you take back from here will be cherished forever.
#16 Torgya Monastery Festival – Monastic Festival of Arunachal Pradesh
Torgya is one of the interesting festivals of India, celebrated every year on the 28th day of the 11th month of the lunar calendar. The celebration goes for three full days.
The presence of rich color symbolizes this festival. They believe that the festival will chase out the evil spirits and usher prosperity and happiness for people and crops.
Being celebrated in the courtyard of the Tawang Monastery, the celebration starts with the recitation of religious texts and Monastic dances. A ritual monastic dance called chham is the main attraction.
This traditional dance is performed in the heart throbbing music of huge drums and cymbals and the blowing of gigantic telescopic horns and clarinets.
The epic view of this celebration is sure to keep you captivated and mesmerized.
#17 Apricot Blossom Festival in 2022
Apricot blossom festival will be starting from 13 April to 22 April 2022. Spring brings beauty and divinity into our lives. Ladakh, the surreal and beautiful Ladakh, is the perfect place to spend this season.
The Department of Tourism Ladakh has recently alerted its Twitter followers that the Union Territory of Ladakh will soon be home to the Apricot Blossom Festival.
Apricots are celebrated in Ladakh in April. This festival is happening during the spring season in Ladakh, so we recommend that you attend if you are visiting this region.
#18 Ladakh Festival 2022
The Administration of the Union Territory of Ladakh has finally made an official announcement of the Ladakh Festival on Twitter. This Ladakh Festival 2022 will be held from 13th to 16th of October.
Major Attractions of Ladakh Festival 2022
There are always different attractions to celebrate the festival of Ladakh and for this festival, different events will be organized. Here are the details of the events such as mask dance, traditional dance, polo match, archery, Ladakh cuisine, and handicraft.
If you are a traveler and ever visited such lesser-known festivals in India then please let us know your experience in the comments. We would love to add more festivals in India in this article.