India in February is all about enjoying the last of the cooler winter weather, at festivals in some of the best destinations across the country, including the Taj Mahal, Rajasthan, and Kerala. Here's the best of what's on in February in India (listed by date).
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This week long Kerala temple festival is devoted to the deity of the Shiva Temple in Ernakulum, near Kochi. It features a flag hoisting ceremony, parading and bathing of the temple god, fireworks, and numerous decorated elephants. Temple arts are also promoted during the festival and you'll be able to see music and dance performances, as well check out as local handicrafts.
- When: February 1-8, 2017.
- Where: Shiva Temple in Ernakulam, Kochi, Kerala.
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Into its 31st year this year, the Surajkund Crafts Mela showcases the finest handloom, handicrafts, and Indian cuisine. Over 400 artisans display and demonstrate their crafts from all over India and the world. There are also cultural programs and an amusement zone for children. The mela has a different theme every year. This year, the state of Jharkhand has been chosen to be the theme state. The mela has also partnered with Egypt, to add more diversity.
- When: February 1-15, each year.
- Where: Surajkund, in the Faridabad district a short distance from South Delhi. It's around 35 minutes drive from Delhi airport.
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The India Art Fair, founded in 2008, sees galleries showcase a breadth of modern and contemporary art practices including painting, sculpture, new media, installation and performance art. The Fair has a diverse program that includes a three day Speakers Forum, Performances, Book Launches, Curated Walks, and an art bookstore. In addition, this year it will host the largest ever exhibition in a public space on the history of India's contemporary and modern art.
- When: February 2-5, 2017.
- Where: NSIC Exhibition Grounds (Okhla), New Delhi.
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SulaFest celebrates its 10th edition this year! Expect an eclectic mix of music, wine, drinks, food, fashion and shopping. There will 120 artists performing across three stages, over three days. Fancy camping out among the grape vines? Let's Camp Out is erecting a special tent city for festival goers, not far from the amphitheater. Book tickets online here.
Continue to 5 of 22 below.
- When: February 3-5, 2017.
- Where: Sula Vineyard amphitheater, Nashik, Maharashtra.
- Review of Sula Vineyards
- Essential Guide to Nashik Vineyards with Tasting Rooms
- Top 5 Places to Visit in Nashik
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Previously known as the Sufi Sutra International Sufi Music Festival, this Sufi music festival is a free event presented by social enterprise Banglanatak.com. It features top local and international Sufi musicians. Sufi music is qualified as "soul music" for Muslim mystics. It's often used to transcend the physical realm into the spiritual one. There are music workshops all day and free concerts all evening, as well as an exhibition.
- When: February 3-5, 2017.
- Where: Rabindra Sadan-Nandan campus, Kolkata.
- Note: Sur Jahan will also be taking place at the Kala Academy, Goa from February 8-10, 2017.
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Indian Derby Weekend
Indian Derby Weekend is one of the biggest events on the Mumbai social calendar. A huge lifestyle sporting weekend, it attracts around 25,000 people. In addition to horse racing, there's international aerial ballet, professional salsa dancing, and live bands.
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The Kala Ghoda arts festival is a nine day extravaganza that sees Mumbai's Kala Ghoda Arts Precinct transformed into an open air exhibition space and stage show. This vibrant street festival includes arts and crafts, exhibitions, seminars, dance, music, theater, heritage walks, and special events for children. The great thing about it is that it's all free!
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The Mughal Gardens at the President of India's residence are thrown open to the public for a month each year, for the annual Udyanotsav. Tulips are the main attraction, with nearly 10,000 blooms. Primulas will also feature prominently. In addition, guests can visit the Spiritual Garden, Herbal Garden, Bonsai Garden and Musical Garden.
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- When: February 4 to March 12, 2017. 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., daily except Mondays.
- Where: Rashtrapati Bhavan, Delhi. Enter through Gate Number 35 of the President’s Estate, which is located at the extreme end of the Church Road.
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Kerala's first elephant pageant for the year, the end of the 10 day festival at Parthasarathy Temple features a procession of nine decorated elephants. Traditional art forms such a panchavadyam (a musical ensemble with five different types of instruments) accompany the parade.
- When: February 6, 2017.
- Where: Adoor, Kerala, approximately 90 kilometers from Trivandrum. The nearest railway station is at Chengannur, around 25 kilometers away.
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If you're interested in admiring the old painted havelis (mansions) that the Shekhawati region is famous for, the Shekhawati Festival is the perfect time to do so. As well as visiting the region, you can see locals exhibiting their skills and talent. Enjoy organized tours, country rides to farms, cultural programs, arts and crafts workshops, local games, fireworks, and an organic food court.
- When: February 9-12, 2017.
- Where: Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. The main location is Surya Mandal Stadium in Nawalgarh.
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With two magnificent forts as its backdrops, the World Sacred Spirit Festival aims to take patrons on an "amazing spiritual and musical journey" with dance, song and ritual theater. There will be performers from India and around the world.
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- When: February 13-15 and February 17-19, 2017.
- Where: Nagaur and Jodhpur, Rajasthan, respectively.
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The Kila Raipur Sports Festival is a rural festival that's grown over six decades, to become a sports bonanza that attracts competitors from around the globe. Bullocks, camels, dogs, mules, and other animals competing in highly professional events must be seen to be believed! The adrenaline-pumping bullock cart race is the main attraction. It's a free event and tickets are not required.
- When: February 17-19, 2017.
- Where: 15 kilometers south of Ludhiana, in the Punjab.
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The Taj Mahotsav takes place at Shilpgram in Agra, right near the eastern entry gate to the Taj Mahal. The focus of this festival is on arts, crafts, Indian culture, and recreating the Mughal era. It gets underway with a spectacular procession that includes elephants, camels, and drummers. Elephant and camel rides are on offer, and there are also games for the kids, and a food festival. The venue has special significance, as it's apparently located on the site where the artisans who built the Taj Mahal once lived. A full program of events is available on the website.
- When: February 18-27 each year.
- Where: Agra, Uttar Pradesh.
- Cost: Free for foreign tourists. Indian adults pay 50 rupees, and children aged between five and 12 pay 10 rupees. Normal entry fees apply to the Taj Mahal.
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The Pariyanampetta Pooram falls on the last day of the seven day festival at Pariyanampetta temple. It features Kalamezhuthu Pattu (a ritual in which images of goddesses are drawn on the floor using colored powder) and a procession of decorated elephants. The remainder of the temple festival includes shadow puppetry every evening and folk arts.
- When: February 19, 2017.
- Where: Pariyanampetta Bhagavathy Temple, Kattukulam, Palakkad district of Kerala.
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The Khajuraho Dance Festival takes place against the alluring backdrop of one of India's top historical destinations -- the Khajuraho erotic temples. The festival, which has entertained audiences since 1975, showcases classical dance style from all over India. The dances are performed in the Western group of temples, mainly at the Chitragupta Temple (dedicated to Surya the Sun God) and the Vishwanatha Temple (dedicated to Lord Shiva).
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- When: February 20-26, 2017. Daily at 7 p.m. Entry is free.
- Where: Chitragupta Temple and Vishwanatha Temple, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh.
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See a procession of decorated effigies of horses called kuthirakolams, offered to the temple deity on the last day of this five day temple festival. There's also a parade of elephants in the evening, accompanied by traditional percussion.
- When: February 21, 2017.
- Where: Machattu Thiruvanikavu Temple, Vadakkancherry, Thrissur District, Kerala.
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This Kerala temple festival is dedicated to the Goddess Kali. In the evening, be delighted by rituals and folk art performances under the glow of traditional temple lamps. The highlight of the Uthralikavu Pooram is an all night elephant pageant, backed by resounding traditional drumming. There's a huge fireworks display at around 4 a.m.
- When: February 21-28, 2017.
- Where: Sree Ruthira Mahakalikavu Temple in Vadakkancherry, in the Thrissur district of Kerala.
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Kuttikkol Thampuratty Theyyam
This grand theyyam festival showcases most of the theyyam forms of Kerala. Theyyam is a sacred dance ritual that's popular in the northern part of Kerala. The artists dress up and, in a trance, channel gods and goddesses through their bodies.
- When: February 23-26, 2017.
- Where: Kuttikkol Thampuratty Bhagavathy Temple at Kuttikkol, Kasaragod district of Kerala. The nearest railway station is at Kasaragod, 28 kilometers away. The nearest airport is at Mangalore, about 50 kilometers away.
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Maha Shivratri, the Great Night of Shiva, is when Lord Shiva is believed to have performed his cosmic Tandava dance -- the source of the cycle of creation, preservation, and destruction. Devotees worship Lord Shiva on this occasion to gain release from this cycle of death and rebirth. Most of the festivities take place throughout the night, when vigils are maintained at Shiva temples. Devotees fast from sunrise, swim in the holy Ganges river, offer prayers at the temples, and chant devotional songs. Many people also consume bhang, a substance derived from cannabis.
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- When: February 24, 2017.
- Where: Shiva temples all over India.
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The colorful Goa Carnival, which began as a local feast by the Portuguese in the 18th century, has developed into the state's most famous event. During the festival, the streets come alive with parades, floats, music, and masked dances. It culminates with the Red and Black Dance, a formal ball in Panaji, where the dress code is red and black. The festivities kick off with a Food and Culture Festival in Panaji.
- When: February 25-28, 2017.
- Where: The carnival moves from city to city (Panaji, Margao, Vasco and Mapusa) in Goa. The parade starts out from Panaji.
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Spring has sprung! The 30th annual Delhi Garden Tourism Festival has some special new features in store this year. In addition to the usual theme gardens and horticultural competitions, there will be food, music, entertainment, cultural programs, and nature walks.
- When: End of February. Dates to be announced.
- Where: Garden of Five Senses, Delhi.