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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Into its 32nd year this year, the Surajkund Crafts Mela showcases the finest hand-loom, 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 Uttar Pradesh has been chosen to be the theme state, while Kyrgyzstan is the partner nation.
- When: February 2-18, 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 Kila Raipur Sports Festival is a rural festival that's grown over six decades, to become a sports bonanza that draws competitors from across the globe. The adrenaline-pumping bullock cart race is the main attraction. Other events that are big on entertainment include a tractor race, and a tug-of-war. You'll also get to see some really off-beat activities such as people lifting bicycles with their teeth, pulling cars with their teeth or ears, or riding a bicycle ringed with a burning tire, and other daredevil stunts.
- When: February 2-4, 2018.
- Where: 15 kilometers south of Ludhiana, in the Punjab.
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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 2-4, 2018 in Kolkata. February 7-9, 2018 in Goa.
- Where: Rabindra Sadan-Nandan campus, Kolkata. Kala Academy, Goa.
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SulaFest celebrates its 11th edition this year! Expect an eclectic mix of music, wine, food, fashion and shopping. There will be more than 100 artists performing across three stages. 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.
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- When: February 3-4, 2018.
- Where: Sula Vineyard amphitheater, Nashik, Maharashtra.
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The Kala Ghoda (Black Horse) 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, workshops, dance performances, music, theater, heritage walks, and special events for children. The great thing about it is that it's all free!
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Kingfisher Ultra Indian Derby
The Indian Derby, into its 76th year this year, is one of the biggest events on the Mumbai social calendar. A huge lifestyle sporting event, it attracts around 25,000 people. In addition to horse racing, there's fashion events, food, a mini flea market, DJs, and live bands.
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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.
- When: February 6 to March 9, 2018.
- 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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The Udaipur World Music Festival returns for the third edition this year. As its name suggests, more than 100 artists from around the world collaborate to give an eclectic variety of performances at this meaningful cultural event. Entry is free.
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- When: February 9-11, 2018.
- Where: Gandhi Ground and Fateh Sagar Paal, Udaipur in Rajasthan.
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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 9-12, 2018.
- Where: NSIC Exhibition Grounds (Okhla), New Delhi.
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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 10-13, 2018.
- 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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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. There's a street procession in Varanasi.
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- When: February 13-14, 2018. (Varies depending on the state).
- Where: Shiva temples all over India.
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One of India's most unusual festivals, the Angalamman Festival sees tens of thousands of devotees dressing themselves up to worship the Goddess Angalamman, a reincarnation of Goddess Pavarti (the wife of Lord Shiva). The goddess is considered to be extremely fierce and must be appeased with blood. Some devotees go to the extreme of piercing lemons all over their torsos to please her.
- When: The day after Maha Shivratri. February 14, 2018.
- Where: Kaveripattinam, Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu, approximately 2 hours southeast of Bangalore in Karnataka. The nearest railway station is Krishnagiri City Junction, about 15 minutes 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 15-18, 2018.
- Where: Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. The main location is Surya Mandal Stadium in Nawalgarh.
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With magnificent Mehrangarh Fort as its backdrop, 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.
- When: February 15-18, 2018.
- Where: Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
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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.
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- 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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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 19, 2018.
- Where: Machattu Thiruvanikavu Temple, Vadakkancherry, Thrissur District, Kerala.
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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, 2018.
- 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). Entry is free.
- When: February 20-26, 2018.
- Where: Chitragupta Temple and Vishwanatha Temple, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh.
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A visual and cultural spectacular, the highlight of the Chettikulangara Bharani temple festival is a stunning event called Kettukazhcha, featuring a procession of brightly decorated structures. The festival is dedicated to Goddess Bhagavathy.
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- When: February 22, 2018.
- Where: Chettikulangara temple, Mavelikara, Alleppey district, Kerala.
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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, 2018.
- 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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Combine desert camping with music at this unique 3-day festival, which is the only desert festival in Asia. There will be more than 40 artists from across genres performing on three stages. Plus art, adventure, cinema, shopping, morning yoga, workshops and food trucks. Bring your own tent (and use shared bathroom facilities) or stay in one of the Swiss tents provided on-site (with attached private bathroom and toilet).
- When: February 23-26, 2018.
- Where: Thar desert, near Jaisalmer in Rajasthan.