January 2019 India Festivals and Events Guide

What's On in India in January

Sadhu at the Kumbh Mela.

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Visit India in January and you'll be able to enjoy popular musical and dance events, as well as traditional festivals and parades. Kites, camels, and cattle are just some of what's on offer! Here's the best of what's on in January in India (listed by date).

01 of 24

Chennai Music Festival (Madras Music Season)

Indian classical music
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This hugely popular and much anticipated month long festival, which is often described as the world's largest cultural event, serves up a plethora of traditional south Indian Carnatic music, dance, and other arts. Over 1,000 performances take place during the festival, along with music related seminars, discussions, and demonstrations.

02 of 24

Mamallapuram Indian Dance Festival

Dance festival Mamallapuram
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The open-air Indian Dance Festival is held against a background of rock sculptures in the beach town of Mamallapuram, just south of Chennai. It runs for a month, and showcases more than 60 classical and folk dance forms from all over India.

  • When: December 23 to January 23 every year.
  • Where: Arjuna's Penance, Mamallapuram, near Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
03 of 24

Rann Utsav

Rann Utsav

Rann Utsav/Gujarat Tourism.


Set against the incredible backdrop of Kutch's white salt desert, the Rann Utsav showcases the region's culture and heritage (although it's unfortunately become rather commercial and overcrowded). The days are filled with folk dances and music, adventure sports, handicrafts, food stalls, and excursions to surrounding destinations. A tent village, with hundreds of luxury tents, is constructed to accommodate visitors. Gujarat Tourism offers package tours.

04 of 24

The Kochi-Muzhiris Biennale

A wall at Kochi Muziris Biennale 2012.
PRATHAPAN C R/Getty Images.

The fourth edition of the Kochi-Muzhiris Biennale takes place this year. This festival is the biggest exhibition and contemporary arts festival in Asia. The exhibitions encompass all kinds of mediums and are held in various galleries, heritage buildings and public spaces. There's also an extensive program of talks, seminars, screenings, music, workshops and educational activities for students.

  • When: Ongoing until March 29, 2019.
  • Where: Kochi, Kerala.
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05 of 24

Swathi Sangeetholsavam

Tabla player.
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The week-long Swathi Music Festival pays tribute to the compositions of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal, who was the king of Travancore in the early 19th century. The entire festival is devoted to his compositions, of which there are more than 400 in both Carnatic and Hindustani music. It attracts eminent musicians from all over India. Entry is free.

  • When: January 4-13 every year.
  • Where: Kuthiramalika Palace, East Fort, Trivandrum, Kerala.
06 of 24

International Kite Festival

International Kite Festival.

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Millions of brightly colored kites take over the sky from sunrise until sunset at this festival. It's part of Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti (the transition of the sun into the northern hemisphere), which celebrates life and fertility. The event attracts kite flyers from many different countries. In addition to kite flying, there's aerial acrobats, kite painting competitions, and kite making workshops. Great fun for kids!

  • When: January 6-14, 2019.
  • Where: Sabarmati River Front, Ashram Road, Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Also at Jaipur in Rajasthan (January 14).
07 of 24

Mylapore Festival

Mylapore festival kolam drawing.
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The Mylapore Festival began as a simple kolam contest, organized by the local newspaper, in 2001. It's now grown into a four day extravaganza, with more than 30 events and 200 artists spread over 12 venues. Attractions include heritage walks, classical music and dance, folk art, crafts zone, exhibitions and street food.

  • When: January 10-13, 2019.
  • Where: Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple and Nageswara Rao Park, Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
08 of 24

Bikaner Camel Fair

Bikaner camel festival.

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Less crowded than the Pushkar Camel Fair, the Bikaner Camel Festival offers an alternate opportunity to have an encounter with camels -- and plenty of them! The festival kicks off with a procession of camels decorated in their finest attire, and continues on with camel beauty pageants, camel races, and camel dancing. Who ever thought camels could dance? It's worth attending the festival just to see that performance! The festival ends with entertainment by Rajasthani folk artists, and fireworks.

  • When: January 12-13, 2019.
  • Where: Bikaner, Rajasthan.
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09 of 24





Love reggae? You won't want to miss this festival, which provides something different to the usual psychedelic trance in Goa. It's India's largest reggae festival and the action happens across three stages right by the beach.

  • When: January 12-13, 2019.
  • Where: Riva Beach Resort, Mandrem beach, North Goa.
10 of 24

Ernakulathappan Uthsavom

Kathakali performance, Kerala.
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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 traditional music and dance performances, as well check out as local handicrafts.

  • When: January 12-19, 2019.
  • Where: Shiva Temple in Ernakulam, Kochi, Kerala.
11 of 24

Tamil Nadu International Balloon Festival

Tamil Nadu International Balloon Festival

Tamil Nadu International Balloon Festival


Hot air ballooning is growing in popularity in India and the fifth edition of the popular Tamil Nadu International Balloon Festival is happening this year. The event started out to promote Pollachi as a tourist destination but has since expanded to Chennai as well. However, the Chennai event (held in early January) only has tethered balloon flights. Music concerts and contests for kids provide added entertainment.

  • When: January 13-15, 2019.
  • Where: Sakthi Mills Ground, Pollachi, and hour and a half south of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.
12 of 24

Mukteshwar Dance Festival

Mukteshwar Dance Festival

Courtesy of Odisha Tourism

The Mukteshwar Dance Festival, which concentrates on Odissi dance and music, offers solo, duet and group Odissi performances. A number of reputed troupes from places such as Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, New Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, and the United States perform at the festival. It takes place in the courtyard of one of Bhubaneswar's most prominent and well-preserved temple complexes.

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13 of 24


Making the Pongal dish.
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Pongal, a huge harvest festival in southern India, is India's equivalent of Thanksgiving. The most important part of the festival is cooking the Pongal dish, made out of boiled milk and rice, on the auspicious second day. Families gather to feast and dance.

14 of 24

Ardh Kumbh Mela

Sadhus at the Kumbh Mela.

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India's famous Kumbh Mela is regarded as the biggest religious gathering in the world and has been included on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. A smaller ardh (half) version of it happens every six years in Allahabad on the occasion of the annual Magh Mela. Sadhus (Hindu holy men) and pilgrims converge to bathe in the holy water of the river and discuss spirituality. There are two auspicious bathing dates in January, when much of the action happens. These are January 15 (Makar Sankranti) and January 21 (Paush Purnima). January 15 is the first Shahi Snan (Royal Bath) of the sadhus. Special accommodations and facilities are set up for foreign tourists.

15 of 24

Kenduli Mela

Bauls Playing Music in Kenduli

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For an unforgettable dose of West Bengal folk music don't miss the Kenduli Mela, where the mystical wandering Baul musicians gather to perform. Dressed in saffron robes, and playing a distinctive stringed instrument called the ektara, they sing uniquely about life's philosophy. West Bengal Tourism offers package tours.

  • When: January 15-17, 2019.
  • Where: Kenduli village, around 30 kilometers from Shantiniketan in West Bengal.
16 of 24

Adoor Gajamela

Kerala temple elephants.
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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 decorated elephants. Traditional art forms such a panchavadyam (a musical ensemble with five different types of instruments) accompany the parade. The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and a multitude of cultural events take place during the 10 days as well.

  • When: January 18, 2019.
  • Where: Adoor, Kerala, approximately 90 kilometers from Trivandrum. The nearest railway station is at Chengannur, around 25 kilometers away.
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17 of 24

Rajarani Music Festival

Rajarani Music Festival
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Entrancing performances by well-known Odissi and Hindustani vocal and music maestros bring alive the architectural beauty of the Rajarani temple at this festival. The temple, often referred to as the Khajuraho of the east, is famous for the elaborate erotic sculptured figurine on its walls.

18 of 24

Modhera Dance Festival

Sun Temple at Modhera
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The ancient 11th century Sun Temple, dedicated to Surya the Sun God, provides an evocative backdrop for this annual classical dance festival. It features artists from various states in India. The performances take place in the evenings, while the monument is colorfully illuminated.

  • When: January 18-20, 2019.
  • Where: Modhera, Gujarat
19 of 24

Araku Balloon Festival

Araku Balloon Festival

Araku Balloon Festival


This new offbeat balloon festival returns for its second edition, in the picturesque Araku Valley of Andhra Pradesh. The festival aims to promote adventure tourism in the state and showcase the Araku Valley, which has views of the Eastern Ghat mountains. A total of 20 teams from 12 countries are expected to participate. Apart from balloon flights and displays, there will be entertainment such as para-motoring, music, and games. A luxury tented camp is set up to accommodate guests.

  • When: January 18-20, 2019.
  • Where: Araku, about three hours from Vizag in Andhra Pradesh. Buses and trains are available.
20 of 24

Thaipusam (Tamil Nadu)

A devotees carries a Kavadi frame at the Thai Pusam festival - Palani, Tamil Nadu
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This unusual festival in India is celebrated by the Tamil community and is dedicated to Lord Murugan (also known as Kartikeya), the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Devotees show their endurance to the Lord, so he will help them overcome obstacles and lessen their life burdens. Many walk long distances carrying a kavadi (an offering that can take various forms such as a pot of milk or a decorative altar on a frame). Those who are fanatical go as far as to pierce various parts of their bodies with small metal hooks and skewers. One of the biggest Thaipusam celebrations takes place at Palani, near Madurai in Tamil Nadu. It lasts for 10 days, although most of the action takes place on days six to 10. The main day (the seventh day), when the temple deity is taken out in procession for a bath, is the most significant.

  • When: January 21, 2019.
  • Where: Arulmigu Dhandayuthapani Swamy Temple, Palani, Tamil Nadu.
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Thaipooyam Mahotsavam (Kerala)

Thaipooyam celebrations

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Thaipooyam Mahotsavam, Kerala's version of Thaipusam, is held in honour of Lord Subrahmanya (another name for Shiva and Parvati's son, Kartikeya). The highlight is the performance of the kavadiyattam ritualistic dance by devotees carrying kavadis. They twirl and spin in a trance-like manner to the beat of drums please the lord.

  • When: January 21, 2019.
  • Where: Koorkancherry Sree Maheswara temple, Thrissur district, Kerala. Sree Subrahmanya Swamy temple, Harippad, Alleppey district, Kerala.
22 of 24

Vel Festival

Vel festival.

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Yet another version of Thaipusam takes place, in a particularly gruesome way, in a village about two hours north of Kolkata. Devotees  prevalently perform ritual body piercing to worship the divine vel (spear), which Goddess Parvati presented to Lord Murugan to defeat demon Soorapadman. They enter a trance-like state beforehand and claim it doesn't hurt!

  • When: January 21, 2019.
  • Where: Bandel, West Bengal.
23 of 24

Jaipur Literature Festival

A session at the Jaipur Literature Festival.
Sharell Cook

Lovers of literature shouldn't miss this fantastic opportunity to meet with renowned national and international authors and listen to them speak -- and all for free! The Jaipur Literature Festival is an annual event that's considered to be one of the most important literature events in Asia. A festival program and details of attending authors are available on the event's website. The list is extensive and impressive.

  • When: January 24-28, 2019.
  • Where: Diggi Palace, Jaipur, Rajasthan.
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Republic Day Parade

Indian Army marching contingents during Republic Day Parade
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In celebration of the Constitution of India being founded in 1950, a spectacular Republic Day parade is held in New Delhi. The parade, which marches down Delhi's central Rajpath avenue, features the three divisions of the armed forces (Army, Navy and Air Force) who showcase their strength. It also includes traditional dance troupes, and culminates with helicopters and other aircraft dramatically flying past.

  • When: January 26 every year.
  • Where: Delhi.
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