Christmas in India: The Best Places to Celebrate It

Christmas decorations in India.



Christmas, the birthday of the Lord Jesus, is celebrated on Dec. 25 every year. Although Christians make up less than 5 percent of India's population, Christmas is a significant occasion in India. It has become quite commercialized, with people of all religions joining the festivities. You'll be able to find traditional Christmas cheer in many parts of the country.

How Is Christmas Celebrated in India?

Food, glorious food. Christmas in India is all about eating! International luxury hotels serve up vast Christmas buffets with all the favorites: roast meat (including turkey), roast vegetables, and deserts to die for. Most hotels in India will hold a special Christmas dinner of some description, but it may have more of an Indian flavor to it.

Catholic-dominated areas in India will be decorated for the occasion. Churches also hold Christmas services, including Midnight Mass.

Where to Celebrate Christmas in India


With its large Catholic population, Goa is one of the best places to have a traditional Christmas in India—Indian style! Its many beautiful old Portuguese-style churches overflow with people and Christmas cheer. Christmas carols are sung, and many churches hold Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Christmas decorations adorn houses, streets, and marketplaces. Don't miss admiring the lit-up Gothic facade of Mae de Deus church in North Goa's Saligao village.

The Fontainhas Latin Quarter in Panjim is a fantastic place to enjoy Christmas celebrations. Make It Happen usually conducts a Christmas Evening Walk in Fontainhas daily at 6 p.m. There's a special Christmas feast and a brass band.


Kolkata is also renowned for its Christmas celebrations. Park Street is beautifully illuminated with strings of lights and other decorations. Flurys bakes sumptuous Christmas cakes, and their special Christmas menu offers a variety of Christmas treats. The Kolkata Christmas Festival, organized in conjunction with West Bengal Tourism, is an added attraction. It dominates Park Street with food and culture stalls, Christmas carols, and choirs. Bands and choir groups perform on stage at Allen Park on Park Street. In 2022, the festival will be held from December 20-23. The highlight is a Christmas parade on Park Street.

Head to Kolkata's magnificent Saint Paul's Cathedral, with its Gothic Revival architecture, for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. This important historic church is located at the southern end of the Maidan, near Victoria Memorial, and was opened in 1847. It will also be illuminated for the occasion and have a festive feel. The cathedral is open to the public until 4 p.m. on Christmas Day.

For a memorable community Christmas celebration in Kolkata, don't miss visiting Bow Barracks (just off Central Avenue), where most of the city's Anglo-Indians live. Special Christmas events take place from Dec. 23 until New Year's Eve. The grand event on Dec. 23 features Kolkata's best-known Anglo-Indian singers, bands, and musicians. Hundreds of people dance on the street until after midnight, and everyone is welcome. Calcutta Photo Tours runs a fascinating walking tour through this area.


Mumbai is another popular place to have a traditional Christmas. The western suburb of Bandra is predominantly Catholic, but you'll also find churches throughout the city. These Mumbai churches with Midnight Mass are the most well-known ones. Notably, Saint Thomas's Cathedral celebrated its 300th anniversary on Christmas Day in 2018, and it was recently reopened after a complete architectural restoration. Bandra's Hill Road also wears a festive look full of Christmas decorations, and bakeries overflow with Christmas goodies. Try and catch the annual community "Carols on Convent Road" in Bandra West, organized by local residents.

Indian people shop at a store ahead of Christmas in Mumbai,

Quaint 200-year-old Matharpacady village tucked away in the lanes of Mazgaon, is another place where Christmas is enthusiastically celebrated in Mumbai. This East Indian Catholic village is beautifully decorated for the occasion and illuminated in the evenings.


The most popular Midnight Mass in Delhi occurs at Sacred Heart Cathedral at Connaught Place. The whole Connaught Place area buzzes during Christmas and the week leading up to it. There are Christmas decorations and lights, food stalls, and other street vendors.


In Kerala, Christmas coincides with the Cochin Carnival in Fort Kochi. The carnival concludes with the burning of a massive Santa effigy at midnight on New Year's Eve (yes, it's locally called Pappanji) and a huge street procession on New Year's Day. Pappanji was introduced as part of the Cochin Carnival in 1984 as a tribute to the city's Portuguese heritage. It's a Portuguese word meaning "grandpa," and some say the effigy is actually an old man, not Santa. The burning of Pappanji represents the destruction of evil and new beginnings. The effigy is displayed at the Parade Ground in Fort Kochi on Dec. 30.


Spend Christmas the European way at the former French colony of Pondicherry. Choirs perform concerts on the promenade in the lead-up to Christmas Eve, a Christmas market takes place at the French International School with stalls selling mulled wine and traditional yule log cakes, and a French-themed Christmas service is held at the Eglise Notre Dame des Anges (Our Lady of Angels Church) in the French Quarter.

Elsewhere in India

In addition, Christmas is widely celebrated by the substantial Christian population in India's remote northeast region (head to Shillong in Meghalaya, Kohima in Nagaland, or Aizwal in Mizoram), as well as other south Indian cities such as Bangalore and Chennai. The Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians in Shillong is famous for its Midnight Mass with choir on Christmas Eve.