Published: 04 Dec, 2019 Anuja Mangle Fozdar
It would surprise you to know that Christmas & New Year are celebrated with the utmost enthusiasm in India. In different parts of the country, people are immersed in festivities surrounding these two occasions. While some people prefer to spend their Christmas vacation visiting a hill station, for others, nothing is better than attending a festival. Regardless of whether you are a family with kids, on a honeymoon, traveller, backpacker or senior citizen, you will find something to enjoy during this time. In this blog, we tell you the 15 top things to do on Christmas & New Year if you are visiting India, and making the most of your winter holiday season in India.
1. Attend Sunburn Festival in Goa
Winter, beach, party, music and food: all of these look equally appealing while planning a New Year holiday. The Sunburn festival combines and offers all of this to its visitors. Known as the biggest music carnival, this EDM (electronic dance music) is conducted in Goa amidst the beauty of nature. Goa is one of the most happening beach destinations of India, and a festival like Sunburn acts like icing on the cake. The three day festival is very well organized. Workshops, after party places, movie screenings and karaoke sessions, along with other activities, are held during this festival. Welcoming the New Year while you get to party on a beach will be a special memory which will stay with you for a long time.
2. Try Snorkelling and Scuba Diving in Malvan
Malvan is a quaint town in Sindhudurg district in Maharashtra which has serene beaches, and remains a less touristy place. Best known for adventure based water sports, the very famous Tarkarli beach offers the most memorable experiences in scuba diving and snorkelling. The clear and blue sea, rich aquatic life, underwater coral reefs, exotic fishes and sea plants, makes it an apt place for various water sports. Foodies can also relish the best seafood delicacies here. With a perfect combination of nature, adventure and food, exploring Malvan in December is one of the best things to do in India. The nearest airport to Malvan is Goa, while there are many trains plying between Mumbai and Pune.
3. Skiing in Auli, Uttarakhand
Auli, located at an altitude of about 3000m in Uttarakhand, is one of the best skiing destinations in India. The mountain slopes are heavily covered by snow during winters, and nothing delivers an adrenaline rush like skiing on them. The snow capped mountains, beautiful looking streams, lush green oak trees, and views of various mountain ranges like Nanda Devi, Mana Parbat and Kamat Kamet simply makes Auli look no less than a paradise. In case you would have not done something like this before, Auli can definitely become your next best Christmas and New Year holiday destination in India.
4. Experience the Winter Tourism of Shimla
Fondly called the Queen of Hills, Shimla– the capital of Himachal Pradesh, looks exquisitely elegant when covered under a blanket of white snow. It is for this reason that the city gets flooded with tourists even during winters. The snowy hills, stunning looking valleys, painting like landscapes and interesting winter sports will surely make you feel like coming here again and again. Some of the must visit places are Kufri, Mashobra, Rohru, Scandal point and Narkanda.
5. Be a part of Gujarat’s most famous Rann of Kutch Festival
Rann of Kutch, which is a popular festival of Gujarat, is undoubtedly a traveller’s delight. The barren land of Kutch suddenly comes to life from November to February, making it one of the best places to holiday in India. The festival celebrates art, music, dance and culture of Gujarat making it a grand winter carnival of west India. The best time to visit the festival is on a full moon day when the moon light flashes on the desert land making it look magical. Tourists can enjoy staying in tents, camel and ATV rides on the desert, and relish the local cuisine. Spending a night at the desert close to your tent and gazing at the full moon, while a cool breeze brushes your face, will make you wonder if things can get any better.
6. Camel Safari in the Sand Dunes of Jaisalmer
How about ushering in the New Year on the sam sand dunes of Jaisalmer while enjoying a camel ride? Sounds like a lot of fun right? The best time to explore the rugged sand of Rajasthan is definitely winters. Depending upon your interest and the number of people accompanying you, you can either choose a half or a full day camel safari. The adventurous safari takes you through the various types of sand dunes, giving short glimpses of the lifestyle of the small villages. The captivating view of the sunset, along with the entire landscape, is truly a sight to behold. You can enjoy a stay in one of the luxury resort/tents in the desert, followed by a traditional folk dance and mouth watering dinner.
7. Drive on the Konkan Coast
Konkan is undoubtedly the most beautiful region of Maharashtra. Known for its coastal roads, the entire stretch is popular for driving and biking. Driving through the coastal road of Konkan, with lush scenery keeping you company all the way against the backdrop of rural villages, will be one of the best things to do in India during Christmas and New Year holidays. There are forts, temples, hill stations, homestays and scenic beaches which you will encounter on the way. The beaches are so irresistible that spending an evening on the beach, followed by relishing authentic seafood, should definitely be in your bucket list. Photographers will surely enjoy capturing the natural beauty of the place. Some of the places which should be on your travel list are Ganapatiphule, Harihareshwar, Diveagar beach, Dapoli and Ratnagiri.
8. Experience Boat Ride in the Backwaters of Alleppey
South India, and Kerala in particular, has the kind of beauty which makes you say, Incredible India! While there are numerous things to do in Kerala, the one thing which you shouldn’t miss out on is taking a ride on Alleppey backwaters. The Kerala backwaters is typically a network of lakes, rivers and canals that flow from the coast of Kerala and meet Alleppey, which is the main entry point. The ride passes through the still waters which are flanked by coconut trees and houses. Short glimpses of birds and aquatic life enhance the joy of your ride. The boat ride is also equipped with comfortable stay options and meals. The unique experience that Alleppey provides makes it one of the best places to celebrate the New Year in India.
9. Spend a Weekend in the French Colony of Pondicherry
Pondicherry, fondly known as Pondy, displays a strong influence of French architecture. The structures are quite elegant, look stylish and are mustard coloured. The place is very popular for its colonial looking cafes, beautiful promenade, serene beaches and nightlife. Some of the top places to visit here are Shri Aurobindo Ashram, Mahatma Gandhi Statue, War Memorial, and several temples. One can even visit Auroville, a sphere shaped monument built aesthetically which looks stunning from a distance. There is a meditation hall inside which can be accessed by Aurovillians only. In short, visiting Pondicherry during Christmas and New Year will be like a breath of fresh air. An ideal evening here would be taking a stroll on the promenade, sipping hot coffee in one of the cafes and relishing an authentic South Indian meal.
10. Enjoy the Kumbhalgarh Festival of Rajasthan
Kumbhalgarh festival, which is one of the most popular annual festivals of Rajasthan, is celebrated in December. The event is held against the backdrop of Kumbhalgarh Fort (it has the second largest wall after the Great Wall of China) and features some of the finest form of classical and folk dance, art camp and music show. Such is the popularity of the festival, that it hosts some of the finest talents of the country. It is a delight for the tourists to witness such wide variety of art under one roof. Being a part of this festival and visiting Rajasthan during winters is surely one of the top things to do during winters.
11. Celebrate the Mysore Winter Festival
Since the past few years, the famous Mysore palace hosts the New Year celebrations with much excitement and enthusiasm, and can easily be counted among the best festive places in India. The heritage city celebrates the festival for 10 days, starting from 22nd December. Since one of the venues of the festival is Mysore Palace, it is adorned with beautiful looking flowers, and its premises look no less than a newly wedded bride. The flower show in the evening is the highlight of this palace. In order to welcome the New Year in style, the state tourism department organises several activities like music concerts, cultural activities, adventure sports, film festival and cake festival. Food lovers are also attracted to this festival in large numbers, as a big part of it showcases authentic South Indian and organic food. Mysore winter festival attracts families, adventure seekers, nature lovers and others.
12. Take a Stroll on the Khau Galli of Indore
If you are a foodie who happens to be in Indore when Christmas and New Year is around the corner, then head to Sarafa Bazaar. Famous for its lip smacking Indian delicacies, it will leave you spoilt for choices. As soon as you enter the street, you will notice vendors on either side busy with their preparations, while the visitors line up to get their hands on the dish. Even as you take a casual walk on the street, the aroma of the food lingering in the air will draw you towards it. A variety of food is available, including samosas, kachoris, pani puri, pav bhaji, chole tikki, sabudna khichadi, corn, poha, jalebi and much more. Some of the specialties which you should try out are Jaleba, Bhutte ka Kees and Garadu. It is open from 7:00 PM to 3:00 AM.
13. Participate in the Mount Abu Winter Festival
Mt. Abu, the only hill station in Rajasthan, is blessed with stunning landscapes, breathtaking hills, and serene lakes. The three day Mount Abu Winter Festival, which is celebrated from 29-31 December, is a complete euphoria of celebrations amidst a picturesque location. Supported by the state tourism board, the festival is an endeavour to showcase Rajasthan’s rich culture and heritage. Classical and folk singers put up a great show which makes the ambience lively. On the other hand, it is a delight to watch traditional dancers perform Ghoomar, Gair and Daph with great perfection. Other activities like cricket, horse racing, tug or war and hot air ballooning will keep the thrill seekers busy. With such a plethora of things to see and do, Mount Abu is surely one of the most amazing places to visit in India.
14. Submerge yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Shillong, Meghalaya
Shillong, a region of north east India, is the place to be for your upcoming Christmas and New Year celebrations. The gigantic canyons, breathtaking Elephant Falls, serene lakes and well manicured gardens, make Shillong a power package of tourism. Commonly referred to as the ‘clouds abode’, it occupies a special place among the best hill stations of India. During Christmas, people don the best outfits, while the streets, houses and public places are decorated with wreaths, lights and lanterns. People sing carols, exchange gifts and sweets. While the December chill may not allow you to explore Shillong completely, the trip surely is incomplete without gorging on the famous local food dumpling, popularly called as momos. Food is yet another reason which will make the trip memorable. In short, witnessing a lively Christmas and New Year amidst abundance of natural beauty will be among the best things to see and do on a family holiday in India.
15. Witness the Heritage Beauty of South Mumbai
The financial capital of India, Mumbai, is in its best spirits during winter, as the city enjoys the best weather, compared to the rest of the year. Commonly referred to as ‘The city which doesn’t sleep’, Mumbai gears up to welcome the New Year with open arms. And in a city with such high spirits, taking a heritage tour of South Mumbai will be the best reason to visit Mumbai for Christmas holidays. The architecture of Gateway of India, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Taraporewala Aquarium and Rajabai Tower shows the influence of British Era. The elegance of the Taj Mahal hotel is simply mind blowing.
Exploring the age old shopping streets like Fashion Street, Crawford Market and Colaba causeway, will wake up the shopping bug within you. The view of iconic Air India building, rotating Ambassador Hotel, and a bird’s eye view of the Queen’s necklace (Marine Drive), will be simply enriching. And if you become hungry with all this exploring, head straight to some of the best known Irani Cafes like Britannia Cafe, Kayani and Co., try the kababs of Bademiyan, taste the Mervan’s Bun Maska, relish Butter Chicken and Tandoor at Noorani, savour Sardar Pav Bhaji and enjoy Baadshah’s Falooda. With such a diverse range of activities to do, spending family holidays in Mumbai will be the best place to celebrate Christmas in India.