Festivals of Goa Around The Year – A Travel Guide

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Goa is a land of festivals. While festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali and Christmas are common to most of India, Goa is home to some very unique festivals. Think of a mud festival in the middle of heavy monsoon season or a festival where cucumbers rule. Imagine celebrations with live music on the streets that will invite you to join the dance. Yes, you get all of that and much more in Goa.

Guide to Festivals of Goa

Popular Festivals of GoaCome with us for a year-long round up of Goan festivals. Traditional & the modern Festivals of Goa, all the festival times to explore in Goa.

1. New Year Celebrations

Goa is a go-to destination for New Year Celebrations. Late December to Early January is the peak tourist season when the hotel and flights rates zoom up. The roads are blocked and beaches are full. To top it up, the weather is just perfect. Just a bit of nip in the air but no need for any heavy woolens. Party is in the air of Goa around this time.

You must celebrate one new year in your life in Goa. While you can plan your Goa parties, do not miss the fireworks on Goan beaches to bring in the new year. Once the new year is welcomed, go out looking for the floats that you would find everywhere in Goa post-Christmas. I love the ones that literally float in the water.

This is also the best time to walk around quaint villages of Goa and admire the colorful homes in the middle of fields. Our favorite villages are Moira in South Goa & Aldona & Assagao in North Goa.

Where – All over Goa, Especially the Beaches

When – Last week of December – First Week of January

Time – All day, but for lit-up Goa in the evenings is charming

2. Lokotsav – Celebrating the Folk Culture of India

Rajasthani Folk performance at Lokotsav Panaji
Rajasthani Folk performance at Lokotsav Panaji

Lokotsav is a showcase of arts, crafts, folk, and traditional music that is held every year in Panaji. Performers from all over India gather and perform every evening for 10 days.

A Tribal performance during Lokotsav
A Tribal performance during Lokotsav

The event is open to the public and no entry fee is charged. People of Goa look forward to their annual shopping sojourn at Lokotasava. Fold artists from across the country come with their creative designs to sell.

A Punjabi performance at Lokotsav
A Punjabi performance at Lokotsav

Where – Kala Academy & Football Grounds, Panaji

When – Roughly 2nd week of January

Time – Shopping through the day, performances in the evening

3. Viva Carnaval

Goa Viva Carnival Happy Faces of Kids
Goa Viva Carnival Happy Faces of Kids

Viva Carnaval is how Goa makes merry and feasts before the fast season sets in. King Momo orders his subjects to ‘Eat, Drink & Be Merry’. Who does not want a king like that? Alas, he is a king only for 3-4 days. Carnaval is an adaptation of Carnivals as they happen in Latin America.

Read MoreViva Carnaval – Goa

The parades with floats based on various themes parade in the city. There is music in the air and not many can stop themselves from dancing. My only apprehension is that lately there are too many preachy floats that dampen the fun element. Nonetheless, this is a popular festival of Goa – unique in India. Many tourists travel to Goa for Viva Carnaval.

When – Feb/March

Where – Multiple Cities of Goa, Check local papers for exact dates

Time – Starts around 4 PM, but warms up by 5:30 PM and goes on till late evening

4. Shigmo or Shigmotsav

Ghodi or Horse dance performance during Shigmo
Ghodi or Horse dance performance during Shigmo

Shigmo is my favorite Goan festival. If there is one festival that you should visit Goa for, it has to be Shigmo. It is colorful, it is vibrant and it is rooted in the culture of Goa. It is like witnessing the cultural extravaganza on the road. The streets are decorated with flags.

There are traditional dances like Ghodi Modheni and Goff. The beats of dhols energize the whole environment. Different villages present different dances. The Gods are taken out on a Palki or palanquin. In the end, there are Jhankis or Floats that showcase historical and mythological scenes.

Read More  – Shigmo – Cultural Extravaganza of Goa

Where – Multiple cities, check local newspapers for exact dates. We recommend watching the Panjim one that happens on 18th June Road or D B Road.

When – March, Check exact dates.

Time – Starts around 4 PM and goes on till late at night.

5. Sao Joao

Colorfully decorated boat during Sao Joao festival, Goa
Colorfully decorated boat during Sao Joao festival, Goa

Sao Joao is a monsoon festival that literally celebrates the onset of monsoons when the wells and rivers are full of water once again. People of Goa celebrate Sao Joao by wearing flowers and fruits on the heads and by jumping in the wells. Yes, men jump in the wells. New sons-in-law are expected to jump.

Read MoreSao Joao- Celebrating the Onset of Monsoons in Goa 

Where – Everywhere in Goa, but Siolim is special

When – Around last week of June

What Time – Through the day. Siolim Boat Festival happens in the afternoon.

6. Chikal Kalo

Enthusiastic participants at Chikal Kalo festival
Enthusiastic participants at Chikal Kalo festival

Chikal Kalo is the most fun festival I have ever seen. Imagine all men of a village playing the mud, playing games that go back to ancient times. Add to it the free homemade food that gets distributed. The Dahi Handi tied high up on a tree in front of a temple. It is not just games. The festival begins with praying at the temple. It is monsoon time, and the best way to enjoy all the mud around you.

Dahi Handi event at Chikal Kalo festival, Unique Festivals of Goa
Dahi Handi event at Chikal Kalo festival – Unique Festivals of Goa

Read More Chikal Kalo – the Mud Festival of Goa

We highly recommend participating in Chikal Kalo in Goa. I am not aware of any such festival anywhere else in the country.

Where – Devaki Krishna Temple – Marcel Village

When – Ashadh Dwadshi that roughly falls in mid-July.

Time – Starts around 11 AM and goes on for 2-3 hours

7. Touxeachem or Cucumber Festival

On the occasion of Cucumber Festival
On the occasion of Cucumber Festival

This is a unique Goan festival. At St Anne’s church in Talaulim village, people offer cucumbers. You would see piles of cucumber as you head towards the church. Inside you will see people offering the cucumbers while other festivities are going on. It is believed that the patron saint was someone who had children after 40 years of age. So, offering cucumbers get the blessings of fertility or children.

No wonder, this festival is particularly popular with newlyweds.

Where – St Anne Church, Talalulim Village

When – End of July

Time – Morning around 11 AM is the best time to go

8. Bonderam

Bonderam - The traditional flag festival of Divar Island, Goa
Bonderam – The traditional flag festival of Divar Island

An island festival that takes place on the island of Divar. It is a flag festival where the villagers come out to re-enact the old territorial battles that used to be fought on the island of Divar.

Read MoreBonderam at Divar Island

Not very different from Viva Carnaval, but it brings the ethos of an island to its parade.

Where – Divar Island on Mandovi River

When – Third week of August

Time – Evening, go around 5 PM and plan to stay for 2-3 hours

9. Ganesh Utsav

Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations at Panaji
Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations at Panaji

We usually associate Ganesh Utsav with Maharashtra. Goa also celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi with equal gusto. What is unique to Ganesh Utsav in Goa is the Matoli that is made at the Ganesh Pandals.

Ganesh Idol
Ganesh Idol

Even today, Matoli made with all the natural things including the herbs collected from the sacred groves and forests of Goa. Of course, there are fruits of all kinds and flowers. Some traditional Matolis are made up of as many as 400 items.

Where – All over Goa

When – With the rest of the country, check Ganesh Chaturthi Dates

Time – Go Pandal Hopping in the evening

10. Narkasur Chaturdashi

Narkasur Effigy at Panaji
Narkasur Effigy at Panaji

Goa like its neighboring Karnataka celebrates Narkasur Chaturdashi that falls a day before Diwali. You would see the giant effigies of demon Narkasur in almost every street. Children collect funds from the neighborhood to create Narkasur. It is their creativity on display in almost every street of Goa. Music announces where the effigy is. If you want to see it being burnt, you have to be awake early morning on Diwali day. Cracker sounds in the neighborhood will wake you up.

Where – Everywhere in Goa

When – A day before Diwali, Check the exact date

Time – Late evening to view Narkasur & early morning to view the burning

11. Dev Deepawali or Tripurari Purnima

Crowd gathered at Tripurari Purnima celebrations
A crowd gathered at Tripurari Purnima celebrations

Kartik Purnima that falls exactly a fortnight after Diwali. It is celebrated as Dev Deepavali in Varanasi, as Kartik Purnima across the country, as Guru Purab or Guru Nanak Jayanti by Sikhs and as Tripurari Purnima in Goa.

Read MoreHow Goa Celebrates Tripurari Purnima!

Now the story of killing demon Tarakasur is common across India but Goa celebrates it in its own unique way. It celebrates it as a mid-night boat festival on Valvanti River at Vithal temple of Sakhli Village in North Goa. There are cultural programs like Lavni and a competition for the best-designed boat. For me, this was a midnight extravaganza. One of the very traditional Festivals of Goa.

Decorated mini boats lined up in Valvanthi river, Festivals of Goa
Decorated mini boats lined up in Valvanthi river

Where – Vithal Temple, Sakhli

When – 15 days after Diwali, Kartik Purnima

Time – Starts late at night and peaks at midnight.

12. IFFI or Internation Film Festival of India

Do you know Goa is the permanent venue for the prestigious Internation Film Festival of India?  Come November and Panjim is all decked up like a bride to welcome the delegates of the film fraternity. Goans keep their diaries and calendars blocked for these days. Nothing should come between them and the films. One more modern festivals of Goa.

If you are a film buff, this is the best time to visit Goa.

Where – Various places in Panjim, but mostly INOX theater and Kala Academy

When – 2-3rd week of November, Check Exact dates on IFFI Website

Time – Throughout the day, almost around the clock.

13. Goa Arts & Literature Festival

Like most cities in India, Goa has its own literature festival. It is called the Goa Arts and Literature festival. It attempts to combine some art displays along with being the venue for authors, publishers, and bibliophiles to meet.

If you love books and if you happen to be in Goa in December, it is a good opportunity to catch up with your favorite authors.

Where – International Centre Goa – Dona Paula

When – Around the first week of December

Time – Full 3-4 days

14. Serendipity Art Festival

A collage Miniature paintings on display at Serendipity Art Festival, Panaji
A collage Miniature paintings on display at Serendipity Art Festival, Panaji

Serendipity Art Festival is a relatively new but a state of the art festival held in Panjim. Various venues turn into art galleries, new public art gets installed. Artists from various fields like performing arts, culinary arts etc get a platform to showcase their work.

Traditional Charpai designs at Serendipity Art Festival
Traditional Charpai designs at Serendipity Art Festival

Not just Goans, we see tourists also loving this lovely art festival. It is one of the modern festivals of Goa.

When – Around Mid-Dec

Where – Various venues in Panaji, main exhibits at Adil Shah Palace

Time – Throughout the day

15. Christmas

Panaji Church or Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church
Panaji Church or Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church

Goa has a reasonable Christian population. Its landscape is dominated by churches. So, it is obvious that Christmas is celebrated here with great fervor. We usually step out to see the lit up churches in the evenings or to see floats made by people in the church premises. Out favorite being Panjim Church that looks even more gorgeous during Christmas.

When – 25th December

Where – All over Goa

Goa Festival GuideThere are many other smaller festivals that happen in Goa, especially its villages. We will keep updating this post as and when we discover a new festival in Goa.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Didn’t know that Goa was way more than serene beaches and nightlife. Definitely would love to explore this cultural experience in the state

  2. Amazing blog about Goa Festival…Like Ganesh Utsav and other festival is very nice. The best blog about Goa festival..India different state festival and Language…Thank you.

  3. I always to go goa but every time plan failed, so I always looking for new knowledge about goa, so I read your amazing article about goa festivals… I am truly excited to see the different festival in India.

  4. Bishakha, that is precisely the perception we are trying to change about Goa. It is such a culturally rich state. I have been here for 5 years, yet there is so much more to explore in Goa.

  5. Oh I’m so excited to hopefully see some of these festivals.Last year, when I traveled to New Delhi , Agra , and Jaipur…. my itinerary was so full. Next week I will be in Goa!! Hoping it will be a more relaxing trip . Can’t wait. Just not liking the 20+ hours of flying and travel .
    And I love your site! So informative! Are you on Instagram?

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