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Sunburn Is History But These Festivals In Goa Deserve Equal Attention

By Sonam Satija

Updated - Oct. 25, 2019 9 min read

It's high time we realize that Sunburn is history but Goa always has so much to offer, so be a part of these 15 festivals of Goa and celebrate like a Goan. We've got them all covered for you from traditional festivals like Goa Carnival, Sao Joao to Goa Art & Literary Festival. Book your tickets wisely now keeping the best season in mind:


Main Traditional Goa Festivals

1. Goa Carnival

This is the most famous festival and is being celebrated since the 18th century. It was started by the Portuguese who ruled the state for more than 5 centuries. The celebration is an expression of the 40-day period of fasting of Lent, during which abstinence from meat is a rule until Easter. The carnival has colorful parades and enactment of mythologies. It's vibrant colors in the costumes, dances, and flags make it the most happening fest of Goa.


Venue: Panjim, Mapusa, Margoa and Vasco da Gama
Fetival time: The next carnival will happen from 10th February'18 to 13th February'18
Main Attraction: It culminates at Panjim with the famous Red-and-Black dance.


2. Sao Joao Festival

The Feast of St. John, the Baptist is celebrated on 24th June every year as thanksgiving for the arrival of monsoons. The most obvious indication of monsoons is the filling up of water bodies which is why young people celebrate it by jumping into lakes, streams, and wells. It is further celebrated by organizing of boat races and having Feni.


Venue: Panjim, Goa
Festival time: Starts in the afternoon of 23 June and lasts until the morning of 24 June
Main attraction: Boat Races


3. St Francis Xavier Feast

Celebrated in the month of December, this feast is celebrated every year in Old Goa at the Basilica of Bom Jesus. Preceding the feast of 9 days of Novenas are held and attended by pilgrims from all over the world. There is a fair too where vendors sell sweetmeats, toys, and clothing. The body of St Francis Xavier lies in a silver casket in the Church of Bom Jesus in Goa. St Xavier was a great Catholic missionary, who preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Asia. It's definitely one of the most famous festivals of Goa that you can't miss out on if you're visiting Goa in December.

st-francis-xavier-feast-festivals-of-goa_imageVenue: Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa
Festival time: 25th November to 3rd December
Main attraction:  Ceremonies to honor his death are performed on December 3, the day he was buried.

4. Bonderam

During the Portuguese colonization period, there were intense disputes about sharing of land between two sides of the Divar village. This quite frequently led to conflicts, violence and chaos. As a solution, the government at that time (Portuguese) marked the boundaries with flags. Hence the festival involves the presentation of mock battles and colorfully painted boats.


Venue: Island of  Divar
Commences: Takes place on the 4th Saturday of the August every year.
Main attraction: Float parades and live music performances.


5. Dahi Handi

A big festival and team sport across India, Dahi Handi is known as Krishna Janmashtami in the other parts of the country - it is celebrated to address the birth of Lord Krishna. The celebrations started with Vrindavan where Lord Krishna was brough up but the festival became popular in Goa as well. The festival is reenacted in Goa as the locals hang clay pots full of yogurt at a great height and later groups of men and boys make human pyramids to break them. It's one of those Goa festivals that's worth a sight if your city fails to capture the real beauty of Dahi Handi.


Venue: Everywhere in Goa
Festival time: 24th August 2019
Main attraction: Team Sport, Human Pyraminds breaking clay pots filled with yogurt, Traditional singing and music on the streets


6. Tulsi Lagna

Families all over from Goa gather together to celebrate Tulsi Lagna where they paint a fresh coat tulsi vrindavans and deck them up with flowers. Lamps & Candles are lit adding to the festive spirit. It's basically a cermonial marraige of the Tulsi plant to Vishnu/Shaligram (Hindu God). It marks the beginning of the wedding season and end of the monsoon season.


Venue: Everywhere in Goa
Festival time: 9th November
Main attraction: Signifies beginning of the wedding season in Hinduisim, Delish Wedding Feats, Festival of lights


7. Gudi Padhwa

Gudi Padhwa or Samvatsar Padvo festival is a very famous South Indian Festival - also known as the Hindu New Year Day. It is celebrated every year in the month of March or April. The real celebration includs folk dancers performances which take places in Gaondongri, Sanguem & Sattari. People of Goa cook vegetarian dishes like Sanna, Kheer, Poori, Puran Polic, Shrikhand & Sweet Potato. Women also make rangolis on their main entrance. It's also known as the day when Brahma recreated the world after massive destruction. Gudi Padhwa is definitely a tradition festival that you need to be a part of so next time make sure you visit Goa in April.


Venue: Everywhere in Goa
Festival time: Saturday, 6 April 2019
Main attraction: Cultural Dance performances - warlike folk dance


8. Narkasur

As the rest of the world celebrates Diwali, Goa has it's own way to celebrate this beautiful festival by burning huge effigies of the demon Narkasur who is known as the legend of Diwali. According to the story of the legend of Narkasur who ruled the beautiful land of Goi obstained lots of powers and became very authoratative. He started to spread terror and cause tremendous destruction. People of Goa prayed the gods and asked Lord Krishna for help - Lord Krishna shot his famous Sudharshan Chakra and cut off the evil head of Narkasur. Hence as a symbol of victory of good over evil - This festival is celebrated.


Venue: Everywhere in Goa
Festival time: 6th November 2018
Main attraction: Magnificient effigies of demon Narkasur



9. Zatra Of Different Temples

Zatra is a also a Konkani term for pilgrimage festivals celebrated at Hindu Temples in Goa. During Zatra, The murtis of Hindu dieties are taken out on a special procession in a Palanquin or a chariot. It occurs after Diwali and continues until Shigmo. Devotees flock from different corners together to carry forward this procession.


Venue: Hindu Temples In Goa
Festival time: All Zatras happens after Diwali in October and continues until the Shigmo or Holi festival in March.
Main attraction: Special procession of Idols, chariot procession on four days, Crowds of devotees flock together to be part of this procession


10. Ganesh Chaturthi

This festival in Goa is symbolized by the work of life-like clay idols of Lord Ganesha. It is celebrated for two days and can also go up to 21 days. People decorate their houses and conduct pujas where the priest clad in saffron dhoti and shawl invokes life into the idol through chanting of mantras. One should definitely visit the Hanuman Temple at Altinho and also witness the artistic installations of Lord Ganesh in Panjim.


Venue: Everywhere in Goa
Festival time: 2nd September 2019
Main attraction: Magnificient Idols & Life-Like Clay Sculptures of Lord Ganesha, Decorating Houses, Tasting Modaks


11. Shigmo

Shigmo is a religious festival with a social core. It's known as Holi in the rest of India. Shigmo parades consists of traditional folk dances and traditional music where depict scenes from mythology. It's celebrated in the rural parts of Goa spanning over a fortnight. It is linked to the lunar calence hence it's date varies according to Gregorian Calendar.


Venue: Everywhere in Goa
Festival time: 21st March 2019
Main attraction: Festival of colors, Traditional dances, accompanied by traditional instruments, mythological scenes, traditional singing


Suggested Read:

Explore The 21 Most Romantic Places In Goa

20 of The Best Restaurants In Goa That Make Us Fall In Love With This Beach City

10 Ideal & Romantic Honeymoon Resorts In Goa For Your Romantic Stay

Tropic Like It’s Hot: What To Wear In Goa


Other Goa Festivals:

12. Serendipity Art Festival

It's a multidisciplinary festival that brings together visual, culinary and performative practices from India and other countaries in a way you have never seen before. It's spread across various venues in Panaji, Goa - The festival is a perfect platform for budding artists to showcare your work and collaborate. These events in Goa are definitely worth attending as they've got the best showcases waiting to be witnessing by you.


Venue: Panaji, Goa
Festival time: 15th To 22th December
Main attraction: Akshayambara, Line up of scintillating programmes spanning music, dance, theatre, visual arts and culinary arts, Exhibition.


13. Goa Arts And Literary Festival

It brings together various writers, poets, novelists, musicians, etc, the best in their fields and proves Goa to be not just a hippy and party place to be in but an artsy place too. GALF also is known to have "consistently hosted some of the best lineups of contemporary poets ever assembled in contemporary India" with names like A.J Thomas, Rinzin Rinzin, Prabda Yoon, & Elizabeth Flock. It's time to book your tickets wisely, visit Goa in December to be a part of this artsy festival and enjoy the party season as well.

goa-arts-and-literary-festival-festivals-of-goa_imageVenue: The International Centre, Dona Paula, Goa
Festival time: 6 - 8 December 2018
Main attraction: Coming together of the biggest names in contemporary literature,


14. The Grape Escapade

Being one of the biggest wine festivals of the country, its captures the Goan culture and lifestyle. It brings together various hoteliers, restaurateurs, wineries, grapevine and wine connoisseurs. The festival is a must to enjoy lavish wines. Crushing the grapes with your feet as a tradition is the highlight of the festival. Go and treat your taste buds to the exquisiteness.


Venue: DB Bandodkar Ground, Campal, Panaji
Festival time: 19th-22nd April, 2018
Main attraction: Grape Stomping, Exquisite Lavish Wine Tasting, Wineries, Grapevines, Wine Connoisseurs, Food stalls & Fashion Show

15. International Film Festival India (IFFI)

This is one of the biggest film festivals of the country and is attended by the glitterati of the film industries around the world. Various directors, producers, writers, critics, actors, distributors and movie buffs attend it to get updated with the latest genres of the silver screen. It is also graced with various food stalls and games. A number of movies are screened and awarded.


Venue: Panaji, Goa
Festival time: 20th to 28th November 2018
Main attraction: Screening Of Films On Beaches, Best Films of Vinod Khanna to get screened at IFFI 2018, 4-5 International Animation Feature Length Films, special screenings with audio description are organized for the children who are visually impaired


Suggested Read:

From Thalassa to LPK and Club Cabana to Curlies: Explore All The Best Bars In Goa

A Brief History Of Goa: From The Myth Of Mahabharata To Becoming The 25th State Of India

10 of The Most Happening And Best Hostels in Goa For Travelers Living Out of Their Backpacks

Sand, Baja & Baraat: Plan A Destination Wedding In Goa


Q: What is the best time to visit Goa?

A: October to Feburary


Q: What is the minimum amount you can make a Goa trip plan in?

A: Rs. 5000 for 2 nights and 3 days. Be prepared to sleep in a dormitory and have street food and travel by local Goan transport buses.


Q: How much would a one-day trip to Goa cost?

A: Approximately 12000 INR per head if you optimize on all the costs.



Goa Festivals

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