A harmonious blend of different cultures, characteristic of Goan population, gives it plenty of festive moments. The colourful festivals in Goa have retained their uniqueness till date and are celebrated with deep fervour over the years. Most of the celebrations are woven around religious occasions where, singing and dancing becomes a part of life. People step down to streets in vibrant attires and the whole state pulsates with the beats of merriment.
Enjoying is not something we do in Goa. For us, it’s a part of life. See for yourself!
January Festivals in Goa
Three Kings Feast, Cansaulim, Goa
The feast of the Three Kings commemorates the adoration by the Three Magi, at the feet of the Baby Jesus. This feast is usually celebrated on the 6th of January, or the first Sunday in January. It is celebrated in a lavish way in three places in Goa. The Reis Magos Church at Verem in the Bardez taluka in North Goa, the village of Chandor in South Goa and at Nossa Senhora Dos Remédios, in Cansaulim in South Goa.
This festival is marked with grand processions and the crowning of three kings from the three villages, who are then escorted with pomp and fervour to the church on Remedios hill.
Date : 6th January 2020
Venue : Reis Magos, Chandor and Cansaulim
Shree Shantadurga Zatra, Fatorpa, Goa
The annual ‘zatrotsav’ of Shree Shantadurga Fatorpekareen at Fatorpa is celebrated from January 3. As part of this 6-day event, various religious & cultural activities are held.
Date : 3rd To 8th January 2020
Venue : Fatorpa Temple, Quepem
February Festivals in Goa
Dancing in the streets, watching brilliantly coloured floats festooned with a rainbow of flowers and feathers like a flock of exotic birds, masks – some beautiful, something weird- and of course the grand finale, the Red and Black ball; are a part and parcel of Carnival in Goa.
Brought into fashion by the Portuguese colonists, the Carnival takes place every year for three days before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Lenten season, and draws in people from all over the world. Not quite as massive as the one in Brazil, but it is spectacular in its own way.
Date : 22nd to 25th February
Venue : Panaji, Margao, Vasco Da Gama, Mapusa
The Goa Food and Cultural Festival, Panjim, Goa
The festival itself is made up of more than 50 food and drink brands set at strategic places around the festive ground. Here, The Chefs showcase the best of the Goan culinary delights. The food ranges from the down-to-earth cooking that we know and love to the heights of haute cuisine – a flavourful fusion of Goan and Western cooking.
The festival is a brilliant showcase of Goa’s cultural and culinary talent as well as plenty of other attractions. If you didn’t get to Goa in time for this year’s festivities, perhaps you should ensure that you’re there for next year’s line-up.
Venue : Campal Cricket Ground, opposite Parade Ground, Panaji
Date : 21st to 23rd February 2020
March Festivals in Goa
Shigmo / Shigmotsav, Goa
Goa’s biggest religious Hindu festival kick-starts from March 10th and continues in various rural parts of Goa, spanning over a fortnight, with different days marked for celebrations in different areas.
The float parades consisting of Chitrarath, Romtamel and Folk Dance begins in Ponda on the 10th of March and the city of Panaji witnesses the float parade on 14th March. The float parade ends in Valpoi and Dharbandora on 24th March.
Date : 10th to 24th March 2020
Venue : Panaji, Ponda (Also celebrated throughout Goa)
April Festivals in Goa
Easter celebrations in Goa are widespread, but the most spectacular celebrations happen in the capital city of Panaji.
The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Panaji is in many ways the focal point of the festivities, attracting the largest crowd. People gather to attend the mass and witness the Way of the Cross. A wooden cross is carried down the steps of the church and moved through the streets of the city and then back to the church by clergymen.
Crowds line up on the roadside to witness the procession, with a band playing music to create a solemn setting.
Date : 12th April (Changes every year)
Venue : Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Panaji
June Festivals in Goa
Sao Joao Festival, Siolim, Goa
The monsoon begins with the celebration of Sao Joao festival. This festival has a special significance in the catholic community and is dedicated to St John the Baptist.
San Joao, is unlike any other Goan tradition. People dressed in colourful outfits from several villages meet near a stream front in carnival-coloured boats and floats. The feast is marked by people of all ages by jumping into wells, ponds and rivers. The festival is then followed by different types of folk dances and exchange of fruits and other eatables between friends and relatives across the state and is majorly celebrated in the village of Siolim, Goa.
Date : 24th June 2020
Venue : Siolim
July Festivals in Goa
Chikal Kalo Festival, Marcel, Goa
The most ridiculously fun and amusing mud bath, the monsoon festival of Chikal Kalo which literally translates to ‘mud black’ is celebrated only in Goa. This festival celebrates the fun and games that Lord Krishna and his friends used to have whilst playing in the fields during the monsoon season. This festival is celebrated on the temple grounds in the village of Marcel in Ponda.
Month : July
Venue : Marcel, Ponda, Goa
Touxeachem Feast, Talaulim, Goa
Literally translating to Cucumber Feast, The Touxeachem unusual and typically Goan festival is celebrated on the feast of St. Anne on the 26th of July, at the Santana Church at Talaulim. This festival attracts childless couples who offer cucumbers at the feet of St. Anne, with prayers that she will bless them with children. Later, they take the cucumbers home and eat them.
As with most Goan festivals, the area surrounding the church is lined up with vendors selling traditional sweets, grams, candles, and most importantly, thousands of cucumbers. The festivities are often accompanied by a traditional band and of course High Mass which is said at the church.
Venue : Talaulim
Date : July 26th 2020
August Festivals in Goa
Vasco Saptah Fair, Vasco da gama, Goa
A festival truly unique to Goa, Saptah is the largest celebration that takes place in the town of Vasco in South Goa. ‘Saptah’ literally means seven, and the celebrations go on for a week. However, the fair and stalls sometimes carry on for up to fifteen days.
There is a huge fair that is set up along the Swatantra Path and the side roads with makeshift stalls constructed of bamboo and cloth. Vendors from all across the country come with their wares ranging from eatables to trinkets to clothes and accessories to household items.
Venue : Vasco Da Gama
Date : 16th August 2020 onwards
Ganesh Chathurthi in Goa
The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi holds a special significance in almost all the religious cities and villages of Goa, specially Mapusa, which is famous for its Temples at Ganeshpuri and Khorlim as well as the local association who also worship the Lord amidst great fervour.
Most commonly, this festival is celebrated in Marcela as it is known for its wide number of Hindu temples. After 5,7 and sometimes even 21 days people send off their idols in nearby ponds.
Date : 22nd August 2020
Venue : Throughout Goa (For Visarjan, head to the beaches & coastal areas)
October Festivals in Goa
Dussehra in Goa
The festival of Dussehra celebrates the victory of good over evil. It takes place on the tenth day after the nine days and nights of Navratri. It is a Hindu festival which is widely celebrated across India, however, it goes by different names in different states. Dussehra in Goa is commonly known as ‘Dasro’ in Konkani.
Dussehra is an important festival in the hindu calendar and is widely celebrated across India. In Goa, many of the people who live out of state return at this time of year to celebrate with their families.
Venue : Across Goa
Date : 25th October 2020
Flower Seller prepping up for Dussehra
Goa Vintage Car and Bike Festival
A one day Vintage Bike and Car Festival 2020, is being organized by Goa Tourism to promote the passion for restoring and maintaining vintage bikes and cars. More than 50 such Vintage vehicles (bikes and cars only) are expected to drive down town in the capital city. The festival offers a feast for the eyes at the INOX Courtyard.
Cars that one would get a glimpse of at the festival include the Austin, Morris, Cadillac, Ford, Chevrolet, Mercedes, Volkswagen and bikes like Norton, BSA and BMW.
November Festivals in Goa
Diwali & Narkasur Nights in Goa
The festival of lights is a time of fun and is mixed with religious traditions, beautiful in their simplicity. People visit each other and send sweets to friends and neighbours, family members exchange gifts of saris woven through with gold and celebrations last for four days.
Firework displays are common throughout Goa, and paper dummies of the demon king Narakasura are burnt. There are local competitions to judge the best Narkasur idol made by the people. The Narkasur Night happens the night before diwali when the paper mache sculptures are showcased for one last time and then burnt to ash to reenact the myths.
Date : 14 November 2020
Venue : Across Goa
International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2020
The IFFI began in 1952 and is one of the most significant film festivals in Asia. Held annually in our very own Goa, the festival aims at providing a common platform for the cinemas of the world to project the excellence of their own film art; contributing to the appreciation of film cultures of different nations and understanding of their social and cultural norms.
The festival is conducted jointly by the Directorate of Film Festivals and the Government of Goa. It’s a must visit for anyone travelling to Goa during the time.
Date: 20th to 28th November 2020
Venue: Across Goa
December Festivals in Goa
Feast of St. Francis Xavier 2020
The Feast of St. Francis Xavier in Goa begins each year from 3rd December and continues up to 2nd January. Certainly, this is the best time to plan your trip to Goa. It gives you the superb opportunity to be a part of a religious festival and fair and also to witness the extravagant activities.
Pilgrims come together at the Bom Jesus Basilica from far-away Kerala and Tamil Nadu, from neighboring Karnataka and Maharashtra, as well as from the most distant corners of the Peninsula, and even from distant countries.
Date : 3rd December 2020
Venue : Old Goa, Goa
Christmas in Goa
Possibly one of the best times to get your party on in Goa is during Christmas time.
The churches are splendidly decked out for the festive season, and it’s not just them either. People of all religions join in the festivities, and shops and other places of business are usually festooned with decorations, whilst the windows are often painted with Christmassy scenes, notwithstanding the fact that it never snows in Goa.
Traditional dishes at this time include sorpotel, vindalho and full-roasted chickens or turkeys, as well as spicy, savoury curries and pulao. Houses are decorated with Christmas trees festooned with tiny bells, angels, Santas, stockings, candy canes, snowflakes, icicles, stars, tinsel and lights.
Date : 25th December 2020
Venue : Across Goa
See? There’s so much more to Goa than just Christmas & New Year parties. There are festivals all over the year to keep the people buzzing all year round.
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Featured Image by Ashit Desai