Sponsored by the Rajasthan State Tourism Corporation, the Desert festival is a three-day cultural event celebrated amidst the expansive sand dunes of the Thar desert. The festival showcases the Rajasthani folk culture through music, dance, food, camel races, acrobats and other exciting activities. Interesting competitions including Mr. Desert, turban tying, tug of war and biggest moustache are also held, along with stalls selling handicrafts and souvenirs.
One of the most colourful festivals in Rajasthan is the International Kite Festival that marks the end of winter and welcomes the summer season in the state. Celebrated with utmost fervour and zest, the festival witnesses kites of different sizes, shapes and colours decorating the desert sky. As the night falls, the kite flying is taken to a new level by attaching illuminated paper lanterns to the strings of the kite – a beautiful sight!
When: January 14 (on the day of Makar Sankranti)
Where: Jodhpur & Jaipur
Taking the title of the country’s best desert festival, the Pushkar Fair is a sight to behold! It is a cultural carnival and livestock fair held on the bank of the picturesque Pushkar lake. Thousands of farmers from across the state descend on Pushkar to trade their decorated livestock, including camels, cattle and horses. The trading goes on for five days and ends in a four-day fair, which features a range of cultural performances and interesting competitions including folk dance, music, puppet shows, moustache competition, hot-air balloon ride, beauty contest, carousel rides, camel race and handicraft bazaar, along with a whole stack of incredible local fare.
When: Late October to early November
Braj Holi is yet another colourful festival celebrated a few days before the actual Holi. Dedicated to Lord Krishna, it is a two-day festival that features splashing of colours, folk music and Rasleela dance that portrays the eternal love story of Radha and Krishna. Also, devotees take a dip in the holy waters of the Banganga river before offering prayer to the Radha-Krishna temple. If you happen to be in the region during Holi, it’s a must-see!
One of the important festivals of the state, Teej is celebrated with grandeur by Rajasthani women for marital bliss. On this day, womenfolk dress up in the finest clothes and jewellery, apply henna on hands, sing, dance and even keep fast for the well-being and long life of their husband. In addition, a grand procession of Goddess Parvati is carried on in a beautifully decorated chariot across the city, accompanied with decorated elephants, camels, horses, antique palanquins and brass bands. Also, this festival marks the beginning of monsoon in the state.
A magnet for literary enthusiasts, the Jaipur Literature Festival is the grandest annual literary festival in the world that sees the coming together of acclaimed and budding authors, novelists, publishers, Nobel Laureates and Man Book Prize-winners to showcase and inspire young minds with their work. Highlights include book releases, poetry sessions, debates, book discussions, chat shows and seminars.
Where: Diggi Palace, Jaipur
A feast for the eyes and ears, the Rajasthan International Folk Festival takes the crown as one of the India’s top folk festivals. Established in 2007, the festival is a cultural celebration of the traditional folk art and music. With more than 250 folk artists and musicians from across the world, along with acclaimed Sufi, Carnatic and Hindustani musicians gracing the Mehrangarh Fort, music and culture lovers are in for a treat.
When: October (On Sharad Poornima – full moon of the year)
Where: Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
Kota Adventure Festival is an annual week-long festival for the adventure enthusiasts. This festival attracts thousands of adventurers from across the world to indulge in thrilling sports, such as river rafting, parasailing, rock climbing, windsurfing, angling, trekking, water skiing, kayaking, gliding, fishing and rural excursions on the embankment of Chambal river.
When: October (during Dusshera)
The Summer festival is a two-day cultural extravaganza held every year during Buddha Poornima. It commemorates the rich culture, traditions and life of people in Mount Abu, the only hill station in Rajasthan. From live band shows, folk music and dance, to competitions including tug of war, boat race, horse race, skating race and more, this festival is definitely worth discovering.
When: May or June
Where: Mount Abu
Organised by the Mount Abu’s Municipal Board and the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation, the Winter Festival draws upon folk artists and artisans from across the state to showcase the local culture, art, handicrafts and food. In addition, there are firework displays, musical performances, poetry sessions, kite flying, hot air ballooning and rowing competitions. For a duration of three days, it’s just endless fun!
Where: Mount Abu
Asia’s first and foremost desert camping music festival, the Ragasthan is set in the rolling dunes of Thar desert. This three-day event pushes the frontiers of excitement and fun with its eclectic music performances that range from rock and pop to fusion, world and folk music, electronic and alternative rock; and added bonuses, including art installations, film screenings, tented bars and restaurants, yoga sessions, adventure sports and interesting competitions such as turban tying, RC plane flying and kite flying.
One to watch out for, the Magnetic Fields Festival is a three-day music festival held in magnificent 17th-century Alsisar Mahal. Tens of thousands of music lovers attend this festival that hosts international underground music artists and DJs, accompanied with local electronic artists. Also, there are yoga and wellness sessions, food stalls, artisan workshops and costume balls.