India’s best beaches, most historic churches, and most delicious food await you in the country’s unofficial party state this December. Home to over 400 churches, including the 400-year-old Basilica of Bom Jesus and Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church, Goa gives you fantastic options for a midnight mass on Christmas Eve. If you would rather party it up, Goa’s vibrant beaches always put up stunning displays of fireworks, which is followed by beachside parties of varying sizes.
A former French colony, Pondicherry is steeped in unique history, making it a must-visit location in India regardless of the season. However, Christmas is the time to travel to the city to experience its festive best. With beach gatherings, street fairs, parties and church events, Pondicherry is bustling with life all throughout December.
As our guide to spending Christmas in India’s City of Dreams will tell you, you will not have a single dull moment if you choose to visit Mumbai during this joyful season. The city is home to some of the country’s most historic churches, including Mount Mary’s Basilica in Bandra and Gloria Church in Byculla, both of which are great options for anyone looking to attend midnight mass. Mumbai also offers many Christmas parties, as well as street shopping fairs—particularly on Hill Road in Bandra and Colaba Causeway.
Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, Bandra West, Mumbai, India, +91 22 2642 3152
Daman and Diu
The union territory of Daman and Diu, under Portuguese rule until 1961, is home to richly historic churches. St. Paul’s Church, a Portuguese Baroque structure dating to 1610, in the town of Diu holds a very popular midnight mass which will be a uniquely memorable way to spend Christmas Eve. Both Daman and Diu, though separated by over 600 kilometers (373 miles), preserve a unique cultural legacy of Portuguese rule in India—which includes an explosion of light, color, laughter, song, and dance during Christmas.
Christmas in Kerala is always a great idea. Home to one of the largest Christian populations in India, Kerala makes sure that Christmas is a grand affair. Cochin is among your best options for a vibrant Christmas filled with historic churches, street fairs, carols, delicacies, and fun. You can also partake in The Cochin Carnival, held during this time in Fort Kochi.
Among the country’s favorite hill towns, Shimla becomes a hot spot of tourist activity around Christmas. With plenty of Christmas Eve parties, bakeries, vibrant street markets, and churches, the city is among India’s most festive places during this season. While there is no guarantee of a white Christmas (you can venture farther north to Manali for snow), Shimla is chilly, making it an ideal place to cozy up inside on Christmas Eve night.
The City of Joy is one of India’s finest places to celebrate Christmas. While festive lighting illuminates the city, its legendary bakeries get busy creating delicious treats, and its historic cathedrals become centers for festive gatherings and celebrations. St. Paul’s Cathedral on Chowringhee Road is among the most important churches in India, and it hosts one of the most popular midnight masses and Christmas celebrations in the city.
St. Paul’s Cathedral, Kolkata, West Bengal 700071, India, +91 33 2223 2802