8 Most Unique Ways to Celebrate Holi in India

Holi is often celebrated publicly, but the safest way to enjoy this experience would be to locate a more private affair or visit a local Krishna Temple. If you’re traveling to India during Holi, here are some celebrations you might consider.


The Royal Holi – In Udaipur, the Holika Dahan ritual is hosted by the Royal Family (Mewar). Be prepared to witness a grand celebration including a Royal Procession and celebrations at the Udaipur City Palace. Reservations to attend this fantastic event can be made in advance.


Jaipur Elephant Festival – Known to be a major attraction during Holi, the Jaipur Elephant Festival included a parade of elaborately dressed up elephants as well as an elephant beauty pageant and other contests. For the past couple of years though, due to concerns regarding the treatment of these animals, elephants have been excluded from the festivities. The celebrations are still held at the Polo Grounds and are yet a sight to behold. Perhaps they will include elephants this year? Keep in touch with us for updates.


Goa A leisure trip to India is incomplete without a visit to Goa. With Portuguese culture deeply embedded into the region, this little destination on the Konkan Coast celebrates everything with vigor and enthusiasm. Thus, Holi a.k.a Shigmotsav is a full fledged Carnival. The festivities go on for two weeks at the end of which there is a massive parade (colorful floats included) with food, music and local tribal dance performances.


Mumbai Community Holi in Dharavi – One of Asia’s largest slums, Dharavi is home to almost a million inhabitants as well as hundreds of little industries. From plastic recycling to pottery to textiles to leather, the annual turnover of Dharavi is said to be in millions (of dollars). In recent years, Dharavi has become accessible to visitors in the form of guided tours conducted by local groups. Entirely safe and enlightening, these tours are a memorable experience. During Holi, one can also join the local community in a private celebration with children that are members of local non-profit and welfare groups.


Delhi While being the political capital of the country, it is also the socio-cultural capital. A spectrum of Community Holi Parties can be found in this city that loves to celebrate. From quasi-raves to EDM gatherings to art parties to Holi played with flowers, Delhi has it all. Some notable parties include:
  • THE HOLI-COW FESTIVAL – The fest boasts a list of over 30 world class performers.
  • THE HOLI-SHIT MUSIC FEST – Again, a gathering for music lovers along with the traditional color wars, intoxicants and food.
  • THE RANG FESTIVAL – A 2 day event that is family-friendly


Uttar Pradesh- Mathura and Vrindavan A localized version of this festival called Lathmar Holi can be found in Barsana, a little town near Mathura. As part of the statewide 16 day celebrations, Lathmar Holi takes place a week prior to the main day of Holi. Here, women get to beat, with a stick, any man who wishes to splash color on her. In Mathura, the action is usually found near the Holi Gate. These 16 day celebrations are also accompanied by song, dance and a general air of merry-making throughout the region. The renowned Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan is another spot worth visiting during Holi however, this area can be quite crowded during the festival.


West Bengal If you’re looking for something a little less rambunctious, head over to Shantiniketan in West Bengal. Established in the early 1900’s by Rabindranath Tagore, this little college town still boasts an air of intellectualism and cultural history. Every year, during Basant Utsav (Holi), members of the Vishva Bharati Institute host a cultural program for visitors.


ISKON & HAVELIS If you are looking for a more spiritual experience but do not wish to make the trip to Mathura, any local chapter of ISKON (Hare Ram Hare Krishna) or a neighborhood Haveli (Krishna Temple) would have special prayer sessions and Holi Celebrations. If you would like to incorporate any of these experiences to your itinerary, let us know and we will gladly make the arrangements.


PRO – TIPS from Locals-

1. Safety first! We request that you consult with us before choosing your Holi destination in India and plans. Avoid random gatherings as people tend to be intoxicated during these celebrations and certain areas can get dangerous for tourists, particularly women.

2. WEAR OLD CLOTHES! – The colors may never wash out of your clothing and there is a lot of water play, so it’s best to leave your leather loafers in your hotel room.

3. Oil Your Skin – This is something only an experienced Holi participant will tell you. Oiling your hair and skin (preferably with Olive or Coconut Oil) will make for easy cleaning up later.

4. Sunglasses or protective eyewear is recommended since colors are in powder form and can get into your eyes.

5. What to carry and How? – We recommend that you carry only bare essentials when you go out to play Holi. Camera, Cell Phone, a little cash. And carry it all in a sealed, waterproof plastic bag. Most times, a sealed Ziploc bag or two can be sufficient. Remember: water and color damage is known to be irreversible.

6. Go easy on the Bhaang. While it tastes delicious (like a spicy milkshake), it is slow to hit. So try not to down several cups with the illusion of being sober. It will give you a high a half hour later and it will hit hard.

7. Be open to a free for all color play. Try not to take offense at random strangers smearing color on your face because: Bura na maano, HOLI HAI!


Do you like timing your travel so you can participate in local festivities? Would you like to know more about the different festivals of India? Check out this nifty calendar…

4 thoughts on “8 Most Unique Ways to Celebrate Holi in India

  1. Great tips! It reminds me of Thailand’s Songkran – basically a giant nation-wide water fight to celebrate their new year! Many of the same precautions apply, with intoxicated strangers throwing water balloons… o_O

    1. Yes, that just sounds like Holi but with colors. India has so much to offer & so many other fun festivals that you can experience all around the year.

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