Even as the weather gets cooler, the excitement and vibe around Goa gets hotter. December and January push the tourist season into overdrive. Over the next few months, there’s so much to see and do. Perhaps the only complaint can be that there’s too little time to take it all in. But fret not! This little piece lays out a useful roadmap on how you can make the most of your Goan sojourn around the high point of its tourist season.
A Saintly Journey – Goa in December is special The Christmassy feel is in the air right through the month. But, a few weeks before Christmas -December 3rd, precisely – the state celebrates the feast of St. Francis Xavier. While his missionary zeal took him further afield to Japan and Borneo, he is so strongly associated with Goa that his mortal remains and relics lie ceremoniously in a silver casket in the Church of Bom Jesus in Old Goa. Devotees and tourists from all over India and the world throng to venerate the casket that holds the Saint’s miraculously incorruptible body.
Countdown to Fun – The week bridging Christmas, on 25th December, and New Year is one endless party. The entire state is illuminated by the festivities… Parties happen everywhere, with endless music, dancing, feasting and bonhomie. New Year’s Eve parties are the headiest, as revellers groove under the night sky, finally greeted by an astounding sunrise – perfectly symbolising a new beginning!
Festivities Without End – The Christmas season is officially brought to closure by the Feast of Three Kings on January 6th. However, celebrated as it is over a period of ten days, the festivities go on, albeit taking a different twist. This unique event unfolds at Cansaulim, Chandor and Verim where a jovial crowd from all over the state congregates, and eventually meets at the chapel of Our Lady of Remedies. The symbolism of the Three Kings is followed by a jaunty fete and much revelry.
Let There be Kites! – Two years ago, the International Kite Festival came to Goa. It’s been such a popular attraction that it has now been added to the tourism calendar Hosted at Colva and Miramar beaches in the second week of January, it has attracted participation from North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. The spectacular sight of kites of different shapes, sizes, dimensions and colours dotting the sky is something not to be missed.
Fiesta of Flavours – As the calendar rolls through January, the festivities show no sign of letting up The Wine and Lifestyle Festival in late Jan is an opportunity to indulge in hedonistic delights This festival brings out the best in Goa’s F&B professionals, as hotels and restaurants outdo each other in laying out exotic spreads that leave foodies in a veritable trance But the festival goes beyond epicurean indulgences, spilling over into music, dance, drama and activities such as grape stomping. The highlight is a fashion show and the crowning of The Grape Escapade Queen.
Revelry on Parade – It’s all set up then for arguably Goa’s biggest and most loved festival. The Carnaval rules Goa for four days preceding the austere observance of Lent. Elaborate parades snake through the streets, complete with resplendent floats, bands, dancing and cacophonous music. Borrowing from European and Latin American celebrations, troupes of masked revellers dressed in exotic, even garish costumes, sing and dance in gayabandon. The Carnaval mesmerises visitors with Goa’s vibrant culture, music, dance and food.
There is an almost statewide ambiance of merriment that’s truly infectious. No wonder this street festival attracts tourists from all over. More so, because it is uniquely Goan it isn’t celebrated anywhere else in India, and differs from its Western counterparts thanks to a distinctly local flavour. The high point of the frenzied merriment is the appointment and arrival of the allegoric King Momo, figuratively throwing the festival open. In 2017, the Goa Carnival is scheduled to unfold from 25th to 28th February.
A Splash of Festive Colour – Come March, and it’s time for a different kind of parade. Shigmo begins on 13th March, the first day of Holi. Celebrated over ten days, it honours the homecoming of warriors Colourful parades with modern floats depicting Hindu mythology and graced by traditional dances wend their way through various cities. Rommatamel and Fugdi dances enthral onlookers. The best dancers and floats are also felicitated.
Activity Unlimited – Even as the seasonal festivities play themselves out, Goas year-round activities continue to keep tourists occupied and enthralled. There’s never a dull moment in Goa – what with Motorised Paragliding, Scuba Diving, Hot Air Ballooning, Jet Skiing, Parasailing, Duck Boats, Guided P7V Tours (Segway), Cycling Tours and lots more. For those seeking quiet, blissful tranquillity, the opportunity to take in picturesque beach sunsets presents itself every day. Amongst the newly introduced adventure options, Motorised Paragliding which is popular at beach hotspots around the world, is now available at Mandrem Beach in Goa.
It’s popularity is because of the combination of the adventure ride factor and that of sight-seeing proffering as it does some amazing panoramas of the vast ocean and inland sceneries alike. Hot Air Ballooning is an excellent choice for those desiring an aerial view of inland Goa. While most of the adventure action happens on the seaboard, this one takes tourists on an exotic trip over the state’s hinterland, showcasing it’s rich geography and breathtaking greenery.
Love is in the Air – A wedding is for a day, but marriage is fora lifetime, goes the clicha. But if you celebrate your wedding in Goa, it’s a memory to last a lifetime! Choose from a bouquet of setting options that give your special day an exotic touch… Beaches, historic and heritage sites, cruises, waterfronts as well as lavish hotel ambiences. With professional wedding planners freeing you of the entire logistical anxiety, you’ll virtually have to just turn up on your big day. It’s always a good time to holiday in magical Goa. But with the peak tourist season dotted with festivals as well as non-seasonal activities, Goa becomes a not-to-be-missed vacation destination this time of the year. Whatever else life may be throwing at you, there’s always Goa!