With its diverse cultural mix, Goa’s festivals range from Christian and Hindu celebrations to hedonistic parties and arty events. The Christmas and New Year period attracts many thousands to techno and dance parties – of which the Sunburn Festival is the largest. Outside this period, however, less touristy, more authentic draws – Carnival or Narkasur Parades, for example – go to show that Goa is not all beaches and parties.
Goa Carnival (Pre-Lent). Four-day party held throughout the state with parades of colourful floats surrounded by masked revellers (especially in Panjim) as well as live music and street stalls.
Shigmotsav/Gulalotsav (March). Goa’s answer to Holi; the state’s biggest spring festival. Huge dance troupes perform folk dances in the streets through the night.
Narkasur Parades (Oct; eve of Diwali). A festival unique to Goa, when giant demon effigies (narkasurs) dance through the streets before being burned to mark the festival of lights. The main parades are in Panjim, Margao, Mapusa, Vasco and Ponda.
(IFFI) (Late Nov). A lively, glittering, contemporary event held in Panjim.
St Francis Xavier’s Feast (Dec 3). Ceremonies to commemorate the saint’s death attract thousands of pilgrims to Old Goa.
Mary Immaculate Conception Church Feast (Early Dec). One of the major festivals in Panjim, this three-day event sees street stalls set up around the church, and firework displays.
Christmas/New Year (Dec 25/Jan 1). Celebrated in Goa more than anywhere else in the country. The state heaves with foreign and domestic tourists set to party – and accommodation prices can double or triple.
Sunburn Festival (Dec 27–30). The biggest techno/house party of the year in Goa (if not Asia) at five arenas in Vagator.