The Best Jaipur Festivals to Experience Indian Culture

May 16, 2017

From iconic Holi and Literature Festival, to the International Kite Festival and religious Diwali, Jaipur is full of interesting and colourful events, as Tanya Shiels discovers.

The Pink City boasts a wealth of stunning architecture from the Amber Fort and Hawa Mahal ('Palace of the Winds') to the City Palace which is the residence of the city’s former royal family. The charm of the city is found in its bustling bazaars - full of pungent aromas and colourful textiles – and the meandering camels which set the pace for many frustrated motorcycle riders and rickshaw drivers.

The true joy of Jaipur is in immersing yourself in the experience; connecting with the locals and absorbing every moment. Tanya Shiels explores six perfect ways to take part in some of the most staggeringly beautiful festivals the city has to offer.

1. Observe Diwali: The Festival of Lights

Small candles alight against a backdrop of red and orange lights

Diwali is celebrated in grand style throughout India and, while this festival is religious in nature, it is a time when communities come together across several belief groups. Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Newar Buddhists all partake in the glorious festivities and gift giving traditions which characterise this beautiful celebration.

Jaipur is a hub of activity during this time with buildings festooned with lanterns to honour the victory of light over darkness. Candles and lamps illuminate every street and alley and fireworks create mesmerising scenes of light and colour. Be sure to congregate around the bonfire alongside family and friends for some exuberant singing and dancing.

Following five days of preparations Diwali will fall on the 19th October in 2017 which is a perfect time to enjoy the cooler, autumnal weather in the North of the country.

2. Relive your Childhood at the International Kite Festival

Kite flying at Jaipur Kite Festival.

Jaipur’s Kite Festival draws professionals and amateurs from across the globe for a series of kite flying competitions. If you don’t have that competitive streak, don’t worry, there are plenty of less combative options for you and your kite. Take advantage of the public holiday (Makar Sankranti) by strolling through the streets and markets of the city or spend your time feasting alongside the locals.

This festival is something you won’t soon forget as you stand in awe of the skill of the flyers as their kites swoop and dive across the clear blue skies of the city.

3. Jaipur Literature Festival: The Greatest Literary Show on Earth

Reading glasses resting on a book

The Jaipur Literature Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2017, marking a decade of intelligent and engaging discussions, workshops and lectures.

This free festival aims to encourage lively debate, equal access to literature and active exchange of ideas with the music stage providing some light entertainment. Far from being an academic pursuit, this festival tries to involve members of the international community in relevant social and political matters making this a mecca for those involved in any sphere of writing or publishing.

All of this is set against the beautiful backdrop of the Diggi Palace, a monument replete in history and culture.

For up to date information about the Jaipur Literary Festival visit their official website

4. Happy Holi!

People celebrating Holi by throwing colour

Perhaps the most iconic of all India’s festivals, Holi is celebrated with particular fervour in Jaipur. The already vibrant city is awash with every colour imaginable as people celebrate love, goodness and forgiveness.

Rainbows of colour arc across the sky accompanied with cries of “Happy Holi” as locals and tourists participate in this no holds barred festivity. People, young and old, smear each other with powder while others play with water guns and water balloons. Wandering minstrels wind their way through the crowds leaving smiles and dancing in their wake. There can be no denying that Holi is a party not to be missed.

This extravaganza of colour will be held on the 1st March 2018, plenty of time to plan where to stay during this auspicious time. 

5. Jaipur Elephant Festival

Painted elephant at a festival in Jaipur

This annual celebration of one of the country’s most beloved animals is a true sight to behold. A procession marks the start of the festival with each animal draped with colourful garlands, painted in bright colours and bedecked with golden ornaments. Following this astounding display in the parade are camels, chariots, palanquins and horses.

The main event of the Jaipur Elephant Festival is the elephant polo match; an unrivalled display of power and skills from rider and elephant alike. Visitors are encouraged to participate in the festival and are afforded the opportunity to ride the elephants and join in with the celebratory dancing.

As the Elephant Festival takes place the day after Holi (2nd March 2018) be prepared for an action-packed two days full of colour and fun.

6. Celebrate the Divine at the Gangaur Festival

women in parade on first day of Gangaur Festival, Jaipur

The women of Jaipur celebrate Gangaur with dedication and devotion. Married and unmarried women fast for the 18-day festival which culminates in a stunning procession through the city streets. Women dress in their finest saris, ornamenting themselves with mehndi and their most elaborate jewellery. Gangaur involves the entire community as they come to witness the dazzling pageant of women, providing gifts of sweets and money and encouraging them through song and dance.

Jaipur is heralded as the best place to experience Gangaur; the parade winds its way through the city from Zanani-Deodhi of the City Palace past sights such as Chhoti Chaupar and Chaugan stadium as well as Tripolia and Gangauri Bazaars finally converging near the Talkatora.

Continuing to make March the month of festivals in Jaipur, make sure to take part in this spectacular, culturally significant festival to make your stay in Jaipur truly memorable.

Have you been to any of these festivals in Jaipur? Tag us in your best festival pics on InstagramFacebook or Twitter and we might just re-post it.

Tanya Shiels South African born, Tanya went on her first overseas trip when she was 16 months old and hasn’t stopped since then. She has combined her love for dance with her passion for travel and has worked on several contracts in India. She is constantly planning her next destination.