Ruffle those feathers and dust off that sequin dance costume; it's time to get all Latin American at Goa Carnival.
Want to bring a bit of South American flavour to your Indian beach break? You'd better get Goa-ing to Goa Carnival this February. This much loved party-to-end-all parties is one of the highlights of the region's cultural calendar - feather headdresses at the ready.
The event was brought to the south of India by the Portuguese in 1510 (it is also celebrated around the globe in the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras). Held as a precursor to the fasting of Lent, Carnival is uniquely celebrated in Goa and visitors won't find it in other Indian states. In the many towns and cities that dot the coast, huge, brightly coloured parades take to the streets as spectators flock to watch.
Although the festival is predominantly Christian in origin, it has, over time, merged with traditional Hindu traditions and is now thoroughly enjoyed by local revellers. In Goa's capital, Panaji, the floats are led by King Momo, the legendary Latin American King of Festivals; he is followed by both Hindu dancers and South American musicians. For three days, the streets are full of party-goers, costumed merry-makers and marching bands.
There are big events on throughout all three days but make sure you don't miss the famous closing party - the red and black dance - at Club National in Panajim; there's also plenty of smaller parties (known as balls) across the weekend.
If you catch the King Momo float parade make sure you listen out for his 'eat, drink and be merry' decree (after all, who are we to argue with a king?). Hardly surprisingly, local bars and restaurants do a roaring trade during Goa Carnival and locals and visitors enjoy three days of hedonistic fun before Lent and a month of abstinence.
Many Indians from across the country flock to Goa to join in with the festivities as do thousands of foreign tourists. As the weather is hot in February, Goa Carnival has inevitably become a highlight on the state's tourist calendar (January and February are two of the busiest months for visitors). Because of this, you'll need to make sure you book hotels months before arriving, especially around the largest cities and towns.
A beach retreat by the Indian Ocean with a dash of Latina charm? Don't mind if we do. Goa-on; you know you want to.
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