It’s the season of festivities, holiday and cheer because ho, ho, ho, Christmas is finally (almost) here. While the tradition of Christmas has been celebrated in our country possibly since the arrival of Christianity, it is also the non-Christians who welcome the bright celebrations at the end of the year. Goa is naturally brimming with christmas trees, ornaments and plum cakes owing to the overwhelming Christian and Anglo-Indian population. It is not the only destination though. There are many more cities that bust out impressive looks for this festival. These are xx cities in India that you can travel to for a holly, jolly Christmas experience:
Mumbai’s Christmas involves a little more sweat and heat than most other places, but none of it deters the spirit of the people. A melting pot of culture, Mumbai is home to a significant Christian and Anglo-Indian population that reside in large numbers in South Bombay and the suburbs. Regardless, the entire city dons red and green decorations. Traditional cottages in tiny settlements in and around Bandra such as Ranwar, Pali, Rajan and Chuin are bustling during Christmas.
Bandra’s hill road, Malad’s Orlem, Borivali’s IC Colony are decorated with fervour and an impressive sight to see. Damian, a furniture store in Bandra is so enthusiastic about its adornment that it has over the years become a selfie spot which people visit on their way to the bandstand.
If you wish to be more traditional with the celebration, visit midnight mass at any church (most hold a service for the festival). Popularly, Saint John’s Church in Colaba, Saint Thomas’ Cathedral in Fort, Saint Michael’s Church in Mahim, Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, John the Evangelist in Andheri and Gloria church in Byculla are visited for the service and decorations.
Shopping for a Christmas tree? Crawford market is the place to be. You can find ornaments aplenty at Colaba Causeway market and many stalls in Santa Cruz and Bandra.
Expect parties to take over the city. Bandra, Lower Parel, Andheri, Navi Mumbai and especially Juhu are known to throw a memorable fete. Don’t forget to pick up delicacies at any bakery.
You can also go caroling. Look out for the many groups that allow you to join. Some even sing in regional languages! A little Indian tadka to the festival.
The 300-year-long French domination on the city of Puducherry has definitely left a significant mark on its culture. The beautiful French architecture is illuminated by innumerous twinkling lights at this time of the year. Definitely visit Mission street in the city which is doused in lights. The street is lined with stores from where you can hear faint music flowing out to a foreground of Christmas trees, wreaths, lights, topping stars and tinsels. Right there, you can also visit the Church Of Our Lady of Angels church for a midnight mass. If you wish to have some options, you can also go to Immaculate Conception Cathedral or South Boulevard. Midnight mass often also starts before the midnight mass. Hundreds of people sing along as well.
Visit the annual Christmas market, also known as the Marche de Noel. It is the one-stop destination for people to buy Christmas knick-knacks such as decor, jewellery, clothes and cookies.
If you still yearn for the Goan charm, there are often concerts on the beach for you to attend. Sing along to the carols and light up candles. The sight is spectacular by the sea-side.
For something more quaint and organic, visit Auroville, the self-sustaining city. There are bonfires and Christmas concerts here as well in which one can participate.
A rich concentration of the Christian community resides in the capital of Meghalaya, also known as ‘the music capital of India’. Christmas celebrations are no casual affair here. The whole city is decked up to the background of picturesque natural views and a melodious tune. Streets, homes, churches are all decorated enthusiastically. There are no malls dripping in Christmas sales, however Shillong gives people an authentic taste of the festival. Celebrations soar at Police Bazar, which is undeniably the most happening place at this time of the year. It is the main market lined with garment and street food stalls overflowing with Christmas delicacies.
Less commercialised, Christmas time here is more about feasting with your family. That said, the city has personality in abundance that brings together people with its music. Don’t be surprised if you hear carols and hymns at every corner. Many bands and artists also take to stages to perform gospel music. In fact, even the public joins in on the streets. There are many live gigs to attend in the city.
Local bakeries offer delicious items, although many locals tend to cook meals themselves. Traditional foods, carols and fruitcake reign supreme in this city. Midnight services can be attended at the Mary Help of Christians Cathedral and the Cathedral Catholic Church.
It would be a shame if the Yuletide festivities at the capital were not memorable. Thankfully, Delhi does not disappoint when it comes to Christmas celebrations. Just like everything less, Delhi is not subtle in the slightest with its festive adornment. Christmas carnivals are sprinkled throughout the city. One to consider is the German Christmas market. True to its name, the market serves German cakes, sausages and beer. You can also shop here for some souvenirs. Another spectacle to marvel is the country’s tallest Christmas tree at Select Citywalk Mall in Saket. The mall holds its own carnival and does not hold back when it comes to the decorations. Here, you could spend hours soaking in the Christmas spirit, shopping for decorations, gifts or even playing some of the games and enjoying ongoing performances.
If you wish to start your Christmas with a midnight mass, you should visit the Cathedral Church of Redemption, Sacred Heart Cathedral or Vatican Embassy Chapel. You can also light candles here and obviously cherish the services.
It is common practice among the residents of the city to buy ingredients for Christmas delicacies, mix the batter at home and then get it baked at a local bakery. If you plan something similar, Khari Baoli is the ideal market to find all the ingredients. For some additional Christmas shopping, visit South Extension market, M Block market in Greater Kailash, Khan Market or the lesser traversed Sadar Bazar. Christmas trees of all forms are found here. Needless to add, the capital knows how to party. Christmas parties can be found in overwhelming numbers. Just bring along some cheer!
The capital of West Bengal, Kolkata oozes old world charm. Yuletide celebrations are hardly difficult to find when the city in draped in festive attire. The Kolkata Christmas Festival is held on Park Street annually in December. One of the largest Christmas carnivals in the country, the festival lights up the street all the way from St Xavier’s college to Jawaharlal Nehru road. Carols and gospel music take over as bands and artists perform at a stage generally set up at Allen Park. If you prefer a slightly quirky experience, head on over to the Bow Barracks Fest where you may even see a Santa Claus riding a rickshaw. The Christmas tree is lit up along with the entire street. You can interact with the residents of the street and if luck permits it, you may be called home for a Christmas snack (and hopefully some delicious home made wine). Some families also set up stalls outside their homes, selling goodies.
People flow in waves to St Paul’s Cathedral for the midnight mass, regardless of their religious beliefs. The crowd can get so intense that it carries on the lawns outside. The cathedral flaunts Indo-Gothic architecture and is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
If this hasn’t swayed your decision, maybe a party on a boat might. You can charter one of the many boats offering Christmas cheer to the backdrop of the Hooghly bridge. The bridge looks magical illuminated against the dark night skies.
The obvious advantage of a big city is the sheer number of attractions that are housed within. Churches are aplenty and you can opt for a church walk in the city to view many. Curated walks can easily be found online and will most probably take you to the popular churches (St John’s Church, St Andrew’s Kirk, Portuguese Church, Mission Church and St James Church are some of them).