It’s nearing February end, which means it’s carnival time in Goa. For those who have been living under a rock, the annual Goa Carnival is the state at its colourful best. It takes place before Fat Tuesday, the last day of feasting before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. This year, the carnival is from February 22 to 25. So if you are not already in Goa, book your tickets now!
The carnival was introduced by the Portuguese and has been celebrated since the 18th century. One of its most striking features is the grand parade. It takes place in several cities in Goa, with colourful floats and parades, accompanied by music, dancing and cultural shows. Think of it as one giant open-air street party. Here's what you should do if you are in Goa during this time:
Join the parade
The carnival begins with a huge parade with music bands, dancers, people in costumes, fire-eaters, acrobats and clowns. It is led by King Momo, also known as the King of Chaos. He is central to the parade, a character derived from the Greek god of satire, Momus. The best places to see the parades are the main streets of Panaji (the biggest celebrations are held here), Mapusa, Margao, and Vasco.
Dance away the night
Love dancing? Then bring out your best red and black dress, put on a mask and jitterbug the night away at the Red and Black Ball held by Clube Nacional in Panjim.
Watch a local play
Check out a one-act folk play (khell or fell). These are held during the carnival in Chandor. People go around the village singing Intruzachim Geetam or Fella-Gitam accompanied by musical instruments.
And lots more
Apart from floats, parades and dances, you can also take part in various sports competitions, enjoy authentic Goan cuisine and have a glass of the local drink, feni.
A word of advice. It gets quite crowded, and there may be pickpockets around. So keep your valuables safe. Now go on, get your carnival mask, pick up a great costume, and book your passage. Viva la Goa!
How to Reach: There are direct flights to Goa International Airport or Dabolim Airport from all major cities in India. The nearest train station is located at Margao, approximately 39 kilometers away from Panjim.