Guide To Goa Festivals

Goa festivals are held throughout the year and are often celebrated with a joyous exuberance. There are countless Hindu and Christian festivals of Goa, and if your visit coincides with one, it is well worth seeking it out. Lights, singing, dancing, colour and music are important aspects of most celebrations.

This page covers some well known Goa festivals. The dates often vary from year to year, so it is worth checking with locals or tourist information centres in advance.

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Shantadurga - Jan, Fatorpa to Cuncolim
Twelve colourful umbrellas carried by youths covered in red powder lead the procession from Fatorpa to Cuncolim in south Goa's Quepem taluk (district). The celebration is also referred to as Procession of the Umbrellas, and is in honour of Saibini, a Goan form of the Hindu goddess, Durga.

Goa Carnival - Feb/Mar, Panjim, Mapusa and Margao

One of the most popular Goa festivals, the Carnival includes parades, dancers, floats, feni drinking and parties to mark the coming of Lent. Introduced by the Portuguese in the 18th Century, the yearly event is greeted with great enthusiasm in the three towns that the parade passes through.

Goa Festivals - Carnival

Shigmo - Feb/Mar, statewide

Goan version of the Hindu Holi festival, where coloured dyes and water are thrown at anyone that comes in sight. Floats, wild parties, music and dance are also themes of the celebration which takes place over the full moon period. Expect to end up multi-coloured if you decide to take part.

Shivratri - Feb/Mar, statewide

Held at Hindu temples this event marks the Hindu god Shiva's wedding day and tandav dance. Shiva devotees with three horizontal lines painted across their foreheads make offerings / puja. Bhang is commonly taken during the night-long worship. Gokarna in Karnataka is an auspicious place to observe Shivaratri and the small town fills with devotees from all over India.

Easter - Mar/Apr, statewide

Celebrated at churches across Goa, there are feasts and fasting on this day and days leading up to the Sunday.

Procession of the Saints - Mar/Apr, Goa Velha

Huge effigies of 26 religious figures such as popes, saints, martyrs, kings and queens are paraded on floats through the small town of Goa Velha which is between Panjim and Dabolim Airport. The pocession is accompanied by a lively funfair and is completed with a candlelit Mass.

Igitun Chalne - May, Sirigao

In the Bicholim taluk (district) of Goa devotees of the goddess Lairaya walk across burning coals cheered on by thousands of observers. One of the more unusual Goa festivals, the tradition is centuries old.

Sanjua - June 24th, statewide

Especially observed in Cortalim, Arambol and Terekol this is a festival of St. John the Baptist, in which straw figures are burned and locals dive into wells to retrieve bottles of feni.

Sangodd - June 29th, statewide

Celebration of the patron saint of fishermen, St. John. Dance, music and feasting take place on the river banks and on floating stages. The festivities are best seen in the Bardez taluk in the villages of Candolim, Saipem and Orda.

Ganesh Chaturthi - Sept, statewide

The elephant headed Hindu god of prosperity, learning and peace is celebrated all over India on this day when giant effigies of the deity are paraded through the streets and submerged in the sea.

Diwali - Oct/Nov, statewide

The Hindu 'Festival of Lights' is observed in Goa by gift giving, fireworks, puja, lighting oil lamps and fairy lights. Marks the homecoming of Rama and Sita, an episode in the Ramayana.

Goa Festivals - Lights

Feast Of St. Francis Xavier - Dec 3rd, Old Goa

An open air mass takes place outside of St. Francis Xavier's tomb and the religious event is attended by tens of thousands over the 5 days in early December.

International Film Festival of India - late Nov - early Dec, Panjim

Glimpse Bollywood stars as they descend on Goa's capital of Panjim to celebrate international and Indian film at venues around town for a fortnight. Floodlights and ornamental street lamps imported from Belgium light up the event. If you want to see a film here, consider staying outside of town as accommodation prices rocket.

Christmas - Dec 25th, statewide

The most important of Goa festivals, enjoyed by Christians and Hindus alike, as well as all the foreign tourists that flock here at this time of year. Fireworks, gifts, fairy lights, nativity scenes, midnight Mass, bonfires and feasting all take place over the Christmas period, and you might catch a now rare Goan trance party in the jungle.

New Year - Dec 31st/Jan 1st, statewide

Goans and foreign tourists celebrate the coming of the new year in universally alcohol-fueled style with fireworks, parties, music and dance. Head to the beach for bonfire parties and moonlit seas.

Thinking of travelling further south to the idyllic beaches and calm, green backwaters of Kerala? Have a look at our page on Kerala festivals to find out what events are taking place in the area.

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