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We all know the famous Rio de Janeiro Carnival. It is the world’s biggest carnival and is nicknamed ‘ the biggest show on earth’. And why shouldn’t it be? The carnival sees a massive 2 million people on the streets every single day. Crazy. But how many of us knew about the Goan carnival? It is definitely not anywhere as big as the one in Rio but it is THE ONLY carnival that happens in all of Asia. And even though there definitely aren’t 2 million people on the roads, there still are thousands of travellers, artists, performers and vendors on the streets of Goa during the Goa Carnival 2020; making it one of the most vibrant celebrations in all of India.
If you are in Goa or are planning a Goa trip during this time, here are all the details you need to enjoy the festival to the fullest.
Dates: 22nd – 25th Feb, 2020
Location: All around Goa (especially the main cities)
Entry Fee: Free for all
Attractions: Music, food, games, floats, performances
Temperature in Goa: 21-30 °C
History of the Carnival
Carnivals are traditional Roman Catholic festivals and the Goa carnival is one of the very few of these festivals in India. It is celebrated before Lent starts and ends on the day that it does. The first day is always a Fat Saturday and ends on a Fat Tuesday every year; before Ash Wednesday (first Lent day) begins. The carnival was introduced in Goa during the rule of the Portuguese almost 500 years ago.
They wanted to celebrate their own culture and hence started this tradition. But in the sunset days of Portuguese colonialism, the carnival fell into obscurity. It was later revived by a Goan musician in 1965. He modelled this new-ish festival after the Rio Carnival and that is how it got the flavour and pomp it has today.
Where Does It Happen
But, here are some places you can definitely find Goa Carnival 2020 celebrations going on-
- Panaji – Our Lady Of The Immaculate, Fontainhas, Goa State Museum, Reis Magos Fort, Miramar Beach, Goa Science Centre And Planetarium, Maruti Temple, Vainguinim Beach
- Margao – Holy Spirit Church, Colva Beach Road, Our Lady Of Grace Church, Goa Chitra Museum, Municipal Garden, Shree Damodar Temple, Sat Burzam Ghor
- Vasco da Gama – Japanese Garden, Monkey Beach, Mormugao Fort, Pilot Point, Baina Beach, St. Ansrew’s Church, Heart Shaped Lake, Hansa Beach, Sao Jacinto Island
- Mapusa – St. Jerome Church, Shri Dev Bodgeshwar Sansthan, Datta Temple, Milagres Church, Shree Ganesh Temple
What Are The Attractions?
Here are 6 things you will see at the Goa Carnival 2020
- King Momo: According to tradition, the great King Momo always opens a carnival. Here, it is the same. King Momo and his queen lead a gigantic procession on Fat Saturday that officially initiates the celebrations. Behind him follow a steady stream of dancers, musicians, horse-drawn carriages, balloon floats, colourful bullock carts, costumed performers and even dancing and singing children.
- Black and Red Dance: This is one of the finest attractions of the Goa Carnival 2020. Performers dress up in red shirts and black lowers to perform a huge dance number after the introduction of King Momo. Even the common public can take part in this dance, but you have to be dressed in red and black.
- Artists: One of the very best things about the festival are the scores of performers on the street. You will see musicians and dancers in costumes like pirates, maidens, fortune tellers, clowns etc. There are also fire-eaters, acrobats, rope-walkers, dancers, brass bands, jesters and hula-hoopers.
- Floats: The Goa Carnival always has some amazing floats made by local artisans and schools/colleges. They depict Goan culture, food, music, heritage and even have live performers on them. Some popular themes also include marine life, sea food, deities and popular movies. A lot of the floats have some brilliantly created sculptures of famous people, animals and even mythological creatures on them.
- Khell: Khell or Fell are traditional one-man act skits or plays performed during festival. Actors and musicians go village to village reciting and performing these comedic little plays, that have sardonic takes on life, politics and human relationships. They are also accompanied by cymbals, violins, dholaks and ghumats (traditional Goan percussion instrument).
- Yummy Food: During the Goa Carnival, there are some really great opportunities to taste delicious Goan cuisine including spicy seafood boils, spongy desserts and the famous alcoholic beverage Feni. There are many pop-up stalls serving these delicious treats. On top of that, the carnival also sees several food making and eating competitions that are free for all to participate in.
Where Should I Stay?
Since the Goa Carnival 2020 is going to be a hectic, vibrant, loud, colourful affair – be prepared to see big surges in the accommodations. The best idea would be to pre-book your stay before you reach, because you might not be able to find any walk-in options. At least not budget friendly ones.
See, if you are coming to Goa to enjoy the festival – you will be out on the streets most of the time anyway. The parades, dances and performances start late morning and go well into the night, which will keep you occupied. The best choice would be to skip spending a huge amount on hotels and choose a fun and friendly backpacker hostel like us. You will be able to save the coint (to eat more Goan snacks) as well as get a good night’s rest on our comfy beds. You can use the code ‘WINTER10’ for a flat 10% off on your booking!
Happy travels 🙂