Top cultural festivals in Mumbai, India, to add in your trip
March 4, 2019
by Megha Parekh
Mumbai, a city of dreams and a city that never sleeps. The city has this addictive and infectious way of living, people work hard and party harder.
Being the cultural capital of India, Mumbai has a number of cultural festivals unique to the city. If you are planning to travel to Mumbai, ensure some of these festivals are a part of your itinerary.
Kala Ghoda Arts Festival
The country’s largest multicultural street festival takes place in February every year since the past 20 years. This 9-day event was started with an objective to maintain and preserve the art and heritage of Mumbai.
The festival is themed around social economic problems faced by the country, and this street fest helps in creating awareness. A few themes I have witnessed are on excessive use of plastic, women empowerment, global warming, save the environment, save the girl child and others.
There are plenty of art installations around the theme. These are created by the students of nearby by art college – the JJ School of Arts. The JJ School of Arts has been the foundation for many artists in India.
It is a delight to see their creativity. Most of these installations allow the public to engage and act as photo booths. There are many brands who also participate. What I really like is how they integrate seamlessly to drive across a strong message.
Apart from these installations, there are numerous other activities which happen throughout the day, like literature talks, dance forms, heritage walks, storytelling for children, theatre, music concert, movie screenings and a lot more. This is all with an entire street of stalls with a variety of products on sale from apparels to paintings to food, it has almost everything that makes you realize the talent in India.
The festival is attended by many, not just from Mumbai but across India and other countries too. A fine mix of art and heritage with the contemporary world, this festival has no entry fee. All it needs is a mind to absorb all the creativity.
When does this festival take place: First week of February
Music festivals – Mahindra Blues, Bandish and others
Mumbai is the center of Bollywood (which is the Indian Hindi cinema industry). There is no doubt that the city has plenty of music and music festivals. It doesn’t end at Bollywood music only. Mahindra Blues is a festival primarily on jazz music whereas Bandish is dedicated to Indian Classical music. There’s music for all type of genres, across the year. Hence always check on what’s happening in that month.
Mahindra Blues takes place at Mehboob studios, Bandra
Bandish is organized by National Centre of Performing Arts (NCPA), at Nariman Point
When do these festivals take place: Mahindra Blues is in January, Bandish is scheduled in the later part of the year
Bandra is the buzzing young suburb of Mumbai. It is an education hub with a large number of restaurants, a thriving nightlife, plenty of churches and the lovely sea. It is one of the main tourist spots in Mumbai as many celebrities live in this part of the city!
Celebrate Bandra Festival began with an objective to bring people together through world-class entertainment, and not just showcase professional talent but also provide a platform for the young budding talent to grow. The festival showcases various genres of music, dance forms, theatre, heritage walks and a lot more. It celebrates the undying spirit of Bandra. The festival is accessible to all at no cost.
When does this festival take place: First week of November
Ganesh, the beloved elephant God of India has a special place in the hearts of the Mumbaikar. The city waits for this 10 days festival, to shower all its love to Ganesh. Ganesh Festival is bigger than Diwali and Christmas in Mumbai. Being a religious festival, it follows the lunar calendar. Hence there is no fixed month on when this festival will happen, it could be in August or September – the rainy months.
The entire city is lit up, with Ganesh pandals in almost every street. There are certain marque Ganesh pandals, which are a must see. This would include the Lalbagh Cha Raja, Ajanta Ganesh pandal, GSB Ganesh pandal, Khetwadi Ganesh pandal, Matunga Ganesh pandal, and others. Every Ganesh idol is different and there is a story behind each of them. While this is a religious festival, we see that people from types of faiths join into the festivities, and there are talent shows with singing, dancing, music, theatre that become a part of the celebrations.
There are many households who also bring in the Ganesh idol and celebrate calling in their friends and family. The festival was started by Lokmanya Tilak, with an objective to bring people together. Since then, the festival has just grown bigger and bigger.
When does this festival take place: August or September, depending on the lunar calendar
Mapro’s Strawberry Festival, Mahabaleshwar
Around 230 km from Mumbai is all time favorite hill station called Mahabaleshwar. Mahabaleshwar rests in the Sahyadri mountain range, at an altitude of 1350 meters from the sea level, it is popular for its all year pleasant weather and fresh, clean air. You will find all the typical sightseeing destinations here – a lake with boating, horse riding, sunrise and sunset points, and the likes. Apart from all of that, it is well known for strawberry farming. The local brand, Mapro, makes jams, syrups, and a lot more from the strawberries grown there. Every year, towards the end of the strawberry season, which is also the Easter weekend, Mapro hosts a Strawberry Festival in its premise (which is really huge). The strawberries are available freely for everyone, and they invite the local schools and talent to perform for entertainment. The locals are called Mavli, they are the descendants of the Shivaji’s soldiers, and have very strong roots in this region. Their performances include the traditional dance forms of Lezium and Lavani, fire shows, malkhamb and a live band singing to the latest and popular tunes in both regional, Hindi and English.
The primary visitors to this festival come from Pune, Mumbai, and parts of Satara district. This is one of the lesser known festivals, with a high local flavor. The organizers go to a huge extent to get more crowd to promote local tourism and employment.
And Mapro gives the best Strawberry Cream I have ever had! This is the calling for me 🙂
When does this festival take place: Easter weekend, in April
The original people of Mumbai are called the Koli. However, since Mumbai is the commercial capital of India and with a tremendous opportunity of employment, we find people from all walks of life here. All come to make a mark, to make it big. In this hustle bustle and chaos, Mumbai is not just a city, it is a way of life so different and unique from other cities that it gives a high to be here. The city is welcoming, safe, with a lot to experience and explore.
Leave a Comment...
March 8, 2019
Loved the article. Didn’t know about these.
March 8, 2019
This is very informative ! Keep posting .
March 8, 2019
Thank you for the list of festivals. This article comes out at the right time ..I\'m going to move to Mumbai soon.
Kala Ghoda has been on my list since 7 years..I\'m definitely going in 2020.
Also can wait to explore Mumbai, which as you said is a feeling ...
Juan Pablo Millán
March 15, 2019
Read your article is like be there! very special and full of information for my future travel to India, thanks for share your amazing culture with us.
With love, Juan Pablo Millán COLOMBIA
May 3, 2019
The most famous and enthusiastic festival of mumbai is Ganesha Festival. Though it is celebrated in all over the India but the with such an energy and passion Mumabaikar celebrate this festival is on another level. Before two years i have been there to celebrate Ganesh festival and the most famous Ganesha of mumbai is LALBAGH CHA RAJA. What an amazing environment i still remember the excitement, happiness and passion of people towards this festival. Other festivals are also re-present the Mumbaikars enthusiasm.
One another festival is related to mumbai, actually related to whole Maharashtra and that is Gudi Padva. It is new year of Maharashtra people.