The beautiful Himachal Pradesh is not only known for its picturesque landscapes, spectacular vistas but it is also renowned for its diverse and colourful fairs and festivals. The locals celebrate its rich culture, social diversity and traditions with great zeal and enthusiasm and pay immense gratitude for its rich natural beauty and seek blessings for prosperity. Some of the major festivals in Himachal are celebrated with great pomp and show, so plan a trip to Himachal to attend and get drenched in the festivity of this beautiful state of India, Himachal Pradesh.

Here is the list of some of the most famous festivals in Himachal Pradesh-

1. Kullu Dussehra

The beautiful Kullu is renowned for its grand Dussehra festival, the festival of a triumph of good over evil. In the year 1972, KulluDussehradeclared an international event and the centre of its festivities is the Dhalpur maidan in Kullu. This festival is celebrated on the 10th day of Navratri, on Vijay Dashmi day around October every year. This week-long festival starts with a procession of lord Raghunath, along with other deities carried on a Rath across the town. Huge feasts are organised along with a culturally rich Kala Kendra festival. The last day of the festival is marked by sacrificing a fish, crab, rooster, buffalo and lamb following a huge bonfire is lit. The celebration is then concluded with a bonfire that signifies the burning of Lanka and the idol of Lord Raghunath is brought back to its original position with a grand procession.

2. Halda

Halda is yet another famous festival of lights celebrated on the auspicious occasion of Magha Purnima in January and is dedicated to the Shiskar Apa, the goddess of wealth in the Lamaistic Pantheon. The key highlight of this festival is the beautiful bonfire that is held at a site chosen by the Lamas. A special ceremony is performed and offerings are made to the local deities for the well-being and prosperity of the townsfolk. The stunning dance performances and merrymaking is an extra charm of Halda. It is a two-day grand carnival, an exhibition of the rich cultural amalgamation in the secluded Himalayan locales of Lahaul, Keylong and the Chandra and Bhaga river valleys.

3. Losar

The Losar festival is celebrated with great pomp and shows in the Lahaul valley of the beautiful state, Himachal Pradesh. Losar is celebrated annually during the first month of the Tibetan calendar that generally falls between mid-November and the first week of December. The date of the celebration is decided by the lamas according to the lunar calendar. This festival marks the beginning of the winter season in the Lahaul and Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh. It also celebrates the agricultural prosperity of the region. Losar is a festival of happiness and prosperity and lasts for 15 days with the main celebrations held on the first three days. Chang, an alcoholic beverage, Kapse- cake, and some popular dishes are prepared during this festival. The festival sees the Buddhist settlements and monasteries in Lahaul adorned with a pretty and serene ambience. The first day of the Losar festival is known as the Lama Losar or the Festival of the Guru. Devotees worship his holiness as the Dalai Lama on these sacred days and take out lively processions in his honour. The key highlight of this festival is the Chham dance that is a masked dance performance associated with some sects of Tibetan Buddhism.

4. Summer Festival

The summer festival is celebrated in the beautiful Shimla to pay a tribute to the gods for a bountiful harvest and is a 5-day carnival and is organised in May every year but it is sometimes held in June. This festival was started with a mission to boost the tourism of Shimla. This festival also marks the arrival of the summer season in Shimla. Attend this festival and enjoy the musical shows that are organised and performed by the local tribes of this region. Take part in photography competitions too. Witness the beautiful flower show, the exhibition of beautifully designed work created by local designers to a variety of traditional arts and crafts items. Apart from this, this festival delights one with a dog show where one can see exquisite dog species. Make sure to try some delicious food offered int his festival.

5. Sazo Festival

Sazo festival is celebrated annually in January in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. It is an ancient festival renowned for its rituals, grand cultural celebrations and scrumptious feasts. The locals believe that during this festival the deities go to heaven for a short period. The priests are deeply worshipped as they are considered as the representatives of gods and thus are offered grains and other food items. During this festival, the people take bath in natural hot springs and some people go to the Satluj river to cleanse their bodies and soul. The people worship their gods and goddesses in their homes three times during the entire day. In the morning the family deity is worshipped and food prepared using only gains and vegetables is offered to him. In the afternoon the deity is worshipped again. In the evening people take their gods and goddess outside their homes and pray for their blessings and then the deities are offered wine and halwa during this holy ritual followed by a grand celebration involving music and dance. The food offered to the gods during this festival includes rice, pulses, vegetables and halwa. After the celebrations are over it is believed that the deities start their journey towards heaven in the Kinnaur Kailash mountains.

6. Himachal Winter Carnival

Himachal Winter Carnival is held at Manali in January every year. It is a very popular festival of Himachal Pradesh that offers one to get a glimpse of the unique culture and traditions of Himachal Pradesh. Attend this festival and enjoy the folk dances, music, food festival, street plays, adventurous sports and many other interesting activities that will surely give you unforgettable memories. This festival was started in the year 1977 with the motto of promoting skiing, but over the years it has only become bigger and has now become a hub for all cultural festivities. Witness a massive parade that includes boys and girls dressed in traditional attire. Enjoy the skiing competition, listen to the live concerts and enjoy the dance competitions performed by artists from all over India. Just stroll in the craft bazaar that holds an impressive collection of traditional arts and crafts of Manali. Try the Himachali food too that will surely give you a gastronomical experience.

7. Ice Skating Carnival

One of the most famous festivals, the Ice skating carnival is celebrated in Shimla. With its several adventurous activities and adrenaline-pumping games, the ice-skating carnival is one of the biggest festivals that is held in Shimla every year from the first week of December to the last week of February. This carnival is a time for thrill and adventure. The arrival of snowfall brings in the ice skating carnival that turns into a cheerful and vibrant ambience. Shimla boasts a massive natural ice skating rink that turns into a bustling hotspot adorned with adventure enthusiasts and thrill lovers. The ice skating rink is managed by the Shimla ice skating club who is the host of the ice skating carnival. Just participate in various ice skating competitions held in the rink or one can even sit back and enjoy the thrilling games.

8. Doongri Festival

Doongri Festival or Hadimba Devi fair is one of the most popular festivals of Himachal Pradesh. It is celebrated with great zeal in the beautiful Kullu and is organized on the auspicious occasion of Basant Panchami. Doongri festival lasts for three days and is held in May every year and is celebrated at the Hadimba temple located in the sacred Dhungri forest in Manali. Attend this festival and witness the splendid dance rituals that are performed by the devotees to bestow their love and faith on the deity. Enjoy the traditional musical performances that will surely be going to make your day. Take part in the several kite flying competition organized to celebrate the arrival of spring. The major highlight of this festival is that it is attended by people in colourful processions and parades carrying with them their gods and goddesses dressed in fancy and garlands in beautifully carved wooden raths from different villages of Himachal. Make sure to attend this festival and get a glimpse into the rich and fascinating culture of this place and Himachal Pradesh.

9. Pori Festival

Pori Festival is a three-day celebration organised during the third week of August months every year and is celebrated in the Lahaul valley of Himachal Pradesh and is dedicated to the Lord Triloknath. This festival is celebrated by both Hindus and Buddhists living in the Himalayan highlands. Pori festival begins with an enchanting prayer ceremony in the holy premises of the Triloknath temple where the devotees seek blessings and after that, they go to the parikrama gallery and complete clockwise circumambulations of the gallery. The statue of the deity in the Triloknath temple is bathed with milk and yoghurt. In the evening time, the devotees are seen dancing in huge circles. During the celebration of the festival, the horse holds a place of extreme importance. It is bathed in sweet water, fed rich and healthy food and decorated beautifully. With its vibrant music, dance, street plays and games Pori festival offers one to peek into the rich culture of the locals.

10. Minjar fair

The grand Minjar fair is organised in Chamba, in the state of Himachal Pradesh and is held on the second Sunday of the Hindu month of Shravana. It is a week-long carnival and is held in July/August every year. The fair is organised soon as the young paddy and the maize shoots emerge from the soil. The major festivities of the fair are celebrated at Chowgan situated in Chamba town. Attend this fair and enjoy soothing folk music and dance performances.

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