Festival Fix on a Shoestring Budget

Experience the best of India's budget-friendly festivals showcasing music, dance, film and more

As we navigate through a world of ever-increasing expenses, it’s easy to label cultural experiences as a luxury. Nonetheless, festivals offer a gateway to discovering new art, music and a means of celebrating life. There are plenty of budget-friendly festivals that won’t break the bank and still offer a rich and meaningful experience. This summer, immerse yourself in the vibrant and varied cultural scene of India and challenge the idea that the arts are only accessible to the elite. Step out of your comfort zone and explore some of the most exciting and affordable upcoming festivals. Some of these even offer student and member discounts. From dance and drama to film and music and more, here are our top budget-friendly picks:

SamaBhav International Travelling Film Festival

Showcasing contemporary short, documentary and feature films about discrimination against women and other gender minorities, the Samabhav International Travelling Film Festival addresses toxic masculinity, homophobia, transphobia and the intersectionality of gender. This year the festival has so far, travelled to Bengaluru, Pune and Guwahati, and would also be travelling to Chennai, Kohima, Srinagar, Gorakhpur, Ahmedabad, Bilaspur, Kochi and four rural districts of Maharashtra. Internationally, the festival will also be travelling to Jakarta, Indonesia and Thimpu, Bhutan by August this year. Notable award-winning films being screened at the festival include Hasina, Naanu Ladies, Trans Kashmir, The Bystander Moment, Like a Moon Flower, Gandi Baat and many others. The screenings at the festival are often followed by enlightening conversations with gender rights activists, filmmakers, academics and media personalities.

The festival is being held across multiple venues between February and end of August. 
Entry: Free


The Saz-E-Bahar: Festival of Indian Instrumental Music, organised by the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) is a multi-day event showcasing four talented instrumentalists from across the country. The instrumentalists will be displaying their musical prowess on both percussion-based and string instruments, including the drums, tabla, mandolin, sitar, sursingar and mohanveena. Artists playing at the festival include tabla artist Vijay Ghate, mandolin player U. Rajesh, sitar player Kushal Das and sursingar and mohanveena player Joydeep Mukherjee. Dr. Suvarnalata Rao, Head of Programming (Indian Music) at the NCPA will present a pre-event talk on specific instruments on both days of the event.

Saz-E-Bahar will be held between 14 and 15 April 2023 at The Godrej Dance Theatre in NCPA.
Entry: Member price ₹180, Non-member price ₹200

Aravali International Film Festival

The Aravali International Film Festival promotes the cultural diversity of the country through a vast curation of cinema. It is suitably named after the Aravali mountain range in India, that runs from Delhi through Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat, reflecting the variety in landscapes, languages and ethnicity in India. Some of the finalist films at this year’s festival include Argent Glas (feat. Char) by Katsuyuki Nakanishi, Ukwati by Sean William Economou and In Which Loneliness Suffers a Loss by Cheryl White, among many others.

This budget-friendly film festival will be held between 16 and 17 April at ML Bhartia Auditorium at Alliance Francaise, Delhi.
Entry: Free

Mudra Dance Festival 

The Mudra Dance Festival is the only thematic dance festival organised by the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) and presented around International Dance Day every year. The festival has previously been curated on themes like motherhood, colours, bhakti poetry, animal movements etc. This year, it explores the theme-Aparajita-the one who remains undefeated, highlighting the journeys of women who have surmounted challenges and come back to outshine the stage light. 

The Mudra Dance Festival will be held between 27 and 28 April at NCPA, Mumbai. 
Entry: ₹300 onwards

Explore India's budget-friendly festivals this season with our top picks.
Artists performing at Mudra Dance Festival 2019 at Tata Theatre, NCPA. Photo: Narendra Dangiya

Bhoomi Habba – The Earth Festival

Celebrated around World Environment Day, Bhoomi Habba aims to increase public awareness of the environmental degradation faced by its host city Bengaluru. Showcasing inclusive and sustainable alternatives, the day-long celebration comprises environmental campaigns and workshops, exhibitions and shows, art workshops, theatre presentations, folk music and much more. The earth festival also promotes the exhibition and sale of eco-friendly crafts, organic farm produce and traditional and millet foods from all across the country. 

Bhoomi Habba will be held on 10 June 2023 at Visthar, a civil society organisation in Bengaluru, Karnataka. 
Entry: ₹50

Artworks being sold at Bhoomi Habba Festival. Photo: Visthar

For more articles on festivals in India, check out our Read section of this website.

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