With year-end celebrations and new year festivities coming to an end, we can finally look back at the year gone by, while looking forward to the one that has just begun. There is a definite sense of respite and a feeling of achievement at having made it to the other side, at a time when the world is still recovering from the effects of a full-blown pandemic. Needless to say, what has increasingly become important in the post-COVID world is the desire for community and kinship. Festivals provide a space for people to come together, share experiences and enjoy ourselves despite our differences and shortcomings. From music, art, literature and dance, to film, theatre and multiarts, there is no end to the festival offerings across the country. Here are some of our favourite festivals to look forward to in 2023.
When: Saturday, 28 Jan to Sunday, 29 Jan 2023
Festival Organiser: BookMyShow
What you need to know: Lollapalooza, being held for the first time in India promises a stellar line-up of artists and bands including Imagine Dragons, indie rock legend The Strokes, music producer Diplo, American rock band Greta Van Fleet and many others, including native artists like Prateek Kuhad, Bloodywood, Divine and Sandunes. A pioneer in the realm of multi-stage events, Lollapalooza India anticipates a truly international experience with some of the finest events over two days at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse in Mumbai.
Rajasthan International Film Festival
When: Wednesday, 01 Feb to Sunday, 05 Feb 2023
Festival Organiser: RIFF Film Club
What you need to know: Initiated by the RIFF film club, the Rajasthan International Film Festival was launched in 2014 to connect the common public with world cinema through various seminars, debates and discussions. The upcoming 9th edition of RIFF will be held in the pink city of Jaipur in Feb 2023. Besides having a diverse and extravagant showcase of the best feature films, documentaries and short films from around the world, the festival also features “concerts, gala events, film parties, seminars, workshops and networking opportunities with government representatives, business leaders, local organisations that support film development, film stars, producers, directors, members of the media and more”. This year the festival upholds the theme “Sports in Cinema” and promises to be a landmark event for film enthusiasts and professionals alike.
When: Saturday, 11 Feb to Sunday, 12 Feb 2023
Festival Organiser: Hyperlink Brand Solutions
What you need to know: A two-day music festival by Mahindra & Mahindra, the Mahindra Blues Festivals is supported by one of the largest online communities with over 2,00,000 followers and is one of the largest blues festivals in India. This year’s line-up at the festival includes multi-Grammy award winning blues artist Buddy Guy, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, legendary musical figure Taj Mahal, Argentine musical maestro Ivan Singh, Arinjoy Trio led by Arinjoy Sarkar and many others. If you are a true blues enthusiast and can’t stop grooving to the high-pitched melodies of the saxophone, then get yourself ready for some soul-tripping music at Mumbai’s Mehboob Studios coming February. If you have a band of your own, you can also win a once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform at the festival by enrolling yourself at the Big Blues Band Hunt by 5 Jan, 2023. Stay tuned for more updates on our platform.
When: Saturday, 04 Feb to Sunday, 12 Feb 2023
Festival Organiser: Kala Ghoda Association
What you need to know: A favourite for artists, performers and craftspersons alike, the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival was formed with the idea of “giving life to the biggest street art festival” that the country has ever seen. Spanning multiple genres like cinema, dance, food, heritage, literature, music, comedy, theatre and various other art forms, this festival is curated by specialist teams for each of its twelve verticals. The upcoming edition of the festival in 2023 is being held across venues in Mumbai such as the book store Kitabkhana at Somaiya Bhavan, the Flora Fountain, the Coomaraswamy Hall Hornbill House, the gardens at the David Sassoon Library, the Asiatic Society Library at the Town Hall and many other spaces. With sprawling venues and showcases, the festival is launching again after a long gap of three years and boasts of an incredible festival committee and team of curators. So, put your festival hats on and get ready to be amazed once again in the coming season.
When: Saturday, 11 March to Sunday, 12 March 2023
Festival Organiser: BeFantastic and Future Everything
What you need to know: Future Fantastic is an innovative Artificial Intelligence (AI) and art festival which showcases artwork at the intersection of creativity and technology to drive the spirit of climate emergency in the contemporary world. The festival is part of the British Council’s India/UK Together Season of Culture and encourages intercultural dialogue to promote understanding and harmony. It emerged as an outcome of a series of international fellowships “fostering creative change and collaboration between artists from around the world”. The upcoming edition of the festival will rope in the creative director of Future Everything Irini Papadimitriou, dancer Madhu Nataraj, and choreographer Nicole Seiler among many others for sustaining a cultural dialogue through various workshops and the BeFantastic dialogue series.
Festival Organiser: NODWIN Gaming
What you need to know: The Bacardi NH7 Weekender is one of South Asia’s largest multi-genre music festivals and regularly boasts of illustrious line-ups of artists from India and all over the world. It was held for the first time in Pune and eventually expanded to other cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Shillong. Single-day events were occasionally held in other smaller cities. Almost always held in venues with sprawling lawns, the festival offers an enigmatic landscape with eclectic acts, stunning performances and some of the best multi-genre music that would leave you swooning for days after. With music, art installations and exotic food being only a few of the many experiences that the festival offers, the NH7 Weekender has something for everyone. Often called The Happiest Music Festival (and with good reason), it has definitely set a precedent to many other budding festivals in India.
Serendipity Arts Festival
When: Friday, 15 Dec to Saturday, 23 Dec 2023
Festival Organiser: Serendipity Arts Foundation
What you need to know: The Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa, launched in 2016, has grown into one of the largest annual interdisciplinary cultural events in South Asia. A panel of 14 curators select the events and experiences, which are presented over eight days in December at venues across the city of Panaji, from heritage buildings and public parks to museums and riverboats. The festival covers the fields of culinary, performing and visual arts. With the mission of making art visible and accessible, the festival also includes educational initiatives, workshops and special projects. Plan ahead to take part in the unique blend of artistic and cultural experiences offered at Serendipity Arts Festival.
Where: New Delhi
Festival Organiser: Rekhta Foundation
What you need to know: Organised by the Rekhta Foundation every year, Jashn-e-Rekhta is a three-day event held annually in New Delhi and is the world’s largest multiarts festival celebrating the Urdu language. Besides regularly hosting Urdu literary events as part of the festivities, the festival also pays tribute to the language through ghazals, qawwali, Sufi music, dastangoi, mushaira, poetry recitations and much more. Earlier versions of the festival have featured prominent actors such as Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah, Shabana Azmi and Kumar Vishvas, literary scholars such as Shakeel Azmi, Fahmi Badayuni and many other illustrious personalities. A coming together of intellectual conversations, masterclasses in Urdu poetry, an exotic food festival, literary exhibitions, art and craft bazaar and music, Jashn-e-Rekhta is a one-of-a-kind festival, carrying forward a legacy of magic and poetry like no other.
When: Thursday, 19 Jan to Monday, 23 Jan 2023
Festival Organiser: Teamwork Arts
What you need to know: Held at the beautiful city of Jaipur each year in January, the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) has welcomed eminent personalities like William Dalrymple, Shashi Deshpande, Salman Rushdie, Jamaica Kincaid, Wendy Doniger and many others over the years. Today, it is one of the world’s most prominent literary festivals and caters to bibliophiles, literary entrepreneurs, writers, influencers and thinkers who are looking for a platform to engage in debates and discussions. Besides these, the festival has also often accommodated various musical performances contributing to the ambience at the venue. Some of the upcoming musical performances for 2023 include a delightful folk programming called Rhythms of India, performances by Peter Cat Recording Co., neo-folk fusion band Kabir Cafe and many others regularly held at the beginning of each day. Some of the eminent speakers in this edition of the festival include Abdulrazak Gurnah, Anamika, Anthony Sattin, Ashok Ferrey, Vir Sanghvi and many others. For anyone interested in mastering the art of storytelling, this festival is a must-visit.
Where: Arunachal Pradesh
Festival Organiser: PHOENIX RISING LLP
What you need to know: The Ziro Festival of Music held every year amidst the rolling foothills of Arunachal Pradesh, accommodates an interesting and diverse line-up of both folk and indie musicians, whilst also making way for international collaborations. Headlining the last edition of the festival were prominent musicians like Rabbi Shergill, the qawwali group Rehmat-e-Nusrat, folk artist Mangka, rapper Baba Sehgal, Jumme Khan, and many others. Besides musical performances, the festival also includes experiential events like heritage walks, storytelling sessions, art installations, dance, and poetry sessions, going beyond merely a musical experience to being something that incorporated a holistic idea of life lived sustainably. The eco-friendly ethos of the festival is evident in its choice for sustainable means of serving food and building infrastructure, as well as a complete ban on single-use plastic and anything that contributes to the carbon footprint. If you’re someone who likes the idea of making merry amidst a valley echoing with the beats of your favourite bands, then definitely watch out for more updates on this space.
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