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Goa Carnival, India

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What is Goa Carnival?

Carnival in Goa is a small carnival festival held in the state of Goa, India. Despite being much smaller than most traditional carnivals in Europe or America, it is actually one of the few carnival celebrations in the region and India. Goa Carnival commemorates 450 years of history during the Portuguese takeover of the territory. The festivities are held before the Lenten breakfast and are celebrated in Panaji, Vasco, Mapusa, Margao, Morjim Curchorem, Quepem and Panjim.

Goa Carnivals reflect the joy of the state’s inhabitants. The carnival ceremony is practically a traditional celebration of the Portuguese carnivals, but it features severaltraditional Hindu elements. Within the festivities we can see typical characteristics of theHindu culture such as music, colors and some religious elements.



The festivities are carried out through a colorful and joyful procession, in whichmasked men, women and children participate. The streets are filled with a colorful spectacle of costumes, large themed floats, music, theatrical performances and lots and lots of food.

The carnival also has some sports and cultural elements, as well as contests in which people participate. However, the main attractions are undoubtedly the horse-drawn carriages, decorated bullock carts, dancers, troubadours dressed as adivins, jugglers, fire-spitters, street vendors and women and men dressed in fun and colorful clothes. The parades always consist of a final show with people dressed in red and black and the King Momo who usually leads the parade.


King Momo

It is a figure usually carried out by a man, which is considered the King of the carnivals. TheKing Momo tradition is quite common in carnival festivities, mainly in Latin America and in countries such as Brazil and Colombia. His image signifies the beginning of carnivals and he is usually always depicted as a fat man wearing royal garments and a crown. He always carries a key in his hand as a symbol of controlling the city or town during the carnival festivities.

His image is taken as a reference to the Greek God Momus..

Carnivals in Goa definitely contain a surprising and unexpected element that make them a spacey and unique carnival. Every year thousands of people flock to the state to see with their own eyes all that the parade and festivities have to offer. In addition, therestaurants and food stalls welcome all tourists with open arms to try the delicious food and drink they have to offer you.


Carnival in Goa is a demonstration of Portuguese Catholic traditions mixed with Indian culture

King Momo leads the Carnival parades in Goa



When is the Goa Carnival[/h2>?

Goa Carnival is a celebration that takes place before the beginning of Lent, so it is celebrated between the month of February and the month of March. The Goa Carnival will be held approximately from February 13 to 16 of the same month. On each of the days a parade is held in the various cities of the state.



History of Goa Carnivals

Carnivals are one of the oldest traditions in the world, originating mainly in theEuropean continent. These festivities were characterized by having elements such as food, drink and exaggerated revelry, since it was the last opportunity for people to perform all those activities that were prohibited during the Lenten breakfast.

SeveralEuropean countries were involved in a great process of colonization that spread throughout much of the world. This process was aimed at extending their territory and economic activities and, of course, transmitting their traditions, especially religious traditions. Europeans arrived in America, Caribbean and some parts of Asia, where today traditions such as Holy Week and Carnival are still celebrated, such as in the case of Goa, which was dominated by the Portuguese for more than 400 years.

The origin of carnivals in Goa is indisputably European due to the introduction of Roman Catholic traditions during the Portuguese conquest. Despite this, the carnival celebration fell to its minimum expression during the end of colonialism, approximately in the middle of the 20th century, since they had limited freedom of speech and press. The carnivals were brought back thanks to the musician Timoteo Fernandes in 1965, who decided to incorporate elements of the Rio Carnival after having visited Brazil.

Nowadays, the carnival is a bigcelebration full of color, costumes, dancers and actors. In addition, the parades are composed of several carrozas made by the civil society, commercial entities and cultural groupings of the region. Carnivals in Goa are still very humble and small; however, that does not detract from its authenticity and importance, as a large number of people come every year to see this incredible spectacle.


Where is the Goa Carnival?

Carnival is celebrated in the state of Goa, in southwestern India. The main localities celebrating the carnivals are Panaji, Vasco, Mapusa, Margao, Morjim Curchorem, Quepem and Panjim.

The state of Goa has an area of 3,702 square kilometers and a total population of 1,458,545.


The Carnival parade floats in Goa feature amazing themes and bright colors

The Carnival parade floats in Goa feature amazing themes and bright colors



How is Goa Carnival celebrated

The motto of carnivals in Goa is “Kha, piye aani majja kar“, which translates to “Eat, drink and be merry” and that’s just what happens at the festivities. The celebration begins on Saturday night and each day visits a different city or town, so the carnivals take place in various areas of the state.

Preparations begin in December to make the carnival a complete success and have all the necessary elements for the special day, which makes the Goa Carnival the most awaited event in the state. The carnival is a reflection of Goa’s culture, showcasing the joy and personality of the people who participate in the events.

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Although the carnivals are composed of variouscultural, recreational and sporting activities, what captures the complete attention of the public is the parade. The procession is led by theKing Momo who is accompanied by his séquito of dancers, bands, payasos, large balloons, floats pulled by horses and oxen, acróbatas and various artists who add their special touch to the carnivals. Several people attend the event wearinggraceful costumes that mock political figures or modern culture.

In addition, the streets are filled with hundreds of people wearing somenational folk costumes and celebrating with dances andsmall entertainment shows and short-lived plays portraying traditional and cultural events of the state of Goa.

The streets are filled withmen, women and children to celebrate a colorful procession ofmasked characters. In addition, they also holdcostume contests, food fairs and live music. The festivities end with dances by women and men wearing red and black garments who dance to the rhythm of live music by bands.


Tips for going to the Goa Carnivals


If you decide to visit Goa Carnivals, we recommend planning your trip in advance, making an itinerary of activities and booking the hotel of your choice in advance. Also, be sure to pack comfortable clothes and shoes so that you can fully enjoy the carnivals. Finally, if you wish, you can bring your own costume to be part of the dozens of activities that the carnivals have to offer.

It is a good idea to use public transportation or to get to the epicenter of the activities on foot, as some adjacent streets are closed, causing complete commotion and traffic on the main roads.

You don’t have to worry about paying admission, as the event is completely free. The only thing you have to worry about is having as much fun as you can and living new and exciting experiences during the carnivals.


Events in Goa Carnival

The carnivals take place during 4 days of celebration. During those 4 days, the parade travels through different areas of the state, so everyone can enjoy at least one day of parade and all that the carnivals has to offer to the villagers and visitors.

On each of the days of the journey, the parades take place with the differenttheatrical elements, the dancers, the brass band, the jugglers, the floats and many other elements that make the Goa carnivals so special.

The carnival begins on Saturday and holds the parade in the state capital, Panjim. Panjim is located in the southeastern part of the state and usually during this day the celebration reaches its peak because it is the capital. The celebrations take a point of no return with the performances of the artists, of the bands, groups and dancers that cross the streets of the capital during the first day of celebration.



The next day, the parade touches the towns of Margao and Quepem. Both are right in the middle of the state and next to each other, allowing the parade to take place in both towns on the same day. Margao and Quepem are only 20 minutes apart.

The third day usually falls to the towns of Vasco da Gama or Vasco and Curchorem. Both towns are about an hour apart. Curchorem is right next to Quepem, so the parade has to go from the center of the state to the coast to reach Vasco da Gama.

On the last day it is the turn of the towns ofMapusa and Morjim, in the south of the state. The towns are located next to each other, just 30 minutes apart, which makes it easy for the parade to move from one town to the other in the same day.


Dancers pass through the streets of the towns during Carnival in Goa

Dancers pass through the streets of the towns during Carnival in Goa



Goa Carnival Parades

The parade is led by the King Momo, the King of the carnivals in Goa and pruner of the keys of state, which gives him the absolute power to “rule” during the 4-day carnival period. The streets are filled with a festive atmosphere like no other. In addition, the streets are riotous with the participation of theatrical performances, dancers, bands, jugglers, floats and fire spitters, transforming the city into a complete circus show. In addition, hundreds of people wear colorful and mocking costumes about the social and political events of the region and the world.

The parade celebration culminates with a performance of the dancers who wear black and red. This is one of the most outstanding events due to the dances and the type of costumes that the dancers wear. The Goa carnival is definitely a spectacle that transports you to a fun and unique universe full of magic and joy.


Parade route


The Carnival parade in Goa visits various locations in the state during the festivities

The Carnival parade in Goa visits various locations in the state during the festivities



The parades pass through the main thoroughfares of the localities in the state of Goa. The main towns and localities where King Momo and his entourage make an appearance is in the state capital, Panjim. After this, they head to the towns of Margao and Quepem, and then continue to Vasco da Gama and Curchorem. Finally, the carnivals celebrate their festivities in Mapusa and Morjim.


Feijoada is one of the avocado trees that Goa still preserves from the time of the Portuguese

Feijoada is one of the avocado trees that Goa still preserves from the time of the Portuguese



What to eat at the Goa Carnival

Goa is known for having a varied and exquisite selection of unique Indian dishes. During carnivals, a large number of food stalls and street food vendors are set up offering a plethora of traditional dishes and quintessential street food.

One of the dishes that the inhabitants of Goa still preserve is the Feijoada, a dish made with black beans accompanied by pork. Feijoada in Goa is a dish deeply influenced by Portuguese food, due to the colony that settled in the state for over 400 years. The pieces of meat are fried and then integrated with the bean stew. In addition, some coconut milk can be added instead of water to give it a special flavor. The dish is served with rice or pois.

In addition, you can try a drink called Feni. It is an alcoholic drink that can be made with two ingredients: cashew nuts or cashew or coconut. This liquor is mainly consumed in the south of the country and has a considerable alcoholic content of 43 to 45%. For the manufacture of Feni with cashew nuts, only apples are used and they must be ripe apples that have fallen from the plant.

In addition, the state of Goa offers you some places where you can go out to eat, especially in the capital, Panaji. In the city you can find the following restaurants: Ritz Classic Panjim, Casa Bhonsle Bar & Restaurant, Peep Kitchen, Waterfront Terrace & Bar, The Fisherman’s Wharf, Viva Panjim and Hospedaria Venite. These eateries offer you a plethora of traditional Indian, Portuguese, vegetarian, Mediterranean and Asian dishes.


Feni is a typical alcoholic beverage of Goa

Feni is a typical alcoholic beverage of Goa



Travel Insurance

From we recommend to hire a good insurance to visit this carnival and to know the rest of the country. For being our readers we offer a 5% discount on all IATI insurances. Read more information about all insurance offers here:



What to see and do inside the Goa Carnival

Within the carnivals you can attend the main event of the festivities: The parade. At the parade you can see dozens and dozens of colorful and bright costumes that are part of the uniform of the dancers, musicians, jugglers and artists who perform a large number of presentations among the streets of the different localities of Goa. In addition, you can see the various colorful floats, with cultural persons or political icons that fill the streets with a festive atmosphere like no other.

Finally, you can participate in some of the sports or cultural activities that also take place in the various localities of the state. You can’t forget togo and shop in the different food stores and street vendors. You can find a lot of delicious dishes, sweets and snacks.

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What to see and do outside the Goa Carnivals

The state of Goa offers you a plethora of attractions, but we’ll let you in on a few that are specifically located in the state capital, Panaji.


Shantadurga Temple

This is one of the most important and popular temples in Goa. The building was built in the 18th century and the Goddess Durga, Hindu goddess of peace, is worshipped there. If you wish to visit the temple, remember to take off your shoes and put on a pair of socks. It is generally not allowed to take photos or videos, but inside you will find a large number of artifacts and images.


Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

It is a Catholic temple dating back to 1540, making it one of the oldest Catholic temples in the area. To access the church you have to go through a series of stairs that meanders at the entrance of the church. The structure of the temple is of Portuguese style.



This is a neighborhood in the state capital that still maintains Portuguese influences. In the neighborhood you can find a lot of colonial-looking houses with balconies that were built during the eighteenth century. Nearby you can find a number of stores and stores.

Also if you want to visit museums and important buildings in this city we recommend that you book your ticket in advance through Tiquets: .

Book tickets in the city you are visiting


Safety at Goa Carnivals



The state of Goa is relatively safe. The state has around one million inhabitants, so it would not be surprising to see criminal activities, which usually constitute petty crimes. If you want to spend your vacation here, be sure to apply basic safety rules and be aware of your surroundings on a regular basis. Also, contact the authorities if you identify any unusual activity.

As always, we recommend keeping your valuables in a safe place to avoid theft and misplacement. In addition, we recommend the following products to keep your valuables safe:




Weather at Goa Carnival

During the festivities, Goa has a somewhat warm temperature, with temperatures ranging from 21 to 32 degrees Celsius and very little chance of rainfall. For this reason, we recommend staying hydrated and applying sunscreen frequently to avoid sunburn.


People perform cultural performances during the Carnival in Goa

People perform cultural performances during the Carnival in Goa


How to get to Goa Carnival


How to get there by plane

The state’s main airport is located in the city of Panaji, which is known as Goa International Airport. The airport receives mainly domestic and some international flights, so one of your possibilities is to land from some other city or state in India.

We recommend buying airline tickets through or Skyscanner where they are usually cheaper. More information on this link to review


How to get there by train

The nearest station to the state capital Goa is located at Margao, about 39 kilometers from the city. From there, you can take a cab or car to the capital or go to any other area of your choice.


How to get there by bus

From the airport you can take a bus directly to the city of Panaji.

The capital also receives buses from adjacent cities and towns through the main station.


How to get there by car

From the airport you can take the NH 66 road to Panaji city center. The drive is about 43 minutes. If you decide to take a cab, the taxi fare ranges from US$9 to US$12.


Where to stay in Goa Carnival



Vivanta Goa, Panaji

5 star hotel 1 km from Panaji city center. Rooms feature sofa bed, flat-screen TV, minibar, desk and private bathroom with bathtub and shower. Facilities include swimming pool, spa, bar, airport transfers, parking and private wifi.


The Hawaii Comforts

3-star hotel 5 km from Panaji city center. Rooms have satellite TV, closets and private bathrooms with basic toiletries. Facilities are close to the beach, has family rooms, airport transfers, restaurant, parking and free wifi.


Country Inn & Suites By Radisson Goa Panjim

4 star hotel 750 meters from Panaji city center. Rooms feature air conditioning, minibar, cable TV, tea and coffee making facilities and private bathroom with hairdryer, shower and basic toiletries. Facilities include swimming pool, airport transfers, bar, parking and free Wi-Fi.

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