India is a country filled with incredible culture, vibrant colors, bold flavors, and ancient traditions. It's a colorful destination no matter the time of year. But to experience India at its most colorfully kinetic, you'll have to visit during the Holi Festival of Colors. Here's what you need to know.
What to Expect
During India's annual Holi festival, celebrants take to the streets wearing white clothes and armed with colorful powders and dyed water for one of the world's most colorful water fights. People spend the morning running through sprinklers, drenching each other in water, and smearing or throwing brightly colored powders on each other. Unlike other Indian festivals, there are no religious rituals performed on the day of Holi.
When to Go
This annual festival marks the end of winter, a celebration of the victory of good over evil and a commemoration of the Hindu god Krishna. The spring festival takes place on the day following the full moon each March. The bulk of festivities occur in the morning; expect the color throwing to finish up by early afternoon in most towns.
Where to Go
While Holi parties are staged throughout the country, the most exuberant ones take place in the north. The cities of Mathura and Vrindavan are the biggest and most frequently photographed, but other popular destinations include cosmopolitan Delhi and Jaipur in Rajasthan, where Holi coincides with the Elephant Festival.
How to Go
Visitors to India during the Color Festival have several options for experiencing the celebrations. Choose a tour that allows you to celebrate Holi with a local Indian family in Delhi while learning more about the traditional celebration, throw colors at Jaipur's Diggi Palace for a Rajasthani take on the festivities, or combine Holi in Vrindavan with a full-moon visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra during a multi-day yoga tour.
Things to Know
Wear white clothes you can throw away, and rub your skin with oil before going out to prevent being stained with Holi colors.
Always go out in a group; most celebrants are warm and welcoming, but expect a few intoxicated individuals as well.
Head out to the festival early in the morning, as it will be over my midday.
Keep your camera in a protective covering. Take some images from a high vantage point, then put it away and enjoy.