Look past the crowded beaches of Goa, to these 3 destinations for a Christmas and New Year that will leave you with warm, fuzzy memories to power you through 2016!
Celebrate a Christmas like no other in, Shillong, the Scotland of the East. The city has a large Christian population and is perfect destination during this festive season. Hire a Savaari Car and drive down 100 kms from Guwahati and soon you are in the hilly capital of Meghalaya. Walk along Laitumkhrah, go for a boat ride on picturesque Wards Lake, or attend midnight mass at one of the oldest churches in the North East, The Cathedral Church. You will certain avoid the usual touristy crowds, especially if you choose to stay in a traditional homestay, like this 70 year old bungalow in the heart of the city. The spirit of the season is everywhere with carol singing, markets bustling with shoppers, pine trees piled up in the Fire Brigade Field, and lip-smacking Bengali, Chinese and Khasi fare that will leave you warmly stuffed and satisfied.
Hire a Savaari Car and drive down NH7 and the Salem – Kochi – Kanyakumari Highway and 10 hours later you are in Kochi. The last few weeks of December are especially festive in this Kerala coastal town, which hosts The Cochin Carnival. A year end procession featuring regal elephants, fireworks, fun games, dirt bike races and more, the carnival is a throwback to Portuguese New Year celebrations, and has been revived in the 1980s. You can be enthralled by local Kathakali and Mohiniattam performances, watch folk musicians or witness the famed Indira Gandhi Snake Boat Race, also held at the same time of the year. If you are a history buff this centuries-old port town will not disappoint with heritage churches and synagogues. And the celebrations truly taken on a special meaning if you are lucky enough to be part of the congregation at midnight, on Christmas eve, at St. Francis Church. Built by the earliest European traders, the Church traces its history back to the early 16th Century, and is sure to transport you to a different world and time
Head to the grand old city of Kolkata for a colourful Christmas and New Year. The Bengalis are known to celebrate festivals in style, and this season is no exception. Treat yourself to some decadent cakes and pastries at legendary bakeries like Flurys. Visit the city’s last Jewish Confectionary, Nahoum and Sons, who began serving customers just over a century ago in 1902! Go on a guided photo walk through neighbourhoods that will open your eyes into forgotten ways of living, and the diversity of the city’s culture. Get a glimpse into Anglo-Indian life in Bow Barracks as they celebrate their Bada Din on 25th December. Visit Chinatown, Portuguese and Armenian Churches all in Kolkata. And round off your visit with a visit to Allen Park where the Kolkata Christmas Fair comes to life. Browse through food stalls, listen to live music, join the gospel singers and admire the string of street lights and nativity scenes that celebrate the birth of Jesus.