9 Picks To Celebrate Holi This Long Weekend

India sure knows how to celebrate festivals in the craziest manner, and Holi is a good example to prove our point. As Kunal Nayyar said in his autobiography, Holi is India on steroids and places like Pushkar and Mathura live by it. On the other hand, if you're not a fan of the rowdiness and mess, there are more serene ways to celebrate Holi in India too. For example, the Kullu valley of Himachal celebrates Holi with folk music, dance, and community merriment amidst the gorgeous Himalayas.

Conveniently, 2020 is generous enough to make Holi fall on Monday & Tuesday (9 & 10 March), so that makes for a great opportunity to explore a new place and make good use of the long weekend from 7 to 10th March! So, go through our top 9 recommendations to find out which Holi celebration suits you the best and get headed!


Talking about Holi and not mentioning Pushkar is unfair. Be it the procession at the Pushkar Chowk or the non-stop EDMs played by DJs to groove to, the international crowd to sheer desi happenstance of events around you- the dry Holi in Pushkar is far from just a celebration. Watchout for highlights such as these:

  1. Everyone dresses flamboyantly and joins the procession on the main day from 10 AM to 5 PM. From feather dresses to glitter and ball masks, the Pushkar square turns into a party place with EDM, non-stop colours and dance, and bhang!
  2. Performances and activities take place at a stage set up in the middle of the procession; you can either perform or enjoy other people’s talents. :)
  3. A Holi mandate popularly rooted in the Indian state is Bhang- an edible preparation of cannabis, which is legally available in Government-authorized shops and is sure to ‘high’ten your festivities.
  4. Another significant practice is the Kapda Phaad Holi. Thankfully, it is only limited to the men. You’ll initially enter the grounds fully clothed only to get your t-shirts ripped and hanged on a giant rope for display.
Pushkar is known to celebrate Holi in a dynamic way.
The procession in Pushkar is packed with travellers and residents alike.

Both Zostel and Zostelx Pushkar contribute to the madness that the city witnesses. Check them out here!


This town does not lag behind when it comes to celebrating with a bang. The hippie capital of Uttarakhand makes its mark on the festival of Holi by organising a collective gathering at the Lakshman Jhula parking. With the rest of the city being closed for that afternoon, everyone heads to the celebration.

  1. Go out only after a heavy breakfast as the town is most likely to be closed till early evening.
  2. Keep all your gadgets in a plastic bag/wrap since it is likely to get messy. Better would be if you leave your electronics behind and go free handed.
  3. I know it is too obvious to state but please ask for consent before applying gulaal on anybody at the festival grounds. It is important that the person feels comfortable and the phrase ‘Bura na maano, Holi hai.’ can find its importance elsewhere.
  4. Oil yourself before heading out. This is a little trick to easily get rid of all the solid colours from your skin after the celebration.
The celebrations in Rishikesh kick in for the festival of colours.
The parking area near Lakshman Jhula- where all the fun begins in Rishikesh for Holi.

Looking for budget-friendly stays as you experience the city on Holi? Check out Zostel Rishikesh.

Sangla Valley

For ambiverts such as myself, heading to the mountains for a different kind of experience on festivals is a blessing. Away from the noise and the traditional version of Holi that we are used to, Sangla Valley hosts a 2-day affair mostly with the involvement of local communities and traditions. The festivities kick in with the Holika Dahan where locals usually sing and play instruments around the pyre in infectious merriment.

The next day arrives with all the more excitement. Colours splash around covering every old mountain and new blades of grass like a sketchbook. The local wine (Phasur) flows freely, lightening up the surroundings even more.

The lively Holi procession in Sangla Valley.
Celebration right under the mountains in Sangla Valley. Picture credits to mountainarecalling​


The backpackers’ heaven, Hampi celebrates a Northern festival down South with the same enthusiasm and fervour. The banks of the Tungabhadra River shine with residents gathered around to playfully enjoy the festival from early morning to evening. The sight of brown grainy mountains scattered around the ancient ruins of the Vijayanagara Kingdom are worth all your time. And of course Bhaang and booze intensify everything.

Hampi celebrates Holi with a lot of enthusiasm down South.
Hampi witnesses the festivities amidst ruins of ancient temples. Picture by mhaywardm .


Be it the famous Lath Maar Holi or Phoolon ki Holi, two extreme ends on the spectrum; no city in the North celebrates Holi as Mathura does. The birthplace of Lord Krishna, who invented the festival, Mathura hosts a week-long soiree of joyous events.

  1. The Lath Maar Holi celebrated in Nandgaon and Barsana mark the beginning of the week of Holi in Uttar Pradesh. The male residents of the respective towns gleefully dress up as Krishna and head to the streets where the women beat them (playfully, of course) with sticks.
  2. Phoolon ki Holi is another such spectacle that occurs in Gulaal Kund. The enactment of Raas-Leela where the locals double up as performers is the highlight of the day.
  3. Celebrations continue at the Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan where clouds of colours burst in thin air making everything in their way vivid.
  4. The Holi procession in Mathura is the epitome of cultural diversification. Plays, skits, tableaux, and floral decorations are some of the ingredients of the crazy cocktail this city makes for the spectators.
Mathura comes to life during Holi.
The barely recognizable faces during the Mathura celebrations on Holi. Picture by rahulricks. 


Holi in Kullu is just a day’s affair with processions, plays on the epic of Ramayana, a lot of local community mingling and good Himachali food. The jolliness starts at nine early in the morning with the locals smearing each other’s faces with gulaal and goes on till about five.


Holi in Udaipur is a refreshing change from the other cities, considering its celebrations are royal. The 2-day celebration comprises the Mewar Holika Dahan, which takes place in the City Palace. The royal family takes the lead by lighting the pyre, followed by the locals performing Gair (a traditional folk dance). A procession then commences, oozing with music played by a live band. Starting from Shambhu Niwas Palace, it goes up to Manek Chowk aka the Royal Residence. The final punctuation is a royal feast for all the attendees and a firework show.

City-wide celebrations in Udaipur.
Gulaal takes over the city streets in Udaipur. Picture by o.koloskova.

Our cosy hostel in Udaipur serves travellers right in every way. Check it out here.


Houses decorated with flowers and rangolis, a 7-day celebration at the Govind Ji Temple, and enactments of Raas-Leela and other plays- this pretty much sums up Holi in Jaipur. A little on the milder side, you can relax and also explore the city.

City Palace Jaipur on Holi.
The royal occurrence of events on Holi eve in the City Palace in Jaipur. Picture by anathaniel_23.

Zostel Jaipur is centrally located at Hawa Mahal and just a casual walk from nearly every monument in the city! Check it out here.

Sujanpur Tira

Sujanpur Tira is a little hilly town located on the banks of Beas River. It is approximately 65 km from Dharamshala and is a scenic 2-hr drive away.

The 4-day city fair at the Chaugan Ground in this district is a mixture of various ethnicities and cultures coming together to celebrate the festival of Holi. The current chief minister of the state inaugurates the onset of events which include folk dances, music, and food from various states.

There you go. The best places to head to this Holi for an extended vacation and trust me, they’re not just limited to the festival celebration. All of these places are backpacker friendly and waiting to be explored by adventure lovers such as yourself.

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Writer, Kanak Kundlani.