All around the world December is one of everyone’s favourite month because of Christmas or New Years celebrations. This is certainly true in the Indian state of Kerala where they celebrate the Cochin Carnival. Head to Kerala for one of the most happening New Years party destinations around the world!
When is the Cochin Carnival?
Cochin Carnival is held annually in mostly in the last two weeks of December in the lead up to New Years Eve with celebrations culminating on the 1st of January. The official 2020-2021 Cochin Carnival dates start on the 25th December 2020 and finish on 1st January 2021.
NOTE: This carnival can be cancelled or postponed at any time due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19. The organizes are monitoring the situation and will listen to advice from governments and public health organisations to ensure everyone’s safety.
Where is the Cochin Carnival?
The city of Kochi located in the Indian state of Kerala, sits on the south west coast of India and borders the Laccadive Sea. Fort Kochi is the centre of all the Cochin Carnival activities that occur during the Cochin Carnival. Fort Kochi is a region within the city of Kochi.
The local people of Kochi are called Kochiites and are known for their vibrant lifestyle which is elevated during carnival. The Cochin Carnival brings lots of joy and merriment to the people and the energy levels in the city rise during carnival.
What is the Cochin Carnival?
Cochin Carnival is the time of year when the city of Kochi, India transforms into a madhouse. It is a 10-day celebration that leads up to the New Year and sees an array of activities and events. The Cochin Carnival is about celebrating life in all its vigour.
How do they celebrate the Cochin Carnival?
During the Cochin Carnival the town is all beautifully decorated and lit up. Literally every part of the city is full with colourful lights, graffiti work and Christmas decorations. The streets become alive with gorgeous processions full of colourful costumes, and embellished elephants. There is lots of music and dance, and lots and lots of merrymaking and fun occurring.
The carnival begins with the carnival flag being hosted at Vasco da Gama Square. The carnival has lots of impressive events like food festivals, art shows, music concerts, sport events and so much more to enhance the festive spirit.
Preparations for Cochin Carnival begin months in advance with parties, fairs, games, dance competitions and fancy-dress parades. The festival finishes with the burning of a huge giant effigy who represents Santa Clause on New Years Eve.
Origins of Cochin Carnival
Cochin Carnivals origins actually date back to when the Portuguese used to rule over the area from 1503 to 1663. The Portuguese used to welcome the New Year with lots of grand parties and festivities. Fort Kochi was actually the capital city for the Portuguese colonisers at the time and hence the main place for the celebrations.
This tradition actually died out after the end of colonial rule but only to be revived in the 20th century. Three young locals revived this celebration back in 1984 to honour the UN’s declaration of the ‘International Year of the Youth’ and were supported by over 150 youth groups and organisations.
Cochin Carnival Principals
Cochin Carnival has five main principals which are Participation, Peace, Progress, Adventure and Environment, which are the essence of carnival. Because of these principals Kochi is decorated in white decorations, which is the official carnival colour because white symbolises peace.
Burning of Effigy Papaanji
When the clock strikes twelve on midnight NYE, the giant carnival effigy of Papaanji is burnt. Papaanji is a giant effigy of old man who resembles Santa Clause. This symbolically casts away evil and bids goodbye to the previous year and ushers in the new year. There is also an incredible NYE firework show and a massive gala party.
January 1st Procession
The New Years Day Procession is the highlight of the event and attracts the largest crowds. The procession is led by beautifully decorated elephants. It is a colourful procession featuring incredible performances from talented folk musicians, artists and dancers. The procession is an amalgamation of different Indian cultures including Anglo Indian, Gujarati and Konkani.
Cochin Carnival Competitions
Cochin Carnival also has a competitive element to it. There are various games to compete in including beach football, beach volleyball, a bike race, sea swimming and even a tug a war. The events are good spirited fun and while the winners get prizes, the competition is more about the spirit of participation.
How to Reach Cochin Carnival?
If you are coming from overseas you can fly to the Cochin International Airport which is about 40km away from Fort Kochi and is a well-connected airport. To get a quote for a flight click here.
If you are coming domestically you can easily take a train as there are two major train stations in Kochi – Ernaculam Junction and Ernakulam Town.
How to get around Cochin Carnival?
The best way to get around carnival is on foot. There is plenty of local transport that can get you to Fort Kochi if you are not staying close by it’s very easy to use cabs to get around the city.
Book your Hotel and Flight for the Kochi Carnival
Where to stay for Cochin Carnival?
Kochi is a big city so there are plenty of accommodation options to suit all budgets. October to March is the high season so expect to pay more, particularly during carnival. The best place to stay for carnival is close to Fort Kochi so you can easily go to and from the carnival.
Some budget hotels close to Fort Kochi include Hotel Malpe Regency, Hotel Park Avenue and Vedanta Wake Up which offer accommodation from $10-20US a night. Mid-range hotels in that area include Orion Holidays, Harbour View, North Pride Hotel and Fort Castle which would set you back $20-$60 per night.
Luxury accommodation around Fort Kochi includes The Old Harbour Hotel, Koder House, The Killians Boutique Hotel which can cost from $60 – $200 per night. The premium hotels in that area are Bruton Boatyard, Neemrana’s Le Colonial, Taj by Vivanta and Malabar House which can set you back from $100- $2000US per night.
Check out some accommodation options here.
What to do and see at Cochin Carnival?
There is so much to do and see in Kochi. The area is steeped in history you could visit some of its historical monuments including the Bolgatty palace and Mattancherry palace. You could check out the Indo-Portugese Museum to find out more about its colonial past. Or enjoy its natural beauty and watch a sunset from Cherrain Beach.
Take a Tour!
If you are lucky enough to have a longer holiday or you dont want the hassle of planning a vacation then definetly check out all the really amazing itineraries on Tour Radar! There is nothing quite like visiting India, the culture, the colour, the food, the history, the architecture, it is one of the most enchanting destinations in the world. For the 18-35 crowd you can check out Gap Adventures which offers some great tours as well. For more information about tours, things to do, sightseeing tours, day trips and more click here.
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