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Goa’s carnival will return on February 14th 2015. Staying true to St. Valentine’s Day, celebrated on the same day, the theme this year is ‘Cupid and Love’.

This year there will also be a Food and Cultural Festival held from February 13th to the 17th. A visit to the festival will give you a glimpse of some of the culinary traditions of Goa; be sure to work up an appetite as there will be plenty of gastronomic delicacies available. Guests will also get to experience cultural programmes with music and dance performances, all promising to add more spice to carnival period.


It would be a pity, letting life pass without attending at least one Goan carnival, for no matter how stressful the last year has been, locals and tourists will always take time out to celebrate this event – unique in India – with great enthusiasm.

The word carnival comes from the Latin words ‘carne’ and ‘vale’ meaning ‘goodbye meat’, a test as to how many liquor-fuelled nights one can withstand before Lent begins. In Goa however, the locals refer to the carnival as ‘intruz’—a term derived from the Portuguese ‘entrudo’, also meaning carnival.

Though primarily a Christian / Catholic tradition left behind by the Portuguese (who ruled over Goa for four centuries), the intruz is nowadays a celebration-of-sorts for all communities in Goa to come together and enjoy before the season of Lent – 40 days of abstinence from non-vegetarian food and alcohol, leading to Easter – kicks in.

The four-day extravaganza fans out from the capital city, Panjim, and the Goan streets are transformed with live music, dance, and general revelry.


The preparations for the carnival start months in advance. People across Goa begin preparing floats at least three months prior to the carnival, hoping to bag the prize awarded to the best. A great amount of time is invested in getting the costumes of the performers ready, these were previously handmade by Goan women but alas, modern day technology has had its way and now all the work is done by machine.

The carnival is in some ways a bridge between the past and the present, a reminder of Portuguese tradition intertwined with modern-day hedonism. Goans pride themselves on staying true to the carnival’s roots, maintaining classic characters like King Momo, also fondly known as the King of Chaos. During carnival, King Momo will pronounce his reign over the state of Goa, as thousands of tourists and locals line the streets to catch a glimpse of him; he’s easy to spot as he is usually the fattest and jolliest man for miles, crowned, seated on a throne and often surrounded by a bevy of young, beautiful women. Jokers, clowns, acrobats, jesters, brass bands, men walking on stilts, revellers and dancers join the parade cheering for King Momo, and locals and tourists brush shoulders; a rare time when the line between them blurs. And just like the people, the streets of the carnival’s epicentre are dressed up too, with bunting and streamers, and playing host to street parties and performances.


The celebrations have become louder and more commercial over the last decade, but still the focal point of the carnival is the parade with its dazzling array of vibrant floats followed by masked revellers, dancing through the streets to local songs and (the increasingly popular) Bollywood music. The carnival’s centre is undoubtedly Panjim but you can also see parades in Margao, Vasco, Mapusa and Ponda.

Post-parade, the party continues at private venues. Live bands perform and there are grand balls held in the evening where locals, dressed to the nines, step out till the early hours.

If you are heading for the carnival, book your hotels in advance. There is no fee to attend, everybody is invited to join in. Pack comfortable shoes, as plenty of walking is involved!

Check out Tripzuki’s collection of Goa hotels HERE.


More things to do while you’re there:

Post-carnival, take a boat cruise from Panjim on the Mandovi River. There are all-night cruises which give you an excellent opportunity to spot dolphins in the sea.

While at Margao, pay a visit to the Church of the Holy Spirit which was first built in 1565. Visit a local market and try the delicious Goan sausages or head to Longhuino’s for some Indian and Chinese dishes.

While at Mapusa, head to the local market. You can taste local delicacies like Bebinca, a 16-layered pudding, or dig into some fluffy cakes at a local bakery. On a religious note, you can head to the Church of Our Lady of Miracles.

While at Vasco, go kayaking or enjoy a full-moon cruise in Bogmalo Bay.

While at Ponda, go on an eco-trail and visit the Savoi plantation or the Sahakari Spice Farm.