We’re about to begin the final month of 2017 in a few days, and you know what that means: Christmas is coming. While other parts of the world are already well into the Christmas spirit, India hasn’t really started yet. But that’s a good thing, because you still have a week or two to plan out your Christmas getaways. Christmas 2017 is falling on a Monday too this year, and that means one thing: a long weekend. And if you can take leaves for the next four days, you can get a nice, chunky 10-day vacation! But where do you head to? The spirit of Christmas may not be so widespread in India, but the country does have its corners where the spirit is strong. Here is a look at the best places in India to celebrate Christmas 2017. ALSO READ: Celebration of Christmas around the world: 6 ways Christmas is celebrated in different countries
An evening in Kochi
Christmas is a big deal in Kerala, especially so in the busy, charming city of Kochi. Around this time of the year, you’ll see churches and homes decorated with Christmas trees and elegant lighting, and bakeries and food joints getting stocked with delicious Christmas special cakes and delicacies. This is also the time when the Cochin Carnival and the Kochi Muziris Biennale shopping festival happen, along with the Indira Gandhi Boat Race on December 28. Plus, Christmas is the best time to visit Kochi’s beautiful churches, like the Koonankurishu Church, Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, and St.Francis Church.
Meghalaya’s capital city of Shillong, surrounded by the East Khasi hills, is also big on Christmas celebrations. But with fewer tourists coming here during the winters, you’ll find a more serene, relaxing climate in this ‘Abode of Clouds’. Churches, houses and even streets are decorated with Christmas lights, and special food is prepared for you to enjoy. This is also the perfect time for taking evening strolls, when you can hear sweet Christmas carols and hymns everywhere. CHECK OUT: Best Places to Visit in December 2017 in India
Hanuman Tibba, Manali
If Christmas for you involves snow, you cannot go wrong with one of the most famous and most accessible Himalayan holiday spots, Manali in Himachal Pradesh. Located in Kullu Valley, Manali is postcard-perfect throughout the year, and especially so during Christmas, when the winter is well on its way setting in. Book a nice log cabin in this snowy destination and spend your days playing in the snow or snuggling next to a bonfire. Just remember that this is also peak season for Manali, so expect hotel costs to be high and vacancies hard to find unless you book fast.
Speaking of peak season and super-popular Christmas getaways, we cannot miss out on evergreen Goa! The beach state is known for its parties and festivals, and is in its element the most during Christmas. Expect maximum pomp and show this time of the year, with Christmas lights and decorations everywhere and poinsettia flowers all over the city. Expect melodious Christmas hymns and carols in the evenings and in Goa’s beautiful churches, and special Christmas lunches and dinners and musical performances at beach shacks and restaurants.
Puducherry, India’s own slice of timeless France, is quickly compared to Goa because of its similar colonial histories and Roman Catholic heritage. And that means they also have comparable Christmas celebrations. Puducherry, still fondly called Pondicherry, dials it up to 11 when it comes to Christmas celebrations. There is a sense of exuberance and joy in the air that you may not find any other time of the year. Explore the sights and sounds of Pondicherry and do not forget to visit its churches, like the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Church of the Assumption, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges, and Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. NOW READ: Top 10 places to enjoy a Christmas meal in Mumbai
Christmas is a special time of the year, and experiencing this festival in India is something else altogether. So if you do not see any celebrations in sight where you live, book your tickets and see how India celebrates Christmas by visiting these little pockets around the country.