Image: Varun Shiv Kapur
Reshma Krishnan Barshikar
This is the year to travel and 2015 is going to see the best in music, literature and culture in India. We host the biggest blues, folk and electronic festivals in Asia and that is no mean feat. Here are our top five picks of Indian events in 2015 – there’s something for everyone, the bookworm, the metal head and the romantic.
Jaipur Literature Festival
Put the biggest authors, the most fanatical readers and celebrities into five tents in Diggi Palace, Jaipur for five days and you have, as Tina Brown says, the greatest literary show on earth. Add to that, a persistent rumor that either Oprah or J K Rowling might appear as well as some wonderful music, perhaps together even, and you have one hell of a party. It’s the Glastonbury of books. The crowds are going to flock there to get a glimpse of V.S Naipaul and Shabana Azmi. They are going to wait in line to see Naseeruddin Shah and Girish Karnad in conversation and stampede to gaze at Waheeda Rahman. My personal favorite session will no doubt be the one featuring Jung Chang, the writer of the monumental work Wild Swans that made my trip to China all the more special. Don’t panic- there’s still time for tickets; we recommend getting a delegate ticket, which allows for a ringside view. For more information visit Eventraveler’s Jaipur Literature Festival page.
Mahindra Blues Festival
The largest Blues Festival in Asia has always outdone itself by introducing India to blues legends like Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker Jr., Taj Mahal, and Walter Trout. It is held across three venues at the eclectic Mehboob studio (in Mumbai), which lends itself beautifully to the occasion. The first day sees Warren Mendosa who is known for his critically acclaimed solo project Blackstratblues. The highlight of the second day is of course the renowned Buddy Guy who is playing with Quinn Sullivan. If he’s as good as the time he played Lodhi gardens on a chilly November evening, this will be a night to remember. Check Eventraveler’s Mahindra Blues Festival page for tickets and more information.
Rajasthan International Folk Festival
Imagine listening to Sufi ghazals as you gaze at the Sharad Purnima, the brightest full moon in the northern sky. Coming up from behind Mehrangarh Fort, it creates an eerie glow that gives you shivers. Or that could just be the freezing desert air. No fear, just ask for another cup of Kahwah. The Rajasthan International Folk Festival, also known as the Jodhpur RIFF, is the most exquisite musical event on the Indian Calendar and renowned for its focus on world folk music. 2014 saw Flamenco dancers tap floorboards with blues artists from the Yemen. The festival is expected to take place between 23rd October to the 27th October and we suggest you plan your Diwali a little early. Details available on Eventraveler’s Rajasthan International Folk Festival page.
Sunburn Music Festival
From Sufi we move to Soul Trance and Sunburn is only getting bigger and better, despite their slight venue hiccup in 2013 when they moved from Candolim to Vagator. 2014 saw no respite for the crowds as a hundred and fifty spun, rather played (do they even spin anymore?), everything from Dubstep to Deep House. And you might think that it’s a little early to be planning an event that just got over last week but this is Goa in December and the annual country-wide migration to our hippest coast means you need to book your tickets and accommodation because, while the beach makes for great mattress in the moonlight, waking up to sand in your mouth isn’t half as romantic. Details for Sunburn 2015 can be found on Eventraveler’s Sunburn Music Festival page.
Smaller festivals that have as big a sound
Perhaps you don’t want to travel to the biggest or the loudest and that’s fine because there’s always a small shindig that accommodates your budget. The boys at NH7 always have something in store for you with their Bacardi Weekenders that rock crowds from Kolkota to Pune. Then there’s the SulaFest 2015 that takes place in Nashik on February 7th & 8th. Hitch a tent from across from a vineyard, stroll over for a taste or twenty, and watch some wonderful emerging talent perform for you from all over the world. Details coming soon.
Reshma Krishnan Barshikar is a travel writer and contributes to National Geographic Traveller, India Today Travel Plus and Helter Skelter. When in Mumbai, she can be found at the NCPA library researching her next novel. Her debut novel, Fade Into Red, is a romantic ode to wine and Tuscany and was published by Random House India in August 2014. For more details visit her website www.reshmakrishnan.com.