9 Classical and Folk Music Festivals in India That You Should Not Miss (2023)

Whenever I talk to my friends about traveling in a group, the term “music festival” comes up very often. For music lovers, India is a whole new world with an array of different kinds of folk music at different corners of the country and a plethora of native instruments! Over the years, India has become open to international music and one can find various Indian music festivals collaborating with international music organizations. Moreover, since India has a rich variety of folk music across all the 4 cardinal directions; North, East, West and South, the combinations that arise from experimenting with different styles are innumerous! If you’re the kind of musician that hunts down for different sounds or even if you’re someone who just enjoys listening to different styles, music festivals would definitely be on your yearly to-do lists. So, to treat those ears, here are some of the major folk and classical music festivals in India.

1. Hornbill Festival (Folk & Western)

When and where can one see the whole Naga culture come together to mesmerize the world? It’s undoubtedly the Hornbill Festival. One of the greatest cultural tourism celebrations in the nation, the Hornbill Music Festival, has been attracting a wealth of vacationers throughout the years. This 7-day cultural holiday is held in the midst of the picturesque environs of Kohima in December. While here, you get the opportunity to witness the greatest rock music challenge in the nation. Furthermore, you can also find out about the rich cultural heritage of the place all under one rooftop.

Click here to go to the website.

Where : Kohima, Nagaland
When :1 – 10 December, 2018

2. Ziro Music Festival (Folk & Western)

This is THE thing you’ve been craving for : An open-air celebration set in the rich Ziro Valley with independent music, Himalayan perspectives, and grass to lie back on. The line-up incorporates a blend of groups from the Northeast and also some electronic, shake, and jazz acts. The celebration is also an opportunity to meet the Apatani tribe; the indigenous group from the district known for their animist culture, economical way of life, and conventional tattoo culture. The Apatani towns, where the group lives and homesteads, are a short stroll from the scene and local people are glad to converse with any guest.

Click here to go to the website.

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Where :Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
When :To be announced

3. Dover Lane Music Festival (Indian Classical)

One of the biggest Indian Classical musical meeting held in India is the Dover Lane Music Festival. It is facilitated in the capital city of West Bengal, Kolkata and is a yearly occasion being carried on for 50 years now. It began as a social affair of a few musicians and later transformed into one of the most culturally imperative musical occasion of the year.

It is a six-day long occasion graced by maestros in the field of music. The primary motive behind the inception of the Dover Lane Music Festival was to pull in more of the youth towards music and other artistic expressions. Over the years, they have effectively advanced in different arts and as a result, have provided nurturing for budding talents in the field of music.

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Where : Southern Avenue, Kolkota
When :To be announced for January 2019

4. Saptak Festival of Music (Indian Classical)

One of the main musical occasions of the year at this part of the country is the Saptak Music celebration, which takes place in the first week of January. Pandit Ravi Shankar introduced this festival in 1980. The festival goes on for a time of 11 days and is overseen by an open magnanimous trust which runs the Saptak School of Music. In addition to this hosting concerts, Saptak tries to keep alive the blurring conventions of vocal music like Thumri and Dhrupad, and instruments like Sarangi and Pakhawaj by welcoming the more established era of craftsmen who have practical experience in these directions.

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Where : Ahmedabad, Gujarat
When :To be announced for Januray 2019

5. Tansen Music Festival (Indian Classical)

Gwalior Gharana is one of the most seasoned and lofty gharana in the Indian music industry. The celebrated musical legend, Tansen, has also been a part of this gharana and this festival is held in his memory.

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Where :Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh
When :21 – 26December, 2018

6. Thyagaraja Music Festival (Folk & Indian Classical)

This festival is held in the memory of a saint cum musician, Thyagaraja. He spent the majority of his life in Thiruvaiyaru, Tamilnadu and this is the setting where this music festival is facilitated each year. The principle fascination of this festival is the gathering execution by incredible musicians of the Pancharathna Krithis. This festival is regarded as one of the best folk and classical music festivals in Southern India.

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Where : Tyagaraja, Tamill Nadu
When :To be announced for Jan 2019

7. Ragasthan (Folk and Western)

If you are looking for a mixture of folk, classical and western music in West India, Ragasthan is THE festival to go to. The desert of Rajasthan adds to the mood of this festival and there is simply nothing that you could think of that even remotely resembles the music and art during the festival. In addition to Magnetic Fields, which showcases mostly rock and electronic music, this festival is wider in scope and attracts the crowd from a wider variety of tastes.

Click here to go to the website.

Where :Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
When : To be announced for 2019

8. ITC Sangeet Sammelan (Indian Classical)

ITC Sangeet Sammelan is another exceptionally well known musical occasion being facilitated in India. It is held each year in different parts of India. As the name recommends, it is organized by ITC. It had begun in the year 1971 in Delhi. With time it has turned out to be a standout amongst the most esteemed occasions of traditional and classical music festivals in India. Furthermore, it also stands out as one of the most popular cultural music festivals in the country.

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Where : Throughout India
When : Refer to the calendar here.

9. Sankatmochan Music Festival (Folk & Classical)

The Sankat Mochan Sangeet Samaroh is a yearly music celebration held in Varanasi in lieu of Hanuman Jayanti. Being held for 70 years now, it has turned into a vital occasion among folk music festivals in India as the best musicians of the nation take a huge interest in this astounding festival. Held on the eve of Hanuman Jayanti, the celebration witnesses to a great degree some astounding and vibrant vibe loaded with classical music making the event a dreamlike encounter. This yearly celebration holds an extraordinary place in the hearts of the groups of pilgrims and travelers who visit Varanasi every year. This 6-day long celebration is a tribute and a “haazari” to Lord Hanuman and the musicians feel regarded to be a piece of this superb felicitation.

Clikc here to go to the event page.

Where : Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
When :4-9 April, 2018

There are endless festivals that take place all across India, in villages, small towns, and cities. Exploration is something that doesn’t expect you to browse at home and read a list and go seek it. It is what you find yourself. When I was in Dharamkot, I attended a small Israeli music meet on a rainy day at an unknown cafe and it blew my mind! These are some of the smaller things that come unexpectedly, and that is what makes up your story. So go out there and seek what you wish and stay in tune!

To read more on the regional folk music in India and where you can listen to them, check out the links below:

  1. North Indian Folk Music
  2. East Indian Folk Music
  3. West Indian Folk Music
  4. South Indian Folk Music

Featured Image Courtesy: Indian Eagle

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Tags: classical music festivals in indiafolk music festivals in indiamusic festivals in india


How many music festivals are there in India? ›

26 Music Festivals In India 2022 - Location, Dates.

What are the main traditional of classical Indian music? ›

There are two major traditions of Indian classical music. They are Carnatic music, a style associated with South India, and Hindustani music, a style associated with North India.

How many types of classical music does India have? ›

It exists in four major forms: Dhrupad, Khyal (or Khayal), Tarana, and the semi-classical Thumri. Dhrupad is ancient, Khyal evolved from it, Thumri evolved from Khyal.

What is Indian classical music known for? ›

Indian classical music is a rich tradition that originated in South Asia and can now be found in all corners of the world. It's origins date back to sacred Vedic scriptures over 6,000 years ago where chants developed a system of musical notes and rhythmic cycles.

How is the biggest festival in India? ›

Diwali is the biggest and most important festival in India. It is a national festival, like Christmas in Western countries, but it is also celebrated by some non-Hindu communities. Diwali falls in October or November, the celebrations last for 5 days, and they celebrate the triumph of good over evil.

Where is the biggest music festival in the world? ›

The world's largest music festival takes place in Vienna, Austria, a city known for its rich musical history. The Donauinselfest is named after the artificial island of Donauinsel, which sits near Vienna's city center.


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