Five Traditional Goa Festivals for Every Traveler to Enjoy

Goa is a harmonious blend of cultures and traditions due to the arrival of immigrants, traders, and missionaries in the past. The Goa, although with a long history of colonial rule, has several rich and colorful traditional festivals.

The traditional Goa festivals are all about people dressing up in colorful dresses, food, music, and dance. These festivals showcase the beauty of Goan culture and the unique heritage of its people. Exploring these traditional festivities could be an interesting endeavor for any vacationer. 


1. Feast Of Three Kings

As one of the traditional Goa festivals, the Feast of Three Kings retells the story of three wise men visiting Mary and Joseph after the birth of Jesus. During the festival, the Catholics community collectively pays their respect to the Lady of Mount (Virgin Mary), the protector of the poor. The shrine of Virgin Mary is decorated for the occasion and special masses are organized.

Interestingly, re-enactment of the Magi’s journey to meet baby Jesus performed by the village children is a star attraction of the festival.

Who celebrates it? Predominantly Catholic festival, however the entire community participates in the festival 

Where? Quelim, Arrosim, Cansaulim, Reis Magos, and Chandor

When? First week of January

Why is it special? Village fares are to buy handicrafts, bangles, metal items, spices, sweets, clothes directly from the craftsmen.


2. Shigmo

Similar to Chinese New Year, Shigmo Festival or Shigmotsav is a 14 day celebration welcoming the springtime. Predominantly Hindu festival, Shigmo is associated with the Konkani Diaspora. The celebrations begin with people offering their prayers to the gods and goddesses of the village. Next an elaborate parade accompanied with traditional music and folk dances performances are organized.  

Who celebrates it? Konkani Hindu

Where? Phatarpya, Jambavali, Dhargale and Kansarpal

When? March

Why is it special? Elaborate parade and cultural parades followed by an elaborate feast


3. Good Friday

Good Friday is one of the important traditional Goa festivals among the Goan Catholics, as it marks the culmination of the strict fast associated with Lent. On the eve of Good Friday, a feast (symbolic of the Last Supper) is held in every household. The end of the meal marks the end of the fast for Easter. Next day, special masses and sermon are held and a new cross is unveiled in most of the Churches of Goa.

Overall, Good Friday and Easter Sunday is an emotional festival for most Goan Catholics.

Who celebrates it? Catholics

Where? All over the state

When? April


4. Ganesh Chaturthi

One of the most important Hindu festivals of India, Ganesh Chaturthi celebrated in the honor of Lord Ganesha (the elephant headed god in Hindu pantheon). Usually, Ganesh Chaturthi is a ten day festival, which begins after the Ganesha idol is brought into the home. For the occasion, the entire home is decorated and special sweets are prepared as an offering for the God. People, dressed up in colorful and brand new clothes, participate in the celebrations and processions. At the end of the festival, the Ganesha idol is immerged in the sea.       

Who celebrates it? Hindus

Where? All over the state

When? Mid August-September

Why is it special? Elaborate festive decorations and cultural events


5. Feast of St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier is an important figure for the Catholic community of Goa. He converted several followers to Christianity, preached to the Hindu communities, built churches, and spread the words of the Bible in the Konkan belt. Each years, thousands of devotes visit the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa to pay their homage to the revered saint on his death anniversary. Additionally, special masses and feasts are also organized.

Who celebrates it? Catholics

Where? Basilica of Bom Jesus, Bainguinim

When? 3rd December

Why is it special? Masses and feast are organized

P.S: Every ten years, the silver casket containing the body of the saint is put on display. Next time the casket would be on display at 2024.

P.S.S: Miraculously the corpse of the revered saint has not decomposed even after 400 years of his death.


6. Christmas

Christmas is probably the one of the, if not the, most famous traditional Goa festivals. The Christmas witnesses a surge in the number of tourists, the entire takes up a festive fervor. On the Christmas Eve, special masses are organized. Additionally, gifts are exchanged for the occasion as well as the entire state takes in a party attitude. Although a catholic festival, Christmas is celebrated throughout the state among all the communities. 

Who celebrates it? Predominantly Catholics festival

Where? All over the state

When? 25th December

Why is it special? The entire state engages in a week long party, filled with music, dance and celebrations.

The traditional Goa festivals showcase the beauty of the Goan culture and heritages.


Further Reading:

All You Need to Know about Public Holidays in Goa

Goa Culture – Six Points You Can’t Miss

Exploring the History of Goa

Go Bonkers with the Goa Carnival

Why Visit Goa – Ten Reasons to Go at Once

A Detailed Guide for Solo Trip to Goa

Sunburn Festival in Goa