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Best Places to Visit in India for Christmas Cheer

By Betsy Burlingame

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Summary: Plan a day trip or weekend getaway to get some holiday cheer. This article highlights the best places to visit in India for Christmas cheer.

Living in India - Best Places to Visit in India for Christmas Cheer

India, with its diverse culture and traditions, offers a unique experience for expats and digital nomads looking to get into the holiday spirit. While Christmas may not be as widely celebrated as in Western countries, there are still plenty of places where the festive mood is palpable, and the celebrations are vibrant. From the traditional to the trendy, here are some of the best places to visit in India in December to soak up the holiday cheer.


Goa is synonymous with celebrations and is one of the most spirited places in India during Christmas. The state has a significant Christian population, and the festive season is marked by midnight masses, carol singing, and beautifully decorated churches. The entire state is lit up, with markets and streets adorned with poinsettias and lights. The Goa Christmas Carnival is a highlight, featuring colorful parades, live music, and dance performances, typically held in the week leading up to Christmas.

We Recommend: Don't miss the traditional Goan sweets like Bebinca and Dodol sold at the local markets. The festive Goan spirit is best experienced with a slice of these delicacies, often accompanied by a glass of feni, the local cashew-based liquor.


Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, was once the capital of British India and retains a strong colonial influence, which is evident during Christmas. Park Street is the epicenter of Christmas festivities, with street lights, decorations, and a festive atmosphere that attracts locals and tourists alike. The Allen Park Christmas Festival, with its array of food stalls, live performances, and Christmas-themed attractions, is a must-visit. The festival usually starts in mid-December and continues until New Year's Eve.

We Recommend: Try the rich fruit cake from the legendary Flury's bakery on Park Street. It's a Christmas staple in Kolkata and a perfect treat to savor while enjoying the festive lights and sounds of the city.

Mumbai - Bandra Neighborhood

Mumbai's Bandra neighborhood is known for its cosmopolitan vibe and is home to many of the city's Christians. During Christmas, the area comes alive with festive decorations, especially on Hill Road and Bandstand, where local residents deck their homes with nativity scenes and twinkling lights. The Mount Mary Basilica, a Roman Catholic church, is a focal point for midnight mass and is beautifully illuminated during the season. The Bandra Fair, although more associated with the Feast of the Nativity of Mary in September, also adds to the neighborhood's festive reputation.

We Recommend: Visit the Christmas markets in Bandra for unique handmade gifts and ornaments. The local bakeries also offer a variety of Christmas treats, including marzipan and rum-soaked plum cakes.


Kochi, in the southern state of Kerala, has a rich history of Christianity dating back to the arrival of Portuguese explorers. The city's Christmas spirit is best experienced through its elaborate church services and processions. Fort Kochi is particularly festive, with streets lined with stars and lights. The Cochin Carnival, held at the end of December, is a cultural extravaganza with parades, folk dances, and games, culminating in a massive New Year's Eve celebration.

We Recommend: Attend the midnight mass at the Santa Cruz Basilica in Fort Kochi for a truly spiritual experience. The church is a stunning example of Gothic architecture and is beautifully decorated during the Christmas season.


Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, has a significant Christian population and celebrates Christmas with great enthusiasm. The whole city is festooned with lights and stars, and the air is filled with the sound of carols. The Police Bazar area is particularly lively, with shops and streets decked out in festive decor. The Shillong Christmas Festival, featuring cultural programs, food stalls, and live music, adds to the holiday cheer.

We Recommend: Sample the local Khasi cuisine at the Christmas markets. Jadoh, a spicy rice and meat dish, is a must-try for those looking to experience the local flavors of Shillong.

New Delhi - Connaught Place

Connaught Place, the heart of New Delhi, is a hub for Christmas festivities. The colonial-era shopping district is beautifully decorated with lights and Christmas trees, creating a merry atmosphere. The Sacred Heart Cathedral, close to Connaught Place, is known for its grand Christmas Eve mass. The Christmas markets in and around Connaught Place offer everything from festive decorations to winter clothing and gourmet food.

We Recommend: Enjoy the Christmas carols at the Sacred Heart Cathedral and indulge in the seasonal treats from the various bakeries around Connaught Place, such as plum cakes and gingerbread cookies.

Bangalore - MG Road

Bangalore's MG Road transforms into a Christmas wonderland with the annual Christmas Festival. The street is lined with twinkling lights, and shops display festive decorations. The St. Patrick's Church on Brigade Road is known for its beautiful crib and midnight mass. The Bangalore Winter Festival, which usually takes place in late December, features food stalls, live music, and a Santa parade, making it a perfect place for holiday merrymaking.

We Recommend: Don't miss the chance to taste the variety of Christmas cakes available at the local bakeries on MG Road. The rich flavors of fruit and nuts mixed with spices are a holiday delight.


The former French colony of Pondicherry has a unique charm during Christmas with its French Quarter, or White Town, adorned with lights and festive decorations. The Immaculate Conception Cathedral and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus are focal points for celebrations, with midnight masses that draw large crowds. The Christmas market in Pondicherry offers a mix of French and Indian holiday treats and crafts.

We Recommend: Try the French pastries and Christmas goodies at the bakeries in White Town. The fusion of French and Indian culinary traditions creates some truly unique and delicious treats.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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