Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the most celebrated festivals in India – so much so that if you were to travel to India during the festival, you can really expect to see the whole country come alive with street parties, parades, crafts, and festive vibes that just cannot be beaten. And thankfully, there are many different ways that tourists can get involved in all the celebrations, from dancing to eating street food and even having a go at making Diwali cards to pass out to their friends and loved ones or perhaps even send back home as a postcard.

Of course, India is a massive place. Which is why you should whittle your search down to only the best destinations – with Goa at the top of the list. Goa offers a perfect blend of stunning beaches and luxurious resorts, providing a picturesque and romantic setting – making it a favourite location for destination weddings. 

Goa’s lively culture, delicious cuisine, and vibrant nightlife ensure that the region’s Diwali celebrations are filled with unforgettable moments for tourists. Here are just some of the leading experiences you can soak up when you travel to Goa during the Diwali festival season.

1. Witness the Illuminated Charm of Panaji:

Panaji

It makes sense that Panaji, the capital city of Goa, sits at the top of this list. This city just exudes majesty with its colonial architecture and charming streets and that all comes to life during Diwali when the entire city lights up with beautiful decorations and twinkling lights, creating a mesmerising sight to behold. 

If you choose to visit Panaji during Diwali, it pays to get in early because the burning of the effigies on day one truly is a site to behold. These effigies are stuffed with fireworks and the whole city literally explodes to life as the locals celebrate the purging of the demon king and the beginning of five days of festivities.

2. Enjoy the Festive Atmosphere at Mapusa:

Mapusa

Mapusa is one of the delightful market towns of Goa located at the northern end of the state and known for its wide range of events and activities, perfect for all of your travelling guests and the bridal party. You will find everything here, from rivers and creeks that wind through the local communities to temples and churches that are centuries old along with a bustling local community that loves to barter and trade. This is another region that comes to life during Diwali with a wide range of community events that provide the perfect backdrop for your festive adventure.

3. Experience Beachside Celebrations at Baga, Candolim, and Calangute:

Candolim Beach

For many people, barefoot weddings with white sands between your toes and the gorgeous setting sun over the ocean is an ideal backdrop for exchanging rings and vows. Goa delivers this in spades, but there are three destinations that take the cake: Baga, Candolim, and Calangute. Upon your arrival to any of these coastal havens, you can expect to find picturesque beach settings all along their sparkling coastlines. The waterfront is also dotted with quaint shacks for accommodation and restaurants featuring the best local cuisine, so you can always enjoy a great view of the Indian Ocean.

Of course, during Diwali, experiences in Goa become even richer as the fireworks are fired over the ocean and the locals celebrate in grand fashion. So whether you’re travelling to scout out a great destination wedding location, are looking for a beautiful place to pop the question, or simply just want to celebrate Diwali in a romantic setting, any of these coastal towns are sure to be the perfect place for you and your loved one to escape away together during the Festival of Lights.

4. Explore the Rich Cultural Heritage of Margao:

Margao

Margao, one of the oldest towns in Goa, offers a rich cultural experience during Diwali. Known for its traditional markets and historical landmarks, Margao provides a glimpse into the heritage of Goa. The town’s markets are bustling with activity, offering a variety of local produce, sweets, and festive items.

Take a stroll through the old streets of Margao, visiting its famous churches and temples, which are beautifully decorated for Diwali. The town also hosts cultural events and performances that reflect the diverse traditions of Goa. Exploring Margao during Diwali allows you to experience the festival’s essence while discovering the town’s historical charm.

5. Book a Cruise Along the Mandovi River:

Mandovi_river_Goa

A dolphin cruise along the Mandovi River is another delightful way to celebrate Diwali in Goa. These cruises offer a unique perspective of the city’s skyline, illuminated by the festive lights. Many cruises also feature live entertainment, including traditional Goan music and dance performances, adding to the festive ambiance.

As you sail along the river, you can enjoy a sumptuous dinner aboard the cruise, featuring a variety of Goan delicacies. The highlight of the evening is often the spectacular display of fireworks, which can be best viewed from the river. This experience combines the tranquility of a river cruise with the excitement of Diwali celebrations, making it a memorable part of your trip.

Bonus: Exploring Goa’s Natural Beauty and Adventure Activities

While Diwali festivities are a major highlight, Goa also offers a wealth of natural beauty and adventure activities that you shouldn’t miss. The post-monsoon season in October brings lush greenery and pleasant weather, ideal for exploring the outdoors. 

Consider visiting the spice plantations, taking a trek to the Dudhsagar Waterfalls, or engaging in water sports like kayaking and parasailing. The serene backwaters and dense forests provide a contrasting experience to the bustling beaches. For wildlife enthusiasts, a visit to the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary or the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary can be a rewarding experience.

Combining these adventures with the festive celebrations creates a well-rounded trip, allowing you to experience both the cultural and natural wonders of Goa.

Conclusion:

Visiting Goa during Diwali offers a unique blend of festive cheer, cultural richness, and natural beauty. Whether you’re wandering through the illuminated streets of Panaji, soaking in the festive atmosphere at Mapusa, enjoying beachside celebrations at Baga, Candolim, and Calangute, exploring the cultural heritage of Margao, or cruising along the Mandovi River, each experience adds a special touch to your Diwali celebrations.

To make the most of your trip, plan ahead and ensure you have a mix of activities that allow you to enjoy both the festive and serene sides of Goa. Happy travels and a joyous Diwali!

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

By Krushna Rathi

Architect, Academic, and mother to two, passionate about travel, literature, and the transformative power of experiences.

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