India’s festival scene has never been more prominent. With new festivals coming up every other day, we look at how the North East of India has the potential to be the country’s festival capital!
It might strike you odd that we’ve grouped the seven states of North East into this feature, but allow us to explain why. Firstly, all the states that make up the North East, namely Assam, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland, are huddled together in the easternmost part of India, exclusive from the rest of the country. This remoteness earns them an affectionately distinctive flavour, that’s unique from the culture the country is otherwise used to watching. Secondly, the brevity of the states makes it possible for a traveler to cover them all on a whim! Thirdly, every single one of these states boast of a culture so individualistic, that it’s waiting to be discovered.
Today, we look at all the active festivals that are helping further the culture of the North East and the various reasons why it could hold the potential to be the perfect festival destination!
1. The Pristine Location
Can we just sit back and appreciate just how truly beautiful the North East really is. Blessed with hills, mountains, valleys and lakes, along with lush green forests, the area genuinely represents the very best of India’s natural attraction. This, coupled with the fact that the North East is relatively untouched, not just from massive industrialisation but also from excessive tourism, leaves the region an avenue waiting to be discovered.
2. The genial, hilly weather
Apart from being demurely beautiful, the North East is blessed with round-the-clock pleasant weather that makes trips possible, any time of the year. The greenness of the area contributes to its general pleasantness; which is something any festival organiser can take advantage of.
3. The largely undiscovered terrain
While tourism to the North East has always been high, it has been generally less aggressive as opposed to the North of India, or even Rajasthan, for that matter. This proves extremely advantageous for the region as a festival organised in any of its untouched spots proves a distinctly unique experience.
4. The active music culture
The North East has continued to serve as the breeding ground for several acclaimed and independent music acts. From rock, to blues to jazz and metal, the region continues to push forward artists from across the spectrum. Acts like Soulmate, Digital Suicide, Lucid Recess and Boomerang all claim allegiance to the North East; the consequence of which is that there is a ready audience to any kind of festival willing to come up. There is no better value for work for a festival organiser than that the North East knows its music.
5. The Music Festivals of the North East
Succinctly, some extremely well-curated festivals have been ably sustaining the musical culture in the North East year after year. We chronicle the very best of the lot –
Ziro Festival of Music
Where: Arunachal Pradesh
One of the most breathtakingly located festivals in the country, the Ziro Festival of Music takes place annually in Arunachal Pradesh and will be held this year, from the 24th to the 27th of September. The festival has gained popularity over its last few editions as it is one of those few festivals promising stunning locales, great weather and the best music coming together with its 2015 edition featuring artists the likes of Nicholson, The F16s, Dualist Inquiry, Alisha Bath, Digital Suicide and Omak Kamut Collective.
(Source: Ziro Festival of Music Facebook)
Bacardi NH7 Weekender
India’s premier independent music gathering will also be heading to Shillong this year, in addition to its usual spots of Pune, Bangalore and Kolkata. Featuring artists like Megadeth, The Wailers, Lou Majaw & Friends, Soulmate, Indus Creed, Parikrama and Blackstratblues, the North Eastern debut of the festival is eagerly awaited.
Where: Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
Held on the Indo-China War Battlefield, is the Akampa Festival, a gathering that brings together music, adventure sports, outdoor camping, local art workshops and more. And all this while you gaze at Tawang’s beautiful landscape in the distance. The festival promises a taste of local culture by infusing tribal sounds with electronic music. This combined with the infusion of local arts, and you have a festival giving you travel experience like never before.
(source: Akampa Facebook)
Where Have All The Flowers Gone?
Where: Imphal, Manipur
American folk singer and activist Pete Seeger gained reputation the world over for using music as a tool for social change. Inspired by this idea, his followers have chosen the date of his birthday, May the 3rd as the date for the festival named after his song, ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”. The festival seems like a culmination of art, music and a deeper social consciousness. The location is in the picturesque city of Imphal as the festival ground stands lapped up, surrounded by mountains on all sides with a strong dash of greenery, just as Pete Seeger would have approved.
River Bank Music Festival
Where: Imphal, Manipur
The Imphal based indie rock band, The Dirty Strikes’ guitarist Tom Maisnam is the man responsible for the River Bank Music Festival; an event held to create a movement towards the saving of rivers from the local population.
Where: Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
The Tawang Festival is a three-day show of cultural activity that attempts to put up a gorgeous show of the highly underrepresented culture of Arunachal Pradesh, the north-eastern most state of India. The festival takes place right after the Buddha Mahotsav, and brings together art, music, fashion, films and exhibitions, in tandem with Tawang’s local culture. Add to this the almost surrealistic beauty of the town, and you have a festival you’ll be itching to attend again and again!
(Source: Tawang Festival Facebook)
Hornbill International Rock Contest
Celebrating Nagaland’s tribal Naga culture is the Hornbill Festival. The Hornbill Festival is Nagaland’s biggest state-sponsored cultural festival, aimed at promoting inter-tribe interaction as well as the rich cultural heritage of the state. Its most famous activity, however, is the Hornbill International Rock Contest. The Hornbill Rock Festival also hosts Hornbill International Rock Competition, which has earned the reputation of being a launchpad for many promising bands. By offering prizes ranging from Rs 30,000 to a whopping Rs 10,00,000, the competition encourages entries from India as well the neighbouring countries, South East Asia and even Australia.