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How to Plan a Diwali Trip to India 2024 (Full Diwali Guide)

By RitaUpdated Jul. 5, 2024

Known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is the most important festival in India, just like Christmas is in the West. If you travel during Diwali, you would enjoy a more vibrant India with Diwali markets, beautiful lights, and people setting off fireworks and firecrackers.

Read on to find out festival dates for Diwali, discover the most traveler-friendly destinations, be inspired by a sample itinerary, and more.

When Is Diwali?

Like most Indian holidays, the date of Diwali changes every year according to the Hindu calendar, which is based on both solar and lunar cycles.

Diwali usually lasts for 5 days, with the main day falling in the middle (day 3). Here are the upcoming dates for the main day of Diwali:

  • Diwali 2024: Friday, November 1
  • Diwali 2025: Tuesday, October 21
  • Diwali 2026: Sunday, November 8
  • Diwali 2027: Friday, October 29
  • Diwali 2028: Tuesday, October 17
  • Diwali 2029: Monday, November 5
  • Diwali 2030: Saturday, October 26

As a traveler, don't miss the first 3 days when many of the rituals, Diwali markets, and holiday lights are at their best.

On the first day, you could hang out at the Diwali markets to experience the holiday shopping chaos and see festival goods ranging from decorative items to traditional clothing and gold.

During the following days, experience creating rangoli (intricate designs on the floor) and henna painting (temporary body art on the hands) on the streets. On the main day, light up the clay oil lamps or diyas and enjoy a Diwali feast at your hotel or with a local family.

The 6 Best Places to Celebrate Diwali in India

Although Diwali is celebrated in most of the country, North India is highly recommended as the weather is cooler and drier than in South India. We've handpicked the following six places for you.

Delhi and Jaipur are quite family-friendly places to enjoy classic Diwali experiences in a limited time. Varanasi, Kolkata, and Amritsar add their unique religious touches to Diwali celebrations, while Udaipur offers a more laid-back feel to your Diwali trip.

1. Jaipur: the Most Photogenic Diwali

As one of the must-visit destinations in India, Jaipur offers a visual feast for all travelers. Photographs, you would have the chance to capture the best pictures of Diwali's light-filled streets there, especially in the old parts from Bapu Bazar to the City Palace, or have a bird's-eye view of Jaipur from Nahargarh Fort at night.

To soak up the festive atmosphere, take a tuk-tuk ride through the bustling Diwali market and try henna painting. If the hotel celebrations are not impressive enough, why not celebrate with a local family? Dress in traditional attire, make rangolis, enjoy fireworks, and have a Diwali dinner together.

Celetrating Diwali in a local familyCeletrating Diwali in a local family

2. Varanasi: Better Known for Dev Diwali

Varanasi shares similar Diwali traditions to other Indian cities. However, it is also famous for a more spectacular celebration: Dev Deepawali (Dev Diwali), which is just 15 days later.

On the day of Dev Deepawali, all of the ghats (wide steps leading to the Ganges) are decorated with countless diyas. Dashashwamedh Ghat is the site of the biggest celebrations. Taking a cruise is the best way to appreciate this picturesque view.

If you'd like to watch fireworks over the Ganges with your loved one(s), these nice riverside hotels are ideal for you: BrijRama Palace, the luxury Taj Nadesar Palace, and Guleria Kothi.

3. Amritsar: Diwali with Sikh Celebrations

In Amritsar, Diwali is celebrated as Bandi Chhor Divas. The Golden Temple is the most picturesque spot, illuminated by thousands of lights and diyas. There, you could sample the special langar (communal meal) and volunteer to help serve the food if you like.

On the night of Diwali, you could enjoy the magnificent fireworks display, light candles for the festival just like the pilgrims, and join in with deep meditation at the holy tank (the lake around the Golden Temple). Arrive early for the best photo opportunities as thousands of devotees gather to witness the spectacle.

Get some ideas about how to organize a 10-Day trip from Delhi to Amritsar.

4. Delhi: the Most Vibrant Diwali Market

Delhi is the most popular entry and exit city for traveling to India, so it is the best Diwali choice if you have limited time.

Its colorful Diwali markets are not to be missed. Dilli Haat is the biggest Diwali bazaar in Delhi, known for its Diwali carnivals and handicraft products. Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi features the liveliest atmosphere.

If you are looking for a more local Diwali experience in Delhi, then go on a foodie walk with a local chef to taste the typical Indian food and sweets.

5. Kolkata: Kali Puja alongside Diwali

Kolkata is a perfect place to celebrate Diwali with its unique Kali Puja in a less crowded atmosphere.

Kali Puja is celebrated on the main day of Diwali. On that day, you could take in the puja (prayer) ceremonies at the iconic Kalighat Temple or the riverside Dakshineswar Kali Temple on the day.

When night falls, elaborate pandals (big tents) are set up throughout the city with large statues of the fearsome goddess Kali and Diwali lights. For a more peaceful experience, take a cruise ride on the Hooghly River to see the glowing lights of Diwali. Floating diyas on the river could add a personal touch to the festivities at Howrah's Ramkrishnapur Ghat.

Read further about the weather during Diwali: Best (and Worst) Times to Visit India.

6. Udaipur: Diwali with a Laid-Back Vibe

If you'd like to add a leisurely stop to your Diwali trip, Udaipur is one of the best choices.

A (luxurious) heritage stay in Udaipur could help to create immersive, romantic experiences. The spa treatments and festive dinners are the highlights. You could also take an exclusive boat ride on Lake Pichola to see the illuminated palaces and temples on the main day of Diwali.

How Many Days to Stay for a Diwali Trip

To coincide with the Diwali schedule, we strongly recommend spending at least 7 days in India.

You could take the week-long Golden Triangle tour (Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur) as a tour base. In addition, you could extend your trip by 2 days in each of the following destinations for a more complete picture of India.

For animal lovers, taking a tiger safari would be a treat. Ranthambore National Park is the most popular and easily accessible spot (between Agra and Jaipur).

Culture and history buffs could experience age-old religious rituals in Varanasi or Amritsar, and indulge in the royal heritage in Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, and Udaipur.

To see India's most dynamic city, head to Mumbai, home to Bollywood.

If you seek a beach vacation, you could add Goa to your trip.

See how to plan an India tour itinerary for 9 days, 10 days, 11 days, 12 days, and 2 weeks.

A Diwali Trip Sample Itinerary

India tour map

This itinerary is designed to take in India's iconic highlights along with atmospheric Diwali festival experiences for first-timers.

You would enjoy the lively chaos of the capital city of Delhi, appreciate the marvelous Taj Mahal, and feel the royal charm of Jaipur's palaces and forts.

Your Diwali experiences would be mainly celebrated in Agra and Jaipur. You would take a tuk-tuk ride to the Diwali market and shop like locals in Agra. In Jaipur, you would enjoy henna painting and joining in with a local family's traditional Diwali rituals.

Check out the following outline:

  • Days 1–2: Delhi city tour with historical landmarks and a rickshaw ride to Chandni Chowk market
  • Day 3: Drive from Delhi to Agra and visit the Taj Mahal and Mehtab Bagh.
  • Day 4: See Agra Fort and the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, and take a tuk-tuk ride to the local Diwali market
  • Day 5: Transfer from Agra to Jaipur and visit Chand Baori.
  • Days 6–8: Take in the Jaipur city highlights as well as a cooking class in a local house and Diwali celebrations with a local family.

Specializing in customizing private tours, we could expertly create your own Diwali itinerary as per your interests and trip duration. Just tell us where you would like to celebrate Diwali, what you would like to do, and how long you have.

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How Much Does It Cost for a Diwali Trip?

Diwali is the absolute peak time for travel to India. Prices start from US$220 per person per day for a private tour with Diwali experiences and 4/5-star hotels. You could learn more about what is included for the price from our 8-Day Diwali Festival in India Golden Triangle Tour.

Traveling in this peak season, you're advised to plan your trip at least 3 months in advance to guarantee tour guides and hotels.

Getting To and Around India during Diwali

When it comes to flying into India, you could benefit from more flights going to major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. Flying from Southeast Asia takes 4 to 6 hours, while European countries take 8 to 10 hours. For American cities, direct flights take about 13 to 15 hours.

Traveling around India during Diwali does come with its challenges. Transportation and popular tourist sites are likely to be more crowded than usual as most Indians take a week off for Diwali to visit Diwali markets, friends, and family during their holiday. Navigating through the bustling cities could be a bit tricky due to road closures and safety concerns in crowded areas during this festive period. Traveling with our experienced local guides and drivers would remove this worry.

Tips for Diwali in India

Traveling in India is often an intense and chaotic experience on any day, but when Diwali comes along things can get even more crowded and confusing. Here are some tips about traveling in India during Diwali to help you have the most enjoyable holiday experience.

  • During the holiday fireworks and firecrackers are likely to be lit by locals throughout the night and at random times during the day. If you are a light sleeper, make sure to bring a pair of earplugs with you to ensure you are woken up too much by the explosions.
  • Children often celebrate by running through the streets armed with firecrackers and flaming sparklers. When you are walking through the city stay vigilant to avoid getting accidentally burnt.
  • Diwali markets are often hectic and busy and it is important to guard your belongings in case of pickpockets.
  • Because there are many domestic tourists at this time, accommodation and transportation can get crowded. Always make sure to book your hotels and transport well in advance.

Contact us to tailor make a unique Diwali India tour for you.

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