Show Must Go On: A rundown of some of upcoming festivals

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November 29, 2020 3:00 AM

How are the music and art festivals faring this season, considering the coronavirus scare is still looming large? Are they being held at all? And if yes, in what format?

While all the above festivals had to bite the dust, some others have managed to stay afloat by going digital.

It’s that time of the year when people look forward to some of the biggest music and art festivals the country has to offer. However, as the world continues to go through extraordinary times and embrace a new normal amid the pandemic, organisers of many such annual extravaganzas have had to tweak their formats a bit or, worse, even cancel them.

The much-awaited Sunburn Goa 2020 festival, for instance, which was supposed to take place in Vagator from December 27 to 29 this year, now stands cancelled. Perfect Live, the organiser of the popular electronic dance music (EDM) festival, took to social media recently to announce the decision. “In consultation with the authorities, we have decided to reschedule the Sunburn Goa 2020, originally planned for the dates 27, 28 & 29 December in Vagator, Goa,” it said in an official statement. The company, however, hopes to be able to announce new dates for the festival as “we will hopefully continue to see an improvement in the COVID-19 numbers & overall situation…”

Ziro Music Festival, held in the picturesque north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh and known for showcasing the country’s independent music scene, will also not happen in 2020, as per the organisers. The same goes for India Art Fair, which is not taking place next year. The dates for Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), said to be the world’s largest free literary festival, also remain uncertain as of now.

While all the above festivals had to bite the dust, some others have managed to stay afloat by going digital. Here’s a rundown of some of the upcoming festivals along with highlights and changes, if any, that they are going to witness this time around…

Jodhpur RIFF

Rajasthan International Folk Festival (Jodhpur RIFF, or Jodhpur folk festival) is an annual pilgrimage for folk lovers. It is organised in and around Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, and is timed to match the brightest full moon night of the year: Sharad Purnima.

Started in 2007, the festival has been providing an open stage to hundreds of acclaimed folk artists and musicians from India and abroad every year. While Jodhpur RIFF could not be held this year due to coronavirus, there’s some good news in store. The organisers have now shared the dates for next year’s edition exclusively with Financial Express on Sunday: October 19 to 24, 2021. “Due to the continuing pandemic, increase in cases and the resulting restrictions placed by the government on audience numbers, quarantine rules, closing borders to non-essential travel, etc, Jodhpur RIFF could not take place in late October this year, as was previously indicated,” said Divya Bhatia, the festival director. “We are, however, in the midst of exploring the possibility of a new project-Jodhpur RIFF’s ‘Season of Music’ in Jodhpur sometime later this year or early next year. Season of Music will comprise some spectacular performances with a live audience, some interactive events, performances for online viewing and some streamed live from the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort,” added Bhatia.

While the nature and extent of each element in the season will be dependent on the actual regulations at the time of the event, the organisers will post more information as ideas develop later this year on their website (, Facebook and Instagram pages, together with details on how to register and procure tickets.

Bacardi NH7 Weekender

The 11th edition of the ‘happiest music festival’ will have the usual joyful performances and parties, but this time, you need not leave home for it. Yes, Bacardi NH7 Weekender is going virtual for the first time ever in its over-a-decade-long existence. The festival will be hosted virtually between December 5 and 6, and streamed on a platform created by online ticketing platform Paytm Insider.

Since 2010, Bacardi NH7 Weekender has delivered some exceptional live performances-from the mesmerising Maganiyar Seduction and metal giants like Meshuggah and Megadeth to memorable festival closing acts like Asian Dub Foundation, MUTEMATH, The Raghu Dixit Project and Indian Ocean.

This year, around 24 artistes (last year, it was 60) will perform on three virtual stages: Bacardi Stage, The Doers Club and Breezer Vivid Stage. The lineup includes names like Raja Kumari, Vidya Vox, Prateek Kuhad and Shruti Haasan (featuring Murthovic and Karan Parikh). The truncated version of the festival will also feature virtual parties during the stream and participants will be able to play games, click pictures and join live parties with the artistes.

Hornbill Festival

After some initial confusion, the Nagaland government has now announced that the popular Hornbill Festival will be held in a virtual avatar this year owing to the pandemic. “The department of tourism has informed that the government of Nagaland has decided to celebrate the Hornbill Festival 2020 in a completely virtual mode only through various audio-visual media channels and social media platforms. The content for the same will be sourced from government archives,” said an official statement released by the government earlier in November.

Hornbill Festival usually takes place between December 1 and 10 every year in the state capital Kohima. Started in 2000, it is usually held in Kisama, a Naga heritage village located about 10 km from Kohima. It features a variety of cultural performances, fashion shows, music bands and sporting events, among others. The music festival and rock contest are nowadays held in nearby Dimapur. This year, however, the scene would be completely different, as everything would be enjoyed only on mobile screens.

Last year, a total of 2,82,811 visitors attended, including 55,584 domestic tourists and 3,015 foreign ones, as per reports. The aim of the festival is to revive and protect the rich culture of Nagaland.

Mystic India Festival

Kalinga Literary Festival (KLF) is all set to organise the first ever Mystic India Festival in Delhi some time in February next year. Over two days, the festival will attract several mythologists, authors, researchers, popular regional and folk singers from north and south India, Odisha, Bihar and Rajasthan. The festival will also see celebrity writers in the broad traditions of ancient Indian writing attending it.

“The KLF has identified several destinations in India and around the world to hold Mystic India and Mystic World Festivals from 2020 onwards with an objective to develop insights into current problems and explore our collaborative power to solve them through global spiritual engagement,” said Rashmi Ranjan Parida, founder and director, Kalinga Literary Festival and Mystic Kalinga Festival.

Mystic India Festival is an offshoot of Mystic Kalinga Festival, which had its fourth edition earlier this year. Held in Bhubaneswar every year, it is considered one of the biggest events on mysticism, storytelling, the Puranas, music, classical and folk dance, and spiritual literature. The next edition will take place in December 2021.

SA Virtual

Even though the physical edition of the Serendipity Arts Festival stands postponed, thanks to the virus, the Serendipity Arts Foundation is all set to host ‘SA Virtual’ from December 4 to 21. The online event will feature curated projects, performances, workshops, talks, engagement-based initiatives and discourse around the arts. Some of the curators whose projects will feature as part of SA Virtual are Amitesh Grover, Anmol Vellani, Anuja Ghosalkar and Kai Tuchmann, Kristine Michael and Chandrika Grover Ralleigh, Lina Vincent and artistic collaborator Akshay Mahajan, Mandeep Raikhy, Veeranganakumari Solanki and Siddhant Shah, among others.

Explaining the idea behind SA Virtual, Sunil Kant Munjal, founder patron, Serendipity Arts Foundation, says, “Historically, the arts have survived perilous times and emerged stronger because of an innate ability to adapt, acclimatise and evolve. Over the last few months, the internet surge has catalysed this evolution.”

Smriti Rajgarhia, director, Serendipity Arts Foundation, adds, “As a foundation, we believe in the power of innovation and creativity. The pandemic has given us the opportunity to find new avenues and formats for the arts, and an effective way to create greater impact through the power of the internet, reaching out to new audiences while expanding conversations about and around the arts.” For more information, one can visit or follow their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts.

(Kunal Doley is a freelancer.)

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