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A throwback to the days of 18th-century Portuguese colonialism, the Goa Carnival is a mardi gras-style, four-day party held every year on the weekend before Ash Wednesday, which encompasses three days of music, dancing and general merriment. The tradition comes from the Christian habit of having a big celebration before Lent, a period when meat and luxury foods are not meant to be eaten and time is set aside for prayer and charity; the Carnival is a huge party to mark the beginning of this austere period, when people are meant to indulge in all the things they will shortly give up. Though primarily a Christian custom, the carnival is celebrated with great enthusiasm by the local Hindu people, and their traditions are also evident in the festivities. Goa is known for its fun party culture year-round, but during the Goa Carnival this joyful spirit reaches its climax; as one might expect, the centre of the celebrations are the popular beaches, where festivities of all kinds run late into the night. The Carnival was once a local affair but it has grown to attract thousands of visitors from all over India and the world.
New Year's Eve in Goa
Goa's beachfront trance parties are somewhat legendary in the worldwide party community. Revellers with a lot of stamina groove to psychedelic music under the stars, while famous Bollywood personalities put in cameo dancefloor appearances, as well. The palm trees are festooned with fairy lights and there are plenty of fireworks. Although the entire coastline comes alive to party into the new year, festivities inevitably centre on Anjuna. If you prefer a more intimate setting then seek out one of the smaller beaches, like Palolem, which has somewhat smaller gatherings. Try a glass of port wine or fenny, an alcoholic drink made from guava, coconut or cashew nuts. Goa used to be a backpacker's haven and some complain that as the area has become more developed and popular the new year celebrations have become less special; if you are in Goa at this time of year you will find crowds of revellers of all types and while it may not be as much a hippie hangout as it once was, the atmosphere is still exhilarating and there is no better place to dance, sing and drink in the new year. It is very difficult to find a secluded and quiet place to spend new year's eve on the Goan coast.
Sunburn Music Festival
The MTV-sponsored Sunburn Music Festival is one of the fastest-growing trance music festivals in the world. In 2008, the event drew 5,000 electroheads to beautiful Candolim Beach in Goa; in 2009, 18,000 people were there; and in 2010, the crowd was in excess of 30,000. Featuring heavyweight performers, such as Paul van Dyk, Funkagenda and Ferry Corsten, and blessed with an ideal location on the shores of the Arabian Sea, 'South Asia's first electronic music festival' is bound to keep growing in international status. There are about seven stages at each festival, allowing for a lot of variety, and other fun activities and entertainment to enjoy. The festival's organisers work closely with the Goan police department to make sure that the revelry stays safe and legal, which has gone a long way toward appeasing the local community, who initially opposed the event. The Sunburn Festival is streamed live on MTV India every year, prompting scores of celebrities to turn up and join the party. Sunburn music festivals are now held in many cities in India, but the Goan festival remains the most famous and popular.