Hornbill Festival 2019 in Nagaland, India
December 1 - December 10
The biggest event of indigenous warrior tribes in India’s Nagaland state, the 10-day Hornbill Festival sees singing, dance and sports performances mix with traditional crafts, concerts, food and drink.
Now in its 18th edition, the Hornbill Festival celebrates the culture and heritage of the 17 major tribes of Nagaland. Known as the land of festivals, Nagaland State in Northeast India depends heavily on agriculture, hence its numerous festivals revolve around it.
As each tribe has its own distinct festival at different times throughout year, the Hornbill Festival brings them together yearly to promote interaction between the tribes and to showcase their different cultures to the outside world under one roof.
What to expect at the Hornbill Festival 2019
The main highlights of the festival are the colourful indigenous dances, folk songs and tribal games. All the main tribes present themselves with traditional arts and crafts while lots of local food stalls and plenty of rice beer ensure there’s also a gastronomically side to the event.
For more events in India, check out our Five Unmissable Hindu Festivals in India listing.
Popular also are the traditional archery, beauty contest and wrestling events as well as the hot chilli eating competition and the Hornbill Festival rock concert in the evening that sees bands from all over India participate.
Symbolism of the Hornbill Festival
The Great Indian Hornbill, after which the festival is named, is central to the Naga tradition. The bird’s beauty, bravery and roaring call stand symbol for the quintessential warrior while it is believed the Hornbill displays social behaviour similar to that of humans. It also represents agricultural and reproductive fertility.
How to get to the Hornbill Festival
Nearly all of the activities take place at the Kisama Heritage Village which is located near Nagaland’s capital Kohima.
Kohima can be reached by road – a trip that takes up to three hours – from Dimapur which is where the state’s airport is. The airport is serviced by major local airlines.
There is also a railway station in Dimapur which links to the cities of Guwahati in Assam and Kolkata in West Bengal. Guwahati and Kolkata link in turn to many of India’s major railway lines. Travelling by train is slow but the best way to enjoy the most scenic views along the way.
Where to stay at the Hornbill Festival 2019
There are plenty of options for accommodation, from luxury hotels and glamping to budget hostels and camping.
During the festival, places get booked up quickly so make arrangements in advance. There are camping possibilities in Kisama itself while some people stay in the nearby village of Kigwema. For hotels, the best bet is Kohima while Dimapur is the next best option if there is no more accommodations left in Kohima.
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Further information on the Hornbill Festival 2018:
Cover image: Zeliang Naga Tribesmen rehearsing their traditional dance during the Hornbill Festival in 2014.