Events, Festivals and Exhibitions

Hornbill Festival 2023 in Nagaland, India

1 December 2023 - 10 December 2023

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The biggest event of indigenous warrior tribes in India’s Nagaland state, the 10-day Hornbill Festival in December sees singing, dance and sports performances mix with traditional crafts, concerts, food and drink.  

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 the 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 2023?

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 gastronomical side to the event.

For another upcoming event in India, check out the Uttarayan International Kite Festival in Gujarat, and Holi Festival India.

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 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.

Hornbill Festival
Hornbill Festival

When is the Hornbill Festival 2023?

Each year the festival is held from 1 to 10 December.

How to get to the Hornbill Festival 2022?

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 2023?

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 accommodation left in Kohima.

If you are looking to book a hotel, enter your dates in our hotel comparison engine to search hundreds of sites for the best deals:

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Further information on the Hornbill Festival 2022:

The festival’s website contains lots of background information and practical details. Alternatively, visit its Facebook page and the websites of the Department of Tourism, Nagaland.


1 December 2023
10 December 2023


Kisama Heritage Village
Kisama Heritage Village
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Johan Smits

Freelance writer, translator, web content developer, author of the novel Phnom Penh Express and Tommy, a short story. Johan has travelled extensively since leaving his native Antwerp. He has lived in Taiwan, West Africa, Central Asia, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Thailand, where he now lives. Loves trying out local brews but tends to avoids noise. Chronically indecisive about where to lay down his hat.

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