Holiday Ideas for Long Weekends in 2017

2017 is packed with 13 long weekends, including bonanzas in August and October. So without wasting any time, act fast—for great savings, make your bookings well in time, and start packing your bags! Check out the cheat sheet that we have compiled to help you plan your holidays this year:

1. January: Republic Day weekend (26th: Thursday – Holiday for Republic Day, 27th: Friday – take leave, 28th: Saturday, 29th: Sunday)

January is a great time to head to Gokarna (the mini-Goa of Karnataka) for a beach holiday. It’s calm, peaceful and not very commercial. Moreover, this is just the right time to go—once the peak Christmas-new year tourist rush is over and prices for accommodation and eating out are not sky-rocketingly high. With the heights of winter, lots of people from the plains also like to head to the hills to get their fill of the snow. So, if you’re looking for a snow adventure, then consider Gulmarg or Auli, where you might even try a hand at skiing.

2. February: Mahashivratri weekend (24th: Friday – Holiday for Mahashivratri, 25th: Saturday, 26th: Sunday)

With romance in the air this month, you could head to Agra for the Taj Mahotsav (from 18th–27th). Of course, the advantage is that it’s a convenient day trip from Delhi. If you’re a water baby, February is a great month to take a shot to diving at the Andaman Islands. This is also one of the nicest months to visit Goa, before it gets really warm there—moreover, the local carnival happens here around this time (25th–28th), which is an annual Mardi Gras type procession. Another interesting option is the Jaisalmer desert festival (8th–10th), a three- day long extravaganza of dance, music, handicrafts and exciting competitions.

3. March: Holi weekend (11th: Saturday, 12th: Sunday, 13th: Monday – Holiday for Holi)

If you’re looking to celebrate Holi in an exotic destination, then Mathura or Vrindavan are your best bet. Varanasi is beautiful too, and the season is just about ending here in March. If you’re the trekking kind, then plan to go to the Har Ki Dun valley. Starting from Dehradun, it’s one of the most picturesque (and relatively easy) treks in the Garhwal Himalayas. Another pleasant option is a three-day trip to Coorg (about a five-hour drive from Bengaluru) to catch the white coffee flowers in bloom.

4. April: Ram Navami weekend (1st: Saturday, 2nd: Sunday, 3rd: Monday – take leave, 4th: Tuesday – Ram Navami)

The Tulip Festival in Srinagar makes April the best time to witness the flowers in full bloom. If white-water rafting gives you an adrenalin rush, then this is the best weather to go to Rishikesh. You could also head to some hideouts like Mandawa castle or Khimsar fort in Rajasthan— they are perfect for weekend getaways, and the weather in April is just right, as summer has still not fully kicked in. Popular hill stations like Ooty, Kodaikanal and Darjeeling are also a good choice, just before the peak tourist season hits.

5. April: Baisakhi/Good Friday weekend (13th: Thursday – Holiday for Baisakhi, 14th: Holiday for Good Friday, 15th: Saturday, 16th: Sunday – Easter)

Baisakhi, the harvest festival of Punjab is celebrated with great fervour (feasting, bhangra dancing, folk music, and fairs) in Amritsar. Here, you can also pay a visit to the sacred Golden Temple, the area around which becomes carnival-like during this time. The Mapro Strawberry Festival— a unique four-day festival dedicated to promoting strawberries—is another attraction in Mahabaleshwar, which takes place annually during the Easter weekend. Nearby Panchgani is a lovely little hill station to visit too. April is also an excellent month to spot some wildlife—for this, you could head to one of the national parks like Kanha, Pench or Bandhavgarh.

6. May: May Day weekend (29th April: Saturday, 30th April: Sunday, 1st May: Holiday for May Day)

This month, you could discover relatively unexplored hill stations in the north—like Lansdowne or Landour—to beat the heat of early May. Another offbeat one is Bir Billing in Himachal Pradesh, which is famous for paragliding. If wildlife excites you, then head to Ranthambore, Sariska or Tadoba to spot the big cat. Alternatively, if a short camping trip is more your thing, then go to Dharamshala.

7. June: Ramzan Eid weekend (24th: Saturday, 25th: Sunday, 26th: Monday – Holiday for Eid)

Ramzan Eid has a special charm in cities like Hyderabad, Aurangabad or Lucknow, where you can gorge on some lipsmacking Mughlai food—during these dates, there are plenty of stalls dishing out delicious delicacies like biryani and kebabs. Munnar or Wayanad are great choices if you’re looking to experience the monsoon in Kerala. The waterfalls here around this time are especially breathtaking. June is also the best time to visit Ladakh, but you might need to take some more days off to do full justice to this beauty.

8. August: Janamashtami/Independence Day weekend (12th: Saturday, 13th: Sunday, 14th: Monday – Holiday for Janamashtami, 15th: Tuesday – Holiday for Independence Day)

August is the apple-harvesting season in Himachal Pradesh. You could head to one of the quieter hill stations like Mashobra, Naldehra or Kufri to experience this. If you’re a history and architecture buff, then pick a trip to Orchha in Madhya Pradesh. On the other hand, if a remarkable trek is what you’re looking to do, then consider the Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand.

9. August: Ganesh Chaturthi weekend (25th: Friday – Holiday for Ganesh Chaturthi, 26th: Saturday, 27th: Sunday)

To fully experience the excitement of Ganesh Chaturthi, head to Maharashtra in the rainy month of August. Pune is a good choice, or if you’re going to Mumbai, then Karjat and Matheran are some scenic hill stations close by. Agumbe in Karnataka is also ideal for some fantastic monsoon drives. You could also choose to go to Coonoor for witnessing some unique cheese-making. Madhya Pradesh is great around this time of the year too—go to Bhopal, from where you can go visit the Satpura national park and even spend a day at Panchmarhi, a hill station close by.

10. September/October: Gandhi Jayanti weekend (30th September: Saturday, 1st October: Sunday, 2nd October: Holiday for Gandhi Jayanti)

The Thimphu Tshechu festival takes place in Bhutan during this time (30 Sep–2 Oct). Or head to Puri in Odisha for a pleasurable three-day getaway, where you can get to see temples, beaches and lakes all in one city. You could also head to Kolkata just before the Durga puja fever sets in, or Gujarat where the navratri season is fun and festive. This may be also a nice time to go to Hampi, located about six hours away from Bengaluru, within the ruins of Vijayanagara.

11. October: Diwali/Bhai Dooj weekend (18th: Wednesday – Holiday for Diwali, 19th: Thursday – Take leave, 20th: Friday – Holiday for Bhai Dooj, 21st: Saturday, 22nd: Sunday)

If you’re happy to step out of your home around Diwali, then Rajasthan is one of the most wonderful places to enjoy the festival. Head to Jaipur for a generous dose of forts, palaces, shopping and eating out. You could also head to Pushkar, the hippie hub of this colourful state. Puducherry is a good idea around this time too—it’s an easy three-hour drive from Chennai. Since this is a five-day break, you can even plan for a longer getaway, maybe to the northeast.

12. December: Eid-e-Milad weekend (1st: Friday – Holiday for Eid-e- Milad, 2nd: Saturday, 3rd: Sunday)

If you’re a music buff, then don’t miss out on the Hornbill Festival (1st–10th) in Nagaland. This is also a great month to visit the Periyar sanctuary in Kerala to see some wildlife. To spot migratory birds, you can go to Bharatpur, about a four-hour drive from Delhi. If you’re looking for a spacation (or spa vacation), then consider Kovalam for a refreshing three-day break. Another good option for a short getaway around this time is Udaipur, the historic capital of the kingdom of Mewar.

13. December: Christmas weekend (23rd: Saturday, 24th: Sunday, 25th: Monday – Holiday for Christmas)

If you want to view a white Christmas, then go to Manali for the snow. Instead, if you’re looking for a winter break away from the cold, then get yourself booked in a luxurious houseboat in Alleppey or Kumarakom in Kerala. If water sports are your thing, then try your hand at scuba diving in the serene Lakshadweep islands. December is also the best season to consider a trip to the desert triangle of Rajasthan, covering Bikaner, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer.

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