The Indian state of Rajasthan is mostly famous for its forts, temples, Tigers, culture and it´s colourful festivals, and because of this Rajasthan have become the most popular state in India for western tourists.
And one of these festivals is the Jaisalmer Desert Festival.
A festival in the midst of a stark, dry, desert. Difficult to imagine, right?
Well, you couldn’t be more wrong about that.
The Jaisalmer Desert Festival is everything you could never have imagined, and so much more!
This spectacle of colour is the city’s most awaited event of the year and attracts travellers from around the world.
The three-day affair is the largest, most popular, most extravagant, and most exciting time to be in the city of Jaisalmer.
Everything you need to know about the Jaisalmer Desert Festival.
When Is the Jaisalmer Desert Festival?
The Jaisalmer Desert Festival Is held in early February every year, during the 3 days leading up to a full moon, which is the end of the tourist season in Jaisalmer which last from November to February, the rest of the year is way to warm to enjoy for most foreign tourists.
But be aware that hotel prices often increase their rate during the festival, so be sure to book your accommodation early.
What´s Happening During Jaisalmer Desert Festival?
The Jaisalmer Desert Festival is focused on showcasing the culture, heritage, royalty, and history of the city of Jaisalmer.
Carefully curated over three days, the festival brings together the best of the very best that Jaisalmer and the surrounding have to offer.
And while the dates vary by a couple of days each year, the inclusions remain more or less the same, although you’ll always be in for unexpected surprises if you make it to the festival more than once.
The schedule for the festival is available months in advance, so if you need to plan dates, you can always look up the exact festival dates and plan your trip around it.
Of sand dunes and colours galore!
The three-day Jaisalmer Desert Festival celebrates the desert.
Considered an integral part of the lives of locals, the festival shows just how important the desert is to Jaisalmer.
And what better place to soak in the celebrations than in the midst of the desert?
While the back-drop of the festival is the Jaisalmer Fort that looms, larger than life, in the distant background, the Jaisalmer Desert Festival takes place amidst the sand dunes of the Thar Desert.
Organised by the Tourism Department of the city, the Jaisalmer Desert Festival is a true spectacle of colours and vibrancy, set off against the golden yellow sand.
What to expect
The three-day Jaisalmer Desert Festival ties together a dizzying number of events, activities, and performances, all aimed at showcasing the local culture of the state.
The festival is flagged off with a mammoth parade that sets out from the Jaisalmer Fort towards the desert.
The parade includes scores of folk dancers and musicians, artists, jugglers, and performers, dressed in their colourful best, regaling on-lookers with their performances.
Events for the first day usually circle around loads of performances by local artists – dances by the various folk tribes (there are so many!), and each one unique in style and presentation.
Out here, seeing one is not the same as seeing all.
Every tribe specialises in costume, dance and music, and its a treat to witness the variations in dance from one tribe to the other.
Don’t miss the daredevilry of the fire dancers or the extreme gymnastic acts of the Kalabaz nomadic community.
Day 1 Moustache/Beard Competition.
The first day of the Jaisalmer Desert Festivals includes tons of competitions that will leave you amazed and at times, breathless!
From competitions surrounding the longest moustache to how fast turbans (a wrapped headgear that is an integral part of the local attire to protect their heads from the harsh heat) can be tied to a pageant to crown the finest local male and female (aptly named Mr and Miss Desert!), there’s always so much going on!
Don’t hesitate to take part in these competitions – they have fun activities where you can dress up as a local too, and even compete in a ‘Rajasthani Attire Competition’ for travellers!
But the highlight is the Mr Desert completion where they compete about having the most impressive beard and moustache in Rajasthan.
And there were even a few western foreigners that were attending the competition this year, but they should have realised that they had nothing to compete with against these magnificent beards and moustache.
There´s a saying in Rajasthan:
A man without a moustache is like a cup of tea without sugar. Or so the saying goes.
Having a proper beard/moustache is such a big thing in the state Rajasthan.
Other activities include ‘Peacock Sighting’ and absolutely stunning sand art displays across the dunes.
Day 2 Camel Polo & Army Band
The second day is dedicated to sporting activities like tug-of-war, wrestling competitions, an Indian game called kabaddi, air drills and displays!
A highlight is the Army Band display – this is something you’d want to stick around for!
And of course, how can we forget the camels! Day two will see a lot of activities surrounding camels like camel decorating competitions, camel polo matches, and even camel acrobatics! Don’t forget your camera!
In addition to all the activities, each day culminates in a cultural extravaganza of sorts, where you’ll get to see lots of singing, dancing, live music, and an atmosphere buzzing with festivities.
Day 3 The Ending Of The Festival
Day Three of the festival usually reserves the very best for the last! If you thought the first two days were fun, day three tops it!
Lots of activities mark the finale of Jaisalmer Desert Festival, including a cattle show, painting displays, kite-flying competitions, horse races, some more cultural performances, a celebrity performance towards the end, and finally, an absolutely stunning fireworks display that brings a close to three days of dizzying festivities that showcase Rajasthani culture.
Facilities at the Jaisalmer Desert Festival.
3 days of non-stop action can get overwhelming, but don’t worry! You can pick and choose what you’d like to see, although being a part of the entire festival is rather satisfying!
But to make sure you have a safe, fun experience, its best to keep a couple of handy tips in mind:
Always keep your wits about you! The Jaisalmer Desert Festival is a crowded affair -but it’s not impossible to handle.
It’s best to always be in a group, and have someone who speaks the local language around, just so you have help with understanding what’s going on!
Carry bare minimum necessities like your phone, camera, and some money. Avoid carrying any valuables with you.
A big hat or cap, scarf, sunnies, and loads of sunscreen should be your best friend these few days! Also, carry a jacket for the cooler evenings.
Stay well-hydrated. Food and bottled water are easily available, so you needn’t worry!
Portable washrooms are available too!
Soak in the Jaisalmer Desert Festival for what it is – an affair that showcases the beauty and cultural richness of the state of Rajasthan!