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    Take a different route to NYE celebrations with our pick of festivals and little-known small town rituals

    While there is no dearth of wild parties to ring in the new year, there’s something special about sitting under an open sky, revelling in a colourful moonlit carnival or warming yourself up around a bonfire as the clock strikes 12. We bring you spots in the country where you can welcome 2015 a bit differently this time around. By Rashmi Rajagopal

    1212getaway1gCochin Carnival
    Why not give Goa a miss and head to this backwater paradise, also renowned for its heritage buildings and antiques industry? The Cochin Carnival is organised during the last week of December, with a major chunk of the action at Fort Kochi. Finding its roots in the Portuguese New Year celebrations during colonial times, the yearly extravaganza has evolved to include elephant processions, endless parties besides bicycle races, swimming, beach volleyball and folk dance performances. On December 31, as the clock inches towards 12, the town erupts in fireworks until the wee hours. The dress code is all white and the 10-day celebrations culminate in an elephant-led procession on New Year’s Day, accompanied by music and much fanfare. Getting there: Flights start at Rs.7,000. Details: keralatourism.org

    1212getaway2aStorm Festival Coorg
    If the scenic drive to Coorg is not reason enough to ring in the New Year there, we suggest you head to the Storm festival, India’s first
    camp-out music festival, and immerse yourself in some great music and stunning natural beauty as 2015 arrives. Expect cosy bonfires with roasted marshmallows, long walks in the lap of nature, yoga sessions, music workshops, jam sessions, radical musical collaborations and more. Held at Virajpet, the line-up of bands and DJs include Swarathma, Live Banned, Solder, DJ Ivan, Sanjay Dutta, Swing and Sam. December 31 to January 1. Details: stormfestivalindia.com

    Tourists and locals enjoy the Desert festival of Jaisalmer in IndiaRann Utsav
    The desert festival is on until March 5, 2015 and is the place to be if you want to soak in the vibrant culture and heritage of the Kutch region. The schedule is choc-a-block with myriad activities offering something for everyone. Folk dances and folk music, for the artistically inclined, adventure sports for adrenaline junkies, handicrafts, food stalls, and excursions to surrounding destinations and much more. Don’t forget to catch the camel kissing fest too! On the egdes of the white salt desert, the government also sets up luxury tents to accommodate tourists. Getting there: Flights from Bangalore to Bhuj start at Rs.22,000.Details: rannutsav.com

    1212getaway3bMount Abu Winter Festival
    Also in the last week of December, the hill station’s winter festival draws in crowds from across the country. Organised by the Rajasthan Tourism and Municipal Board, a colourful and lively procession marks the start of festivities and ends with a dazzling pyrotechnic show on New Year’s Eve. Located in the Sirohi district, bordering Gujarat, the celebrations also include boat racing on Nakki Lake, and skating races among other activities. Performances by folk artistes from the region add a splash of vibrant colour to the proceedings. Look out for performances by local bands. Getting there: Flights start at Rs.27,000. Details: mountabu.com

    1212Getaway5aNew Moon Fest, Kasol
    Perched 1,640 metres above sea level, Kasol plays host to the New Moon Festival on December 30 and 31. The open air festival will see live performances by bands and DJs like Death Knell and Beyond Horizons, from various states across north India such as Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Dehradun. While December 30 is dedicated to rock, metal and house music, December 31 will be all about EDM and psy trance, so you can welcome 2015 by busting out some killer moves. The picturesque village is located 42 kms east of Kullu, with the gushing river Parvati winding around the breathtaking landscape, so you could extend your holiday and make it a base to explore other nearby spots. Do not miss the Naggar Castle and Roerich Gallery and Urusvati Museum, both within 30 kilometres of Kasol. Getting there: Flights starts at Rs.45,000. Tickets Rs.2,000 at the gate, Rs.1,500 if pre-booked. Details: 09816328555

     

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