Every year, art connoisseurs and pop culture fans eagerly await the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. For a week, this vibrant event turns Mumbai into a melting pot of culture, art, theatre, music and comedy. More than one lakh people attend this festival every year and after a long hiatus, the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is coming back in 2023. The event’s magic connects people from all around the world and there is so much to look forward to at the event.
Kala Ghoda Arts Festival: dates, venue details, timings, entry fees
One of India’s largest cultural events, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival has no fees and is free of cost for all. This means you can spend on wonderful souvenirs displayed by various artisans. The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in 2023 is taking place from the 4th of February to the 12th of February. It will be open every day between 10 am to 10 pm. The event is set up in the Kala Ghoda precinct - an area between the Regal circle and the Mumbai university in Colaba.
How to reach: You can take the Mumbai Suburban Railway to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus or Churchgate. You can take the number 15 bus from Churchgate to Kala Ghoda, Fort. Autorickshaws don't ply in south Mumbai, while taking a cab may take longer especially during rush hour.
Mumbai, the host city of the Kala Ghoda Art Festival
The Kala Ghoda precinct is a prestigious area in Mumbai, Colaba. It is roughly the area between four major landmarks - the Regal Circle, Mumbai University, Oval Maidan and the Lion Gate. The festival is named after King Edward VII’s old statue that used to exist on the old Esplanade Road. A reminder of the colonial era, the statue was eventually removed. However, as some names stick, so did this one. Kala Ghoda is no ordinary place. It is a bubbling conglomeration of contemporary multicultural establishments such as the Prince of Wales museum, the National Gallery of Modern Art, the David Sassoon Library, the Jehangir Art Gallery and so on. Once you’ve satisfied the art connoisseur in you, you can even visit the gorgeous cafes in the area. The designer boutiques and famous restaurants will have you hooked on the place.
What is the Kala Ghoda Festival?
Kala Ghoda is a hub for several artistic and cultural festivals and the biggest one of them is the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. The event focuses on the annual gathering of craftspeople, artists and performers from all over the world. In the year 1999, Mumbai witnessed the first-ever Kala Ghoda Art Festival. Since then it has grown to be so much more. The annual event takes place in February - one of the most beautiful months in Mumbai. It focuses on encouraging local arts and handicrafts and promoting indigenous performances to a large audience. The event deals with several themes such as visual arts, workshops, theatre, urban design and architecture, stand-up comedy, street art, stalls, music, heritage walks, literature, dance, children, cinema and food.
Exciting events at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival
The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, also known as the Kala Ghoda Mahotsav focuses on a wide array of cultural experiences ranging from food, dance, and movies to comedy, heritage walks and urban architecture. There is plenty of experience for everyone depending on your interests. Here is how you can make the best of your time at the festival:
The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival aims to bring out various dance forms in our country in order to infuse infectious energy into the audience. This form of expression has its own thrilling magic that makes everyone stop in their ways. You cannot experience the festival without indulging in the various dance forms displayed at the festival.
No event is complete without food and the same goes for the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. The section focuses on not just stalls serving local cuisines but also cooking workshops and culinary heritage walks. The food walks are usually held on the weekends so everyone can attend. Apart from that, you can also check out the restaurants in the area that serve special Kala Ghoda Arts Festival-themed menus.
3. Children's activities
Every child deserves to escape the world of textbooks once in a while. The festival has dedicated a special vertical to the young imaginative brains. It aims to create a fantastical world of stories for the little ones to fan the flames of their curiosities. One can also find specially curated storytelling, illustrating and photo-stories workshops for kids. Lastly, the festival has dedicated a small corner where kids and young adults can create, paint, read or write.
Who doesn’t love cinema? The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival has dedicated a special vertical to everyone’s love towards the art of filmmaking. You can find mini theatres that show all kinds of movies to indulge cinephiles. What’s more, the event usually invites some of the biggest names in the industry for panel discussions on cinema. Stars like Rajkumar Rao and Alia Bhatt have graced the colourful stages of the Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai.
5. Heritage walks
Mumbai is a city replete with historical stories dating way back to before the British Raj. The various walking tours conducted by the Kala Ghoda Festival within the Fort-Colaba area are worth attending. These carefully curated guided tours bring Mumbai’s past into the present and how it could seamlessly influence the city’s future. They have both walking tours and bus tours to give you a deeper understanding of the world around you.
The Kala Ghoda Arts festival encourages and promotes writing, reading and sharing creative ideas through these mediums. From the chaotic energy of the festival, take yourself into the quiet space of literature where your imagination can come alive. The sessions for adults are held at the David Sassoon Library and those for kids are held at the Kitab Khana.
What would we do without music? The festival’s music vertical brings contemporary music and folk artists to the forefront. Lose yourself in the magic of music being played live on a stage. From the sounds of the sitar to the rush of a drum set, sway to it all. The backdrop lined with heritage buildings, green trees and the clear sky just adds to the vibe.
How do you tell the world that you went to one of India’s biggest art festivals? Through the stalls of course. As a shopper, pick the most unique souvenirs at the arts and crafts stalls of the Kala Ghoda Festival. The vertical aims to represent the more obscure art and craft forms of the country and this is what you will get. Buy unique bags, pottery and ceramics that you will hold close to your heart forever.
9. Stand-up comedy
Laughter is the best medicine and the comedy shows at the festival are even better. Meet the rising comic stars of Mumbai and drown yourself in the sound of exuberant laughter.
The street is a rendition of the stalls vertical at Kala Ghoda. This is where the obscure crafts of India are found. Buy everything to your heart’s content and then some more. As they say, support the locals!
Theatre is a powerful medium of communication and for a large part, it has steered change, especially in India. Witness moving performances in various regional languages and stories that will touch you. The most popular events for these performances are the Horniman Circle Gardens, MC Ghia Hall and the National Gallery of Modern Art.
12. Urban design and architecture
Does our local architecture tell us something? Find out at this vertical with eminent writers, filmmakers, architects and artists whose work revolves around architecture. Know how you can see the same things differently.
13. Visual arts
The visual arts vertical throws limelight on artists from Mumbai and Maharashtra. It aims to weave a tapestry showing the interconnectedness of the Kala Ghoda location and its people. Witness the city’s growth through the evolution of its art and artists.
The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival ensures that you don’t go back empty-handed. As a tribute to every art and craft that exists, they have set up little workshops for you to benefit from. These usually surround the fields of art, music, film, dance, literature, photography, fitness, cartooning and so on. This is what brings the audience together - making jewellery, upcycling waste and painting amongst others.
Key tips for attending the Kala Ghoda Art Festival
The Kala Ghoda Mahotsav is a unique and beautiful event. So it’s best to be prepared for it. Here are some key tips to keep in mind as you make it to this festival.
1. The festival is a huge entity and different events take place in different locations. It would be best to keep this in mind if you are especially keen on not missing something particular.
2. There are 14 different verticals of the events organised at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.
3. The theme for 2023 is Past Forward.
4. The festival will be extra crowded this year due to its two-year-long COVID-imposed hiatus. Make sure to plan in advance and book all your stays. You don’t want to be stranded on the streets in Mumbai.
5. Visit the Kala Ghoda website and go through their schedules. This way you can pick what you want to do and plan ahead of time. Make sure to book these events or head there as early as you can since there are only so many seats available. They can easily get crowded and it wouldn’t hurt to get your hands on the best seats in the house.
6. In which city is the Kala Ghoda Festival celebrated? Mumbai. The city is at its best in February. Wear comfortable cotton clothes to welcome the beauty of spring.
7. Carry some cash since your Debit Cards and UPI payments may get stuck or not be accepted at all the stalls. Keep it in a safe place so nothing gets lost or stolen.
8. Carry your cameras and wear your best outfits for fun photoshoots. There is so much to see and remember that you will want to capture it all.
9. Be open to new ideas and cultures. The goal of the festival is to introduce the multicultural beauty of our country and to be able to really enjoy it you need to have an open mind.
If you love art and culinary festivals in India, you should definitely check out the best food festivals in Delhi for February.