Nagaland Hornbill Festival Guide for 2017




One of the best place to travel during winter is Nagaland, the reason for it is the eagerly awaited Hornbill Festival. It is one of the most cherished festivals of Nagaland, India’s Far North Eastern state and celebrated by locals with much enthusiasm and zeal.

The festival is named after Hornbill, one of the most venerated bird species in the state whose importance is reflected in a number of tribal cultural expressions, songs and dances. Almost 85% of Nagaland’s population still depends upon agriculture, so most of their festivals revolve around agriculture which they consider sacred. The Hornbill Festival is one of the largest celebrations of the indigenous warrior tribes of Nagaland.

The culture of Naga people

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Naga people have a rich tradition of maintaining their unique heritage and customs. In spite of the tremendous modernity entering into their lives, the people have preserved their customs and legacy and have kept the torch of their tribal identity lighted. Nagaland is called the land of festivals and people in the state have a fondness of celebrating the deeds of their ancient warriors and folk heroes as well as songs that immortalize love stories, folk tunes and gospel songs.

Each of the tribes and subtribes in the state have their own way of cultivating their individual culture. In addition to their traditional ceremonial attires which is different for each tribe, there are multi-colored spears, doas with dyed goat’s hair, exotic headgears and ivory armlets. In earlier times, the fighters had to prove their bravery, in order to wear these. The Hornbill Festival is one the largest celebration in Nagaland and there is huge gathering and much merrymaking in the form of drinking, eating, singing and dancing.  

When is the Hornbill Festival 2017?

Hornbill Festival is celebrated annually during the first week of December, i.e. from December 1-7. However, during the year 2013 it was extended for few more days. It now normally concludes on December 10.

Where is the Hornbill festival held in 2017?

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The festival is held at the Naga Heritage Village in Kisama, located around 12 km from the capital of the Nagaland, Kohima. It begins at 9 am each day. You can reach the venue by booking a taxi. Purchase the tickets at the entry gate and pass through the security check however make sure you have a valid pass to park the vehicle at the site.

How is the Hornbill festival celebrated?

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Hornbill festival, also known locally as the “Festival of Festivals, is organized by State Tourism and Arts and Culture Department, Government of Nagaland to encourage inter-tribal harmony and promote colorful local culture and traditions, display its unique customs, rituals and practices as well as preserve its heritage. Tourists are warmly welcomed and are treated well.

The celebrations are attended by all the major tribes of Nagaland who present themselves with various arts, folk songs, dances and games. There are numerous displays of handicrafts, handloom, multi-cuisine, local food stalls while a rich amount of rice beer always at hand to indulge in. Evenings are lighted by the thrilling Hornbill National Rock Concert in which bands from all over the country and abroad participate to compete. This is followed by the amazing Night Market in the town. But the most attractive event at the festival is Naga chilly eating competition and pork eating festival which draws a lot of crowd and evokes much fanfare and excitement.

Tips for Travelers visiting Hornbill Festival

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The following travel tips will be handy if you are planning to attend the Hornbill Festival which will be beginning from December 1, 2017 which is also celebrated as the Nagaland Formation Day.

  • The festival is one of the top tourist attractions in the state, thus draws a lot of tourists from in and around the Nagaland State. Thus, make sure to have your bookings well in advance to avoid any last minute hassles and inconvenience.
  • There is an option of bargaining at various stalls and souvenir shops so tourists can exercise this option to get the best deal.
  •  Foreigners are no longer required to possess the Entry Permit to visit Nagaland. However, they must register themselves with the Foreigner’s Registration Office (District Superintendent of Police) inside of 24 hours of their entry into Nagaland.
  • There is a very helpful Information Center located near the festival site from where you can have the brochure which lists the festival events and other attractions in Nagaland.  
  • Kohima doesn’t have an airport. The nearest one is in Dimapur, with flights to and from Kolkata and Guwahati. From Dimapur it’s a two hour drive to Kohima. Or, if you’re in a hurry, a 30 minute helicopter ride.
  • The best place to stay in Kohima is the Hotel Japfu, Government Tourism hotel. Rooms cost upwards of 2,500 rupees per night for a single and 3,000 rupees for a double. Advance bookings are imperative. Email:

About the author, Liya James

Hi, I am Liya!! I first traveled the globe when I was four months old when we immigrated to the United States from Indonesia, and I have been roaming the world every chance I get ever since. I've been to 15 countries and counting. I am passionate about experiencing new cultures and sharing my adventures with others. I believe that travel is the best education, and I am excited to continue learning and sharing these adventures with you.

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