During the cooler winter months, Orissa comes alive with festivals devoted to traditional music and dance. The state is home to Odissi, one of the eight classical dance forms of India. It also has many forms of folk and tribal dances. Attend these popular Orissa festivals to witness mesmerizing music and dance performances, held amongst some of Orissa's most well known temples.
The official Konark Festival, organized by Orissa Tourism, features a range of classical Odissi, Bharathnatyam, Manipuri, Kathak and Chau dance performances. Added attractions are an exhibition of Orissan temple sculptures, sand art exhibition, and crafts fair. The festival has been taking place since 1989.
- Where: Open air auditorium, Natamandir, near the Konark Temple.
- When: December 1-5 each year.
Kalinga Mahotsav is a Festival of Martial Dance that celebrates the victory of peace over war. The festival's location is evocative. It's held in the hills alongside the historic Daya River, at the place where Emperor Ashok is believed to have fought the last battle of the Kalinga war before surrendering the sword and embracing Buddhism. This year the Kalinga Mahotsav is being combined with the Dhauli Festival, hosted by the Odisha Dance Academy. The first three days will feature Indian classical dances and folk dances of Odisha, while the remaining two days will showcase martial dances of India and abroad.
- Where: Shanti Stupa/Peace Pagoda, Dhauli Hill, on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar.
- When: December 10-14, 2012.
The Mukteshwar Dance Festival, which concentrates on Odissi dance and music, offers solo, duet and group Odissi performances. This year, a number of reputed troupes from Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, New Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, and the US will perform at the festival. It takes place in the courtyard of one of Bhubaneswar's most prominent and well-preserved temple complexes.
- Where: Mukteshwar Temple Complex, Bhubaneswar.
- When: January 14-16, 2013.
Entrancing performances by well-known Odissi and Hindustani vocal and music maestros bring alive the architectural beauty of the Rajarani temple at this festival. The temple, often referred to as the Khajuraho of the east, is famous for its elaborate erotic sculptured figurines.
- Where: Rajarani Temple, Bhubaneswar.
- When: January 18-20, 2013.
Similar to the Konark Festival, the Konark Music and Dance Festival showcases classical dance, and also music. Organized by the Konak Natya Mandap (a people's center for Orissan culture founded by renowned Odissi dance guru Gangadhar Pradhan), it's actually been running for a few years longer than the Konark Festival. The venue is a very ambient replica of the famous Sun Temple. As is tradition every year, the festival opens with an Odissi dance recital presented by Guru Gangadhar Pradhan's Orissa Dance Academy.
- Where: Konark Natya Mandap, Arka Vihar, Konark.
- When: February 19-23 each year.