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Music Festivals To Hit Up In North East India


Music Festivals To Hit Up In North East India


Music and dance at the Ziro Festival of Music

Music and dance at the Ziro Festival of Music

Music Festivals To Hit Up In North East India


Large scale music festivals taking place away from major cities seem to be the flavour of the season. Cultural gigs like Magnetic Fields, Raagasthan and Storm Festival have all caught on immensely of late. Not many people are aware, however, of the many shows that happen in the North East of India, most famously, Ziro Festival of Music, which has received critical acclaim. But several others exist, from which we have collated a nice bunch for you to check out. These festivals are annual and see immense crowds attending due to the people’s love for good music.


Ziro Festival of Music: Tucked away in a valley, this distant, spiritual festival is a traveller’s dream. Home to the Apatani Tribe, the plateau’s environment, mixed with the music, makes for a thrilling experience. Probably the most fun outdoor music festival in the country, the first edition, ZFM 2012, was a runaway success with twenty Indian bands, including the renowned Lou Majaw  and biggies Sky Rabbit, Menwhopause and Peter Cat Recording Co. from Mumbai and Delhi. It was a successful amalgamation of different people, cultures and ideas.


Travel: Approximately 6 hours by bus from Guwahati.


Accommodation: The Inspection Bungalow will facilitate tourist accommodations. Here is a list of hotels in the area.


soundplunge_test Suggests: Make sure you book in advance.



Hornbill Rock Competition: This annual festival operating out of Kohima has had national recognition for the better part of a decade now. With an immense platform to display and support upcoming artists, this melee of an event has only seen its cash prizes rising each year. Nagaland, heavy in agriculture, carries this essence into the festival and the event itself is named after the Indian Hornbill bird. Initially a week long period of music and art, the increasing popularity led the Nagaland government to extend the festival to 10 days, and is now one of the biggest annual events of the country, held in early December.


Travel: 2 hours by road from Dimapur, the nearest airport.


Accommodation: There are several options in Kohima, all relatively close to the venue. Here are some options.


soundplunge_test Suggests: Inculcate yourself in the local cuisine.



Darjeeling Open Air: The annual tea and tourism festival happens in December and a rock show is included, which recently saw American deathgrind act Cattle Decapitation headline. Metal Legion Fest II, which happened in March 2013, was a huge success, and Darjeeling has also hosted tryouts for the second edition of the globally acclaimed Bloodstock Festival, Metal2 The Masses, which gave Indian bands a chance to perform in UK alongside international acts like Slayer, Lamb of God and Anthrax.


Travel: 1 and a half hours by road from Badgogra. Make sure you book a cab.


Accommodation: Some accommodation options in Darj.


soundplunge_test Suggests: A neo-metal fan would really appreciate how metal has seeped into the voice of the local youth.


Shillong Battle Rock: A national level annual rock competition held for aspiring and upcoming bands, it takes place in June at the State Central Library, Shillong. Winners of the battle take home a cash prize of Rs 1,50,000 as well as assorted merchandise and other goodies. Having seen some good headlining acts, this amateur rock competition as one of the many that provide a base for upcoming and talented bands to really get noticed.


Travel: 2 hours by road from Guwahati


Accommodation: Hotels in Shillong


soundplunge_test Suggests: Pack an umbrella as Shillong gets a lot of rain



Fireball: This annual event in Guwahati has just finished its fifth edition. With a live show, the winner of the competition Masters of Rock would then get to open for the headlining acts. In 2013, Undying Inc headlined Fireball along with Silver Tears and Spreading Roots. With prize money of Rs.50,000 and a diverse headlining line-up, the latest edition of Fireball really gained some national attention and will probably see more bands feature in the future.


Travel: Direct flight


Accommodation: Hotels in Guwahati


soundplunge_test Suggests: If you want to check out some aspiring and upcoming NE bands, this is the place to be.



Metropolis: Guwahati Urban Winter Festival 2013: A multi-cultural festival spread over three days, the first edition in 2013 saw an amalgamation of art, literature and film. Not primarily a music festival, the event still played host to an array of folk rock acts along with varied and numerous art exhibitions. The latest edition in early 2014 saw Soulmate, Warklung, Digital Suicide and Papon & East India Company all perform.


Travel: Direct flight


Accommodation: Hotels in Guwahati


soundplunge_test Suggests: Appreciate the art as much as the music


Meghalaya Icon: Simultaneously launched an HIV/AIDS awareness program during the show, the rock competition has already got its fair share of tradition. 2013 winners from Tura, Restless Desire, were recently anointed ambassadors to spread AIDS awareness, just like metal group Aberrant did the year before.  With the culmination of Meghalaya Icon 4, cash prizes have risen to Rs2,50,000, bringing in bands from across the country.


Travel: Venue keeps changing


Accommodation: Assorted homestays across Meghalaya


soundplunge_test Suggests: Pick up a cause for your music



Bob Dylan Tribute by Lou Majaw: A tribute by legendary musician Lou Majaw, the venue has kept changing, but his yearly ode to Bob Dylan will go on. “When life becomes too real, take a little time to dream,” says Lou Majaw. His contribution to the music scene in the country has inspired musicians around the country. Organizing the annual festival for thirty-five years has seen a lifetime of dedication. Together with the band Ace of Spades, Majaw celebrates this festival every year on Bob Dylan’s birthday, and although the venue has constantly been changing, his tribute has been featured in the list just for sheer dedication.


soundplunge_test Suggests: Listen to some Dylan before attending.


So there you have it. A set of amazing music festivals based out of North East India that one must go to if ever in the area.


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