If you search for the top art festivals in India, you will consistently find Kala Ghoda Arts Festival on those lists. Kala Ghoda is the largest multicultural fest which attracts thousands of visitors to Mumbai every year. The streets of the art district buzz with music, vibrant stalls, dance and plays, and so many other things. All of the events here are free to attend. Yes, you read it correctly, free events! So without further ado, let’s jump right in!
The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF) is one of India’s major arts festivals and one of the most anticipated events for Mumbaikars. The festival takes place in the Kala Ghoda art district in the southern part of Mumbai. First started in 1999, the festival has now become a major phenomenon in India.
It features art installations, movie screenings, theater performances, stalls selling all kinds of interesting items, concerts, and loads of other things. Frequented by art lovers from all across the country and the world, the fest takes place every year on the first Saturday of February and goes on for nine days. There are a lot of things to do at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, so let's get started!
The magic of a story being unfolded by performers on a stage, is one of the most human ways of experiencing art. Throughout this fest’s history, it has been a place where powerful and entertaining plays across various languages and genres have been performed. Beautiful stories have found a stage and worthy audience members to unravel before. The performers here range from new talented actors to veterans. The festival is a great opportunity to watch so many interesting plays in one place. The plays are held at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Horniman Circle Gardens, and M C Ghia Hall.
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The entire platform of stand-up comedy in India has evolved in the past few years. From a tiny population of skilled stand-up comedians during the early 2000s to now, where we have hundreds and hundreds of amazing performers of different ages and backgrounds. Many of such comedians make their way into the KGAF’s line-up. No matter what your taste in comedy is, you will find some comics that will tickle your funny bone. Some of the major laugh-makers who have performed here in the past are Abish Mathew, Kaneez Surka, Abhishek Upmanyu, and Karunesh Talwar.
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The festival screens a mix of mainstream, unique, and even niche films, but they are always interesting to watch. You can expect a selection of popular flicks, documentaries, short films, indie movies, and more. Some movies also get followed by a talk where people closely associated with the film speak about it and audience members have the opportunity to ask them questions. The screening takes place at Metro Inox Cinema, Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya’s Visitors’ Centre, and Coomaraswamy Hall.
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The art of dancing can be expressed through uncountable forms and KGAF welcomes them all. It is because every single one has a story to tell and has its unique attributes, history, choreography, nuances, and more. From Mohiniyattam to Flamenco and everything in between, you can find a lot of surprises at this festival.
Whether you love to groove and shimmy or are a side-line watcher, you’ll surely love the diversity of the performances at the event. Several small and large dance productions from India and some even from abroad have performed here. You can catch their performances at Cross Maidan and Somaiya Centre for Lifelong Learning.
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A little bit of music can captivate the listeners and change the mood of the room. There can’t be a celebration without music, especially at KGAF, which is all about celebrating various art forms. Just like the dance performances, the concerts here are equally vivid and are a zesty mix of multiple genres. Let’s not forget that many of these shows will take place amidst beautiful heritage buildings. They lend their charm to all the mellifluous voices and skillful musicians to create spellbinding shows.
KGAF’s music concerts have will leave you absolutely enchanted and longing for more! Shaan, Taufiq Qureshi, and Jonita Gandhi are just some of the stars who have performed here in the past. The musical program of KGAF unfolds at Cross Maidan and on the steps of the Asiatic Library.
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Kala Ghoda art district is not just filled with majestic buildings, there are also an impressive selection of eateries here. Legendary Irani cafés, fast food chains, coffee shops, iconic restaurants, and more, the art district turns into a haven for all foodies! In the mood for Indian delicacies or something from an international cuisine? You will find it all here! Some restaurants even keep KGAF special dishes that are not available otherwise.
On top of this, the arrival of the festival also brings with it an exciting selection of food stalls. We know that this is an art festival, but can an event of any kind be fun without some delicious food? Exactly, so put your diet on pause because this is not the place to worry about some extra calories. This is a place to munch, slurp, gobble, and appease the foodie in you!
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Sculptures have been a part of our culture for several centuries. Beautiful carvings in caves and on the walls of ancient temples are just a few examples of how humans used to bring out their artistic side during ancient times. It is a fine medium to express and has evolved a lot over time. They convey the artists' thoughts through, well, anything physical.
It can even be something complex that can’t be expressed in words, but when you look at it, the message is clear in your head. From wacky to meaningful from tiny to gigantic, you will find all kinds of art installations at this fest. Head to Horniman Circle Garden, Cross Maidan at Mahatma Gandhi Road, K Dubash Marg at Kala Ghoda Art entrance, and Army Navy Building at Mahatma Gandhi Road to view the installations.
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Reading a good book takes us away from our mundane life and into a whole other world. We are still in our bed, but our minds are in a little village in Kerala or we are witnessing the tears of a Rajput queen in the 15th century. At this fest, you not only get to buy from a wide range of books and comics, you even get to attend book launches, poetry recitals, interviews, panel discussions, and talks with authors.
Hearing from the writer how they came up with the story, what it means to them, their writing process, and hundreds of other details is a fantastic experience that book lovers must have. If the writer turns out to be one of your favorites, then there’s nothing like it! These events can be attended at the David Sassoon Library.
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The whole Kala Ghoda art district is an attraction in itself. Everywhere your eyes wander, there are beautiful old buildings, all of which have interesting histories and anecdotes. All of these little stories are the threads that form the very fabric of Mumbai’s fascinating past.
If we could go back in time, we would want to go to the era when all of these buildings were new, where trams, double-decker buses, horse carriages, and vintage cars plied the roads. Since that’s not possible, heritage walks are the next best thing. The walks are arranged at multiple points in the Fort-Colaba area for nine days. Do note that you can also opt for bus tours.
KGAF is an absolute shoppers' paradise! Everything that you expect from a festival like this and a lot of unexpected items are sold here. Around 150 stalls are set up at the K Dubash Marg of the art district, by local artists, small entrepreneurs, and established sellers. You can find cool merchandise, clothes, handicrafts, and much more at the festival. Many of the stalls are set up by NGOs, which means you not only get the chance to buy something cool, but you are also helping someone out.
The highly diverse nature of sellers present here makes shopping a very interesting experience. So keep your expenses in check before the fest if you wish to splurge on some beautiful and quirky items. Its arrival will surely turn the area into a mecca of vibrant shops and stalls for shopping enthusiasts.
What’s the point of attending a fest which is all about art if it doesn’t nourish you with artistic knowledge in any way? It is said that we should never stop learning and be open to something new every day. This is your chance to put that into practice. There is no limit to what you can learn at the KGAF. Exciting recipes, tips about acting on stage, lessons to be a better writer, and even classes on being a better potter, dancer, photographer, painter, jewelry maker, and more!
You can even sign up for multiple workshops to learn more skills about the things that entice you. The teachers here are masters of their craft and have years and years of experience in their respective fields. So this fest is not just about entertainment, food, and shopping. You are taking home something of value that will stay with you forever.
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Kids love this festival because it gives them so much to boost their creativity and nurtures their imagination. A big chunk of the festival's itinerary is of events made for young visitors. There are plays that are curated for children, along with special workshops, interactive events, films, theater performances, literature events, and even walks. All of these are designed to entertain and educate young minds. This is a great learning experience for them as they are not getting knowledge from textbooks, but by practically trying everything that is taught to them here.
The change of the learning environment from their school to an art festival becomes an exciting opportunity to explore and experiment. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Kitab Khana, Auditorium at Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), and Hornbill House are the venues where events for kids are held.
Now, this might seem to be unusual at an art festival, but design and architecture are also artistic mediums, just like art installations. The events that fall under this category provide an in-depth look at the world of architecture which many people are not familiar with. Several well-learned architects and researchers put up lectures covering fascinating topics. If you are a student of architecture or someone who loves structures, you are going to enjoy these. And if you are on the fence about whether to attend them or not, we strongly suggest that you give them a try!
South Mumbai has forever been the epicenter of the city’s businesses. Many of the buildings and tourist attractions here were built by the British during the colonial period. This region is still the most affluent and developed part of the city. One of its pieces, the Kala Ghoda art district is home to many beautiful establishments such as the Jehangir Art Gallery, The Arts Trust - Institute of Contemporary Indian Art, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya and the National Gallery of Modern Art. The presence of so many art galleries is the reason why Kala Ghoda is considered the art district.
Let’s talk about its name. There used to be a big black statue of King Edward VII (Prince of Wales at the time) riding a horse in the area. Hence the name Kala Ghoda. It was moved in 1965 to the Byculla zoo, but no one wanted to call the area by any other name, it was stuck forever. In 2017, a new statue was added to fill in the void. It is of a black horse, very much like the one in King Edward VII’s statue, but without a rider.
All of the events here are free to attend and thoughtfully curated. You are basically getting a lot of quality experiences without spending any money which is an awesome deal! Kala Ghoda Arts Festival not only entertains you, it tells you more about the history of Mumbai, and will leave you with a newfound appreciation for art. There are tons of great things to do at Kala Ghoda Art Festival, so make some time this February to shop, learn, and be entertained.
Who Organizes The Kala Ghoda Festival?
The Kala Ghoda Association, a non-profit organization, is the force behind the legendary festival.
Who Made The Kala Ghoda Statue?
The Kala Ghoda statue was installed in 2017 and it is made by the sculptor Shreehari Bhosle. It was designed by the architect Alfaz Miller and is named 'Spirit of Kala Ghoda.'
How To Reach The Kala Ghoda Festival?
Get down at the Churchgate railway station. From here, the festival is just 1.6 km away and it will take you around 15 mins to reach on foot. You can opt for a taxi or bus.
What Areas Fall Under South Bombay?
The borders of the South Bombay or South Mumbai region are not exactly official, but the areas that fall under it are Marine Lines, Malabar Hill, Colaba, Fort, Nariman Point, Mahalaxmi, Tardeo, Pydhonie and Kalbadevi.
Is Mumbai Very Safe?
It is safe, but a very populated city and you will come across people of all kinds. So it is best to be aware of your surroundings. Avoid empty streets and going out after dark wherever you can. If you are interacting with strangers, it is best to keep the conversations at a minimum.
What Is Famous Street Food In Mumbai?
Oh, there are so many great options in this city such as samosa, paani puri, vada pav, misal, dosa, sandwich, dabeli, and more.
What Are The Top Attractions To Visit In Mumbai?
The list of things to see in this city is very long, but here are a few great attractions: The Gateway of India, Bandra-Worli Sea Link, Marine Drive, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Juhu Beach, Dhobi Ghat and Priyadarshini Park.
Is Mumbai An Expensive City?
Yes, it is an expensive city. It is one of the most developed cities in India, which is hugely responsible for the costly standard of living here. But you still have a lot of fun here while not hurting your wallet.