Long weekends are the best chance we have of taking those much-needed breaks from work. Not only does some vacation time amidst nature recharge our batteries, it makes us more efficient as proved by scientists. To that effect, such long weekends are a blessing and should be capitalized on. 2016 was not a great year in this regard as major festivals and events like Diwali, Gandhi Jayanti, Christmas all fell on weekends giving us hardly any chance to convert short weekends into long ones. However, 2017 looks quite generous in this regard.
Thu, 26 Jan: Republic Day
Consider taking an off on Friday, 27 Jan making it a 4-day weekend. January is a great month to visit winter destinations like Auli, Gulmarg, and Jaisalmer. Dubai shopping festival is on from 26 Dec 2016 to 28 Jan 2017 so you can consider a trip abroad too.
For most of the year, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are swelteringly hot. But the weather is cool in January: pleasant in the day, and sweater-cold after dark. Make the most of the clear skies and escape the city for a cultural break. It’s the last long weekend before the Rann Utsav near Bhuj, Gujarat, comes to an end. At the festival, get a glimpse of Kutchi culture through handicrafts, embroidered fabrics and musical performances. Or spend the first long weekend of the year wandering around forts and fairy-tale havelis in here.
Fri, 24 Feb: Mahashivratri
A three-day weekend is perfect for a hotel holiday. Check into a room with a great view, and spend your time curled up with a good book, or snoozing between meals—you deserve it. For a beach holiday, with sides of fried prawns, try Marari Villas, near Kochi, Kerala. In Assam, check into Wild Mahseer, a colonial-era tea estate that offers tea-tasting sessions and cooking classes. There are other cozy tea plantation stays in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal as well. For a mountain getaway, Itmenaan Estate and Te Aroha in Uttarakhand are both tried-and-tested winners.
Mon, 13 Mar: Holi
Summer’s setting in by this time of year, which brings the big cats out of hiding—perfect time for a wildlife getaway. Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh is home to the leopard, wild dog, and the gorgeous black-and-white Malabar pied hornbill. For tiger sightings, try Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan, or Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand, which is also home to otters, sambar, cobras, and jackals. Down south, skip the jeep safari to trace the footsteps of the big cat on foot at the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Even if you don’t see a tiger, you will come back refreshed, and a little more in love with our planet.
Tue, 28 Mar: Gudi Padva
Take an off on Monday, the 27th which means you will get a 4-day weekend to take a long pre-summer weekend trip. You can go river rafting in Rishikesh or go sight-seeing in Darjeeling. Sri Lanka’s beaches and wildlife are also great during this time.
Tue, 4 Apr: Ram Navami
Take an off on Monday, the 3rd and use the 4-day weekend for a trip to some of the best summer destinations of India. Consider Manali for its breathtaking beauty with still some snow around or Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir for its colorful tulips. International destinations like Cappadocia can be good for hot-air ballooning during this time.
Thu, 13 Apr: Vaisakhi and Fri, 14 Apr: Dr Ambedkar Jayanti/ Good Friday
The Easter weekend is a good time for you to take a 4-day trip without spending any of your leaves. You can consider visiting the beautiful Golden temple in Amritsar where you can also witness Baisakhi on April 14. Mahabaleshwar hosts Mapro Strawberry Festival on Easter weekend. Bikers would love to be part of the Phuket for the Phuket Bike Week (11–16 Apr) in Thailand.
Mon, 1 May: May Day
This 3-day weekend is great for a visit to the beautiful hill station of Mashobra in Himachal Pradesh to get some respite from the scorching heat. Wildlife enthusiasts can visit the Tadoba National Park in Maharashtra as this is the best time to spot tigers here.
Mon, 26 Jun: Ramzan Eid
Ramzan is a great time of year to plan a food holiday. Feast with the faithful in cities across the country, where seasonal food stalls dishing out biryani, kebabs, and sticky-sweet malpuas crop up at this time of year. In Aurangabad, the cream of the crop is the haleem, made from broken wheat, hunks of mutton, and a medley of whole spices—slow-cooked for 12 hours over amber coals. Other cities such as Delhi, Hyderabad and Lucknow also serve up lip-smacking fare that’s worth travelling for
Mon, 14 Aug: Janmashtami; Tue, 15 Aug: Independence Day; Thu, 17 Aug: Parsi New Year
This can be your longest weekend of the year (along with the Diwali one) if you take leaves on Wednesday, the 16th, and Friday, the 18th. You get 9 days to make a long trip to spectacular destinations like Ladakh in Kashmir which is open for road trips during this time, and the Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand which blooms during this time. You may also consider Austria for the Salzburg Festival (21 Jul–30 Aug).
Fri, 25 Aug: Ganesh Chaturthi
Soak in the great Indian monsoon with a rainy-day getaway in Goa or Kerala, where the heavens thunder and off-season hotel deals abound. We’ve got the best of Goa stays, and a list of Kerala getaways to get you in the holiday mood. And for those who can’t stand the rains: August is also apple-harvesting season in Himachal Pradesh. Try the quiet village of Beral where the views are divine and temples are covered with intricate wood carvings. It’s also a good time to visit good old Ladakh!
Mon, 2 Oct: Gandhi Jayanti
Use this 3-day weekend for a trip to Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India where the weather is extremely pleasant. It is also a great time for a wildlife safari at the Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh. If you want to go international, you can try Munich for the Oktoberfest (16 Sep–3 Oct) or Bhutan for the Thimphu Tshechu Festival (30 Sep–2 Oct).
Mon, 16 Oct: Dhanteras; Tue, 17 Oct: Naraka Chaturdashi; Wed, 18 Oct: Diwali; Thu, 19 Oct: Balipratipada; Fri, 20 Oct: Bhaiduj
The Diwali weekend this year gives you another opportunity for a 9-day trip. October is a great time to visit Goa as the season is now underway and it is not very crowded. Gangtok in Sikkim provides clear views of the Kanchenjunga. Himachal Pradesh is full of amazing backpacking destinations where the cold doesn’t set in before November and the weather is quite pleasant.
Fri, 1 Dec: Eid-e-Milad
Use this 3-day weekend to take a trip to Nagaland for the Hornbill Festival or the Great Rann of Kutch for the Rann Utsav. Skiing in Gulmarg or Auli is also an option worth considering.
Mon, 25 Dec: Christmas
Christmas beings in the last long weekend of 2017. You can consider the beautiful and serene Pondicherry down south of the snow-clad Manali up in the north. Goa is always great during this time, though crowded. The Alleppey backwaters can be quite astonishing too.
So, pack your bags and get ready for a refreshing getaway to the destined place.