India › Best Time to Visit Delhi
Updated: January 31, 2020
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When is the Best Time to Visit Delhi?
The best time to visit Delhi is in February, March, October, or November. These months avoid three important factors: extreme heat, heavy rains, and dense fog/smog, with average temperatures between 15°C and 33°C. These months are shoulder season, so airfare and room deals are available.
- Best Time for Sightseeing: Ideally, avoid the extreme heat (April, May, and June) and monsoon rains (May to September), which may affect travel plans if roads and railway tracks become water-logged. From mid-November to end-February, rain is negligible, but the daytime temperatures are surprisingly cold. At this time, fog can also affect sightseeing and travel by train or plane, while the pollution haze can be unpleasant (and maybe dangerous for asthmatics). So, the best times are the changeover months: February, March, October, and November.
- Best Time for Weather: November to March is the cool (and, often, cold) dry winter when rain is negligible and temperatures are far lower (more so overnight) than other major Indian cities. Although fog can affect travel plans and the pollution is often bad, it’s still a good time to come. Better, however, are the months between the foggy cold winter and sticky heat (February and March) and after the monsoon (October and November).
- Best Time for Honeymoons: October to March. These months avoid the uncomfortable heat which precedes the monsoonal rain, though fog and/or smog could be an issue during winter.
- Best Time for Nightlife: October to May. The pockets of nightlife around the city are best enjoyed during the dry season, when the monsoons stay away.
- Best Time for Saving Money: June to September. Not surprisingly, the lowest hotel rates and, possibly, airfares are during the monsoon season when heavy rain can make visiting difficult.
Delhi Travel Seasons
- High Season (December to early February): The dry and cold days, which can still be chilly till noon, understandably attract more tourists than the hot and wet seasons. However, fog can disrupt travel by plane or train and the smog can be off-putting. The Indian capital gets busier than most Indian cities over the Christmas/New Year period, when booking accommodations and travel tickets before arrival is recommended.
- Shoulder Season (February-end, March, October, and November): These months avoid the hot season when temperatures soar, as well as the bulk of the monsoon when water-logging can be a problem. Days and nights are still pleasant, if a little warm and humid, and some rainy days should be expected. With reduced fog and smog by March, as well as fewer tourists than the high season, these 4 months are the most comfortable time for traveling.
- Low Season: (April to September): Average temperatures in Delhi can peak at dangerous levels of 45°C in May and June, forcing some affluent locals to head to the cooler towns in the northern hills not far away. The heat is then alleviated by the monsoon rains which can sometimes flood the poorly-drained streets and disrupt travel plans.
Delhi Weather by Month
- Delhi Weather in January: The cool and dry winter continues as surprisingly frosty winds blow in from the Himalayas. The coldest month of the year: daytime average temperatures are a coolish 20°C and a very cold 8°C overnight. The main factors are the almost-daily fog, which can affect train and air travel and last until mid-morning, along with the cough-inducing smog that can blanket the city.
- Delhi Weather in February: Fog often encases the city overnight (sometimes affecting plane and train travel) and lifts mid-morning to reveal the smog, which can be unpleasant and a potential health risk for some. Still a chilly 11°C at night, but slightly warmer during the day at 24°C on average.
- Delhi Weather in March: The cool nights, dense fog, cold winds, and smog start to disappear as the winter ends, and average daytime temperatures rise significantly to about 30°C. Still very little rain.
- Delhi Weather in April: Start of the uncomfortable hot season as average daytime temperatures rise noticeably to 37°C and overnight to a balmy 23°C. Significant build-up to the wet season, but second-lowest rainfall of the year. Occasional thunderstorms and dusty winds, as well as increased humidity, make travel fairly uncomfortable.
- Delhi Weather in May: Quickly becomes the year’s hottest month, when days average a scorching 40°C (and often climb higher), and the heat and humidity don’t reduce much overnight. The only good news is that the winds pick up, while storms on the horizon threaten (but rarely deliver) rain.
- Delhi Weather in June: Slow start to the wet season and still an unpleasant 39°C on average, with an equal-highest overnight average of 28°C. Three times the rain of the previous month, but not enough to affect travel plans yet.
- Delhi Weather in July: The monsoon rains should have arrived by now, allowing temperatures to drop a few degrees during the day and night, but nothing noticeable. Second-wettest month (183mm), but nothing like the downpours that affect coastal cities like Mumbai (700-800mm). Nor is the city affected by cyclones (like Kolkata), but streets do get water-logged quickly.
- Delhi Weather in August: Slight increase in the monthly rainfall from July to a year-high average. Daytime temperatures have dropped to 34°C, but are still a hot and sticky 27°C overnight. Water-logging is now a major problem across the poorly-drained roads, including areas near some top-end hotels.
- Delhi Weather in September: Rainfall eases as the end of the monsoon nears, but average daytime temperatures still hover around 34°C. The shirt-clinging humidity should have abated by now.
- Delhi Weather in October: Dramatic drop in average rainfall as the wet season finishes: from 121mm in September to barely 12mm in October. Average daytime temperatures still linger around 33°C, but become markedly cooler overnight to 21°C.
- Delhi Weather in November: The dry and, often, cold winter starts quickly. Average daytime temperatures drop 5 degrees to a more pleasant 28°C and as low as 14°C overnight (so pack a jumper). Easily the driest month of the year and very little rain until June, but fog is now increasingly common, which can affect travel by train and air.
- Delhi Weather in December: Second-coldest month – a coolish 22°C on average during the day (which locals complain about) and a chilly 9°C overnight (which everyone complains about). By now, overnight and early-morning fog is likely and an unpleasant smog can often smother the city.
Delhi Holidays, Events, and Festivals
India has the world’s second-largest population of Muslims (after Indonesia). Dates for these 4 major festivals change each year according to the Islamic calendar. Each is a public holiday when some government offices and tourist attractions may close.
- Eid-al-Fitr – The end of Ramadan is celebrated with up to 3 days of feasts, music, and dance at mosques and homes.
- Eid Mulid-un-Nabi (Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday) – Celebrated with prayers and parades.
- Muharram/Ashura – Start of the Islamic New Year.
- Eid al-Adha/Zuha (Bakr-Id) – Celebrates Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son. Animals, mostly goats, are slaughtered and shared with families and the poor.
Delhi in January
- New Year’s Day (1st) – Celebrated by families and friends. Usually some concerts around the city.
- Lohri (13th) – Traditional harvest festival dedicated to fire and the Sun God and celebrated by Hindus and Sikhs. Public holiday so some government offices and tourist attractions may close. “Til rice” or sweet rice mixed with jaggery and sesame seeds is the traditional dish of the festival.
- Makara Sankranthi (14th or 15th) – Similar to Lohri, but celebrated more in Western India and Varanasi, marking the end of winter with lots of kite-flying.
- Army Day (15th) – Commemorating fallen soldiers and the handover of power from Britain at Independence. Celebrated at India Gate with more gusto than elsewhere across the country.
- Vasant Panchami (changeable, January/February) – Hindu ceremony where devotees dressed in yellow place books and instruments in front of Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge, for blessings, and to celebrate the coming of spring.
- Guru Govind/Gobind Singh Jayanti (changeable) – Commemorates the birth of a revered guru of Sikhism. Some businesses may close for the day.
- Republic Day (26th) – Commemorates the adoption of the country’s constitution on January 26, 1950. Huge parades in Delhi, less restrained elsewhere. National holiday when all government offices and many tourist attractions close.
- Beating the Retreat (29th) – Part of the Republic Day celebrations with a ceremony outside the Presidential Palace.
- Martyr’s Day (30th) – Anniversary of the death of Mahatma Gandhi, the founding father of modern-day India.
Delhi in February
- Garden Tourism Festival (mid-February) – 3 days of cultural activities and gardening shows at the Garden of Five Senses.
- Delhi Flower Show (changeable) – Colorful and exotic flower arrangements and displays across numerous parks. International horticultural exhibition as well.
- (Maha) Shivaratri (changeable, February/March) – Day of fasting as a dedication to Lord Shiva, with ceremonies in temples. Public holiday, when some government offices and tourist attractions may close.
- Holi (changeable, February/March) – Vibrant commemoration of the start to spring. Almost everyone – including unsuspecting foreigners – is doused with colored water and/or powder.
- Thyagaraja Festival (end of February to early March) – Major cultural festival with traditional music and other events across the city over many days.
Delhi in March
- Chaitra Navratri (changeable, September/October) – The beginning of the new year as per the Hindu calendar. The 9th night is celebrated as Rama Navami.
- Rama Navami (changeable, March/April) – Celebrates Lord Rama’s birth. 9 days of music, dance, fasts, and feasts, and reading of the Ramayana (epic). One day is a public holiday when most government offices and some tourist attractions may close.
- Mahavir Jayanti (changeable, March/April) – Celebrates the birth of Lord Mahavir, the most revered teacher of Jainism. Colorful festivities in temples and offerings to the poor. Public holiday, when some government offices and tourist attractions may close.
- Easter (changeable, March/April) – Celebrated by the Christian minority. A few businesses may close on Good Friday.
Delhi in April
- Vaisakhi (usually 13th or 14th) – Another festival related to the onset of spring, as well as the start of the New Year according to the Sikh calendar. Abundant music, dance, wrestling, and wearing of traditional costumes.
- Ambedkar Jayanti/Bhim Jayanti (14th) – Celebrates the birth of late Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, a leading historical figure. Public holiday, when some government offices and tourist attractions may close.
Delhi in May
- Vesak/Buddha Purnima (changeable, April/May) – Solemn festivals at temples marking the birth and death of Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism. Public holiday, when some government offices and tourist attractions may close.
Delhi in June
- International Mango Festival (changeable June/July) – Celebrates the much-loved fruit. Over 2 days at Talkatora Stadium, with hundreds of varieties of mangoes to try.
Delhi in July
- Raksha Bandhan/Rakhi (changeable, July/August) – Hindu festival marking the importance of families, especially siblings. Commonly called Brother and Sister Day, where sisters tie colorful strings (Rakhis) on their brothers’ hands, and brothers give gifts in return.
Delhi in August
- Independence Day (15th) – Celebrates India’s independence from Britain in 1947. The Prime Minister gives a rousing speech from the Red Fort. Patriotic time, with government buildings suitably decorated and ceremonies held, especially in Delhi. Also, a time for families to get together. National public holiday when all government offices and many tourist attractions close.
- Parsi New Year (17th August) – Celebrated by Parsis who follow the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism. The Parsi Fire Temple is near Delhi Gate.
- Janmashtami (changeable, August/September) – Celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna with offerings, fasting, and decorations on buildings. Public holiday, when some government offices and tourist attractions may close.
- Ganesh Chaturthi (changeable, August/September) – Up to 10 days of celebrations for the birth of the highly-revered elephant-headed God, Ganesha.
- (Haryali/Hartalika) Teej (changeable, August/September) – 2-day celebrations for the arrival of the monsoon and marriage of Goddess Parvati to Lord Shiva. Lots of dancing and praying, mostly by women and girls.
Delhi in September
- Navaratri (changeable, September/October) – Nine days of passionately celebrating the battle of Goddess Durga over a demon. Lights and fireworks all over the city, as well as colorful parades and cultural events. The 9th day is Dussehra.
- Dussehra (changeable, September/October) – Celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana, and the general battle of good over evil. Praying at temples, offerings of special food, and burning of Ravana’s effigies. Public holiday, when some government offices and tourist attractions may close.
- Phool Walon ki Sair (changeable, September/October) – Traditional festival celebrated by Hindus and Muslims, especially flower sellers, in Old Delhi.
Delhi in October
- Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti (2nd) – Sombre occasion commemorating the birthday of the country’s founding father, Mahatma Gandhi. National holiday, when all government offices and many tourist attractions close.
- Karaka Chaturthi/Karva Chauth (changeable, October/November) – Venerating Lord Shiva and the Goddess Parvati, it’s a social occasion for families and friends. Also, fasting and other special ceremonies among married women to wish for long and healthy lives for their husbands.
- Diwali/Deepavali (changeable, October/November) – Major 5-day festival of lights, candles, and fireworks. Busy time for travel because it’s celebrated by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. One day is a public holiday when some government offices and tourist attractions may close.
Delhi in November
- Guru Nank Jayanti (changeable) – Celebrates the birth of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, and is marked by prayers and parades for 3 days. Public holiday.
- Qutub Festival (changeable, November/December) – Festival of cultural events and food stalls held at the Qutub Minar monument. Organized by the tourism department and held over 3 days.
Delhi in December
- Delhi International Arts Festival (changeable) – 10 days of dance, music, painting, and cultural activities across the city.
- Christmas Day (25th) – Celebrated by all Christians and most tourists. Public holiday, when some government offices and tourist attractions may close.
- New Year’s Eve (31st) – Celebrated by most Indians, especially the more affluent, and all tourists. Fireworks displays in some parts of New Delhi.
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