India › Best Time to Visit Kolkata
Updated: January 13, 2022
When is the Best Time to Visit Kolkata?
The best time to visit Kolkata is between November to mid-March. This is the dry season which coincides with lower temperatures (12°C to 29°C). It is also peak tourist season, so booking rooms and travel tickets in advance is advisable.
- Best Time for Sightseeing: Like most Indian cities, the extreme heat and heavy rain are 2 vital factors when planning travel. It is hot throughout the year, but more bearable from December to February, and even surprisingly chilly overnight. The heat and humidity become uncomfortable between March-end and May in the build-up to the monsoon, which is from June to September. The rain and heat linger in October, so the best months for sightseeing are November to mid-March.
- Best Time for Weather: The dry winter lasts from November to mid-May, but during April and May, temperatures and humidity rise to uncomfortable levels. The heat continues throughout the wet season from June to September, when water-logging is rampant and cyclones are not uncommon. The best weather can be found between November and mid-March.
- Best Time for Honeymoons: Kolkata is not an obvious place for a honeymoon – Darjeeling is far more romantic. But November to mid-April avoid the worst of the heat and rain in the city, so it’s an ideal time to enjoy some alone time.
- Best Time for Nightlife: The trendiest pubs and clubs are along fashionable Park Street and the best time to enjoy them is during the dry months of November to April.
- Best Time for Saving Money: May to October. Kolkata is not a major tourist destination, but hotel rates will still be cheaper during the hotter and wetter months. Avoid major festivals like Diwali.
Kolkata Travel Seasons
- High Season (November to February and around Durga Puja in September/October): During the winter, there’s day after day of warm weather, without being nearly as hot or humid as the rest of the year. It can even be surprisingly chilly overnight, plummeting quickly after dark to as low as 12°C on average. Kolkata is not a major tourist destination, so it’s less affected by large numbers of visitors and higher hotel rates around the Christmas/New Year period. However, the city is overwhelmingly busy and the streets are even more crowded than usual during the major festival of Durga Puja over 5 days during September/October (see later).
- Shoulder Season (March to mid-May): The short period after the dry winter and before the monsoon starts. Temperatures increase to a year-high average of 36°C and still an uncomfortable 25°C overnight. Humidity is very high but at least it’s not raining very much (yet).
- Low Season (mid-May to October): This is when the monsoon has hit the city, pummelling the streets with rain that quickly causes water-logging. Every year or so, cyclones pass through, which local authorities are poorly equipped to deal with. The heat and rain may linger deep into October.
Kolkata Weather by Month
- Kolkata Weather in January: The dry season is now in full swing, so it’s a great time to visit. It’s the second-driest month after December and average temperatures are a pleasant 26°C during the day and 12°C overnight, when locals are covered in multiple layers of woolens. The fruits and vegetables at the various markets are at their freshest and tastiest.
- Kolkata Weather in February: Triple the rain of the previous month, but still in the dry season and not enough downpours to affect travel plans. Pleasant 29°C on average during the day and still a coolish 16°C at night.
- Kolkata Weather in March: Some rain but nothing as bad as the next few months. Temperatures (and humidity) start to rise quickly and noticeably to the equal second-highest of the year: 34°C. Overnight, average temperatures have dramatically increased by 5 degrees.
- Kolkata Weather in April: End of the dry season with just a few days of rain. Average daytime/overnight temperatures rise to highs of 36°C/24°C. More rain later in the month, but no monsoon or cyclones expected yet. Even locals may now be noticeably suffering from the uncomfortable level of humidity.
- Kolkata Weather in May: Start of the wet season later in the month: temperatures are high and the humidity is oppressive. By now, be alert for cyclones. In May 2019, Cyclone Fani forced the evacuation of about 1 million people from the city and nearby coast.
- Kolkata Weather in June: The monsoon season has well and truly started, so expect heavy rain for hours at a time. This is made worse by the second-highest overnight temperatures of 26°C on average. Roads will quickly get water-logged and remain so, even outside top-end hotels, and travel plans may be affected. Remain alert for possible cyclones.
- Kolkata Weather in July: Only slightly less rain (total of 303mm) than August, but still uncomfortably hot and humid at 33°C/25°C on average during the day and night. Walking around is difficult because of flooded roads and no umbrella will be adequate.
- Kolkata Weather in August: The highest rainfall of the year, usually with cyclones. Temperatures remain stable but the humidity drops a little during the peak of the monsoon.
- Kolkata Weather in September: Still as hot and sticky as August, but a slight drop in rainfall (239mm) heralds the oncoming dry season. By now, flooding is probably extensive in many parts of the city and locals are heartily fed up with the rain.
- Kolkata Weather in October: Slight drop in average daytime and overnight temperatures to 32°C/23°C, but most noticeable is the significant fall in average rainfall to 110m. Rain may linger deep into this month, while temperatures, especially overnight, start to drop.
- Kolkata Weather in November: Tourists may find some relief as the average temperature drops a few degrees to 30°C during the day, but overnight, it is a far more comfortable 19°C (which locals regard as downright cold). As the wet season has finished, average rainfall drops dramatically and won’t affect travel plans.
- Kolkata Weather in December: The dry and relatively cooler season is well underway. Second-lowest average daytime temperatures of the year (still a balmy 27°C) and a surprisingly chilly 13°C overnight. Virtually no rainfall.
Kolkata Holidays, Events, and Festivals by Months
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.
Kolkata 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.
- 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.
- The Dover Lane Music Conference (changeable, late January) – Major celebration of traditional music attracting notable Indian artists. Over several days in many locations.
- International Kolkata Book Fair (changeable, late January to early February) – Asia’s largest book fair is held across 12 days. Over 600 stalls and numerous local and internationally-known writers attend.
- Saraswati Puja (changeable, January/February) – Major Hindu festival dedicated to Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning. Many locals, particularly students and artists, dress in yellow and make offerings. Has morphed into something resembling Valentine’s Day. (Celebrated as Vasant Panchami in other parts of India.)
- Chinese New Year (changeable, January/February) – Celebrated by the Chinese minority with verve for about a week in old Chinatown (home to more Muslims than Chinese these days).
Kolkata in February
- (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. The local version is different and called Dol Purnima.
- Kolkata International Photography Festival (late February to early March) – One week when amateurs and professionals meet, learn, and snap away.
Kolkata 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.
Kolkata 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.
- Poila Baisakh/Bengali New Year (around mid-April) – Homes are decorated and people visit their families and friends. Also, cultural events around the city.
Kolkata 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.
Kolkata 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.
Kolkata 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.
- 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.
Kolkata in September
- Navaratri (changeable, September/October) – Nine days of passionately celebrating the battle of Goddess Durga over a demon, or Lord Rama over Ravana. Some celebrate with traditional dancing, others by fasting. In Kolkata, with fireworks, colorful parades, and cultural events. The 9th day is Dussehra.
- Durga Puja/Dussehra (changeable, September/October) – Ten days of passionately rejoicing the victory of Durga over Mahisasura, and the general battle of good over evil. Begins on the same day as Navratri. Temples and homes are lit up, fairs and stalls run all night, and streets become hopelessly clogged with traffic and devotees. National public holiday, when most government businesses and some tourist attractions close.
Kolkata 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.
- Lakshmi Puja (changeable, October/November) – Around the full moon after Durga Puja, with 5 days honoring the all-important Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi.
- Kali Puja (changeable, October/November) – Celebrated on the same day as Lakshmi Puja. Lord Shiva’s partner, Goddess Kali is honored through nighttime prayers.
- 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 (changeable, October/November) – Major festival of lights, candles, and fireworks. Crowded time for travel because it’s celebrated by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. One day is a national public holiday, when government businesses and some tourist attractions may close.
Kolkata in November
- Kolkata International Film Festival (mid-November) – India’s largest film festival attracts films and actors from across the country and elsewhere for about 8 days.
- Jazzfest Kolkata (changeable, November/December) – Three days of foot-tapping music for and by aficionados. Also, blues and more contemporary music.
Kolkata in December
- Christmas Day (25th) – Celebrated by all Christians and most tourists. Public holiday, when some government offices and tourist attractions may close. Most appealing along the westernized shopping district of Park Street. Called Boro Din by Bengalis, the day is observed in a traditional and unique way.
- New Year’s Eve (31st) – Celebrated by most Indians, and all tourists, but perhaps not as boisterously as in the West.
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