10 music fests in North East India you don't want to miss

— compiled by Debjani Hazarika
Northeast India is known as the land of festivals and culture. From the beginning, people of this part of the world have been indulging in merriment and diversion. Hence, the music, dance and other forms of art are the integral parts of everyday life. Apart from traditional festivals, since the commencement of television and social media, many young enthusiasts came up with the idea of organising different music events and festivals where local and acclaimed musicians can showcase their talents. Some of the festivals are funded by the state governments while the rest organised with the help of private sponsorship. Here is a list of some of the music and cultural fests we thought you would love to attend if you are into music and adventure.

Hornbill Festival (Nagaland)

Hornbill Festival 2012, Nagaland (photo: Sudeepta Barua)
WHAT? Hornbill Festival
WHEN? December
WHERE? Naga Heritage Village, Kohima, Nagaland
The Hornbill Festival is a celebration held every year in the first week of December. It is also called as the 'Festival of Festivals'. The first festival was held in the year 2000. The fest is organised by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments and showcases a melange of cultural displays under one roof. All the tribes of Nagaland take part in this festival. The aim of the festival is to revive and protect the rich culture of Nagaland and display its extravaganza and traditions and for the visitors it means a closer understanding of the people and culture of Nagaland, and an opportunity to experience the food, songs, dances and customs of Nagaland. One of the major highlights of this festival is the Hornbill International Rock Festival.
More about Hornbill Festival here

Ziro Music Fest (Arunachal Pradesh)

Ziro Festival of Music (photo: Nayan Deka)
WHAT? Ziro
WHEN? September
WHERE? Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
Inhabited by a local tribe known as the Apatanis, the valleys of Ziro are perfect for a music festival of this scale. The festival has been well supported by the Arunachal state government and also features in it’s annual calendar of cultural activities. Bands from all over the country feature in this yearly gathering of some of the best indie performers. Every September, since 2011, a sundry mix of music enthusiasts have been thronging the remote valley of Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh along with the Apatani tribesmen to produce an extended weekend that showcases the best of independent music in India. Ziro Festival of Music, is, undoubtedly one of the most sought after outdoor music festivals in India.
More about Ziro Music Fest here

NH7 Weekender (Meghalaya)

NH7 Weekender (photo: Wikimedia Commons)
WHAT? Bacardi NH7 Weekender
WHEN? October / November
WHERE? Thadlaskein Lake, Jowai, Meghalaya
The Bacardi NH7 Weekender is an annual, multi-city music, festival in India. It is created by Only Much Louder, and is one of the largest music festivals in South Asia. The Shillong edition began in 2015. So far the fest has witnessed performances by international music stalwarts like Megadeth, Steven Wilson, Steve Vai to name a few. A vivid mix of stalls are set up which have traditional and contemporary cuisine apart from a host of beverages to offer. As the music gets going, people can also indulge in outdoor activities such as fishing, trekking, cycling, biking, photography and art. It is a platform to encourage honest, meaningful & soulful music in the true spirit of Rock n Roll from folk to country, blues and jazz, rock n reggae, grunge and metal and any form of independent serious original music with a centered heart. The idea is to mix the young and the old, and the local talent with the pool of talent coming from all across the country and beyond.
More about NH7 Weekender here

Shillong Autumn Festival (Meghalaya)

Shillong Autumn Festival (source - Facebook)
WHAT? Shillong Autumn festival
WHEN? October/November
WHERE? Shillong, Meghalaya
The Autumn Festival is a cultural extravaganza organized by the Government of Meghalaya along with other organizations. The festival is packed with fashion shows organized by government providing an opportunity to different designers to showcase their designs which are made out of indigenous fabric which are woven in the state. The festival includes other events like wine festival, flower shows, kite flying competitions, music and rock festivals, golf tournaments, fishing competitions and a host of other activities. One can also satiate their taste buds with the rich spread of local and international cuisine at the 'food festival' of the Autumn Fest by the Umiam lake.

Brahmaputra Beach Festival (Assam)

Bikers at Brahmaputra Beach Festival (source - Prokerala)
WHAT? Brahmaputra Beach festival
WHEN? January
WHERE? Guwahati, Assam
Brahmaputra Beach Festival is an open-air two-day long festival held on the beaches of the river Brahmaputra. The festival promotes the culture of Assam and its neighbouring states. Cultural events, which include song and dance are held at the beach. The aim of the festival is to promote indigenous culture, crafts and popularising traditional sports of Assam. The festival is organized by the Assam Boat Racing and Rowing Association in collaboration with the Assam Tourism Development Corporation. The festival features various events like beach cricket, beach volleyball, water rafting, wind surfing, ice skating, kayaking, canoeing, dirt biking and driving all-terrain vehicles along with aero sports like ballooning, paragliding and hang gliding etc. Exhibition of traditional craft is also a part of the festival.

Metropolis Asia (Meghalaya)

Artist performing at Metropolis 2015 (source: Facebook)
WHAT? Metropolis Asia
WHEN? January
WHERE? Guwahati, Assam
Commenced in 2010 and founded by a young entrepreneur from Guwahati, Ranjan Engti, the 'Metropolis - Urban Winter Festival' initially was a three-day-long annual art, craft and music festival organised every year in association with Assam Tourism. Metropolis is a collaboration of creative talents from all across India as well as other parts of the world. The event is known as one of the happiest and largest urban winter festivals in the north eastern region. More than 500 activities take place across 3 days of pure cultural exuberance. Every Year the fest brings an unparalleled feast of dance, theatre, music, visual arts, workshops by renowned and upcoming artists from the entire Northeast, mainland India and World. Presently Metropolis is held in Shillong, Meghalaya.

Orange Festival (Arunachal Pradesh)

Scott Moses Murray (USA) performing in Orange Festival (source: DIPRO, Roing)
WHAT? Orange festival
WHEN? December/January
WHERE? Akoko Village, Dambuk, Aruachal Pradesh
The four day festival, is said to be the first adventure cum Music Festival of its kind in the country. There are many adventure sports like zip-lining, all terrain vehicle rides, river rafting and angling at Dibang River etc to get one's adrenaline racing. For the music lovers, more than 20 best bands from across the country are taking part in this Orange Festival for adventure and music at Dambuk. Besides all these, local dishes, exhibition stalls of local crafts and handlooms will be displayed in the festival ground. The Orange Festival is being sponsored by the Department of Tourism, Govt of Arunachal Pradesh. Most of the setup of the festival has been done by the locals. The locals are more than happy to open their doors to the visitors and there is a sense of curiosity and eagerness to understand each other which makes the festival what it is.

Goodstock (Assam)

Celestial Sphere at Goodstock 2016 (photo: Lunse Milick | Facebook)
WHAT? Goodstock
WHEN? March 13
WHERE? Panikheti, Guwahati
Goodstock started in 2009. It is not a typical music fest but kind of a private event mostly for musicians. Guwahati entrepreneur Jitu Das has a plot of land at Panikheti, Guwahati where few like-minded friends including Guwahati based singer Hridoy Goswami and musician Uzzal Phukan used to go out for passing the time often carrying their guitars. It was then the idea of having a jam session inviting their musician friends and organised in a open space popped up. A free event for all, the organisers provide the stage, sound, lights and some basic food (mostly pork n rice). The event has been attended so far by most of the musicians from in and around Guwahati. By 2012, the event became uite popular among musicians from other states too. The fest is organised every year on March 13.

Shillong Beer Fest (Meghalaya)

The Shillong Beer Festival 2015 at Orchid Resort, Umiam. (photo - Andrew A Jyrwa | Facebook)
WHAT? The Shillong Beer Fest
WHEN? October
WHERE? Shillong / Umiam, Meghalaya
Started in 2014 on a small scale with only Shillong-dwellers paying attendance, the Shillong Beer Fest is now one of the most sought after event in Northeast. Founded by Dominic Sutnga and Peter Mawlong, it is an event where everyone can leave their everyday chaos and just indulge in mugs of beer, good international and ethnic food along with entertaining music. It is a fest of sheer joy and happiness!

Euphony (Assam)

Lady Midday performing at Euphony music fest 2015 (photo: Debjani Hazarika)
WHAT? Euphony Music Fest
WHEN? January / February
WHERE? Guwahati, Assam
Founded in 2009 by Bangalore based musician Jim Ankan Deka in association with Eastern Fare Music Foundation, a music organisation in Bangalore, the 'Euphony' music fest is a collaborative artist retreat for emerging young professionals and celebrated artists, held annually at the end of each winter (previously in summer as well in Bangalore) in Guwahati. As a performance and community based festival, Euphony bridges the gap between musicians and music enthusiasts. The feature of the event is a rock competition for well known as well as upcoming bands.