Taking a Solo Trip to Nagaland’s Hornbill Festival – Cultural Extravaganza at its Best

traveller Aniket

Taking a solo trip to Hornbill Festival held during the first ten days of December each year is an experience in itself. The cultural extravaganza and the traditions on display are something that city folks have no clue about.

While travelling to Nagaland, I wondered, “what is the best way to get to know a place and every aspect of its history and culture?” Then, I attended the Hornbill Festival and my question was answered beyond satisfaction. I highly recommend that you take a solo trip to the Hornbill Festival and the memories will stay with you forever.

History, topography, art, culture, past and present lifestyles, worldviews – everything is at display in Nagaland during the festive season. I got to know a lot about all of these such aspects of Naga life. That too straight from the mouths of the Nagamese people.

If you’re one of those people who like to experience cultural extravaganza all by yourself, try taking a Solo trip to Hornbill Festival. It’ll be worth the effort and the time invested in the beautiful region.


Solo Trip to Hornbill Festival Nagaland: Essential Tidbits

As somebody who has experienced the Hornbill Festival first hand, I would like to share some basic travel information about the same. This will help you know more about this unique festival.

Time and duration when held

Every year from December 1st to December 10th


Kisama Heritage Village, Nagaland, India

Reason for celebration

Hornbill Festival is a socio-cultural festival that proselytizes the simpatico tradition, culture, and togetherness of Nagaland’s tribes.

Who should attend the Hornbill Festival?

It is open to all but those interested in learning about various cultures, lifestyles, history and philosophies of the indigenous Naga tribes will be beguiled. Take a solo trip to Hornbill Festival to experience the cultural richness first hand.

What does it have to offer?

Enchanting performances by the people of the original 16 Naga tribes

A challenge as well a treat for your food palette

A congregation of people from the entire North East region of India- “The Seven Sisters

A rock contest promoting rock bands from across the country.

Different events and competitions

What about accommodations?

Homestays and camps are the most common and widely preferred options.

Anything worth Shopping at the festival?

Tribal handiwork and paraphernalia, naturally grown herbs and teas


Nagaland During the Hornbill Festival

If you are on a solo trip to the Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, you will be able to witness the sense of joy that prevails across the state. The energy, effort and emotions that are put into the preparations for this event are immeasurable

During the ten days of celebration, the people always set aside past differences, conflicts and everything else from business matters to personal ones. They clear their mind to enjoy and celebrate with everyone – friends, family and even those they don’t get along with otherwise.

When the Hornbill festival commences, the state capital of Kohima is replete with emphatic parties and this energy can literally be seen flowing through the streets. If you are an outsider unfamiliar with the nuances of the dialect and demeanour of the locals, don’t worry.

The locals will help you out with everything and the only thing they ask in return (at least they did so with me) is to sit down, chill and have a beer with them. Now that’s something you rarely experience. During the day, the Nagamese people might appear stolid but once it’s time to head to the Kisama Heritage Village for the festivities, you will get to see a completely different side of them.


Where to Buy Tickets for the Hornbill Festival?

Procuring tickets for the Hornbill Festival is easy. You don’t need to overthink or pre-book online. Tickets to the festival can be availed at the venue from the gates itself.

The tickets are extremely cheap so don’t worry about them affecting your budget in any way.

A single ticket would cost you 20 INR only. If you have a camera or video recorder with you, expect 10 to 20 INR more. But that is it.

solo trip to hornbill festival

At the Hornbill Festival, the local tribes showcase some of their most impressive acts. Picture credits: Anne PR

What does the Hornbill Festival Entail?

As a traveler taking a solo trip to Hornbill Festival, you will get to see traditional dances and other performances by the members of all the sixteen Naga tribes in their traditional attire. These captivating performances and the live portrayal of the culture, art and tradition of the tribe will definitely leave you with a positive feeling.

The music that keeps playing at each of the tribe’s stalls is engrossing. When I was there, I heard everything from their local country music to John Denver and even David Guetta. The music they liked and suggested was way better than any of my friends had ever suggested to me back home. The Rock concert and competition held to promote and encourage rock bands from all over India is like a cherry on top.

The plethora of incredible and lip-smacking Nagamese delicacies at the festival venue as well as in Kohima town are definitely tempting. Red meat preparations like Pork stew and beef stew (banned in many states across the country but not here) are people’s favourites and they live up to all the hype and reputation.

What’s a festival without a pint of local beer? hence indulge in savouring some sweet and tangy, frothy rice beer – Zutho (a local preparation). Zutho is the right drink to chase down the pork/beef stew and bamboo shoots. A few pints of this slurry drink will put you in a euphoric state. It has a slight resemblance to the Sake of Japan.

People from all walks of life, be it musicians, artists, travelers, biker groups, and families come to indulge in the fun and frolic. I met a biker group of about 40 to 45 bikers who had ridden up from Manipur.

A farmer’s market is also set up to support and promote local farmers. Organic farm-fresh fruits, vegetables, teas and coffee beans are available at very affordable prices. The kiwis and oranges I tried had some of the finest juices I had ever eaten.

solo trip to hornbill festival

Fine Naga art at its finest. While at the Hornbill Festival, observe the craftsmen and their nice work. Picture credits: Jibon Sharma

My Suggestions on What to Do at the Festival

Based on my personal experience, I would insist on anyone who is taking a solo trip to the Hornbill Festival to most certainly try out the following things.

For entertainment

Watch the Performances by natives of the 16 Naga tribes

Attend the Rock Contest

Visit Farmer’s Market

Roam around the stalls of each tribe

For hunger

Beef or Pork stew with sticky rice and bamboo shoot, Fish appetizers. Vegetarians can try out sticky rice with any non-meat preparation.

For thirst

Quench your thirst by sipping on the locally brewed Zutho.

As somebody who is on a solo trip to the Hornbill Festival, comfortable accommodation is an absolute must. Without it, your travel experience will be marred. So try booking a good stay option in advance.

I’m elaborating more on the accommodations below.

Accommodation Options in and around Kohima During the Festival

You won’t find accommodation in the sophisticated hotels in Kohima during the festival unless you pre-book your stay. The most preferred and easily available options are homestays wherein you can stay with a family in their home and they provide you with bedding and even meals if you choose that option.

During the Hornbill Festival, many camps also open up on the outskirts of the town. These establishments offer accommodation in the form of two-person tents along with meals. The camps are a great way to meet new people, bond with them and experience what it feels like staying in a tent.

For those who are hell-bent on staying in proper hotels, try booking at Dimapur, a city around 70 km ( a 3-hour ride away from Kohima). If you are willing to endure the commute, then Dimapur is suitable for you. To book hotels in Dimapur, it will be best to use online booking websites.


Price Range: 400-1000 INR

Amenities: Bedding, Restroom, Meals (optional)


Price Range: 300-800 INR

Amenities: Tent with bedding, Restroom, Meals (subject to availability)

Hotels (in Dimapur/Kohima)

Price Range: 600-2000 INR

Amenities: Proper hotel room, Wi-Fi, Meals (optional)

Every festival has a lot of history, mythology and other important aspects behind it. It is important that as an individual who is taking a solo trip to Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, you know about all the details related to it inside out.

So before I conclude my blog, I would like to share all those details with you. When you witness the festival first hand, you surely will understand it a lot better than somebody who hasn’t read as much.

solo trip to hornbill festival

Naga elders draped in their traditional shawls at the Hornbill Festival. Picture credits: Shine Phinao

Interesting Facts About the Hornbill Festival 

The Hornbill Festival is a delightful event and some super interesting facts about it must be shared with everyone who is up for attending it in the future. Hence, sharing a few known facts based on my knowledge with all of you.

Hornbill festival is the largest festival that is celebrated by the tribal folks in Nagaland annually.
The Hornbill Festival is organized annually by the Nagaland State Tourism & Arts and Culture Department.
The festival is named after Hornbill – the brightly colourful bird. It is displayed in almost every tribal folklore in Nagaland.
The tribes that take part in the Festival are Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Dimasa, Kachari, Garo, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Kuki, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Sumi, Yimchungru and Zeliang.
The main events of the festival take place at the Naga Heritage Village at Kisama. It is located around 12 kms away from the capital city of Kohima.
One of the biggest Rock festivals in the country is hosted at Kohima every year during this festival.
Use of plastic in any form is banned at the venue of the Hornbill Festival.
All the conflicts are set aside amidst the tribes during the festival.
Some of the traditional delicacies that are sold at the festival are dog meat, worms and even native insects.
There is a chilly eating and pork eating contest held during the festival each year.
The Konyaks are part of the tribals that take part in the festival. They were one of the scariest tribes until recently indulging in headhunting.
During the Hornbill Festival, night markets spring up in the region. Travel enthusiasts take strolls in these night bazaars till late.
The festival showcases some of the finest artwork by the Naga folks.
Sports form a huge part of the festival. Activities like wrestling, archery and even football are there for travelers and locals to enjoy.
Over one lakh people visit the Hornbill Festival each year only as spectators.

All in all, this spectacular destination with its oozing culture and tradition, nestled in the mountains is definitely worth all the hassle it takes to reach here. You will be mesmerized by the tribal culture and the sublime nature where it has blossomed over hundreds of years.

Swinging to the rhythm of music during the festival, sweating bullets while trekking up the Japfu peak and to the Dzukou valley and getting immersed in the various tribal activities and rituals – this is what awaits you in Nagaland.

Happy Wayfaring 🙂



Aniket has been a transfixed traveller since high school. He travels with the intention of becoming one with his destination and all of its elements. He likes visiting places where nature expresses itself to the fullest and leaves him spellbound. He shies away from photography even though he takes good pictures.