Holi Festivals Photo Tour 2018

In an explosion of vibrant color, thousands of people will gather from all over India to passionately celebrate Holi; a Hindu festival celebrating the new life and energy of the spring season. This is the most unique energetic festival in India, as even the strict rules of separation between castes are abandoned. Everyone can come together and celebrate with the throwing of colored powder, dye, song, dance, and competition. This itinerary not only drops you into the chaos of the action in the Braj region with an opportunity to capture stunning images, but you will also experience the widows Holi and Hola Mohalla in Amristar.

We will ease you into the action with an incredible day in “Old Delhi”, exploring its narrow dirt roads, myriad of people, and colorful bazaars that keep alive the traditional workmanship. This will give everyone an opportunity to get into the rhythm of India, work out any issues with gear, and recover from any lingering jet lag. In the evening, Jassi has arranged a special visit with a local family where we will enjoy a special home-hosted-dinner; an intimate experience that will make you feel a part of the culture and community rather than just a visitor and an observer.

Piper Mackay has teamed up with Jassi Oberai, a talented professional Indian photographer, whose camera has taken him through the length and breadth of India. Jassi has many years of experience photographing Holi, which is critically important in maneuvering through the crowds of the festival and giving photographic advice on how to capture such a wild event! Jassi produced all the stunning images on this page during last year’s (2016) Holi Festivals.

This is a very high-energy trip filled with amazing photographic opportunities, however we will be in the thick of the action, which can also be emotionally, and physically draining. Therefore, we have taken great care in choosing luxury accommodation where you can retreat at the end of the day to relax, recharge, and recover from the day’s excitement. We have also included all tips into the cost of the trip, which can be a daunting task in figuring out who should be tipped and constantly trying to exchange currency for small notes.

We are limiting this exciting festival tour to ONLY 8 PARTICIPANTS, with two leaders, for a more intimate and exclusive experience, better group dynamics, and more assistance and guidance for each participant.

Upon request, we will be happy to plan a private extension for you to visit some of India’s iconic locations, such as the Taj Mahal and Varanasi.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt 

Is this trip for you?

The Holi Festival, known, as the “festival of colors”, is one of India’s most exciting festivals, filled with unbelievable photographic opportunities, but it is not for everyone. This trip is best suited for those who enjoy jumping in the middle of things, are flexible, and can have a good sense of humor among chaos and big crowds. This is why we are keeping the group size to only 8 with two professional photography leaders. Jassi has been to the festival many times and is very experienced in maneuvering through the festival, so you will be in good hands!

This trip was designed to give  photographers the best opportunity to capture stunning images at the Holi Festivals. However, capturing images like the ones on this page requires being in the thick of it all.  There would be a high possibility that you will get covered with colored dust, water, and dyes but that is all in the fun of participating in this great festival.  You’ll will want to wear old clothes that you don’t mind leaving behind. We will send you a detailed guide on how to properly prepare for this festival. We will also provide you with camera protection bags, tape, and a lot of guidance, which is again why we are keeping the trip to only 8 participants with 2 leaders.  You may choose to stay out of the thick of the crowds and try shooting from higher ground, which we will be doing for a different perspective, but there will still be a risk that you will get sprayed with some of the colored powder.

This trip is open to all levels of passionate photographers,  but it is best if  you have good working knowledge or your equipment.   Jassi and I will be sharing as much photographic information as possible and will be there to assist you,  but we are also on the go so we do not have any formal lectures planned as we need to say flexible. However, when we are traveling between our locations we will have plenty of time for image review and photographic advice.

If you are considering traveling to India for the first time, you may want to view our Incredible India Itinerary filled with amazing experiences and photographic opportunities.

If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to email Piper Mackay with questions, prior to registering.



Day 1, Feb 21, 2018Arrive Delhi

Upon arrival into Delhi, you will be met and greeted by our representative and privately transferred to the hotel. Arrival can be anytime on February 21, 2018. Your room will be ready by 14:00. If you arrive early, we will be happy to request an early check-in. This is a long travel day for many so the afternoon and evening is free for you to relax and prepare for the awesome journey ahead. Dinner is on your own this evening.

Accommodation: The Metropolitan

Day 2, Feb 22, 2018 – Delhi
Rise early this morning for a warm cup of coffee or hot tea. We will all meet for a welcoming breakfast and a detailed briefing about the Holi Festivals and what we will be experiencing during this exciting trip. We will have plenty of time to prepare for a wonderful day in Delhi. This will give us the opportunity to get into the rhythm of India and work out any problems with our gear or techniques, before heading into the craziness of the one of the most exciting festivals in India.

After lunch at a local restaurant, we will head out to explore “Old Delhi” with its narrow dirt roads, its myriad of people, and colorful bazaars that keep alive the traditional workmanship for which Delhi has been famous. We will enjoy a Heritage walk in the heart of Chandini Chowk (the silver square, named because of the silver merchants), negotiating alleyways, which seemingly get narrower and narrower ending up at the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India.

We will also visit Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, situated in the heart of New Delhi. This is the most prominent Sikh Gurudwara, house of worship, in Delhi, known for its association with the Eight Skih Guru, Furu Har Krishan. The water in the pool, known as the “Sarovar”, is considered holy by Sikhs. The concept of “Langar” (Common Meal) is practiced, and all people, regardless of race or religion, may eat in the Gurudwara Kitchen, where volunteers prepare food.

This evening we will visit a local family and enjoy a special home-hosted dinner with them; an intimate experience that will make you feel a part of the culture rather than just an observer.

Accommodation: The Metropolitan – BLD


Day 3, Feb 23, 2018 – Delhi/Virndavan

After breakfast, we will begin our 3-4 hour drive to Virndavan, our home base for this part of the Holi Festivals, and then on to the Barsana village to photograph the Lath Mara Holi- Let the colors start flying, along with the opportunity to create some of the most vibrant and strikingly creative images you can imagine! Thousands of people from across India will gather in the nearby villages to celebrate with intense passion and chaos.

This Holi celebration is the fight between friends of Krishna and Radha. When the men from Nandgon Village reach Barsana they throw colors on the women who fight back with batons. The men are well padded because they cannot hit back and can only try to keep the women off by sprinkling colored water on them. If a man gets trapped, he is made to dress like a woman in a sari with all cosmetics and then must dance like a woman. The aim of the men is to install a flag on the temple of Radha at Barsana and claim victory. Each year, new methods are employed to outsmart each other, so every celebration is full of surprises, is unpredictable, and thrilling to capture!

Accommodation: Nidhivan Sarovar Portico – BLD

Day 4, Feb 24, 2018 – Virndavan

After breakfast, we will drive to Nangaon (about 45 mins) to witness and participate in their Lath Mar Holi Celebration. In Nangaon is the return visit of the Gopas of Barsans to play Holi against the Gopis of Nangoan. The men of Barsan will carry a flag from their village to the Shriji Temple in Nangaon, and the men and women of Nangaon will try to stop them. Again, we will witness and capture the wild chaos of throwing colors as the women fend off the men with bamboo sticks.

In the evening, we will again retreat to the tranquility of our luxury accommodation to recover and engage in lively discussions about all the action of the past two days and to prepare for the huge festivities tomorrow.

Accommodation: Nidhivan Sarovar Portico – BLD

Day 5, Feb 25, 2018 – Virndavan
After a restful night’s sleep, and a warm cup of coffee or tea, we will meet for breakfast and prepare for another amazing day! Bakey Bihari Temple, built by Swami Harida in 1864, is the highly revered shrine of Vrindavan, and is our prime attraction. Common throughout the temple is the chant of “Radhe radhe”. On Holi, Bankey Bihari is supposed to play Holi, where the whole town of Brindavan gets SUBMERGED in colors and us too, if we are in the thick of it all!

We will also get a chance to visit the “widows of Vrindavarn” though photographing them is extremely challenging.

Accommodation: Nidhivan Sarovar Portico – BLD

Day 6, Feb 26, 2018 – Virndavan

Today we will break away from traditions, to experience the wonderful work of an NGO that has organized a color Holi for the widows who live in the widow ashram of Vrindavan. More than a photograph is to experience the kindness of those to include the forgotten ones forbidden to enjoy this elaborate celebration. At the Gropinath Temple for the widow Holi, we will have a chance to witness the monumental event of these women, in a simple saree dance throw color on each other.

Accommodation: Nidhivan Sarovar Portico – BLD


Day 7, Feb 27, 2018 – Virnavan/Amristar
After breakfast, we will begin our 3-4 hour drive back to Delhi and to the airport to catch our flights to Amristar. We will use these hours to relax, catch our breath and discuss all we have experienced in the past four days. Jassi and I will do our level best to answer all your questions about the celebrations, culture, and photographic challenges.

Upon our arrival, we will settle into our luxury accommodation, have our dinner, and rest up for all that is ahead.

Accommodation: Hotel Hyatt – BLD

Day 8, Feb 28, 2018 – Amristar
In the early morning, we will visit the Golden Temple, also known as Sri Harmandar Sahib. It was initiated by the fourth Guru of Sikh, Guru Ramadas Jee, and was completed by his successor Guru Arian Dev Jee in 1601. There is such a spiritual embodiment of the higher being that even the non-believer is seduced by the hypnotic melody of the Paath. We will follow this with a visit to Jalian Wala Bagh, where people pay homage to all the soldiers.

In the afternoon, we will take a short drive up to the Wagah Border for the “Change of Guards” ceremony held by the Pakistani Rangers & Indian BSF. It is one of the most amazing displays of protocol that is followed by the two armies.

Accommodation: Hotel Hyatt – BLD

Day 9, March 1, 2018 – Amristar/ Anandpur

After breakfast, we will begin our journey to Anandpur to be back in the
thick of it and revel in the amazing spectacle of Hola Mohalla. We will be staying in proper canvas tents right at the fairgrounds. Each tent has ensuite bathrooms with hot and cold water, proper beds, and electricity run off generators for several hours in the morning and evening.

In the afternoon, with cameras in hand, we will have a walking orientation tour of the fair.

Accommodation: Aagman Camp – BLD

Day 10, March 2, 2018 – Anandpur
We will be able to spend the whole day at the Hola Mohalla Festival, where we’ll witness all the colorful festivities which include; dramatic mock martial arts battles (known as Gatka), impressive displays of weaponry, archery and wrestling. There is also music, poetry, prayers, singing and chanting; food is served to pilgrims from all castes and creeds by women from neighboring villages, who set up langars (community kitchens). This is impressive and humbling to watch as regardless of caste, all Sikhs sit together.

There are also exciting horse riding displays from the Nahib Skh Army where the riders gallop bareback, performing tricks like riding astride two horses. One of the main attractions is the Nehangs – a prestigious armed Sikh order who sear a striking blend of blue and orange, with twisted moustaches and staggeringly giant embellished turbans.

Accommodation: Aagman Camp – BLD

Day 11, March 3, 2018 –
This morning we will enjoy our breakfast before driving to Chandigarh airport to board our flights to Delhi. Upon arrival, we will be transferred to a hotel near the airport for dayrooms, so that you have time to organize and clean up for your flights home.

Transport to Delhi international airport to board your flight home. B

Important Details


  • 10 nights’ accommodation
  • Use of Day room on March 3
  • All Meals + tips, as noted on the itinerary –B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
  • 2 in-country flights
  • Airport transfers on the arrival and departure days as listed on the itinerary
  • Comfortable climate controlled Mini coach with a qualified driver and assistant – including tips
  • Entrance fees to monuments and forts listed in the itinerary
  • Camera fees for two cameras at monuments as listed in the itinerary
  • 03 local camera protection bags with sufficient covering tape
  • Services of English speaking local guides including tips
  • Bottled drinking water during lunch and dinner meals and in transport vehicles
  • Two professional photographer leaders
  • Government Service Tax

Not Included

  • International flights
  • Visa
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Travel Medical and Evacuation insurance (Required)
  • Personal purchases (including shopping, spirits, laundry, internet fees, phone calls, etc)
  • Accommodation before or after the tour
  • Transport before the arrival day or after the departure date

Payment Terms

  • USD $2,000.00 non-refundable deposit to confirm your place on this photo tour
  • Final payment/balance is due November 30, 2017

We highly recommend trip and cancellation insurance. Travel guard.com is excellent. You can insure your deposit and increase your insurance as you make payments.

***DUE TO A RECENT CANCELATION THERE IS ON SPOT OPEN FOR SINGLE ACCOMMODATIONS- single supplement fee of $1,395 is due at the time of deposit  for a total deposit due of 3,395.00

  • Date(s): Feb 21st - Mar 4th, 2018
  • Price: $6,795.00 USD
  • Single Room Premium: $1,395.00 USD
  • Participants: 8
Trip Leader(s): Piper Mackay
Piper Mackay Photo