Bevy of festivals to promote Meghalaya tourism

August 15, 2023 by MT Bureau

Staff Reporter

Shillong, Aug 14: Meghalaya is all set to organize various festivals from October 12, to further promote the tourism industry in the state. 

Announcing this today, Tourism Minister Paul Lyngdoh said, “A sleuth of events are coming up in order to further enhance the image of Meghalaya as the ultimate tourist destination of the country.”

A three-day Megha Kayak Fest, which is an annual whitewater contest, will be held at Umtham village, which is also known as the Whitewater Village of Meghalaya – from October 12 to 14. 

This will be followed by the Shillong Literary Festival, which aims to honour, remember and reflect on cultural heritage, wellness, and strategies for helping and uplifting children and youth, to be held in Shillong from November 14 to 16. 

Lyngdoh said that the Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival, which is a major crowd-puller in the last few years, is also scheduled to be held from November 17 to 19. 

This year, the festival will be held in Ri Bhoi district. 

The festival had to be cancelled last year following the Mukroh firing incident which killed 6 persons of which five are from Meghalaya and an Assam forest guard. 

Organiser of the festival Jason Manner said that over 12,000 tickets were sold per day last year and it was estimated that the state would have had over 60,000 people visiting the state. 

“We had to refund about Rs 1.25 crore worth of tickets to people and all that was completed within January first week, this year,” he said while revealing that the loss due to this was approximately Rs 3.6 crore. 

“This year, we are targeting over 90,000 people to come for the Cherry blossom festival,” he added. 

The minister said there will be critics everywhere but it is not for nothing that Meghalaya is known as the music capital of the country.

“In fact, a number of musicians are struggling to meet both ends meet because of a dearth of opportunities. Now, we are offering that platform of opportunities and the benefits will go not to just the organizers and the artists taking part in those events but there will be so many who will benefit indirectly from these numbers of activities,” he said.

Stating that Meghalaya is on a growth trajectory, Lyngdoh further said, “Therefore, there is always space for improvement and certainly public conveniences need to be installed. Certainly, there is gap between demand and supply and this is an area we keep improving, we keep learning and we will certainly ensure that we upscale the amenities we have currently.”

“We also have the roads as one of the components of projects which are linked to tourism but these are only roads which connect or have the potential to add a filip to tourism,” he said while adding that he cannot comment on the functioning of the PWD (Roads) as to why certain roads are bad in the state. 

The minister also further announced that beginning next year, there will be regular shows held at U Soso Tham Auditorium and Lariti, erstwhile SICPAC. 

“Since there is this constant demand from visitors, we will be having regular shows, one at U Soso Tham Auditorium which will be hosted by the Arts and Culture department along with the support of the Department of Tourism and second we also have the Lariti (which earlier known as SICPAC) I had undertaken another inspection of Lariti last week and we are ready now to open up and start the services and utilize the 3 theatres we have inside the Centre and amphitheatre outside. So there will be regular events beginning next year,” he added. 

The other festivals that are lining up include Me.Gong Festival, which is to promote the culture, uniqueness and lifestyle of the Garo people and promote Garo Hills as a tourism destination, the Winter Tales Festiva, a one-of-a-kind project and a festival curated by Dakti Crafts which serves as a platform for Meghalaya’s unique talents and entrepreneurs to convey their stories via food, arts, craft and music, and the Meghalaya Grassroots Music Project, which seeks to provide a musical platform for local artists. However, the dates for these festivals will be announced later.