Sikkim winter carnival and film festival to welcome tourists

Gangtok(PTI): With a winter carnival and a film festival lined up this week, the tiny Himalayan state of Sikkim is trying to turn December into a peak tourist season.

Sikkim winter carnival and film festival to welcome tourists

Organised by the state Tourism Department, the six-day Sikkim Winter Carnival will start from December 14 where various cultural events, music shows, arts and crafts exhibitions and adventure activities like para-gliding, mountain biking and rock climbing would engage tourists.

Coinciding with this would be the ‘Small Town Film Fest’ which will showcase over 26 films by independent film-makers from all over the world over a four-day period.

Organised by Cafe Fiction, the festival also features works of three directors from Sikkim.

Another unforgettable moment for travellers would be the showering of flower petals from a helicopter flying over the Himalayas during one of the events.

Tourism department officials said they are expecting a 30 per cent increase in tourists this December.

“December is not our peak tourist season but we want to portray Sikkim as a round-the-year tourist attraction. The Himalayas have a different charm in the winters and we are banking on that. With so many activities planned for tourists we are expecting a 30-40 per cent hike in the number of tourists in December,” said Pema L Shangderpa of the department of tourism and civil aviation.

He said in December 2013, 56,000 domestic and 1300 foreign tourists had visited Sikkim.

A number of tour operators and hotels are offering special packages for the winter carnival.

Tourism Departmnet officials say that the carnival integrates locals as well as tourists with events and activities themed on a typical Himalayan winter.

From food stalls which serve exquisite and delicious cuisines of various tribes and communities, to rock shows, karaoke and dancing; flower shows, handloom and handicraft exhibitions, photography contests, adventure sports and many more other interactions form the carnival.

While M G Marg, Gangtok’s main commercial and tourist hub, would serve as the main venue of most of the events, stalls and kiosks will also appear at Ridge Park.

Other events are scheduled at White Hall and Ipecac Garden (Saramsa Garden).

Sikkimese actress Geetanjali Thapa, who also won the 2013 National Award for the film ‘Liar’s Dice’, has been appointed as the carnival’s brand ambassador.

Another celebrity who will be performing at the carnival this year is the renowned Nepali singer Bipul Chettri whose songs are a perfect balance of traditional Nepali melody mingled with contemporary beats.

The state IT department has announced to provide free Wi-Fi along the whole stretch of MG Marg.

The film festival’s director Raman Shresta said they have aligned their screening days with that of the winter carnival to add to the festive spirit.

“We will now make it an annual feature. This would be the first such annual film festival in Sikkim,” he said.

Films lined up include Sandeep Ray’s ‘The Sound of Old Rooms’, Ritu Sarin’s ‘When Hari Got Married’, ‘The Red Door’ by Tashi Gyeltshen, and Sourav Sarangi’s award-winning film ‘Char. The No-Man’s island’.

Two films which would be premiered at the carnival are – ‘The Great Mysteries’ by Billy Fox and Carlos Rentas and ‘Memorials’ by Korou Kundrakpam.