Holi, the festival of colors, is an ancient Hindu religious festival that has become popular with non-Hindus for its vibrant and joyous celebration of spring. In the US, cities with large Indian populations, in particular, observe Holi and offer plenty of unique and exciting ways to celebrate.

What Is Holi and When Is It in the USA?

What other holiday encourages revelers to throw colorful powders at friends and strangers? That levity is the key to Holi, which celebrates the victory of good over evil, spring’s arrival, and winter’s end. People get covered head to toe in brilliant colors to commemorate the occasion and partake in singing, dancing, and feasting. Yes, Holi is the most fun holiday you’ve never heard of!

Holi usually takes place in either March, April, or May, depending on the lunar calendar. The exact date varies each year, so it’s best to check with the specific event organizers for the most up-to-date information.

Top 5 Cities to Celebrate Holi in 2023

Whether you’re interested in color throwing, dancing, singing, or all the above, this festival has something for everyone. Here are the top five cities in the U.S. to celebrate Holi this year.

1. Houston, Texas

People throwing colorful powder in the air.

Billed as one of the largest Holi celebrations in the United States, the BH Ranch Entertainment & Event Center in Southwest Houston will be transformed Monday, March 4, 2023, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for Houston Holi. In addition to the color play, those looking to partake can expect plenty of activities to keep them and their loved ones occupied, including DJs, an Indian pop concert, Bollywood dances, street food, camel rides, and even a petting zoo.

Advance tickets for the festival are currently going for $13 here. Tickets include free grass parking and shuttle rides from an overflow lot half a mile away.

Pro Traveler Tip: Houston Holi is free for kids under five, and is a great way for young ones to spend some time outside while experiencing a different culture. It’s also worth buying the tickets as soon as possible, as they will be marked up at the door. Also, keep in mind a rain date is currently scheduled for Sunday, March 5th.

2. Seattle, Washington

A girl covered head to toe in colorful powder.

The Seattle Color Festival will be held on Saturday, March 26, 2023, right in front of the Space Needle at the Seattle Center. This year, on top of the color play featuring organic, washable, non-toxic powders, DJ Prashant will be playing Bollywood-themed music to keep everyone entertained, while the Live2Dance team will be making sure attendees are grooving from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event also features multi-cuisine food trucks, drum players, gift raffles, and other activities. Entry is free, but pre-registration is required here.

Pro Traveler Tip: Bringing cash is recommended, especially if you need a white tee and want to pick up a last-minute shirt. Arrive early to take advantage of street parking or paid parking lots at the Seattle Center. Alternatively, you can utilize the Monorail if you’re coming from downtown.

3. San Francisco, California

Pink powder bursting in the air above people's heads.

The Bay Area is one of the most diverse regions in the US, notable for its large presence of Chinese immigrants that arrived during the Gold Rush. More recently, Punjabi immigrants have made Indians the second-largest Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) ethnicity throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area.

The result is a proliferation of Holi celebrations, including the Bay Area’s largest color party, held this year at Irvington High School in Fremont. On March 4, 2023, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. guests can enjoy helpings of delicious food, biodegradable skin-friendly powders, and DJ Desi Dhol playing some dance-friendly Bollywood beats.

Pro Traveler Tip: Tickets are currently going for $5 here until March 3, so buy one before they sell out! This event regularly receives over 5,000 attendees and is quite the party.

4. New York City, New York

People covered in colorful powder.

The Big Apple hosts various Holi events each year, from one that takes place on a cruise to New York City’s largest open-air celebration geared to revelers over 21 years old with — get this — four hours of color play at an outdoor sports bar in Brooklyn.

One aimed especially for kids is Holi at the Seaport. On Saturday, March 18, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. South Street Seaport will feature puppet-making, dance workshops, a collaborative mural, and, of course, spirited fun with brightly colored powder. Attendees will also be able to sample traditional Indian cuisine, purchase Holi’s signature colored powders, and shop at the outdoor Indian market on Front Street featuring nearly a dozen Indian owned-businesses, including Tagmo, the Seaport’s own Indian restaurant. Come in all-white outfits to amplify the fun!

Pro Traveler Tip: Ticket prices for Holi festivals in the Big Apple go up significantly the closer you get to the event date, so make sure to get your ticket as soon as possible for the best rates!

5. New Brunswick, New Jersey

A young girl with a face full of colorful powder.

March 25th, 2023, marks the 14th annual Holi Festival in New Brunswick, which is part of a collaboration between the Rutgers Indian Graduate Association (RIGSA) and the New Brunswick Cultural Center. Festivities kick off at 1 p.m. and culminate with a throwing of the colors on the front lawn of the New Brunswick Free Public Library. While partaking, guests can expect dance performances, henna tattoo booths, raffles, activities for children, and plenty of great food. Just make sure you register here before attending the event.

Pro Traveler Tip: The library hosts an amazing kid-friendly event with dance, arts and crafts, and a ton of color play. Be sure that the kids wear white so you can partake in the festivities properly — just be warned that participants in the color play won’t be allowed back in the library afterward.

Frequently Asked Questions

Big baskets full of colorful powder.

Here are some commonly asked questions and answers about Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, to help you better understand and enjoy this joyous celebration.

What does Holi celebrate?

Holi is a Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, and the end of winter. It’s also a time to forgive, forget past grievances, and embrace love and unity.

Where is Holi celebrated the most?

Holi is celebrated in India, Nepal, and other countries with significant Hindu populations. In the US, cities with large Indian populations, such as New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, are popular destinations for Holi celebrations.

How can I enjoy Holi safely?

Here are some tips on how to celebrate Holi, either alone or with kids:

  • Wear comfortable clothing that you don’t mind getting stained with colored powders or water. Wearing white clothing is a traditional holiday staple, as it shows off the vibrant colors.
  • Embracing friends, family members, and even strangers with a hug or a handshake is part of the tradition, so don’t be alarmed if people are a little more informal than usual.
  • Remember to stay hydrated, and consider protecting your eyes or others from the colored powders by wearing sunglasses or goggles.

Enjoy Your Holi Experience

Now that you’re an expert on this bright Hindu tradition, it’s time to get planning! Where will your adventures take you, and who will you meet along the way?