India has a very distinctive climate and a different concept of seasons. While the winters are mostly pleasant with moderate temperatures and almost no precipitation the summer months of April, May, October and November can get unbearably hot. From June to September the wet monsoon covers almost the entire country and brings lots of rain and humidity. Therefore, one needs to especially consider the climate to specify the best time to visit Kerala. But also festivals play an important role to decide when to travel. Get in touch with us if you want to know where to go at which time of the year in Kerala.
Weather in Kerala around the year
Kerala is situated in a tropical climate zone which means that the region faces the typical humid to wet weather conditions like most of the planet’s rain forests. The annual average rainfall is higher than in most of India and the air feels often more humid than elsewhere. Due to the proximity to the equator and the warm dry winds from the north it should actually be very hot in Kerala but fortunately the high mountain ranges of the Western Ghats prevent the temperatures to rise much higher than 35 °C. All together the temperature in Kerala doesn’t vary much but it is of course cooler in the hill stations of Munnar, Wayanad or Thekkady than at the coast or in the cities of Kochi, Trivandrum, Thrissur or Calicut.
Winter starts by end of November and ends around end of February and beginning of March. The temperature rises rarely above 30°C and it rains very less to never. In the mountain ranges of Wayanad, Munnar and Thekkady you should definitely pack some warmer clothes as it can get quite cold in the morning and evening hours. You will definitely not require air-conditioned rooming. Since it is the best time to travel to this region it is also the main season for tourism. Be prepared for crowds at some of the sights.
While other popular places to visit in India like Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Madhya Pradesh get very hot in the summer months from March to end of May, the heat stays moderate in Kerala as the Western Ghats stop the hot winds and the Arabian Sea offers a constant cold breeze along the coast to enter the state. If it rains it usually comes with a lot of thunder and lightning and flooding is not rare but the water dries up quickly. The only issue is the high humidity which makes physical activities seem very exhausting. If you prefer to share the sights, mountain treks and national parks with less other tourists and want to stay at top-end accommodations for lower prices this season is perfect for you.
The monsoon hits Indian land first in Kerala around end of May or beginning of June. Kerala faces 85% of its annual rainfall from June until end of September. Since the wet and heavy clouds hit the western Ghats first in Kerala the precipitation is extremely high here and the humidity strong. If you do enjoy the tropical climate and rather explore nature in this weather than in the bright hot sun, then this is the time to come to Kerala. However, you might also get stuck indoors when the rain gets too heavy. On nature treks you will encounter a couple of blood-sucking ledges but locals always know how to prevent that. Due to landslides and floodings roads and train tracks might get blocked so that even your travel plans could come to a halt. So be prepared to be flexible.
South India faces another phase of monsoon from October to November and sometimes even until mid-December. The North-East-Monsoon doesn’t bring as much wetness as the earlier South-West-Monsoon but it can come in heavy with strong downpours, thunder and lightning. It gets as warm and humid as in the summer months of March to May.
Due to the climate conditions in Kerala there are more international tourists in winter than in the rest of the year. However, Kerala is a popular destination for domestic tourists, especially honeymooners all year around. And Indians do love the rainy season so even during the monsoon they will travel to the region around the Western Ghats.
Between May and September, the beaches turn empty. The current of the sea is too strong to swim and the wind and weather doesn’t allow you to sunbath either. Many resorts and restaurants close down for multiple months. The popular Backwaters are in season all year around but in the summer months of April and May you might not be able to explore as much of the river and lake landscape as the water levels are too low to explore all areas.
The best festivals in Kerala to visit around the year
Due to its interesting history of colonisation and trade Kerala is home to many religions: Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Therefore, there are many spiritual and cultural festivals to be celebrated but the biggest and most exotic ones are the Hinduist ones.
The temple festivals in Kerala are as colourful and impressive as the temples themselves. The so called Poorams happening in April and May in many temples around Kerala, mostly in the Ernakulam and Thrissur districts, are famous for the loud and exciting processions with dozens of heavily decorated elephants.
In July, August and September traditional snake boat races are happening in the backwaters and the rivers or Kerala. Nowadays it often becomes a political event rather than a religious one but it is fun to watch nonetheless.
Onam is the traditional harvest festival of Kerala celebrated for 10 days in September. It is the biggest fest for the locals so houses get decorated, feasts are being served and games are being played. The quirkiest part of this festival is the Onam Pulikkali Tiger Play, a folk art where men dress up as tigers and their hunters to dance to traditional music. A very funny parade to observe!
Kerala honours every year its spiritual and cultural diversity by even celebrating big Christian feasts and the Eid-Festivals of Islam. Friends of other communities are invited home and traditions are being shared. In a country divided by religion after independence Kerala serves as a role model to religious freedom and peace. But that also means all around the year there is at least one big festival celebrated in some part of the relative small state.
If religious festivals with big crowds are not your thing, maybe the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is. The contemporary art festival held every winter from December to March in Fort Kochi is one of its kind in India. One can find art exhibitions of all mediums all around the city in galleries and open spaces.
If you interested in travelling to Kerala, plan your trip with us now.