Why You Should Head Out To Mumbai For A Memorable Christmas

From carol singing and midnight mass at quaint neighbourhood churches to heritage villages and bakeries, and strings of kandils, Mumbai is the place to be for Christmas in India
Khotachiwadi in Mumbai
Khotachiwadi in MumbaiDuttagupta M K/Shutterstock

Mumbai, the maximum city, the city of lights and stars, comes alive at Christmas. Streets and houses are illuminated with bright lights and decorations, markets transform around this time of year to cater to all Christmas needs, from Christmas trees and decorative ornaments to Santa costumes.

Throughout Christmas week, apart from family celebrations, churches in Mumbai organise Christmas parties, plays, games, and other fun-filled activities for kids and adults. Christian clubs hold special Christmas dinner dances and parties with live bands in attendance.

Kandils light up houses and streets
Kandils light up houses and streetsRamniklal Modi/Shutterstock

The Christmas Experience In Mumbai

Walk Through Bandra

The houses of Ranwar Village get decked out for Christmas
The houses of Ranwar Village get decked out for Christmas@yashluv23/Instagram

Though Christmas is celebrated across Mumbai, it cannot rival the celebrations in Bandra, where you will find many beautiful old churches. Just before Christmas, take a walk down the road from Mount Mary’s Basilica in Bandra, through the heritage village of Ranwar village, and up to St Peter’s Church. Churches sprucing up; roadside hawkers selling Christmas trees, Santa Claus, baubles to decorate the tree, candies and other goodies; the small bakeries making batches of fruit cakes; East Indian and Goan families decorating their homes with star 'kandils'. These are vignettes that will get you into the mood for Yuletide.

Hit Up The Churches

Carol singing competitions are organised in churches, community centres and various other venues. Choir recitals are held in large cathedrals and churches. The Holy Name Cathedral, the Afghan Church, St Thomas Cathedral, the Gloria Church, and, of course, Mt Mary's Basilica are among the grand-looking churches in Mumbai. While their Midnight Mass events draw the faithful, a large crowd gathers around them during the Christmas season to enjoy the decorations, particularly the cribs and illuminations.

A church in Mumbai
A church in MumbaiShutterstock

Glorious Food

Christmas rituals revolve around food. Not many people have the time to undertake the laborious process of making all these goodies at home nowadays. Fortunately, a few enterprising people take in orders for Christmas fare–most bakeries provide Christmas cake and an assortment of other goodies, including marzipan, macaroons, tarts and cookies. This is a good time to sample the delicious spread offered by many of the popular restaurants, cafes and bakeries. Check here for a chef's reminiscences of Christmas day feasting in the city's East Indian community. 

Iconic Irani cafe Kyani & Co
Iconic Irani cafe Kyani & Co Ramniklal Modi/Shutterstock

Sweet Indulgence At Heritage Bakeries

Should you be visiting Mumbai at the time of Yuletide, there can be few better ways to satiate your hunger than taking a tour of the city's iconic bakeries and cafes. For example, the Parsi cafes of Mumbai, like Kyani & Co. are among the city's oldest. They offer options aplenty, from gooey pastries and cashew candies to the beloved mawa cakes.

A-1 Bakery in Bandra is one of Mumbai's most popular bakeries, and has been a crowd-pleaser since the 1950s, with Christmas seeing especially high footfalls. Customers attest to the authenticity of their plum cake, which has remained unchanged for years. Don't forget to try their mouthwatering apple pies and mawa cakes. The doors open as early as 6 a.m., so get there before the sweets run out.

The American Express Bakery has been running for over a century and is a must-visit if you wish to sample traditional Christmas treats like Dundee and Scottish Christmas cakes, apple pies, plum pudding, and more. 

Check Out The Heritage Village Of Khotachiwadi

This charming heritage village in the heart of South Mumbai is a no-traffic zone with timber-framed cottage-like structures and handkerchief-sized gardens. This distinct, if anachronistic, neighbourhood with overhanging verandahs gets decked up for Christmas. Stroll around admiring the nostalgic vibes before heading to the legendary Anantashram for mouthwatering food. 

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