Pokhara street festival: See you at Lakeside


Celebrating New Year’s Eve at Lakeside has been a classic way to welcome the new year in Pokhara. The Restaurant and Bar Association (Reban) Pokhara, in a bid to make the New Year celebration a grand occasion, has given continuity to its trademark street festival 13 times in a row. “Eat on Street, Dance on Street and Enjoy on Street” is the theme of the festival which is scheduled to be held from Dec 28 to Jan 1. Lakeside has been decked out in finery like a newly wedded bride. With the festival adding colour to the tourism environment, entrepreneurs are ecstatic. Why would not they be? During the festival, restaurants in the area are jam-packed with people and their revenue shoots up. The street festival is yet to start, but the hotels at lakeside are fully booked, according to local hotel entrepreneurs. “Currently, hotels are being booked in advance in a rush,” said Govinda Pahari, former president of Paschimanchal Hotel Association and operator of Butterfly Hotel. “Due to massive advance bookings, we are having difficulties serving our guests during the festival.” A majority of the rooms in his 50-room hotel have been booked.

Earlier, due to the off-season, even tourists staying in the city used to leave to celebrate the New Year in Goa or some other place. Currently, due to the increasing fame of the festival, even trekkers are lengthening their stay to enjoy the extravagant ambience of the event, according to Balram Pahari, president of Reban Pokhara. The music, the food and the fun at the festival are a major attraction for the visitors. “Such is the inflow of people that families and couples on visit without advance booking find it difficult to get rooms,” said Laxman Baral, publicity coordinator of the festival.

The street festival was the brainchild of founding Reban president Hari Prasad Gurung. It was first organised 12 years ago. For the first four years, the celebration was limited to a food festival and Reban street festival. However, after the fourth edition, it was expanded to Pokhara Street Festival. The budget allocated for the first edition of the event was Rs 40,000 while the current budget is Rs 4.5 million.

Bathed in dazzling light and charged with bustling energy, Lakeside hardly winks throughout the event. Extending along a 3-km stretch from Fishtail Gate to Camping Chowk, the festival features more than 120 restaurants and food stalls. Apart from a variety of mouth watering cuisines, the stalls showcase different handicrafts and artefacts. 

The five-day festival will also showcase musical performances by national artists, concerts by popular bands, fireworks, bamboo stick dance by Indian artists and other cultural shows. Fun-filled sports events like Reban staff race, boat race, tug of war, waiter race and tourist race are also highlights of the festival.

Organisers are expecting 600,000 people at the festival. Last year, there were a similar number of people with the festival generating more than Rs 400 million in revenue. Rs 1 from the price of each ticket goes to old-age homes, environment protection and closed circuit television connection while Rs 2 goes to educating the poor and needy of Tal Barahi High School.          

Posted on: 2011-12-28 09:06