Once a cluster of fishing and farming villages, Bandra is now one of Mumbai’s most bustling urban precincts. But in its narrow lanes and even along busy junctions, you’ll still find some old-school traditions alive and well — especially around Christmas. Bandra is home to a vibrant Catholic community, and the enthusiasm with which residents partake in the festivities is what makes Christmas here so special. Walk around, and you’re likely to spot a glowing star on the balcony of a high-rise or a decked-up Christmas tree peeking through the window of a cottage. You’ll also find buzzing cafes, festive markets and streets lit up. We’ve curated a list of events and places to visit in Bandra that embrace the Christmas spirit — read on.
Go Christmas Shopping on Hill Road
Around Christmas, several shops on Bandra’s busy Hill Road retail everything from Christmas trees and wreaths to shiny ornaments and lights. While there are numerous stores vying for attention, Raave’s Evergreen, next to Elco Arcade, and Roy’s Wonderland, down the road, are local staples.
Look at the Festive Storefronts
Most shops are spruced up for Christmas, but for Damian, a furniture store also on Hill Road, unveiling its iconic storefront display every December has become a Christmas tradition that’s now lasted 30 years. The display is designed by co-owner Frederick Pereira and draws visitors from across the city. This year, it features life-size snowmen, elves, polar bears, reindeer and so much more. Stop by to peer closely at the details!
Browse the Christmas Bazaar at Bandra Gymkhana
If you’re looking for homemade food, drinks and foot-tapping music, Bandra Gymkhana’s annual Christmas Bazaar is the place to be. This year, the event is happening on Friday, 15 December and Saturday, 16 December — from 5pm onwards — with live music performances on both days, and stalls set up by members of the Gymkhana. Non-members have to pay a nominal entry fee.
Sing Along to Carols on Convent Road
Every year, the residents of Convent Road and adjoining streets organise an evening of carol singing. Typically, singers and bands from the area put on performances here. Head there on Tuesday, 19 December at 6pm to hear Christmas carols — and on your way, look around to catch sight of apartments and streets decked in colourful lights.
Binge on Festive Treats at Local Bakeries
What’s Christmas without baked goods? There’s a lot to choose from at Bandra’s old bakeries as well as new cafés. For instance, this year, TwentySeven Bakehouse at Pali Hill has Christmas specials including stollen, a traditional German Christmas loaf. The 115-year-old American Express Bakery on Hill Road has appropriately festive specials like traditional Christmas pudding, fruit mince pie and more. Nearby, Mavs Cakes n Bakes has an elaborate menu that features appetisers, desserts, and full roasts, and Veronica’s, a neighbourhood sandwich shop located where the iconic St Jude Bakery once was, is selling seasonal delights from four home bakers all through December.
Get Artsy at Festival at the Steps
The Festival at the Steps is an annual art and community event that takes place at the St Stephen’s Steps, a multi-use public space. For its fifth edition, the festival has exhibitions, performances and workshops planned — including Christmas-themed events on Friday, 22 December and Saturday, 23 December from 5pm to 8pm. Keep an eye out for more specifics at @thestepsbandra on Instagram.
#BandraBling by Khaki Tours
If you’re curious about what makes Christmas in Bandra so special, jump into the back of an open jeep for a heritage tour. #BandraBling by Khaki Tours — an organisation that offers heritage walks and tours across Mumbai — is an hour-long Christmas-special tour of the neighbourhood, which delves into Bandra’s Portuguese history and its Christian heritage. The tours take place daily from Saturday, 23 December until Tuesday, 2 January.
Blanca Miranda is a graphic designer at Paper Planes and an avid photographer. She is on Instagram at @blancavmiranda.