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Dance your way to Samba Square OR drink Fine Wine at The Grape Escapade (Goa Carnival 2019)

Updated: May 26, 2019

When the sun goes down and the day is done, head over to Samba Square and continue the Fun. One of the numerous traditions that has been passed down for several decades to this day. Alcohol, Music and Food, all in one place is a good recipe for a night to remember. After dark, the real fun begins at the Carnival. A number of parties take place all over Goa but the one tradition that has stood strong from a long time is the arrangement at Garcia de Orta Garden. Goes by the name ‘Samba Square’ during the Goa Carnival. Bands begin playing after 7 in the evening and go up to 10:30 PM "officially" but to please the excited crowd a few more songs are topped off to the finish.

Band in goa playing for a festival
Band playing at Samba Square

Crowd at food stalls in India
Crowd at the food stalls at Samba Square

Another reason to come to the Samba Square is THE FOOD! With the period of abstinence closing in, the food at the Carnival is a meat lovers paradise. Pure Goan delicacies to popular continental grub, you might have to visit the Samba square on ALL 4 DAYS if you wanna try em all. Local favorites such as Pork Vindaloo, Sorpotel, Chicken Cafreal and Xacuti are a must try. Spices carefully blended to give you the taste of authentic Goa, these are the dishes that bring back non resident Goans time and again. For the ones who prefer something else, Middle eastern Shawarma, Chinese (Indian version of Chinese), Steak, Sausages, barbecued chicken etc are also available. I noticed a peculiar dish called Gobanos. Beef/pork steak with a layer of cabbage, delicious mayo and topped with one fried egg. All this stuffed between one POI (Click here if you're confused). Quick bites to snack on range from beef croquettes, chicken/fish cutlets or fingers, Prawn/Beef Mince/ Chicken Chops (meat enveloped with seasoned potato) etc. This kind of food is available all round the year at the food trucks near crossroads, crowded beaches or even highways. Usually when I am riding around, the aroma itself is enough to draw me towards these food trucks. Specially when I'm returning home in the evening and I'm wondering what to cook the next day. My nose tells me to stop thinking and relish these snacks.

goan food at the carnival
Assortment of food for the Meat Lovers ranging from cutlets, sausages, meatballs, pork ribs, steak and so on.

Seafood is another cuisine by itself that has earned a feather in the pride of Goa. The Fish Thali for example is available all around Goa. Know more by clicking here. Fried fish compliments alcohol perfectly. Either Rava Fried or Rechad masala, you be the one to choose what smells good OR just have both and thank me later.

Fried fish in Goa
Fresh Seafood prepared on Demand

Apart from fish you would find Crab, squids, prawns which are on popular demand.

The pizza stalls were interesting considering they brought their wood fired oven to the venue and cooked the pizzas to perfection. The colors were attractive as well as confusing to choose. One of the stalls finished the pizza firing a propylene torch to get the gooey cheesy characteristic we all love.

Wood fired pizza in oven
Wood fired pizzas prepared fresh at the stall

The timing of the carnival is such that it is the beginning of the season of Uraak. For the ones that are hearing it for the first time, it is the first distillate that is collected from the cashew fruit juice (Locally called Niro). It has a lower alcohol content and a lighter buzz. Believed to have medicinal values and cooling for the body, Uraak is one drink you will find all around the place. The typical way to drink Uraak is with a slit green chilly, some lime juice, cold water and a dash of salt. What more do you want when you can get your own seasonal alcohol too?

Wine festival in Goa Grape escapade
The Grape Escapade Entrance, Varieties of Wine for sale

Speaking of alcohol, at another venue nearby there is an event known as 'The Grape Escapade'. The number of stalls are more than the Samba square and the crowd is spaced out because of the larger area. The bands that play at Samba Square do play even at this venue too but on different days. The main feature of this venue is that all the alcohol here is only in the form of wine. Everything is wine themed. There is a contest for The Grape Escapade Queen too where ladies come from all over Goa to participate. After going around even I was surprised with the number of brands and types of wine available. Larger the variety, more the confusion. More the confusion, more people want to taste the wine before they decide what to buy. Hence, every other stall is offering a free taste of wine. Some realized that there are people who come to this festival just to get drunk on free wine. So they do charge a small fee even to taste.

Fashion show contestant in goa
Contestant for the Grape Escapade Queen

A few suggestions to get the most of the festival:

  • Even after the official band stops, stay back and look around samba square. There will be someone or the other with a guitar playing with a small group. Join in and sing along as this goes on very late in the night.

  • Food and alcohol is expensive compared to the same available nearby. If you want to try the local snack (Vada pav, Mirchi Bajji, Samosa, Ros Omlette), you'd rather walk outside and look for a cart selling the same.

  • Tuesday is themed Red and black and it is a ticketed event to restrict the crowd. The Band is usually better and there's a fancy dress competition with cash prizes. Similar to Comic Con. Participate and be the center of attention.

  • If you like to dance and have variety of alcohol then you'd enjoy Samba Square. For wine, women and watching the bands play you would rather be at the grape escapade( less noise if you have children).

  • Come early at around 7 PM for good parking. Park at a spot where people cannot park behind you as things get pretty messy.


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