The city of Kochi lights up during the Cochin Carnival that is a celebration of life and vigour. Generally, held during the last two weeks of December, the carnival hosts multiple competitions and activities like vadam vali (tug of war), kalam vara (floor art), beach football, swimming, marathon racing, cycle racing, bullet racing, kayaking, boxing, kabaddi and beach bike racing. For those with a mellower spirit, art shows, musical concerts and elaborate rallies can be an amazing option. A major attraction in the carnival is the burning of the effigy of Papanai between December 31 and January 1. This is done to bid goodbye to the past year and welcome the new one. The burning is believed to cast away evil and initiate birth. It is followed by a splendid display of fireworks. The finale is held on January 1 and it is a special day as a grand procession, headed by a caparisoned elephant, is taken out.

The origin of the carnival can be dated back to the Portuguese rule between 1503 and 1663. The colonisers made Fort Kochi their capital and made it the venue for New Year celebrations. Though this tradition died out with Portuguese rule, three men by the names of Antony Anup Scaria, George Augustine Thundiparambil and Ananda Felix Scaria revived it again. This fiesta has continued since then.