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The hottest weather arrives in April and grows increasingly stifling through June, when the monsoon season begins. This runs through mid-September and cools Kolkata down, though the occasional downpour means you can expect a soaking or two. After the monsoon, it's festival time. The biggest of all festivals is the Durga Puja, which takes place over two weeks in September or October. Around December the mild winter sets in and lasts until March. This is the best time to visit, but as a result it's also the time that making advance reservations for hotels, trains, and airplanes is essential. If you visit around Christmas, you're likely to see such tangible signs of the season as Christmas lights and fruitcake-like puddings. The town of Shantiniketan has its major festival, the Poush Mela, around the same time.