Kannur district plays a main role in the contribution of art and culture to Kerala. Kannur is the center of many folk art forms and folk dances. A number of folk plays and dances are seen among the scheduled tribes and castes in this district. Each tribe has their own special folk dance forms and is mainly performed during festivals. Folk dances are accompanied by folklores. Music and dance form a part of folk dance.
The Theyyam dance is the most prominent among the ritual dances conducted at temples. It is the primitive art form and has its origin in Kannur. They reflect the tribal culture and there are numerous temples in Kannur where this is still performed. The Theyyam performers wear colorful make up and costumes and are believed to give blessings to the devotees. It is estimated that there are more than 350 different types of Theyyams performed in the Malabar area.
Vadakkan pattukal sung in praise of the heroes of the past are famous in Kannur district. Some other art forms include Kathakali, Kalaripayattu, Poorakkali, Marathukali etc. The Kalaripayattu is believed to have its origin from Thalasseri in Kannur district. It is considered to be a cultural legacy of Kannur and is performed by many. Marathukali is the fusion of two different styles of art forms. It is a competitive game which gained ritualistic importance.
Kannur is also famous for the handloom industry and is popularly called as the Land of Looms and Lores. The handloom clothes of Kannur have gained International acceptance. Long ago during the 14th and 15th century, Thaliparamba region was a centre of learning, art and culture. The culture of the people has been evolved from those of the Aryans and Non Aryans culture along with the influence of Jain and Buddhists philosophies.
Herman Gundert who was a German missionary made great contributions to the Malayalam language and he had worked on it while staying in Thalasseri. He is considered to be the pride of Thalasseri. Thalasseri is also the place where Indian circus was originated.