Sri Lanka Events


At the peak of the tourist season when crowded are at their largest.
Many popular towns have special events such as the fast-growing Literary festival at Galle.

Duruthu Perahera

Held on the Poya (full moon) day at Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya in Colombo and second in importance only to the huge Kandy Perahera (procession), this festival celebrates Buddha’s first of three visits to Sri Lanka.

Thai Pongal

Held in mid-January, this Hindu winter harvest festival honors the Sun god Surya. It is important to Tamils in Sri Lanka and South India. Look for the special sweet dish, Pongal, which is made with rice, nuts and spices.

Galle Literary Festival

An annual event held in mid-to late January, this five-day together renowned Asia and Western writers. It is well regarded and attracts big names. A parallel fringe festival covers current issue and other creative pursuits.

Kala Pola Art Market

The original Kala Pola Art Market is an annual event held the third Sunday of January. Up 500 artists from across Sri Lanka display their work. It’s a kaleidoscope of creativity and has spawned a smaller weekly version.


The tourist crowds continue strong, with wintering Europeans baking themselves silly on the beaches.
This is a busy month for Sri Lankans, with an important national holiday.

Independence Day

Sri Lanka gained independence on 4th February 1948 and this day is commemorated every year with festivals, parades, fireworks, sporting events and more across the nation. In Colombo, motorcades shuffle politicians from one event to the next.

Navam Perahera

First celebrated in 1979, Navam Perahera is one of Sri Lanka’s biggest and flamboyant Peraheras. Held on the February poya, it starts from the Gangaramaya Temple and travels around Veharamahadevi Park and Beira Lake in Colombo.


This is an important month for many of Sri Lanka’s hindu and you’ll see observance of Maha Sivarathri in the Ancient cities areas and portions of the west coast where they are in the majority.

Maha Shivarathiri

In late February or early March the hindu festival of Maha Sivarathri commemorates the marriage of Shiva to Parvati with all-night vigils and more. It’s the most important day for Shaivites, who comprise the majority of Sri Lanka’s Hindus.


Although Christians comprise only 6% of Sri Lanka’s population, secularized versions of Christian holidays are popular. Don’t be surprised when you see an Easter bunny at the mall.

Sinhala and Tamil New Year

New Year’s Eve (13th April) and New Year’s Day (14th April) are non- religious holidays. There is a period between the old and new year called the ‘neutral period’; all activities are meant to cease, otherwise buses and trains are jammed.


The Southwest monsoon blows in for five months, bringing huge rains from the Indian Ocean that drench the Hill Country and the beach towns in the Southwest.

Vesak Poya

This two-day holiday-poya day and the day after-commemorates the birth. Ellightement and death of the Buddha.Amid the festivities, the high point is the lightning of paper lanterns and oil lamps outside of every Buddhist home, shop and temple.


Sri Lanka’s Buddhists barely have a chance to catch their breath after Vesak before another major religious event occurs-and they’ll want to catch their breath…

Vesak Poya

The Poson Poya day celebrates the bringing of Buddhism to Sri Lanka by Mahinda. In Anuradhapura there are festivities in the famous temples, while in nearby Mihintale thousands of white-clad pilgrims ascend the 1843 steps to the topmost temple.


Light-bulb vendors do a huge business as Buddhists gear up for Esala Perahera, which begins at the end of the month. Light displays are an integral part of the Kandy festivals, with a parade of light-bulb-decorated elephants.

Vel Festival

This festival is held in Colombo and Jaffna. In Colombo the gilled chariot of Murugan(Skanda). The god of war, is ceremonially hauled from Pettah to Bumbalapitiya. In Jaffna the Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil has a 25-day festival.

Kataragama Hindu Festival

another important Hindu festival is held at Kataragama, where devotees put themselves through a whole gamut of ritual masochism. It commemorates the triumph of the six-face 12-armed war god skanda over demons here.


The Kandy Esala Perahera is important but smaller versions are held across Sri Lanka. Many celebrations feature dancers and other performers such as stilt walkers who practice all year.

Kandy Esala Perahera

The Kandy Esala Perahera, Sri Lanka’s most spectacular and prominent festival, is the climax of 10 days and nights of celebrations during the month of Esala.This great procession honors the sacred tooth relic of Kandy and starts in late July.

Nallur Festival

Jaffana’s Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil temple is the focus of an enormous and spectacular Hindu festival over 24 with parades of juggernaut floats and gruesome displays of self-multilation by entrance devotes.


This is a month of meteorological mystery as it falls between the two great monsoon seasons. Rains and squalls can occur almost any place at any time.


The Hindu festival of lights takes place in late October or early November. Thousands of flickering oil lamps celebrate the triumph of good over evil and the return of Rama after his period of exile.


The second-to-last month of the year is a time of waiting: waiting for the tourist throngs, waiting for Christmas, waiting for the coming monsoon rains in the dry North and East.


The other great monsoon season of the year begins this month and lasts until March. Winds come from the northeast and that’s just of the island that sees huge rains.

Adam’s Peak

The pilgrimage season, when pilgrims of all faiths (and the odd tourist) climb Adam’s Peak near Ella, starts in December and lasts until mid-April. The trek begins shortly after midnight so that everyone can be in place for sunrise.

Uduvap Poya

This full-moon day commemorates Sangamitta, who brought a cutting from the scared Bodhi Tree in India in 288 BC to Anuradhapura. The resulting tree, the Sri Maha Bodhi, is considered the oldest living tree in the world. The ceremonies attract thousands in their finest.


Outside of Sri Lanka’s Christian communities-mostly around Colombo-this day has become a popular secularized holiday. Ersatz versions of Western Christmas traditions can be found bone-thin Santa’s in strange masks to garish artificial trees.

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