Looking for a good time? Sri Lanka is where it’s at! Join in the festivities at these vibrant local holidays and festivals where you can get a true taste of traditional Sri Lankan culture and fun.
1. Duruthu Full Moon Poya
Taking place in mid-January, the Duruthu Perahera (pageant) sees thousands of locals flocking to the sacred Kelaniya Temple in Colombo to celebrate the Buddha’s first visit to Sri Lanka more than 2500 years ago. Think dancing, live music and plenty of happy vibes. Stick around for Randoli Perahera just before the full moon, when the parade really pulls out all the stops.
2. Galle Literary Festival
Book lovers won’t want to miss the Galle Literary Festival in January. This fascinating cultural festival features local and international authors coming together to discuss, debate and share literature and the arts. What’s more, it’s hosted around the UNESCO World Heritage city of Galle – so you can get in some epic sightseeing too!
3. Independence Day
Celebrated every year on 4 February, Independence Day features huge parades through the streets, traditional Sri Lankan art displays, local delicacies and plenty of national pride.
4. Sinhala & Tamil New Year Festival
From 12 to 14 April, Sri Lanka comes alive as the Sinhalese and Tamil communities celebrate the Aluth Avurudda – their shared New Year. Taking place at the end of harvest season, this bountiful festival is fuelled by deliciously fruity treats. After celebrating at home with their families, locals take to the streets to share the fun and feast with their neighbours.
5. Vesak Festival
Celebrated in May by Buddhists across the globe, Vesak is a major religious festival celebrating the birth, Enlightenment and passing away of Buddha into Nirvana. Streets light up with beautifully carved bamboo lanterns. Roadside stalls hand out free refreshments. And fanciful street theatre performances are held outside temples.
6. Poson Festival
The second biggest religious festival in Sri Lanka (after Vesak) is Poson Poya Day. Held on the full moon in June, it celebrates the introduction of Buddhism in Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BC. Once again, the streets light up with lanterns, food stalls hand out tasty traditional treats, and there’s plenty of fun to be had.
7. Hikkaduwa Beach Festival
In the mood for some sun, sand and fun? The Hikkaduwa Beach Festival event in June is the place to be. Taking place on the sun-kissed beaches of Hikkaduwa, live music, DJs, jazz, movies, water sports and all sorts of other fun stuff is on offer.
8. Kataragama Festival
The town of Kataragama heats up with a two-week Hindu festival in July/August featuring fire walkers, bright performances and ceremonial rites. Stay up for the spectacular grand procession after sunset where hundreds of devotees gather to celebrate in the streets.
9. Kandy Perahera (Esala Perahera)
Taking place in Kandy in July/August, the Esala Perahera is one of the most important annual Buddhist celebrations. At the centre of it all is one of Buddhism’s most sacred relics, the Sacred Tooth. This 5-day festival will see the relic taken from the Dalada Maligawa Temple (Temple of the Tooth Relic) in a golden casket and paraded through the streets trailed by an ever-growing parade of fire dancers, jugglers, acrobats, musicians and more.
10. Deepavali / Diwali
Also known as the Festival of Lights, Deepavali is a Hindu festival celebrating Lord Rama’s defeat of Ravana - where light prevailed over darkness. Taking place in October, this brilliant festival sees houses and buildings lit up by clay lanterns, fireworks in the sky, children playing in the streets and locals giving each other gifts and sweets.
Let the festivities begin! Book your fantastic holiday in Sri Lanka with our affordable holiday deals here.