Sri Lankas’ deep rooted ancient civilization has endowed the island with a legacy of colorful National and religious festivals. Hardly a month goes by without a unique National or religious celebration of diverse cultures and religions, celebrated by people with much pageantry and ceremony.
December – May – Adams peak pilgrim Season
January Kelaniya Temple Perahera (pageant)
January 14th Thaipongal day
A thanks giving festival celebrated by the Tamil community across the globe.
February 4th – National Day
This day commemorates the granting of independence to Sri Lanka by the British on 4th February 1948. It is a patriotic National occasion celebrated with a colorful parade.
February – Navam Perehara
A colorful procession organized by the Gangaramaya Temple Colombo parades the city for 2 nights. Dances elephants, whip crackers make it an unforgettable even that is similar to the Kandy perehara
March 30th Good Friday
This is observed by the Christian community in Sri Lanka. Many Christian spend the day in fasting ,prayer, repentance and meditation on the agony and suffering of Christ on the cross.
April 13th and 14th Sinhala and Tamil New Year
The two main ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, the Singhalese and the Tamils celebrate a common traditional New Year in the month of April., Traditional customs are observed on this day along with hospitality.
Month of April Nuwera Eliya Holiday season
The Nuwera Eliya in the Hills comes alive during April to entertain the thousands of visitors flock to this salubrious Hill Station to avoid the heat and Humidity experience in most part of the Island during April. Nuwera Eliya offers visitors numerous enjoyable events during this period , including Golf and Tennis tournaments Horse racing Motor car racing in Magasthota and Radella close to Nuwera Eliya, flower shows, as during this period all plants are in bloom which makes the small city even more beautiful, live music fiestas, Dances are to name a few.
Vesak full Moon Day
Vesak is a day thrice blessed day for Buddhists throughout the world. It commemorates the birth of Prince Siddhartha, his attaining enlightment and passing away as Gautama Buddha. The day is commemorated with festivity with numerous colorful decorations and illuminations and pageants.
May 1st – May day
June 15th Ramazan Festival Day
The festival of breaking the Fast is an Islamic religion festival celebrated by the end of 30 day fast during the month of Ramadan.
June – Poson full moon day
Poson full moon day commemorates the advent of Buddhism to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BC. The day is celebrated with religious observances where most of the Activities take place in Mihintale 10 km off Anuradhapura, where the Buddhist doctrine was first preached by Arhat Mahinda the son of Asoka great Emperor from India.
July – August – Kataragama Esala Festival
In the south east end of the island dedicated to God Skanda.
This period many Hindus and Buddhists visit Kataragama where during the end of the festival you can witness fire walking.
July Kandy Esala Perahara
This can be referred as the most magnificent of the festivals in Sri Lanka. A spectacular medieval day pageant is held for 10 nights with Kandyan dancers and drummers in colorful traditional costumes. Kandyan chieftains in medieval court dress, more than 100 dressed elephants, whip crackers, torch bearers parade the Kandy streets carrying the golden casket with the tooth relic of Buddha on a Elephant.
August September Munneswaram festival
About 75 km north of Colombo a Hindu shrine is dedicated to God Siva where a colorful temple festival with fire walking takes place during Esala festival time.
August Festival of our Lady of Madu
Three feasts in July August October. Madu is a Roman Catholic marian shrine in the Mannar District in north east of Sri Lanka. With a history over 400 years the site is considered the holiest catholic shrine in the whole island.
August – September – Bellanwila Temple Festival
Colorful Esala pageant is also held Bellanwilla temple situated southern suburb of Colombo. The perahara features low country folk dances in addition to the Kandyan Dancers.
August Vel festival in Colombo
Some of the Colombo’s’ main streets take on a festival atmosphere where the main Hindu festival takes place and ornately decorated Vel Chariot makes its annual journey carrying the weapons of God Skanda from one temple to the other.
September – “Adha”
It is a three day global Islamic festival and is a part of the Hajji or the pilgrimage to Mecca.
October – Deepavali Festival of Lights
Festival of lights is celebrated by the Hindu community. Hindu Homes are lit-up at night with new clothes worn homes spring cleaned and all Hindus purify themselves with an oil bath Illuminations are designed to welcome Goddess Lakshmi.
December 25th Christmas Day
This is celebrated by the Christian Community. The main cities hotel business places are all lit-up making it a spectacular sight.