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Events and festivals in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Events and Festivals

Sri Lanka is a country of dynamic culture, and many events and festivals are celebrated  throughout the year.

Every event and festival is unique in its way. This information will help you plan your Sri Lanka tour targeting any festival as here is a month-wise list of Sri Lankan festivals.

It  is a great chance to explore the prosperity of Sri Lankan culture and heritage. 


Duruthu Perahera

The Duruthu Perahera is one of the most culturally glorious processions celebrated by buddhists annually during the month of January .

This colorful festival commemorates the Buddha’s visit to Kelaniya in the eighth year following his Enlightenment(535BC).

The main festivities are organized at the historic Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya 7 miles northeast of Colombo during the pre-full moon poya day in January not failing to attract tourists.

The traditions and culture of the grand heritage of Sri Lanka is depicted throughout the procession which is considered thehighlight of many rituals and ceremonies preceding the event.

Thai Pongal

 Thai Pongal festival is celebrated on the 14th – 15th of January yearly.
This festival is celebrated grandly among the Tamils, particularly in the north and eastern part of Sri Lanka.

Pongal festival is celebrated to honour sun god Surya by the Hindus to thank him for blessing the harvest.

Youth and children enjoy lighting fire crackers and playing traditional outdoor games.

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Independence Day

The Independence Day in Sri Lanka is celebrated annually on the 4th February.

Sri Lanka gained Independence from Great Britain on February 4, 1948. The day is a national holiday in Sri Lanka.

The main celebrations take place in Colombo. The independence day of Sri Lanka is a great national occasion celebrated with parades and pageants combined with the spirit of patriotism and national pride.

The celebrations begin with the hoisting of the national flag and singing the national anthem.

Navam Perahera

The Navam Perahera which is also known as Kolamba Perahera is conducted annually during  the month of Navam(February) at the Hunupitiya Gangaramaya Viharaya.

A variety of performers parade the city streets displaying their talents, accompanying over 100 brightly decorated elephants, moving slowly along including performances by rhythmic dancers and drummers .

A large tusker carrying the relic on its back symbolizes the integrity of such a procession and completes a magnificent festival celebration.

Every year since 1979, the Navam Perahera has enchanted countless locals and visitors from all over the world.

Maha Sivarathri

Hindus in sri lanka celebrate Maha Shivaratri in February.

Maha Shivratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in reverence of the god Shiva and this festival commemorates the union of Load Siva and his consort Parvathi.
Hindu devotees give their thanks to the Hindu God for protecting the world from poison with holy rituals, music, dances and by fasting.

It is also a day for people to pray for the health and well being of their friends and family.


Sinhala and Tamil New Year

Being a significant festival to the sri lankan people, the Sinhala and Tamil New Year is celebrated with much pomp and fanfare.

The transition of the Sun from the House of Pisces to the House of Aries marks the beginning of Aluth Avurudu and is usually celebrated on April 14th every year.

The whole island takes on a festive mood as people gear up for the upcoming celebrations by cleaning homes, shearing gifts and engaging in various sports and making New Year sweetmeats.

Nuwara Eliya carnival Season

This the warmest month of the year ,during this month many people from the other parts of the country retreat to the hill country specially to Nuwara Elia to experience numerous seasonal activities such as carnivals ,tennis tournaments ,golf tournaments,horse races,motor cross,football tournaments,fashion shows,exotic flower shows,agriculture technology exhibitions.

Visitors need to plan their holiday stay in Nuwara Eliya
well ahead as the town becomes over crowded.



Sri Lanka celebrates Vesak on full moon day in the month of May to commemorates the the three most important milestones in the life of Gautama Buddha , His birth,his attaining enlightenment and his passing away to Nirvana.

There are many religious activities on this day distributing various kind of donations to needy people and to temples.

Vesak is known as the festival of light, a very appropriate name since almost all the decorations are in the form of illuminations.

Colorful lighting lanterns and huge pendals,illuminated displays decorate streets.

Dansal or alms-giving stalls are another popular sight all over Sri Lanka during Vesak, rendering an immense service to the people.


Poson festival

Poson Poya is celebrated on the full moon day in June annually with great fervour throughout the island but particularly in Anuradhapura and Mihinthalaya where Mahinda Thero first put his foot to preach the word of Lord Buddha.

There are many religious activities organized during the period of Poson including Sil Campaigns, Dansal which are set up with the aim of giving away food and beverage to people.

Madhu festival

The Madhu Church festival takes place every year in June when thousands of Catholic devotees gather from all over the island to the Church premises to celebrate the day of assumption of the hallowed Virgin Mary.

The shrine of the Virgin Mary is carried on the shoulders of her followers in and around the Church premises in an immense procession .

The celebrations continue for up to ten days and the festivities conclude as the procession returns the Virgin shrine back to her home at Madhu Church.


Kandy Esala Perahera

The Esala perahera,held in the hill capital of Kandy is one of the most magnificent spectacles in Sri Lanka.

The Kandy Esala Perahera parades through the streets of Kandy and is indeed an unforgettable spectacle.

Hundreds of costumed dancers, drummers ,musicians,torch bearers,whip crackers,acrobats and other participants parade along the streets in order to allow the public to pay their respects to the sacred Tooth Relic.

Elephants too play an important part in this festival, decked out in colorful attire and sparkling lights, and the Relic Casket is carried on the back.



Diwali or Deepavali is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated every year in late October or early November to celebrate the triumph of good evil and to welcome Lakshmi ,the goddess of wealth and fortune.


Sri Pada Pilgrimage

The annual Sri Pada pilgrimage Season begins on the full moon of December and ends on the full moon of April.

The peak is crowned by the impression of a gigantic footprint,which is venerated by pilgrims of all religions.
Buddhist believe the impression on the summit is the footprint of lord Buddha himself ,made during his third visit to the island.

The mountain is also named as Samanala Kanda or Butterfly Mountain.


Christmas is annually celebrated on 25th of December in a grand scale across the island to mark the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem many centuries ago.

Christians in Sri Lanka enter the month of December with anticipation and excitement, looking forward to this festival which brings together families and friends.

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