Kandy esala ceremony, Festivals of Sri Lanka
About Sri Lanka with valuable information for your Sri Lanka tour

20 most important Festivals of Sri Lanka

20 most important Festivals of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka being a multi-ethnic multi-cultural country is full of the festival that is celebrated throughout the year. The Full moon of each month of the calendar is a public holiday, which has a religious significance. Full moon day is especially important for Buddhist and the day is reserved for religious observances. The full moon day of every month is known to be significant for Buddhist in the island, which is called poya days in the local language. On the official holiday of Poya people are engaging in religious activities, most of the time Buddhist temple. The exact days of festivals of Sri Lanka varied from year to year depending on the Lunar or solar face.

Sri Lanka is a country that hosts any international sports events and visited by a large number of fans. Sri Lanka hosts many sports events particularly in the fields of Cricket, Golf, athletics, and water sports. Football, motor racing, Rugby and horse races events are organized more often than in the past, in various scenic locations in the country.

The ancient civilization of Sri Lanka has endowed the country with a legacy of colourful and religious festivals. It is very difficult to find a month without a unique religious and national festival of diverse cultures and religions, celebrated by Sri Lanka people with a genius pageantry and ceremony.

Sporting in Sri Lanka also attracts many fanfares. While Sri Lanka has earned a recognition among the South-Asian countries for sports such as Cricket, Football, Swimming and athletics, an increasing array of sporting events including the golf tournaments, motor races and water sports events are becoming more popular and perform in some of the most scenic places.

Sri Pada Pilgrim Season or Adam’s peak Pilgrim Season

Adam’s peak or Sripada is known to the world as a mountain which is over 2237 meters in height. Sri Pada is the 5th highest mountain in the country and holds some importance for every major religion of the island. The mountain is situated in the South-western part of the central highland.

Many hundreds of pilgrims climb the holy mountain which is significant to major religions on the island. The pilgrim season begins on the full moon of December and lasts for 6 months. Thousands of pilgrims representing all major religions climb the mountain to perform their religious activities at the shrine on top of the mountain. One of the rewards for the tiresome 6 hours climb is the unforgettable view of the sunrise. The mountain is surrounded by a virgin forest known as peak wilderness.

People who come to the summit make observances and pay homage to the sacred footprint. Pilgrimage season starts on the full-moon day in December and lasts till full-moon day of next year April. Buddhists believe that the footprint is belonging to Buddha while people from other religions make climb the mountain owing to their own religious reasons.

Durutu Perehera

Durutu Perehera is taking place in the month of January every year. This colourful pageant is organized by the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, Kelaniya. The event is taking place in Kelaniya some 12 km away from the city centre.

Thai Pongal

Thai Pongal is one of the major celebrations of the Tamil community around the world. The event is known as thanksgiving festival as well. The event is celebrated on 14th march of January.

National day

National day celebration is organized to commemorate the granting of independence to the island in 1948. The event is participated by the head of the state and showcases the strength of the economy, defence, education, health sector, technology and other important fields. The Independence Day celebration falls on the 4th of February.

Nawam Perehera

Nawam full moon day falls on the full moon day of February. The Nawam full moon day is celebrated in with a colourful pageant in Colombo at Gangarama Maha Vihara. The beautiful procession is participated by a large number of beautifully decorated elephants and parade around the city.

New Year Festival

New Year festival is organized in every household of the Sinhalese and Tamil community of Sri Lanka in order to welcome the New Year. It is one of the oldest traditional events of the islands and celebrated with the participation of family members. Traditional games, costumes, traditional dishes, sweetmeats are given importance during the two days of celebration.

Vesak Festival

Vesak festival commemorates the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Buddha and it falls on the full moon of May. The festival is celebrated throughout the island and people are encouraged o participate in Buddhist religious activities. Colourful decorations such as pandals and lantern are erected at every corner of the country and every Buddhist household is decorated with colourful decorations.

Poson Full Moon Day

The Poson festival is celebrated on the Full Moon Day of June. The event celebrates one of the turning points of the island, which took place more than 2000 years back. The event is organized to celebrate the introduction of Buddhism from India. A large number of Buddhist devotees gather to Anuradhapura, where the celebration at its most colourful.

Esala Ceremony

Kandy, the temple of the tooth is the venue of the celebration of Esala ceremony.  The event is known as Dalada Perehera and takes place for 10 consecutive days. This is the most colourful pageant on the island. It is participated by a large number of foreign and local tourists. Esala ceremony showcases the traditional arts and crafts, dancing, music and traditional costumes of upcountry chieftains.

Kataragama festival

The annual event is organized at the temple of Kataragama at the southern corner of the island. The event is attended by a large number of devotees of Buddhist as well as Hindu. The annual event is organized in the month of July.

Devundara Esala Ceremony

The Esala ceremony of Dewundara takes place in the month of August. Dewundara is the southernmost city of Sri Lanka and venue for a shrine dedicated to God Vishnu. The festival is celebrated with many activities in the temple and followed by a beautiful procession, which participated by dancers, firecracker, musicians and elephants.

Bellanvila Procession

The Esala ceremony of Bellenavila Raja Maha vihara also takes place in the month of August. The procession parade around the temple and attended by low country and up country dancers, elephants and musicians.


Munneswara, popular Hindu temple, which is dedicated to God Vishnu, is located about 75 km north of Colombo. The annual event of Esala ceremony takes place in the month of August and attended by a large number of Hindu devotees.

Madhu festival

This Roman Catholic Marian shrine is one of the most sacred places for the Catholic community in the country. The holy church is located in Mannar, north-west Sri Lanka. There are three feats organized at the church in July, August and October. The festival in August attracts the largest crowd, which surpassed one million people.

Nallur festival

Nallur festival can be described as one of the most attended Hindu festivals in the island and largest festival in the northern-most city of Sri Lanka. The celebration takes place in the month of August.

Vel festival

Vel festival is one of the leading Hindu festivals in the city of Colombo. The celebration is dedicated to God Skanda and parade along the streets of Colombo. The celebration takes place in the month of August.

Udappu festival

The annual event is organized in the fishing village of Udappu in North-west Sri Lanka.  The event is dedicated to Goddess Drupadi. The firewalking is the most highlighted in the event. The event is organized in the month of August.


Deepavali or Deevali is a traditional annual festival celebrated by Hindus around the world.  People are prepared with cleaned household, new clothes, illuminated houses, and ritual oil bath to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi. The celebration takes place in November.

Uduwap Full Moon Day

The annual event is commemorating the procurement of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in 2nd century BC. Today the tree is residing in the city of Anuradhapura.


The Christian community of Sri Lanka also celebrates the Christmas with rest of the global Christian community on the 25th of December.


Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity)

This blog is all about travelling in Sri Lanka, I am trying to illuminate my readers with a wide range of information related to Sri Lanka travel. Please feel free to contact me at any time if you need more information. Furthermore, we can organize your holiday package or any travel related requirement in Sri Lanka. Please contact us on admin@seerendipitytours.com... read more