Calendar of Events

Sri Lanka’s deep-rooted and ancient civilisation endows the island with a legacy of colourful national and religious festivals.  Hardly a month goes by without a unique national or religious celebration of diverse cultures and religions, celebrated with the flair of people with a genius for pageantry and ceremony.

The full moon (poya) day of each month known by their traditional Sinhala names (please see back cover) is of special religious significance.  The exact dates of Sri Lanka’s festivals change from year to year as they depend on lunar or solar phases.
Sports events in Sri Lanka too attract fanfare.  While Sri Lanka is internationally known for sports like cricket and athletics, an increasing array of sporting events including golf tournaments, water-sport events and motor races are becoming popular attractions in some the most scenic

Sri Pada Pilgrimage Season

Sri Pada or Adam’s Peak as it is known to the Westerners, is a mountain 2237 meters high situated in the South
- west corner of Central Highlands.   Thousands of pilgrims from many faiths climb the mountain to pay homage and make observance commencing from full-moon day of December to the full-moon day of April the following year.  Buddhists believe that it enshrines the foot print of Gauthama Buddha at the summit.   Hindus, Muslims and Christians also make pilgrimage for their own religious reasons.  The spectacle of sunrise from the mountain top is an unforgettable sight.


Durutu Perahera Pageant

A colourful religious pageant at the Kelaniya Temple 12 km away from the city of Colombo. This pageant is to commemorate the third visit of buddha to Sri Lanka.  It is a colourful procession of caparisoned elephants, torch bearers and traditional dancers.

FEBRUARY - 1st Week
Classic Car Rally

Over 40 to 50 Classic cars ranging from CE1 upwards will proceed in a rally from Colombo to Wattala on the Classic Car Club Members day rally.


Independence Celebration

Horse Race Meet

Independence Race Meet, a horse racing event at the Race Course in the scenic hill city of Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka’s chief mountain resort, at 6,200 feet above sea level and home to the highest mountains of Sri Lanka.


Independence Day

This day commemorates the granting of independence to Sri Lanka by the British on 04th February 1948.  It is a great patriotic and national occasion celebrated with colourful parades and pageants depicting the nation’s culture and achievements.

FEBRUARY 14th & 15th

Navam Perahera Pageant

A colourful traditional perahera organised by Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo parades the city streets for two nights.  Dancers, elephants, whip crackers make it an unforgettable event.

- 25th
Japanese Pro Surfing

Over 30 foreign participants are expected at this international professional surfing competition at the beach side resort city of Hikkaduwa.

- 1st Week
Vintage Check Point Rally

Vintage Car Owners club will conduct the Vintage Check Point Rally in Colombo.  Over 50 – 55 Vintage cars, known as A-Z cars that were first registered in Sri Lanka over 60 years ago will take part in this rally.

- 1st Week

Elephant Polo

The introduction of an all Sri Lanka Elephant polo competition event by the Ceylon Elephant Polo Association intended to popularise the sport in Sri Lanka.  Beating the retreat by the pipes and drums of the Sri Lankan Navy and a local Perehera in the village of Weligama are aimed to make the event as enjoyable off the field as it is on the field.   It is hoped that the event will be able to give financial assistance to local education and to the elephant orphanage.

- 1st Week
Turf Horse Races
- Governors
Governor’s Cup, the main event at the April Festive season race meets at Nuwara Eliya Race Course.

APRIL 13th & 14th
Sinhala and Tamil New Year

The two main ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, the Sinhalese and the Tamils celebrate a common traditional New Year in the month of April originally harvesting thanks giving.  This marks the passage of the sun from Pisces to Aries.  Traditional customs are observed on this day with merrymaking and fun and games and lavish hospitality.

Flower Show & Garden Competition

Flower Show and garden competition are among many events organized during the holiday season in the mountain resort of Nuwara Eliya.  Set in the heart of the tea-country, at 6,200 feet above sea level, Nuwara Eliya is a beautiful town where the British succeeded in creating an English countryside with homes in styles from Georgian to Queen Anne with well-kept lawns with hedges, an Anglican church and the famous golf course and beautiful parks.


Motor Racing: Mahagasthota Hill Climb and the Radalla Hill Climb

In April Nuwara Eliya will provide an excellent vantage view of motor racing when over hundred formula three cars to motor cycles compete at the Mahagasthota Hill Climb and the Radalla Hill climb.

MAY 15th & 16th

Vesak Full Moon 

Vesak is a thrice blessed day for Buddhists throughout the world.   It commemorates the birth of Prince Siddhartha, his attaining enlightenment and passing away into Nibbana as Gauthama Buddha.  It is a day of great sanctity devoted to religious observances and charity.  The day is also celebrated with festivity with numerous colourful decorations and illuminations, pandals and pageants.  Wayside stalls distribute food and refreshments to the pilgrims and passers by.

JUNE 2nd Week

Turf Horse Races

Horse Race Meets at Nuwara Eliya Race Course.

JUNE 14th

Poson Full Moon

Poson, the full-moon festival commemorates the advent of Buddhism to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C.  The day is celebrated with religious observances.  The centre of festivities is at Mihintale (about 10km) from Anuradhapura where the Buddhist doctrine was first preached by Arahat Mahinda, son of the great Emperor Asoka of India.  Apart from religious festivals there are illuminations and decorations and processions in various parts of the island.

14th June

A colourful Esala pageant is also held at the Rajamaha Vihara (Buddhist temple) at Bellanwila, a Southern suburb of Colombo.  The perahera features low-country folk dancers in addition to Kandyan dancers.


Esala Festivals
- Kandy Perahera
Esala (July/August) is the season of festivals in Sri Lanka and the full moon day of Esala is the climax of some of the festivals.  The most magnificent of these festivals is the Kandy Esala Perahera.   A spectacular medieval day pageant is held for 10 nights climaxing with the Kandyan dancers and Drummers in colourful traditional costumes.  Kandyan Chieftains in medieval court dress, more than one hundred caparisoned elephants whip crackers, torch bearers etc., make it an unforgettable experience.

  28th Monday - Kap Situweema and perahera within Devale precinets
  29th Tuesday - Perahera within the four Devale Precinets
  30th Wednesday - -do-
  31st Thursday - -do-
  01st Friday - -do-
  02nd Saturday - 1st Kumbal Perahera
  03rd Sunday - 2nd Kumbal Perahera
  04th Monday - 3rd Kumbal Perahera
  05th Tuesday - 4th Kumbal Perahera
  06th Wednesday - 5th Kumbal Perahera
  07th Thursday - 1st Randoli Perahera
  08th Friday - 2nd Randoli Perahera
  09th Saturday - 3rd Randoli Perahera
  10th Sunday - 4th Randoli Perahera
  11th Monday - 5th Randoli Perahera
  12th Tuesday - Day Perahera
  August 1st - 12th    

The Kataragama festival is another of the major Esala Festivals.  Kataragama in the South-East corner of the island is a jungle shrine dedicated to God Skanda and is a popular pilgrim centre for Buddhists and Hindus.  Fire walking and the annual perahera in July/August are some of its highlights.

1st week of August

In southern Sri Lanka, 160 km from Colombo is the shrine dedicated to God Vishnu at Dondra, where Esala Festivals take place every year with colourful perahera featuring Kandyan and lower country dances.

1st week of August
About 75 km north of Colombo (3 km from Chilaw) is a Hindu shrine dedicated to God Siva where a colourful temple festival with fire walking takes place during the Esala Festival time.  This is a popular pilgrim centre for both Hindus and Buddhists.

1st week of August
Vel Festival
Some of Colombo’s main streets take on a festival atmosphere in August where the capital’s main Hindu festival takes place and ornately decorated Vel Chariot makes its annual trip carrying the weapons of God Skanda from one temple to the other.
(The exact date of the Esala Peraheras and of the other festivals are announced only during the first quarter of the year.)

AUGUST 2nd Week

Turf Horse Races

Horse Race Meets at Nuwara Eliya Race Course.


- 2003: International Gem and Jewellery Show
A treasure trove of gems and jewellery will go on display at the 13th Sri Lanka international gem and jewellery exhibition in Colombo.   Facets is an annual event which has become an attraction not only for those involved in the gem and jewellery trade, but also an annual event which draws many visitors from around the world.

- 2nd Week
International Rugby Sevens

Singer/Sri Lankan Airlines International Rugby Sevens tournament will be held in Kandy with the participation of international teams.

- 2nd Week
Horse Race Meets at Nuwara Eliya Race Course.

- 1st Week
International Marathon

The hill capital Kandy will be the venue for the 5th LSR International Marathon with over 300 athletes and over 100 foreign participants.

OCTOBER - 4th Week
Sri Lankan Golf Classic

8th Sri Lankan Golf Classic will be held in Digana.  The scenic Victoria International Golf and country Resort located close to the hill capital Kandy will be the venue for the next SriLankan Airlines annual Golf Classic.


Deepavali: Festival of Highlights

The festival of lights celebrated by all Hindus.  Hindu homes are lit up at night, new clothes worn, homes spring-cleaned and all Hindus purify themselves with an oil bath.  Illuminations are designed to welcome Lakshmi.


International Marathon

An International Marathon will be held in the hill capital Kandy.  Dates to be announced.


Id-UI-Fitr (Ramazan Festival)

This day ending Islamic period of fasting is attended with joy and festivals.


Sangamitta Day (Unduwap Full Moon)

This day marks the historic event of bringing the right sapling of the sacred Bo-tree under which Gauthama Buddha attained enlightenment in India.  The sapling of the Bodhi tree was brought by Arahat Theri Sangamitta, sister of Arahat Mahinda and daughter of Emperor Asoka.


Turf Horse Races

It is the “Mini Season”  in Nuwara Eliya and a two day Christmas Horse Race meet will be held at the Nuwara Eliya Race Course.

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  Information provided by Sri Lanka Tourism Board.


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