Famous Festivals in Sri Lanka

a cliff in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a little teardrop-shaped island in the Indian Ocean. But do not let its size fool you. It was a major trading hub in centuries past, attracting visitors from all over the world with its exotic spices and tea that play an indispensable part in our life today. These traders brought with them their customs, traditions and beliefs and spread them among the natives of Sri Lanka. This has led to Sri Lanka becoming a melting pot of cultures from around the world.

People celebrate festivals for various reasons - to celebrate the coming and going of seasons, to entreat for or show gratitude for a good harvest, or to commemorate legends and myths that have been passed down for centuries. Sri Lanka, owing to its prime location on the Indian Ocean and plenitude of natural resources, is home to multiple cultures that celebrate numerous festivals throughout the year. Here is a list of a few festivals of Sri Lanka that showcase the immense beauty on offer across the Emerald Isle.


Christmas is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Sri Lanka and he celebrations begin at least a week earlier and last until the festive mood is well past New Year. To experience the best of the festive vibe, devour a delicious Christmas feast and enjoy shopping in the beautifully lit local markets. Galle witnesses a variety of events like Gospel choirs, Christmas dinners and Santa Claus gift distributions. Be a part of this magical season!

christmas decorations on tree
fireworks in the night sky

New Year's Eve

From fancy hotel parties to DJ parties, you can choose from various options to celebrate New Year's Eve in Sri Lanka. Here, you can welcome the new year with a warm heart and sparkly outfits as you relax by the beachside or embrace the mesmerising fireworks in your memory. Galle Fort, one of the most popular tourist spots in the city, gets accessorised with bright lights that make it a spectacle during New Year's. Galle also witnesses its bars filled with performers like acrobats and singers, lifting the entertainment bar sky high!


As the crowds are relatively less in Sri Lanka during the arrival of summer, the place is perfect for a relaxing getaway. Take a trip to the church and partake in choirs and celebrations. Embrace this holiday by decorating chocolate eggs with your friends and gift them to your loved ones. You can also plan a happy afternoon of cooking roast lamb and other delicacies to commemorate a memorable Easter meal!

colourful easter eggs
kokis - a snack traditionally eaten during Sinhalese New Year

Sinhalese New Year

As in any other country, the traditional new year in Sri Lanka is a joyous occasion that is celebrated fervently by residents of the island and expatriates around the world. The day begins with traditional rituals and firecrackers announcing the dawn of the day. After the rituals, the celebrations spill over into the streets which are decorated beautifully.

Independence Day

Every year on February 4, Sri Lanka celebrates getting independence from the British. One of the most famous festivals in Sri Lanka, it is marked across the country by parades and events that showcase the cultural wealth of the island nation. Freedom fighters and their struggles for independence are celebrated and honoured as part of the festivities.

person showing victory sign in front of projection of Sri Lankan flag
statue of Buddha

Poson Poya

Poson Poya is celebrated by Buddhists across Sri Lanka, as the occasion commemorates Buddhism being introduced to Sri Lanka in the 2nd century BC by Arahat Mahinda Thera. Pandols lit with colourful lights are set up across the country along with food stalls. All the houses are decorated with lanterns and lights to add to the festivities.

Esala Perahera

Commonly referred to as "the festival of the tooth", Esala Perahera is held around July and August every year. It is believed that the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha is housed in a temple in Kandy in central Sri Lanka. Every year, dancers, drummers, singers, fireball acrobats and whip-crackers take part in massive processions across Kandy to celebrate. One of the most prominent Sri Lankan festivals, Esala Perahera ends with a water cutting ceremony at Mahaweli River.

acrobats perfroming during an Esala Perahera procession

This has by no means been an exhaustive list of the festivals conducted across the Emerald Isle. Sri Lanka also witnesses numerous religious festivals throughout the year, including Shivratri, Easter, Eid, Diwali and Christmas among others. Come stay at Owl and the Pussycat Hotel in Galle and witness firsthand the splendour of this delightful island. Our hotel proffers signature Sri Lankan hospitality combined with scenic views and exemplary service that you will not forget for a long time.