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Sri Lankan Holidays 2017: Long Weekends & Where to Spend Them

Every long weekend, public holiday, and opportunity to travel!

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Sri Lanka has a ridiculous number of holidays, probably the most in the world. Be thankful you live here, in the midst of all the chilling, thambili, and sexy beaches, and check out our list of public and mercantile holidays for 2017. 

We've noted the ones that are mercantile holidays (days you get off work in private companies) in green. We've also mentioned where you can take leave for maximum long weekends, and suggested some places to go, especially if you're not celebrating a religious holiday.

All underlined links will take you to our comprehensive guides, pages, or hotel websites, so click on them for more.

January

12

Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day

Thursday

Take the Friday off and spend a blissful 4 day weekend Down South with the literati and hipsterati. This holiday is the same time as the Galle Literary Festival, on from the 11-15th. While you're there, go exploring Galle in its beautiful entirety.

14

Tamil Thai Pongal

Saturday

This may be a dry day, so stash your beer in advance. The Galle Good Market in the Law Courts square will be in session though!


February

4

Independence Day

Saturday

Honestly, stay home. The parades will shut down Galle Road and you do not want to get stuck in the ensuing traffic.

Note that offices may give either the Friday before or the Monday after in lieu of the holiday (which falls on a weekend).

10

Navam Full Moon Poya

Friday

Take the 3 day weekend as an early Valentine's getaway. We suggest somewhere romantic like The Fortress, or if you're a laidback surfing type, somewhere new and hip like Dot's Bay House in Hiriketiya.

24

Mahasivarathri

Friday

Take a scenic train from Fort to Ella, get your hiking shoes on, and get ready for a lush long weekend getaway in the hills. From Ella Rock to Little Adam's Peak, your hiking options are boundless. If you're feeling fancy we'd suggest 98 Acres or Jetwing's Kaduruketha.

You should check with your employer if this is a holiday for you, as it is listed as a public but not mercantile holiday.


March

12

Madin Full Moon Poya

Sunday

Cook a big meal for the family and have a nap.


April

10

Bak Full Moon Poya Day

Monday

Try and get the 11th & 12th off, and you can enjoy an 8 day holiday from the 8th to the 17th of April. This is a good chance to get out of the country on the cheap. If you're not keen to get out of Sri Lanka, consider roadtripping the North, or hiking the country.

13

Day prior to Sinhala & Tamil New Year Day

Thursday

This is traditionally a time when everyone returns to their ancestral villages, so expect public tranportation to be packed. Not a good time to travel.

14

Sinhala & Tamil New Year Day

Friday

If you're celebrating the New Year, this is definitely a day to stay home and make some sweets.

The 14th is also Good Friday, so you can also visit a range of gorgeous historic churches that celebrate Good Friday and Easter in full. 


May

1

May Day

Monday

In Colombo, most major political parties hold May Day rallies and processions, which, while checking out the floats is fun, can also clog up traffic.

On the other hand, East Coast surf season is back in full swing now, so take the long weekend to check out the rash of Pottuvil Point's seasonal hot spots. Hideaway, Bit Bake Bar, Geckos, the options are endless.

10

Vesak Full Moon Poya Day

Wednesday

If you're staying in Colombo, the whole city is lit up, especially around the Beira Lake, Gangaramaya Temple, and Seema Malaka Temple.

11

Day following Vesak Full Moon Poya Day

Thursday

If you want to take a 4 day weekend, it's a good time to check out Jaffna. If you want to save on travel time and have some extra cash, consider flying internally. Once you're there, we recommend staying at Fits Margosa or Jetwing Jaffna closer to town. If you're more of a backpacker explorer, check out this superb guide instead. Don't forget to immerse yourself in the local markets!


June

8

Poson Full Moon Poya Day

Thursday

If you're taking Friday off, it's a 4 day weekend. If you're not, head to Negombo for the day, or stay in Colombo and enjoy the mid-week break.

Once in Negombo, the best thing you can do is eat well, drink well, and head for an ayurvedic treatment. Otherwise, stick to old dining favourites like Lords or Bijou.

26

Id-Ul-Fitr (Ramazan Festival Day)

Monday

Explore Yala! The dry season is now in full swing, and your chances of a leopard sighting are fairly good. The Yala National Park is huge, diverse, and unfortunately often touristy. Get ready for early morning safaris and star-gazing nights. If you're looking for luxury, try Cinnamon Wild or some of the swank spots on this list.


July

8

Esala Full Moon Poya Day

Saturday

Stay home and moon gaze.


August

7

Nikini Full Moon Poya Day

Monday

If you want to get swept up in the excitement of a big festival (lights, fire swallowers, elephants, et al), head up to Kandy for the weekend where the fortnight-long Esala Perahera will be coming to a beautiful finale.


September

1

Id-Ul-Alha (Hadji Festival Day)

Friday

Visit Minneriya National Park to join the world's biggest pachyderm party! The annual Elephant Gathering from June to October is when elephants from the neighbouring regions migrate to the ancient Minneriya Reservoir, and you'll see hundreds of these gentle giants ambling, flirting, and foraging.

You should check with your employer if this is a holiday for you, as it is listed as a public but not mercantile holiday.

5

Binara Full Moon Poya Day

Tuesday

If you take off Monday the 4th, you can swing a 5 day holiday, and head to the North East. Once there, make sure to catch the gorgeous Trincomalee season while you still can. Pristine beaches, lovely weather, and snorkelling galore.


October

5

Vap Full Moon Poya Day

Thursday

If you take Friday off, it's a 4 day weekend. If you don't want to take Friday off, consider one of the gorgeous city leisure spots, or get yourself a luxury bungalow for the day. We'd suggest Airbnb or even hotels like the Wallawa.

If you can take Friday as a holiday, go on a Cultural Triangle tour - Dambulla, Minneriya, Anuradhapura, Wasgamuwa, Polonnaruwa. Basically the ancient and wild of the paradise island while it's not too hot.

18

Deepavali

Wednesday

Use this mid-week break to explore Colombo and its colonial architecture. If you're Hindu or keen to explore more about this multi-faceted religion during a beautiful, illuminated festival time, visit one of the island's many intricate kovils.


November

3

Il Full Moon Poya Day

Friday

Since you have 3 days, try heading up to Kalpitiya for the beginning of the season and watch some beautiful dolphins skimming the waves! We'd suggest Villa Sante.


December

1

Milad-Un-Nabi

Friday

If you're not celebrating the festival, head down the West Coast. Kick off the December season with a 3 day session Down South. Go beyond Galle, and stick your toes into Thalpe or Weligama's sandy shores. We'd suggest W15, W15 Escape, Cape Weligama, or Wijeya Beach.

You should check with your employer if this is a holiday for you, as it is listed as a public but not mercantile holiday.

3

Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day

Sunday

Stay home and sulk about the wasted holiday opportunity. Well actually you probably won't even get to stay home because you'll have so many weddings to attend.

25

Christmas

Monday

If you're not swamped with Christmas events, head to Nuwara Eliya.

Cosy up in a gorgeous bungalow in the hills for some of that real snuggly Christmas spirit. We'd suggest the historic Grand Hotel, Jetwing's St Andrews or Warwick Gardens, or any of the gorgeous Airbnb spots up for rent. There isn't always too much to do in Nuwara Eliya, but you can still do some exploring.

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