Sri Lanka offers a variety of seasonal activities and events which we decided to compile here. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so let us know in the comments if we’ve missed something.
Please Note: Since these are upcoming events, most of the linked articles are our coverage of these events from last year.
June and July
The Gathering: Minneriya June – September
Dubbed “”the world’s biggest pool party”” by CNN, the Elephant Gathering in Minneriya is a sight to behold. It’s largest gathering of Asian elephants in the world, with reports going up to 700 elephants on a day. The lush grass left behind by the receding waterline of Minneriya Wewa offers a rich feeding ground, which draws in elephants from nearby national parks such as Wasgamuwa.
Cricket: Pakistan’s Tour of Sri Lanka 17 June – 01 August
Pakistan will be touring Sri Lanka mid-June and the tour will go on until the 1st of August. It’s a full tour including three Tests (Galle, P Sara and Pallekele) five ODIs and two T20s spread across Dambulla, Kandy, Colombo and Hambantota.
Personally, I’d recommend catching the Galle test (17 June – 21 June) if you can. It’s a lovely ground that’s considered favourable to spinners (and both the Pakistanis and Sri Lankans have plenty of those), and it’s situated in the shadow of the beautiful Dutch fort and there’s always a pleasant sea breeze coming in.
Ramadan 18 June – 16 July
Muslims the world over, and here in Sri Lanka, observe fast during daylight hours in the month of Ramadan. Keeping fast for Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. The fast is broken at sunset at a meal called the Ifthar.
August and September
Kite Season August
August is the month where favourable winds intersect with school holidays,
producing the “”sarungal waare”” or kite season. Hundreds of dedicated (mostly-) youth
take to open spaces ranging from their local paddy fields and beaches to Parliament
Grounds or Galle Face Green to
fly kites. It can sometimes be an extremely competitive sport, with groups sometimes vying to
down each others’ kites by doing complex manoeuvres that sever the opponent’s kite line.
Many organizations, including the Sri Lanka Air Force, organize kite festivals
during this period.
Nallur Festival, Jaffna 19 August – 14 September
The Nallur Festival at the Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil (Nallur Murugan Kovil) in Jaffna
is considered Sri Lanka’s longest festival, taking place over four weeks. Held in
honour of the god Skanda, it includes drumming, dancing and chariot processions
which culminates in the main chariot event (which, according to Parthi in the comments,
happens on 11 September).
Esala Perahera, Kandy 20 August – 30 August
The Perahera celebrates the arrival of the “”Dantha Daathuwa””, or sacred Tooth relic,
in Sri Lanka in the 4th century AD. The annual procession of the relic through the streets
of Kandy is one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic cultural events, and draws visitors from around
the world. The procession consists of
several dozen elephants, as well as dancers representing the various regions and dance
traditions of Sri Lanka.
Colombo International Book Fair September
Colombo gears up in September for the annual book fair, which is when fans of literature from all over Sri Lanka throng to the BMICH to grab the books on discount and unavailable elsewhere. There are some pretty sweet deals to be had, and it’s also a social experience with “”so did you go to the book fair this time?”” invariably coming up in conversation. Check out Shifani’s review of the fair from last year.
November and December
Deepavali Festival 11 November
Deepavali, or the festival of lights, is a Hindu festival celebrated in Autumn. People ready themselves for the festival by cleaning and renovating their houses and workplaces. On the day of the festival, dressed in their finest clothes, families participate in lighting of lamps, poojas and fireworks, signifying the triumph of light over darkness. A feast follows, which includes plenty of Deepavali sweets.
Mirissa Whale Watching Season December onwards
Sri Pada Season 24 December onwards
The traditional Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) climbing season begins on Unduvap full moon Poya day and goes on till the next Vesak. The weather is more conducive to climbing during this time period as it rains less frequently, and the path up to the summit is lit up with street lights.
Christmas 25 December
Christmas celebrates the birth of the Christ, and Sri Lanka in general and Colombo in particular is decked out in celebratory regalia. The best decorations can be seen at the hotels, but also at public spaces like Arcade Independence Square. Churches hold services (Midnight Mass) and people and institutions traditionally donate to charity during the season. Christmas lunches are also a part of the festivities.
So, those are some of the upcoming events in the latter half of the year. Again, it’s not an exhaustive list, but do let us know in the comments if we’ve missed something important.