Sri Lanka’s rich diversity ensures its annual calendar is never short of colourful festivals and celebrations, and every month brings lively cultural and religious themed events, in addition to public holidays and deep-rooted national days. This is definitely one destination you really must visit. Just make sure you organise your visa for Sri Lanka before you go.
National Day – 4 February 2014
Sri Lanka marks its Independence Day today, which commemorates independence on 4 February 1948, from British Colonial rule.
Mahashivratri Day – 27 February 2014
Today sees the important Hindu festival of Mahashivratri, which is in honour of Lord Shiva, on a day which has long been regarded as his favourite.
Sinhala and Tamil New Year Day – 14 April 2014
This traditional New Year celebration is focussed on the local harvest festival and has deep-rooted significance. In fact, this is the most important cultural festival in the country and to mark the end of the harvesting period, a long holiday and special foods are enjoyed by all. Rich foods are consumed, with sweet rice and coconut deep-fried kokis very popular.
Easter Sunday – 20 Aril 2014
Just over 7% of Sri Lankans are Christians (the third largest religion in the country), making Good Friday and Easter Sunday important dates within the annual calendar.
Labour Day – 1 May 2014
The first of May is known the world over as International Workers’ Day, and within Sri Lanka, communities gather and celebrate with street marches and public gatherings all across the country.
Vesak (Buddha’s Birthday) – 6 May 2014
The most important date on the annual Buddhist calendar is undoubtedly Vesak, aka Buddha’s Birthday. Today marks the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Gautama Buddha, in which is a colourful and well-respected affair. Locals adorn temples with lanterns, and set up alms houses along the streets to sell food and drink. The Vesak Full Moon falls on 14 May.
Eid al-Fitr – 28 July 2014
Today marks the end of Ramadan and is better known as Eid-al-Fitr. The Islamic religious festival heralds the end to the month long fasting.
Esala Festival – 1-11 August 2014
The second largest city of Kandy (after Colombo) celebrates Esala which spans a multitude of religions. Elephants in costume, fire walking, drumming, dance and music are commonplace. The ten da long festival marks the tooth relic of Buddha that was smuggled here to Kandy some 1,700 years ago.
Diwali – 24 October 2014
The Hindu festival of Diwali (also spelt as Deepawali) is also known as the hugely symbolic Festival of Lights – where light triumphs over darkness.
Christmas Day – 25 December 2014
The Christian year finishes with Christmas Day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Crist.
Poya Days in Sri Lanka in 2014
One day each month is marked as a Poya Day in alignment with the school of Buddhism – around 70% of Sri Lankan’s are Theravada Buddhists. Specifically the sale and consumption of alcohol, meat and fish is prohibited. The following dates are all considered Poya Days in 2014
15 January – Duruthu Full Moon
14 February – Navam Full Moon
16 March – Medin Full Moon
15 April – Bak Full Moon
14 May – Vesak Full Moon
13 June – Poson Full Moon
12 July – Esala Full Moon
10 August – Nikini Full Moon
9 September – Binara Full Moon
7 October – Vap Full Moon
5 November – Il Full Moon
6 December – Unduvap Full Moon