Sri Lankan Culture
Immerse yourself in a cultural festival
Sri Lanka’s rich and vast cultural diversity is a cornerstone of the country’s identity. With unique customs and rituals dating back over 2000 years, the most prominent feature of the Sri Lankan culture is its colourful festivals, which are a major draw card for travelers. Religion also plays an important role in molding the local culture and traditions
Among the most important events that you can attend is the Sinhala and Tamil New Year festivals in April, where people, young and old, take part in religious celebrations as a thanksgiving for a year of bountiful harvest. Everyone wears their best dress for the festivities, in which traditional Sri Lankan food is shared by family members and visiting relatives.
Meanwhile the May Full Moon Poya Day or Vesak is the most important religious celebration in Sri Lanka, where Buddhists celebrate the nativity, enlightenment and passing away of Lord Buddha.
Step back in time at Sigiriya
As one of the most valuable and historical monuments of Sri Lanka, Sigiriya is referred to by locals as the Eighth Wonder of the World, and ranked #86 in the International Traveller Magazine countdown of ‘100 Ultimate Travel Experiences of a Lifetime’. This ancient palace and fortress complex attracts thousands of travellers every year, making it one of (if not the) most iconic tourist destination in Sri Lanka.
Adding to the palace’s archaeological significance is its location, perched on a massive rocky plateau 370 meters above the sea level, in the heart of the island between the towns of Dambulla and Habarane.
Sigiriya rock plateau is 200 meters higher than the surrounding jungles (formed from the magma of an extinct volcano), making for an impressive viewpoint over the area.
Once you’ve ticked Sigiriya off your bucket list, some 90 kilometres south in the city of Kandy is The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. This revered Buddhist temple lies in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, which houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country.
Stop for a cuppa (or three) at a local tea factory
Sri Lanka is synonymous with fine tea and among the best places to sample it is at the Labookellie Tea Centre. A renowned landmark for both locals and visitors to Nuwara-Eliya, this tea centre has recently been expanded and refurbished.
Here you can participate in a free guided tour of the Labookellie tea factory and an educational experience in tea cultivation and manufacturing. Alternatively about 40 kilometres away is the Mlesna Tea Castle, which is one of the most exquisite tea houses located at St Clair’s Falls. Renowned for their presentation of tea in delicate packaging, Mlesna operates a few specialty tea houses in Sri Lanka, providing visitors a cup of refreshing, properly brewed, tea in many different flavours.