This important Hindu festival takes place in the pretty pilgrimage town of Kataragama in the south of the island. On the day/night of the full moon in July, devotees subject themselves to various ritual torture techniques in a bid to appease their deities. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but certainly an unforgettable spectacle.
One of Sri Lanka’s most spectacular and colorful festivals is Esala Perahera, a ten-day event in the central city of Kandy. Held to commemorate an ancient Buddhist tooth relic, this festival features processions through the streets, dancing, and music. It all ends with a peculiar ‘water cutting’ session (with swords) in the river.
Vel Festival sees the ceremonial chariot of the God of War, Skanda, pulled between two of Colombo’s major Hindu temples. Over two to three days, body painting and colorful outfits can be seen alongside painful displays of religious devotion, where participants dangle themselves by piercing their skin on their backs with metal hooks.
From May to December, the turquoise ocean water and tranquil lagoon of Kalpitiya plays host to local and international kitesurfing enthusiasts. Many visit this northwestern town for its various events and competitions held between June and August. Beginners are also welcome and there’s several training centers scattered around.
Arugam Bay, one of the top ten surfing destinations in the world, welcomes thousands of surf pilgrims, particularly during the months of June and July when the conditions are at their best. This surfers’ paradise on the southeast Sri Lankan coast hosts competitions and events along its several challenging point breaks.