New Year in Sri Lanka

What happens at New Year in Sri Lanka?

If you Google “New Year in Sri Lanka” you may be surprised to find that rather than the 1st January, a date around the 13th/14th April normally comes up.

Sri Lankans do celebrate the New Year on the 1st January, however it is not as important as the April celebration of Tamil and Singhalese New Year

If you are on holiday in December through to the New Year (1st January) you may be interested in how you can celebrate.

Our experience of New Year in Sri Lanka.

Prior to moving to Sri Lanka, we visited the island regularly to visit my wife family and to explore this paradise island. We happened to be in Sri Lanka over some New Years and were spent them at one of the larger hotels.

At Hotel Club Dolphin, some years ago, the staff had created some amazing ice sculptures which adorned the banquet served outside in the evening. The feast had a vast array of cuisines on offer from local dishes and western for those that wanted to avoid the spices.

There was a DJ and dancing up until the fireworks were lit to welcome in the New Year. I remember “Boney M” hits being played quite often who were big in the charts as I grew up. Sri Lankans love Boney M and it is a good fit with life on this island..

The bizzare moment of the early hours of the 1st January that year was sitting through a Beauty Contest which lots of the foreign guests took part in. I was wondering whether I had drunk too much on the run up to the New Year. It was certainly an odd start to the New Year. Who won? I think that the results were in line with the number of visitors from that particular country! It kept everyone happy and I’m sure that the winners cherish their prizes and memories

Colombo - our experience of New Year.

When we were living in Colombo and had a friend visiting from the UK we went to the Hilton Hotel for Christmas and Waters Edge Hotel for New Year. I mention the Hilton Hotel because the buffet that they served that year was amazing and sticks in my memory. My early morning walk the next day was essential to burn off some of the calories I had enjoyed the previous evening!


Waters Edge for New Year was a different experience however, as enjoyable. We had reserved a table at the Bavarian Bar and Boardwalk which is an outside restaurant near the lake. The buffet was good (but not as good as the Hilton), we had towers of Lion Lager beer and a band played Baila music which we danced to as we saw in the New Year.

The Hill Club, Nuwara Eliya

Prior to the Covid 19 Pandemic we spent New Year with friends at the Hill Club in Nuwara Eliya. This was a formal occasion and an opportunity to wear my kilt. The food was fantastic and there was a lot of dancing in the hotels main function room. We were ushered outside to see in the New Year with a glass in hand. 

The fireworks display was the best that I had experienced seeing in the New Year in Sri Lanka. Nothing compares to the New Year fireworks in London, Sydney, Dubai and the other large cities around the world. To be honest, I’m pleased that the fireworks displays on the island are low key as Sri Lanka should prioritise the harmony of the animals and many get spooked with loud unwanted bangs in the night.

What do you do at GlenMyu Estate?

Since opening the hotel we tend to close on the 31st January and see the New Year in with friends. As we only have three bedrooms I don’t think we could provide a worthwhile experience for visitors that a larger hotel could offer. 

Also, as we are getting on a bit, staying up until midnight can be a challenge!

What would you recommend to do to see in the New Year in Sri Lanka?

Well, it depends on what you really want to do. The simple solution (but perhaps an expensive one) would be to book a table at a larger hotel where they have advertised a New year function.
It is a good experience and at least you would be spending the time with lots of people who all want to celebrate together.

Be flexible and book your New Year Celebration late?

If you are on the South Coast I would probably suggest that you see what other people at your hotel are planning to do.

There would be a risk booking late however it may be worth doing something on the spur of the moment.

I can imagine that if you are at a surf camp there would be some fun ideas to see in the New Year. You also may want an early night so you can get on the waves early in the morning. 

What about Sinhalese and Tamil New Year if I'm here in April?

In Sri Lanka, New Year celebrations start on 13th of April and end in 14th.

Sinhala and Tamil New Year is the biggest celebration in Sri Lanka for local people.

There are a lot of rituals and customs that take place over the two days.

You will hear firecrackers and see fireworks at various times which signify certain elements of the New Year and direct participants on what they should do.

Special food and sweets are prepared for this special celebration.

To provide you with more of an idea of what happens here is the Auspicious Times that were published for 2023’s Sinhala and Tamil New Year that we’re published in Newswire.

They include:

  • Bathing for the old year
  • Nonagathana – the neutral time between the ending of the Old year and start of the New Year.
  • Dawn of the New Year
  • Preparing of meals
  • Start of work, transactions and consuming meals.
  • Anointing of oil
  • Leaving for work.

Stay at GlenMyu Estate to explore the Sri Lankan Hill Country (but not on the 31st December!)

A stay at GlenMyu Estate as you explore the Sri Lankan Hill Country and see sights like Horton Plains National Park is a unique experience.

We only have three bedrooms and you will need to book early during the peak holiday season.

The estate is usually within an hours drive of the major sightseeing locations such as Nine Arch Bridge, Ella Town, Upper Diyaluma Waterfall, Lipton’s Seat, Bambarakanda Waterfall and many more,

GlenMyu Estate is listed on and Airbnb.
Contact us by the WhatsApp button on our website for direct booking rates.

GlenMyu Estate
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