The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
The creative arts are an inherent part of Sri Lanka’s ancient cultural heritage: the dancer, drummer, musician, artist and the craftsman all continue to contribute significantly to Sri Lanka’s vibrant culture. There are many opportunities to explore the arts in Sr Lanka during your holiday: see a traditional dance show; purchase some authentic crafts; visit the art galleries in Colombo; explore the murals and paintings of historic temples, or attend the annual Galle Literary Festival which was listed by Harpers Bazaar as one of the six most appealing literary festivals in the world.
Sri Lanka’s art history dates back more than 2,000 years, stemming from ancient temple paintings and rock sculptures of Lord Buddha. Visit Dambulla Cave Temple and marvel at the ancient statues and colourful frescos which adorn the ceilings, or do the ‘Three Temple Loop’ in Gampola and see various stunning examples of Kandyan art. Contemporary Sri Lankan art can be explored in Colombo: wander round the National Art Gallery, and explore the abstract artwork displayed at the Saskia Fernando Gallery.
Traditional Sri Lankan crafts are vital industries in many parts of the island, and include: drum making; mat weaving; handloom; wood carving and mask making. Try your hand at mask making at a workshop with an artist in Galle Fort, or visit Barefoot, one of Sri Lanka’s most prominent arts and crafts shops, to explore a range of authentic and contemporary crafts which make beautiful souvenirs or gifts.
Traditional dance forms in Sri Lanka date back to the 4th century BC and were initially associated with rituals and ceremonies performed for purposes of expelling sickness and misfortune, or for blessings. Several classical dance types evolved over the centuries, slightly varying between each region of the island. Three main dance styles are now performed – Kandyan, Sabaragamuwa (central province) and Ruhunu (low country) – all of which differ in dress, drum rhythms, movements and songs, as they are based on local folklore. See a Kandyan dance show, or watch the Kandy Esala Perahera, a glorious procession with scores of elephants dressed in glittering cloaks, dancers and musicians, which is recognised as one of Asia’s best cultural pageants.