Esala Perahera Festival
Esala Perahera Festival
4
About
The Esala Perahera in Kandy is one of the oldest and grandest of all Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka, featuring dancers, jugglers, musicians, fire-breathers, and lavishly decorated elephants. This is held in Esala (July or August) which is the month that is believed to commemorate the first teaching given by the Buddha after he attained enlightenment. The Kandy Esala Perahera lasts for ten days while various festivities can be witnessed right throughout. The Sinhalese term ‘Perahera’ means a parade of musicians, dancers, singers, acrobats and various other performers accompanied by a large number of caparisoned Tuskers and Elephants parading the streets in celebration of a religious event.
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4.0
166 reviews
Excellent
91
Very good
31
Average
17
Poor
8
Terrible
19

Shifaam
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates360 contributions
Jul 2018 • Friends
Amazing show but you need to have lots of energy to get to a right point. Beautiful to see hundreds of Drummers, Dancers together with dressed and decorated Elephants walk and dance on the streets. May be you can check out the tickets for the seats on the near by hotels, bit expensive. Since it's Sri Lankan's one of the most important ceremony lots of native Sri Lankans are waiting from early morning and super crowded, so plan early and reach early. The Show starts around 7-8 PM but you gotta be there at least by 3 PM to secure a place and its a long wait too.
Written April 20, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MayMustafa
Amman, Jordan137 contributions
Aug 2017 • Family
first I would like to say that we intended to stay in Kandy during the festival as I read about it on trip advisor reviews...which where accurate by the way, especially one important piece of advise which told us not to buy the expensive ticket because we can see everything for free from the garden behind the fence.
the festival was breath taking with all the costumes , dancers, music ,,,I felt sorry for the elephants though ... they had to go through all the crowd, loud music, fire and endure heavy costumes put on them...for almost 4 or 5 hours.
You know that the festival is going to end . when an elephant dressed in white with a white glass cabinet on it ( where the sacred tooth of Buddha is kept ) comes striding gracefully ends the parade.

but all in all ...the festival was simply amazing!
I recommend anyone who goes to Srilanka to attend it ...it IS worth it.
Written July 5, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Malalama
Colombo, Sri Lanka23 contributions
Aug 2016 • Solo
The Esala Perahera is considered one of the most important Buddhist religious pageants in the world. It is held for 9 days in July and August every year in Kandy by the Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic), Sri Lanka.
It has Kumbal Perahera, Randoli Perahera and Maha Randoli Perahera the final day. Final Maha Randoli Perahera is held during night and is the most glamors event.
You will see hundreds of dances performing traditional dancing, drummers carrying various types of drums, Elephants in beautifully decorated cloaks, people in traditional Kandyan dresses, Kasakaruwo (Whip Crackers), etc.....
There are places available where you have to pay and book a seat. But you can watch this spectacular event free from the sidewalks and if you come a little early you can find a place to site comfortably.Bring water and food as you will not be able to move around when the processions start, it will be very crowded. People come from all over the world to see this.
I believe it is some thing that every one should watch at least once in there life time specially a Buddhist.
Written March 22, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Amms35
Reading, UK5 contributions
Aug 2018 • Couples
So ironic that a Buddhist festival causes suffering to animals. We decided to see this festival as it happened to be on whilst we were visiting. Impressed with the dancing and music but it is incredibly cruel to the elephants. They have lots of heavy chains as leashes, their feet are tied up on short chain leeches meaning they can only shuffle along. It is clear to see the scars around their feet from the chains which have been cut and healed many times. We watched one handler hit an elephant that went out of line. A lot of them were chewing their trunks, I assume from anxiety as I have never seen the elephants do this before. It totally broke my heart there is no no excuse to put animals through this suffering, cultural or not. I cried through the parade and stopped watching. I was never warned so wanted to tell others.
Written August 20, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

LittleLoudLucy
Berkhamsted, UK59 contributions
Jul 2017 • Couples
The Esala Perahera happened to be on during the dates we had booked for our trip so we though we'd make our way to Kandy for the first night of the parade. We'd read various reviews in advance about booking seats and decided to take a risk with the crowd (some places were charging more than tickets for a West End show to sit on a plastic chair in a shop front). The pavements had already started filling up by about 1pm so we moved away from the Temple of the Tooth further on the route and looked for spots. Eventually after a lot of people trying to sell us seats we ended up paying for spots on the pavement for about a fiver as we couldn't be bother to look anymore (and the further along the route you go the later the parade gets to you - obviously). That said, we sat on the pavement for at least 5 hours waiting for the big event to kick off. We occupied our time chatting to the families around us but it was a long and hot wait and there were no toilets nearby (to our knowledge).

Fast forward to the time the parade eventually arrived at us. The parade itself is a fantastic spectacle but there does come a point where it gets very monotonous and you start hoping it'll soon end.

The biggest issue for us was that we had just come from Minneriya, seeing 100+ wild elephants during the migration and contrasting that to seeing 40+ tuskers chained (tightly chained - we saw one elephant with a chain so tight it was cutting into its leg and clearly causing discomfort as it kept rubbing it with its other foot). These are the most beautiful and majestic animals and it was incredibly sad seeing them in this sort of captivity (to be honest I don't agree with seeing them in zoos either). My partner and I found it heartbreaking to watch. Its for this reason that I have rated it so low.
Written August 25, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Derksen1989
Grave, The Netherlands7 contributions
Jul 2017 • Couples
If you read more about the circumstances the elephants live in and if you think about how it must be for them to have to walk through the crowded streets while there are thousands of people making noise it's impossible to enjoy this.
Written July 30, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Melissa N
Chicago, IL6 contributions
Aug 2016 • Couples
While there, was many elephants being abused with sharp pointed sticks. Bleeding elephants is not my idea of a fun time. So so very disappointing and sad for these magnificent animals that are"worshiped" in this manner.......
Written August 11, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Si M
4 contributions
Aug 2019 • Couples
I never saw so much animalcruelty during a festival. 40 elephants or more are treatened bad, hurt and shocked. They have to walk on chains for hours and have to face fire, people and a lot of loud sounds. They have to walk for hours and get nothing to eat or drink. And during the day they have to face the sun without protection or anything.
Written August 6, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

carolinecrot
Brussels, Belgium13 contributions
Aug 2018 • Friends
The dancing, costumes and music etc are beautiful. The streets are lined with thousands of people however the cruelty to the elephants is really upsetting and it is difficult to enjoy the parade because of such. They are draped in heavy chains and lights and dragged along. It's so cruel however the rest of it was really interesting to see, but the elephants was a struggle to watch their treatment.
Written August 17, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

keithlabrooy01
Melbourne, Australia1 contribution
Aug 2017 • Family
This event to see the Perahera turned out a disaster. We paid $125/=USD for each of our tickets and was advised they were premium seats at the Queen's hotel, only to find they had erected some scaffolding with plastic seats crammed in on the covered walkway of the hotel. We got there at 5.00 p.m. to ensure we did not get crushed in the crowd. The parade did not start until after 8.00 p.m.and finished at 12.30 a.m. No one was allowed to leave their seats for a drink or toilet break. The Police and guards made sure of this. Luckily for us an enterprising guy was selling pizzas and drinks just before the start of the event so we grabbed what we could and even though it was hot and stuffy the adults refrained from having the drinks. The kids did and of course wanted to “wee”. The boys aged 10 and 7 became hysterical when they found they were not allowed to visit a toilet. We had to resort to giving them the empty sprite bottles and the kindness of the tourists sitting in the back row to enable the boys to relieve themselves. There were tourists (European and Asian) screaming their heads off wanting to leave, luckily there was no riot but it came very close to one. The procession was an amazing spectacle but repetitive with the drumming, dancing and elephant parade that went on far too long without a break, and definitely not for kids.
Written September 1, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Esala Perahera Festival - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)