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Expat Exchange - Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka for Christmas Cheer
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Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka


Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka for Christmas Cheer

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Universal Tax Professionals
Universal Tax Professionals

Summary: Plan a day trip or weekend getaway to get some holiday cheer. This article highlights the best places to visit in Sri Lanka for Christmas cheer.

For expats and digital nomads who find themselves in the tropical paradise of Sri Lanka during the festive month of December, there's a surprising array of places where the holiday spirit is alive and well. Despite the warm weather, Christmas in Sri Lanka is celebrated with much enthusiasm, with streets lit up, shops decorated, and carols in the air. Here are some of the best places to visit to soak up the festive atmosphere and enjoy the holiday cheer.

Colombo's Cinnamon Gardens

Colombo, the bustling capital city of Sri Lanka, is a hub of Christmas festivities. The Cinnamon Gardens area, in particular, is known for its colonial charm and beautifully decorated streets during the holiday season. The area comes alive with lights, Christmas trees, and decorations adorning the homes and public spaces. Malls like the Crescat Boulevard and the Colombo City Centre host holiday markets where you can find everything from Christmas ornaments to festive treats. The annual Christmas Street Market is a must-visit, offering handcrafted gifts, seasonal goodies, and live entertainment.

We Recommend: Don't miss the chance to try the traditional Sri Lankan Christmas cake, a rich and spicy treat that's a local holiday staple. It's available at most holiday markets and bakeries in the area.

Kandy City Centre

Kandy, the cultural capital of Sri Lanka, offers a more traditional and serene holiday experience. The Kandy City Centre, a modern shopping complex, is transformed into a Christmas wonderland with elaborate decorations and a giant Christmas tree. The surrounding streets are also festooned with lights and garlands, creating a festive atmosphere. The Kandy Christmas Fair, usually held in the week leading up to Christmas, features a variety of stalls selling crafts, clothes, and seasonal delicacies.

We Recommend: Be sure to enjoy a warm cup of Ceylon tea, often spiced with cinnamon or cardamom, to keep you cozy while you explore the fair.

Negombo's Beachside Resorts

Negombo, with its close proximity to the airport and large Christian population, is known for its vibrant Christmas celebrations. The beachside resorts go all out with their decorations, creating a tropical holiday paradise. Many resorts host Christmas Eve dinners and parties with live music, traditional feasts, and fireworks. The streets of Negombo are lined with nativity scenes and Christmas lights, and the town's many churches hold midnight masses that are open to all.

We Recommend: Attend a midnight mass at St. Mary's Church for a truly spiritual experience, followed by a stroll along the festively lit beachside.

Galle Fort

The historic Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers a unique blend of European architecture and South Asian traditions during the Christmas season. The narrow streets are adorned with festive lights and decorations, and the sound of carols can be heard from the churches within the fort. Artisans sell their wares, and boutique shops offer unique gifts and souvenirs. The Galle Fort Christmas Market is a highlight, with stalls featuring handcrafted items, local art, and seasonal treats.

We Recommend: Sample the traditional Sri Lankan "breudher," a Dutch-inspired buttery and eggy Christmas bread, often enjoyed with a slice of cheese.

Nuwara Eliya's Winter Market

Nuwara Eliya, known as "Little England," is the closest you'll get to a winter Christmas in Sri Lanka. The cool climate and colonial-style bungalows set the stage for a cozy holiday experience. The town's Winter Market is a festive affair with vendors selling warm clothing, Christmas decorations, and holiday foods. The Grand Hotel and other colonial-era hotels offer traditional Christmas dinners and high tea with all the trimmings.

We Recommend: Indulge in a traditional British Christmas dinner at one of the colonial hotels, complete with roast turkey and all the fixings.

Mount Lavinia's Coastal Celebrations

Mount Lavinia is renowned for its beautiful beach and laid-back vibe, making it a popular spot for expats and tourists. During December, the area's hotels and restaurants deck their halls with boughs of holly and twinkling lights. Many venues host Christmas-themed events, beach BBQs, and festive buffets. The Mount Lavinia Hotel, in particular, is famous for its grand Christmas celebrations, including a gala dinner on Christmas Eve.

We Recommend: Enjoy a Christmas Eve beach BBQ at one of the local hotels, where you can dine under the stars to the sound of the waves.

Jaffna's Nallur Neighborhood

Jaffna, in the northern part of Sri Lanka, offers a unique Christmas experience with its blend of Hindu and Christian cultures. The Nallur neighborhood, with its iconic Nallur Kandaswamy temple, also features beautifully decorated churches celebrating Christmas. The community comes together to decorate the streets, and local shops sell festive goods and traditional sweets. The Christmas spirit is palpable, with caroling groups and a sense of communal joy.

We Recommend: Try the local sweet treat "kokis," a crispy, fried, and slightly sweetened snack that's especially popular during the holiday season.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


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Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

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SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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