This the Grandest of Buddhist Processions is held in July/August in Kandy and involves excesses of loud noises, fire and much smoke and is highlighted by elephants wearing 'electric bulb suits' ridden by adonis like figures holding flaming torches. Like all good festivals it takes many hours and would not recieve any sort of health and safety certificate anywhere else in the World however unlike many other events of the 'pyrotastic' type alcohol is completely banned everywhere for a month, ensuring the safety of all exept those who like to work towards a cold beer at the end of the night, this law extending to tourist hotels and Pizza Hut where we had secured prime front row miniature plastic chairs on a makeshift platform consisting of nailed together vegetable crates, all at great expense, the chairs being the type used in pre school in the days when torture was permissable in primary education. There's no substitute for experience and preparation and we thought we'd prepared well as we ascended into Kandy which is roughly four hours drive from anywhere else you're likely to be in Sri Lanka unless you live there or have taken a tea picking vacation (there probably is such a thing, and the tea is second to none). Notes to self if I ever return as it will no doubt be alone.
1: Its cold in Kandy in August. 2: This is a very dark festival (I mean there is no light other than explosions of flame and flying ash). I used a Canon 5D Mark 4 and Canon's expensive 400mm and it was pushed to its limit most of the time. 3: Front Row at Pizza Hut in Kandy is about as hazardous as going to shoot the Indy 500 and setting up your deck chair on the grid thinking 'this will be great for head on shots' ... expect burns at some stage and wear a fire proof hat. If you take children, put them in a metal bucket.
Joking aside, this is one of the most spectacular Festivals in the World ... I'll do better next time.
Best Hotel for the Festival: The Ozo Kandy. Its a 10 minute walk to all activities if you're fit: if you're not hire a tuk tuk and up your insurance. Don't stay out of town in the hills if the Festival is your goal. Getting in and out of Kandy, especially late at night might send you over the edge.