The Esala Perahera in Kandy is one of the oldest and grandest of all Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka. It is celebrated over the course of ten days each year, falling on astrologically determined dates in July and/or August. The Kandy Perahera is held in Esala, which is the month believed to commemorate the first teaching given by the Buddha after he attained enlightenment. The Sinhalese term ‘perahera’ means a parade for religious ceremonies.
This annual historical procession is held to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha, which is enshrined at the famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa). It features dancers, musicians, jugglers, fire-breathers, and beautifully decorated elephants. Especially these caparisoned tuskers are an awe-inspiring sight to behold. The Kandy Perahera begins at roughly 7 p.m. and lasts until midnight or even longer.
The Esala Perahera 2017 starts on July 29th. You can watch it alongside the locals by sitting or standing on the sidewalk along the designated road. Be advised: It's best to arrive hours before the starting time, as hundreds of people from all around the island flock to Kandy for the event and camp out in the area days in advance. A safer option is to book a seat reserved for tourists, which will also guarantee that you actually see the spectacle despite the crowd. You can book a seat here and find more information here.