DISPATCHES FROM EXOTIC LANDS
Big names in international literature
The guest list reads like a who’s who of literary royalty. Think Sir Arthur C. Clark, Germaine Greer, Vikram Seth, Edna O’Brien, Ian Rankin, Michael Morpurgo, Candace Bushnell, Sir Tom Stoppard, Alexander McCall Smith, Chimmimanda Ngozi Ardiche and Maddhur Jaffrey, all of whom plan to attend or have attended in the past. Rubbing shoulders with such inspirational figures, listening to them speak, understanding what motivates them and perhaps having a book signed is reason enough to visit Sri Lanka and attend the festival!
A broader, non-fiction perspective
Galle Literary festival isn’t just about fiction. Some of the world’s finest non-fiction writers are also lined up for intellectual jousting. Past examples include Richard Dawkins, Anthony Beevoir, Christina Lamb, Pico Iyer, Sir Mark Tully. Lesley Hazleton, Simon Winchester and Shashi Taroor.
Guided specialist walks
Among the first events to sell out are the Galle Fort walks by Sri Lanka architect Channa Daswatte and the esteemed Mrs Cader, whose family have lived in the Fort for over a 100 years.
Local Sri Lankan talent
Aswell as the international ‘literati’, the festival also champions local writers such as Shyam Selvalduarai, Romesh Gunasekara, Nuri Vitachi, Ashok Ferrey and Channa Daswatte.
Poetry, plays, cultural shows, cabarets and fine dining
As the sun goes down Galle comes alive with all manner of unique events and entertainment. Expect theatre, wine and gin tastings, cultural performances and gourmet dinners with famous chefs such Rick Stein, David Thomson, Skye Gygnell, Peter Kuravita and Madhur Jaffrey.
The next generation
Local children are actively involved with lively debates chaired by the only Sri Lankan of the Oxford Union who has not been assassinated! Heartwarming and uplifting – keep your eyes peeled for the next big thing!
The city of Galle is easy and safe to explore on foot and it is utterly charming with imposing Dutch-colonial buildings, ancient mosques and churches, grand mansions and museums. Stone sea walls encircle car-free streets and wandering its rambling lanes you’ll pass vendors offering local street food alongside stylish cafes and quirky boutiques. Whether you visit during the Literary Festival or not, Galle is an enchanting city to explore at any time.
Exquisite luxury hotels
Galle boasts an exquisite collection of hotels and residences ranging from the Sri Lanka’s oldest and most famous hotel, Amangalla, to the beach fronted Twenty Three Palm Villa and former spice, tea and gem trading-post turned luxury hotel, Fort Bazaar.
A trip to Galle is easily combined with a visit to the Cultural Triangle formed by Kandy, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. These three great Sinhalese capitals encapsulate one of the most extraordinary collections of Buddhist art and architecture in the world. Most notable is the remarkable Sigirya Rock Fortress – an entire citadel perched atop a rock rising 200m from the jungle below – and the Dambulla Caves, the largest and best preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka, full of Buddhas, ancient paintings and statues of kings, gods and goddesses.
A morning’s drive will take wildlife seekers to Yala National Park where elephants, sloth bear, sambar deer, wild boar, jackals and even leopards can be spotted during a 4×4 safari. The birdlife here is also stunning with hundreds of colourful species flitting around as you pass through the forest.