The Localist

Kala Pola – a celebration of art


Sundays are usually when most people do their grocery shopping for the week in Sri Lanka, and often you’ll find them at roadside markets. The best deals, especially for vegetables and other perishable items, are generally available towards the end of day at these markets, when the merchants are packing up and don’t want to pay for transportation.

Every year for the last 20 years there has also been a different kind of market, one that sells art.

Kala Pola (Art Market) brings artists from around the country together in the heart of the city of Colombo. One of the most picturesque streets bordering Viharamahadevi Park in Colombo is cordoned off and transformed into a celebration of art and, according to the organizers, a riot of color! Hundreds of artists from around the country come to showcase their paintings and sculptures in stalls that line the sides of the street.

Although I knew of the existence of Kala Pola and had driven by it many a time, I hadn’t really experienced it until last year. I discovered that it’s more than just an opportunity to browse through some artwork and maybe pick out a favourite. In a world where we have gotten so used to spending our Sundays behind our multiple screens, be it our phones, PCs, or tablets, Kala Pola is the perfect opportunity to get out and spend some time with friends and family. Besides the art, there’s also entertainment in the form of live music, food stalls, and even entertainment for kids.

Although the market is an all day event from 8:30AM to 10:00PM, the best time to stop by would be either in the morning before it gets too hot or in the evening as the sun sets. I would personally prefer an evening visit as it would be the ideal time to take a walk through the newly renovated Viharamahadevi Park as well.

This year’s (2014) event will be held on Sunday the 26th of January, so if you are in Colombo, do stop by!

The Facebook page for Kala Pola 2014 (


Image. Photo by Ruvini Ekanayake.

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