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Is it safe for writers in Sri Lanka right now?

Is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka for the Galle Literary Festival?

Building a new, well-functioning democracy can get messy!

You may have seen articles showing up in your news feed about political drama in Sri Lanka. Disagreements over constitutional process and good, old-fashioned power struggles generated a lot of press lately. You can spot pictures of politicians in crisp suits tossing chairs in parliament – even a waste basket took flight!

If you’ve been considering traveling to Sri Lanka to attend the big Fairway Galle Literary Festival, these happenings may cause concern.

Luckily, while the Sri Lankan political world is turned upside down at the moment, the country itself is stable and safe. Living in Sri Lanka as an American expat, watching a relatively new democracy go through growing pains fascinates me. As a foreign witness to local intrigue, I’ve gained a new perspective and appreciation for my own country’s democratic systems, flawed though they may be.

So, yes, it is completely safe to travel to Sri Lanka for the Galle Literary Festival. The festival is held in the tranquil Dutch Fort in the southern town of Galle, far away from the capital. The travel advisory from the US Department of State gives the all clear to head on over.

If you want to travel to Sri Lanka to become a member of parliament and enter the fray in government institutions… well.. you might need to work on your defensive duck and weave.

News articles pick up on the most sensational details. Don’t miss your opportunity to join in one of the world’s top literary festival, while supporting a country that, frankly, could use your tourism dollars to help them along their development path.


Curious about coming to Sri Lanka for the literary festival? 

Click for Sri Lanka retreat information.


Want to know more about the literary festival and writing retreat? Keep reading!

What authors and artists are attending the Galle Literary Festival?

Here’s a sampling of the authors and artists attending the festival:

Anne Enright: Author. Won the Booker prize for her novel The Gathering.

Sir David Hare: Screenwriter and playwrights best known for such films as The Hours and The Reader.

Rachel Johnson: Author of the Notting Hell Trilogy, which won her The Bad Sex prize jointly with John Updike.

Sir Don McCullin: Renowned war and human rights photojournalist.

Kamila Shamsie: Author of seven novels, including Home Fire, Burnt Shadows and A God in Every Stone.

Fatima Bhutto: Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, author of four previous books, including Songs of Blood and Sword and the highly acclaimed The Shadow of the Crescent Moon.

William Dalrymple: Travel writer and historian, plus founder and the co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival.

Madeleine Thien: Author. Her most recent novel, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Romesh Gunesekera: Sri Lankan author of many is internationally acclaimed for his novels and short stories.

Vahni Capildeo: Trinidian poet who has written 9 books which deal with the themes of linguistics, geography and proximities.

AND SO MANY MORE! View the full list here.

What happens at the literary festival?

Parties, panels, workshops and seminars oh my! The rich programming of the festival offers something for everyone. You may find yourself seated in the secret courtyard of an old colonial home discussing writing-life foibles with a Booker Prize winner, or under a grand event tent learning about writing historical trauma from a hand-picked panel of experts. When you book your tour with us, you receive a full pass to the festival. Visit the Fairway Galle Literary Festival site for complete festival program information. 

What are accommodations like for the writing retreat?

You will stay in 4-star hotels hand-picked by our Sri Lankan travel partner, 8D Sri Lanka. Standard registration includes a bed in a shared room with ensuite bathroom. You may choose to upgrade to a private room. Register with a friend and you may room together (and save $250 per person!).

What meals are provided?

“What will I eat?!” is one of my main questions when traveling to a new country. On this tour, you will enjoy delightful breakfasts at your hotel each morning. During the festival, you’ll be on your own to select your dining locations from the many world-class restaurants in the Dutch Fort. As you journey Sri Lanka after the festival, all your meals will be provided by your tour team. You’ll dine at a variety of unique establishments, enjoying the opportunity to sample authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, while also able to order familiar favorites.

How do you get to the Fairway Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka?

All you need to do is get yourself to Colombo, the biggest city in Sri Lanka and home of the Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB). We’ll pick you from Colombo and transport you directly to the festival, as well as to all other stops on the tour. I recommend checking Google Flights or Skyskanner to find the best ticket prices.

What does the complete writing retreat cost?

Standard registration with shared room for the full tour is $2299.

Registration for a single person with a private room is $2899.

Register with a friend and share a room for $2049.

You only need to pay $300 to hold your spot. The final balance is by December 28th, 2018. Download the tour plan for complete details.

What’s the weather like in Sri Lanka in January?

Ready for a break from the dreary cold? The weather in Sri Lanka in January is warm and dry! January has an average daily temperature of 81 near the coast, and slightly cooler up in the hills. It’s glorious. Here’s an instagram image of me from the festival last year, sitting outside in short sleeves with a new festival author book!

What writing workshops and other special events are included?

Not only do you receive a full festival pass when you book A Writer’s Journey Through Sri Lanka, but you also gain access to four exclusive writing workshops available only to our tour members. These workshops include such topics: writing in nature, mindful writing, truth in mythology, and surrealist writing games.

Download the tour itinerary (PDF) for more information on the writing workshops.



Ready to register for A Writer’s Journey Through Sri Lanka?
Click here for complete booking information.

Send us an email if you have any questions at all.


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Kelsye Nelson

Author and world traveler, dedicated to helping artists and creative entrepreneurs achieve the life of their wildest dreams. 

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March 29, 2020

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