galle face green christmas tree

Galle Face Green, Colombo

What’s the common place in Colombo for all people to congregate and spend time together you ask? Given how crowded and dense Colombo is, one may wonder if Colombo still has space for large crowds to gather. Galle Face Green is Colombo’s answer to all the naysayers and those who detest Colombo’s congestion and clogging.

Galle Face Green still serves as Colombo’s number one attraction, especially since it is different to all other attractions around the city. This 05 hectare field has a grass cover, and is bordered by Galle Face Center Road at one end, and the Indian Ocean at the other. It serves as the gateway point to the greater Colombo region, with easy access to the popular hotels, shopping malls, and tourists spots in the area.

Visit Galle Face Green

Galle Face Colombo is patronized by people from all generations, backgrounds, ethnicities, and castes. The field and its nearby tarred track is ideal for jogging and morning walks. The grass-laden field sees hundreds of children playing and having fun on a weekly basis. In some months, the park is seen with dozens of kites, as the venue is also ideal for kite flying activities.

Tented shops along the western border comprise of fast-food joints specialized in kottu rotti, naan, and other fancy edibles. Lone hawkers stroll around promoting their toys, handicrafts, and ornaments. A few others have setup their own stall to sell ‘Isso Wade’ – a savoury snack with dried prawns laid on top.

Couples and newly-weds populate the area in the evenings, as the atmospheric heat phases out and the sunset takes shape, often with a shade of orange. The Sri Lanka Army hoists the National Flag each morning, and this is taken down as the sun sets.

Historic Events

The park was initially laid out in 1859 by Governor Sir Henry George Ward and was used for horse racing and golf, in addition to cricket, tennis, rugby and football.

Galle Face Green has been the prominent venue for many national and other important events. Annually, it is where the Sri Lanka Independence Day celebrations are held in the month of February. The venue has also been the host for many political rallies and celebrations. Galle Face Green was also the location for both the Holy Masses held during Papal visits to Sri Lanka – Pope John Paul II in 1995, and Pope Francis in 2015.

pope francis papal visit sri lanka
Pope Francis Papal Visit in Sri Lanka, 2015.

Another notable event at Galle Face Green was the welcome ceremony that was organized for the Sri Lanka National Cricket Team after their ICC World Twenty20 win in 2014. In 2016, the site was home to the world’s tallest artificial Christmas tree, which stood at 72 meters.

galle face green christmas tree
World’s Tallest Artificial Christmas Tree, Galle Face Green

Death of D. S. Senanayake

Sri Lanka’s first Prime Minister, D. S. Senanayake, was enjoying his daily horse-ride along Galle Face Green on Friday, 21 March 1952. The horse started galloping uncontrollably for a long distance, which led to D S Senanayake falling off the saddle. It is reported that he suffered a stroke, and was unconscious for around thirty hours. The Prime Minister was pronounced dead the next day.

Bordering Development

The area surrounding Galle Face Green Colombo has seen development projects in massive scales, and some new projects are just taking off. In the past, the only prominent buildings in the surrounding area was the Galle Face Hotel, Galadari Hotel, Taj Samudra, the Bank of Ceylon Head Office Tower, and the World Trade Center Twin Towers. However, new initiatives such as the Shangri-La Hotel, ITC Colombo One and The Kingsbury too have entered the hotel landscape.

The new Colombo Port City too is been built at one end of Galle Face Green, and once this is completed, it is likely to overshadow the pleasantry and solemnity of Galle Face. There are also reports about the Marine Drive Road being extended till this Port City, which means that this extended road will separate Galle Face from its own beach.

Galle Face Green Colombo

Whether it is a morning jog, afternoon visit, evening stroll, or a late night expedition, Galle Face welcomes and accommodates people from all walks of life, and still stands as the premier chilling spot in Colombo. The new development projects, especially the Colombo Port City, could cast a shadow on this leisurely field, but until such times, Galle Face Green will remain the face of Colombo, catering to all people alike.

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