Former horse racing ground, now a popular sports ground
Best racecourse in the East
When in 1893 the race course moved from Galle Face to Cinnamon Gardens, this was a game changer for the city. Up till that time the prime posh residential areas were Mutwal (for Europeans) and Kotahena (for locals), but with the arrival of the racecourse to Cinnamon Gardens the balance started to shift South. The Journal of the Ceylon Society described the course as ‘the best in terms of design, facilities, and size in the East’. The races were big social events in those days and the Colombo Turf Club House next to the grand stand was the place to be.
The big grass pitch served as an airfield during the war and after that turf club never regained its former glory. After horse racing was abolished in August 1964, the buildings at Havelock were converted to house sports associations and the pitch used as a training ground for athletes managed by the Sports Ministry. In more recent years the racecourse complex got a facelift and now looks stunningly white. The pavilion where spectators used to watch horse racing from is still there, but the grounds are now used for much a more animal-friendly activity - rugby. The sports continue to bring spectators and footfall to the pitch, but it also seems that with the new paint the spirit has left the building. The selection of shops and restaurants is fairly random and fails to bring back memories of the days when there would be a ‘a large and fashionable assemblage of spectators rapidly filling the grandstand after four o'clock’.
Best to come here on Saturday’s for the Good Market. A curated collection of ethical and all-natural Sri Lankan products. What started in 2012 with one market and 32 vendors, has become a regular Saturday market. Great place to pick up some handcrafted and home-made souvenirs.