Tomorrow is May Day, International Workers Day, when nobody works. In Colombo there are serious May Day rallies and parades and the government has advised people to avoid the city altogether. Which, if you have any business or leisure to transact, we’d recommend as well. Either stay in your home or get out of town.
If you are in Colombo, however, watching the parades and processions can be fun. In order to either avoid or seek them out, we’ve included some general routes above. The lines are stated routes, the dots are for gatherings where we’re not sure of the exact path. You can assume that traffic will be messed up around any of these dots, and in the city in general.
Unless otherwise noted the marches start around noon and end in a rally around 3:30 PM.
SLFP Rally (Blue)
Starts: Nelum Pokuna Mawatha (Colombo 7)
Ends: Campbell Park (Borella)
The ruling party rally is the biggest and messes up the most traffic. They bus people in, both taking up parking and clogging the roads. There are some details on traffic routes here but suffice it to say that everything from Colombo to Borella to Nugegoda to Battaramulla will be affected.
The main route is that they start near the Nelum Pokuna theatre, walk towards Lipton Circus (ODEL), walk down Dean’s Road to Maradana, then turn right and walk to Borella where the rally ends at Cambell Park, messing up Baseline Road.
JVP Rally (Red)
Starts: Zoo Road (Dehiwala)
Ends: BRC Grounds (Havelock Town)
The JVP is the biggest vaguely communist party and they take May Day seriously. They have pretty awesome floats, if not the bused in numbers of the SLFP. Their event starts in Dehiwala near the Zoo at 12 noon and proceeds along Sri Saranankara to Havelock Town.
This befouls mainly traffic coming in or out from Nugegoda.
NFF Rally (Yellow)
Ends: P.D. Sirisena (Maligawatte)
The NFF is a splinter group of the SLFP, working with the government. They’re also nominally communist and take May Day seriously. Their event goes from Maligawatte to Dematogoda, messing up traffic in Colombo North.
United May Day Rally (Green)
Starts: Gunasingapura Prize Park (Pettah)
Ends: Gunasingapura Prize Park (Pettah)
This rally is not by any party in particular but led by opposition minority politicians like Mano Ganeshan, Azad Sally and the generally opposed Vickramabahu. It’s also supported by various trade unions and civil society organizations.
This rally is against racism and religious fundamentalism. You can find it around Pettah and central Colombo.
UNP Rally (Other Green)
Starts: Siri Kotha (Kotte)
Starts: Siri Kotha (Kotte)
The UNP’s never been much of a workers party and lately it’s not much of a party at all. This year they’re holding a rally around their headquarters in Kotte and two other rallies out of town.
Places to seek/avoid would be the Kotte Road.
Democratic Party Rally (Grey)
Starts/Ends: Buddhadasa Stadium (Pelawatte)
Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka’s Democratic Party is holding its first May Day Rally in Pelawatte (Battaramulla).