Here’s our quick and easy guide to celebrating Diwali 2022 in London, including family-friendly events and some of the capital’s finest cuisine. Hop on a train to London and join the party!
What is Diwali?
Diwali is a five-day festival of lights. For some, it is also a celebration of new beginnings and the victory of good over evil.
Celebrated around the world, Diwali originated on the Indian subcontinent. The name is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning ‘rows of lighted lamps’. During the celebrations, people light lamps and candles, decorating shops and public spaces.
When is Diwali?
The Diwali festival coincides with the darkest night of the lunar month. As a consequence, the dates change every year. Each day has different associated ceremonies, with the third day being the main event.
This year, Diwali celebrations begin on Saturday 22 October 2022, with the main day taking place on Monday 24 October.
Who celebrates Diwali?
Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains around the world. Each religion commemorates different events and stories.
For instance, Hindus celebrate the day the deities Rama and Sita returned from exile. Meanwhile, Sikhs mark the release of Guru Hargobind from prison.
Celebrating Diwali in London
The city’s biggest Diwali celebration is without doubt Diwali on Trafalgar Square on Sunday 9 October, 12:30–19:00, which will see thousands join in the celebrations.
Just 20 minutes on the Bakerloo line from London Paddington station – or a 30-minute walk – the Trafalgar Square party will include live acts, such as the participatory Garba performance (a traditional dance celebrating fertility and womanhood), as well as loads of fun activities for the kids.
Check out the saree zone where visitors can learn how to don the traditional garment made from a single, unstitched length of cloth. And be sure to sample some of the excellent food on offer.
Head on over to Museum of the Home in Hoxton for a fun-filled Diwali family celebration day on Saturday 22 October.
Adults and children can learn to make a sustainable lantern, decorate a diya (an oil lamp) and learn to dance like a Bollywood star. There will also be a great feast of hot vegan food, served up by DabbaDrop, a sustainable takeaway restaurant.
The day’s climax will be the switching on of an exciting light installation in the museum’s gardens and on its façade.
On Saturday 22 October, 10:00–20:30, the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, will celebrate the festival of lights with a free event for all the family.
Join for live music and performances from artists such as BISHI and Usha Jey, as well as art displays, incense sampling and fun family activities, culminating in a lantern parade and light show.
Places to eat
Looking for amazing Diwali food?
Choose between Dishoom’s five (soon to be six) restaurants in London, including outlets in Carnaby, Covent Garden and Kensington, all of which are easily accessible from Trafalgar Square.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, these celebrated eateries are full of character, including a fascinating back story, and tons of flavour.
For over 50 years, India Club
has been the beating heart of London’s Indian community. A vibrant place to meet and eat, this celebrated institution is known for its distinctive appearance, which has barely changed over the last five decades, including a characterful entrance stairway.
Situated at 143-145 Strand, India Club offers authentic home-cooked style South Indian cuisine at a good price – and just round the corner from Trafalgar Square.
Over on Brick Lane, you’ll discover a whole host of independent, and reasonably priced, Indian restaurants. Among them is Sheba
(136 Brick Lane), established in 1974, which serves tasty Bengali-style cuisine.
Brick Lane will be an exciting place to hang out during Dawali, so be sure to book ahead – and sample Sheba’s famous Bengali lamb shanks.
Another Brick Lane institution, first opened in 1979, Aladin
(132 Brick Lane) is regarded as one of London’s finest Indian restaurants. It’s a busy, vibrant eatery, spread over four floors, in an equally dynamic part of the city, close to the East End’s famous night spots.
The menu includes a huge selection of classic dishes from the sub-continent, including marinated tandoori meat, fish and paneer.
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