Diwali is a festival of light celebrated by people from several different countries and religions, including Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Specific celebrations and traditions differ between groups, but it's generally celebrated as the triumph of good over evil.
The actual date for Diwali 2019 is 27 October 2019. Here's what's going on in London around that date to celebrate.
Diwali in Trafalgar Square 2019
Around 35,000 people attend each year, to enjoy live music and dance performances on the stage and through the square, In past years, these have included Garba, a hand clapping dance from the Gujarat region of India. You might even be able to take part in a Bollywood or puppet dancing workshop.
Indian food is the order of the day at the street food market in the square, where stalls usually sell snacks including vegan and vegetarian dishes and Indian sweets, and there's information about the background of the festival for Londoners and tourists who aren't familiar with the culture.
Light up the Night at Wembley Park
West London's Wembley Park combines Diwali celebrations with its Bonfire Night event in a huge light festival. Light up the Night, on 10 November 2019, consists of lantern-making workshops and a lantern parade, a fireworks display, and another parade filled with giant illuminated butterflies, a five-metre tall mechanical Fire Bird inspired by the Garuda bird myths found in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain culture, and other giant puppets. It's a family-friendly event, and completely free (book a ticket here).
Diwali: Festival of Light at National Maritime Museum
As part of its half term events, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich holds a day of family-friendly Diwali events on 26 October 2019. Watch a Bollywood performance and try a few dance steps yourself, and take part in music, art and craft events celebrating light. The day culminates in a light parade.
Diwali celebrations at Harrow Fireworks 2019
Harrow's firework display doubles up as a Bonfire Night event, and a celebration of Diwali. Head to Byron Park on 2 November 2019 for Bollywood dancing, Indian food and shopping stands Diwali art and henna tattoos, alongside a funfair, bar, face painting, and of course, the 20-minute firework display.
Diwali 2019 at Farzi Cafe
Haymarket-based Farzi Cafe is offering a special Diwali Farzi Vegetarian Platter. It includes Tandoori smoked jackfruit, soya boti kebab, malai paneer tikka, sweetcorn kebabs and artichoke pickle. It serves two, costs £28 (preorder only) and is available 21-29 October.
Diwali Festival 2019 at Queensbury Park, Harrow
Queensbury Park in Harrow celebrates Diwali with a free-entry festival on 13 October 2019. Food stalls, funfair rides and live Bollywood singing are all promised.
Diwali specials at The Cinnamon Collection
Indian restaurant group The Cinnamon Collection hosts a series of special menus, supper clubs and candle-lit dinners at its venues:
- Chef Vivek Singh hosts a Diwali candle-lit supper club at Cinnamon Kitchen in Devonshire Square on 24 October. Enjoy a welcome drink, canapes, and Diwali feast of traditional Indian dishes.
- Fine dining restaurant The Cinnamon Club offers a special five-course Diwali menu between 21 October and 3 November, priced at £55 per person.
- Cinnamon Bazaar offers a festival platter including a Kolkata cod curry with mustard and red onion, and Tandoori lamb fillet with garam masala for £18 per person. Available 21 October-3 November.
- Cinnamon Kitchen in Battersea (and further afield in Oxford) offers a special Thali menu from 21 October-3 November. For £17 per person, tuck into the likes of fiery Rajastani lamb curry, dal makhni Punjabi style black lentils; and the traditional Indian sweet Gulab jamun, illuminated by candlelight for a special meal on 24 October.
Celebrate Diwali with Dishoom at Dinerama
Legendary London restaurant Dishoom teams up with Shoreditch street food market Dinerama for an epic Diwali celebration.
A whole line-up of South-Asian chefs serve up vegetarian street food all evening, with some special offerings from Dishoom too (hello, jackfruit biryani).
Musical entertainment on the night includes sets from Soumik Datta, Vibs Bhatia, Amrit Kaur Lohia and Ryan Lanji, and spoken word artist Jaspreet Kaur also makes an appearance. Book tickets here.
Diwali menu at Hankies Marble Arch
The flavours of traditional Delhi street food are on offer in the special Diwali menu at Hankies Marble Arch. Pick and choose the dishes, from tapas-style small bites such as chilli paneer bites, to heartier dishes including Dhabba chicken masala. Small bites and desserts are £6 each, while main courses are £8 each — all available 24-31 October.
Diwali Night at Wanstead Rugby Club
Out east, Wanstead Rugby Club hosts a Diwali night full of light, music and dance on 2 November 2019. Expect a three-course vegetarian meal, Bollywood music, fireworks and other entertainment. It's strictly Ethnic-Indian attire — more details here.
Diwali at Kanishka, Mayfair
Kanishka in Mayfair offers special festive menus running 26 October-10 November. The eight-course feast (£70) combines traditional snacks and seasonal ingredients, with mines matched to each course.
There's also a special Festival of Lights Diwali dishes Masterclass (£185) on Sunday 20 October. It begins with breakfast nibbles and traditional Indian chai, followed by a chance to learn how to create savoury Diwali treats and Mithai, traditional Indian sweets.
Diwali menu at Ooty, Baker Street
Baker Street restaurant Ooty's launching a new menu during this year's Diwali celebrations, featuring modern takes on southern Indian ingredients and traditions: think Hyderabadi biryani and Tellicherry pepper khari. The good news is, this is going to become their new à la carte — so though Diwali comes but once a year, you can get your hands on their tamarind-glazed quail or carrot fudge tart any Monday-Saturday, from 24 October.