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 marked as the triumph of good over evil, and can involve lanterns and oil lamps.
The date for Diwali this year is 12 November 2023. Here's what celebrations are going on in London around then.
Diwali on Trafalgar Square 2023
This free festival in the heart of London is the city's biggest Diwali celebration. Organised by the Mayor of London, it's open to all, and takes place relatively early — on 29 October 2023.
Around 35,000 people will attend, to enjoy live music and dance performances — including Garba, a hand clapping dance from the Gujarat region of India — on the stage and throughout the square.
Indian food is the order of the day at the street food market in the square, where stalls sell snacks including vegan and vegetarian dishes and Indian sweets. There's also information on the background of the festival for Londoners and tourists not overly familiar with Diwali.
Diwali on Trafalgar Square, 29 October 2023.
Diwali at Everest Inn, Blackheath
Blackheath's Everest Inn is a Nepalese and Indian restaurant, known locally for its Diwali events each year — and the Festival of Light celebrations are back for two nights in 2023.
On arrival at the restaurant, you'll receive an authentic welcome token — a bindi and traditional scarf for women, and a Dhaka topi (traditional Nepali hat) for men. Tuck into a three-course sharing-style candlelit meal, taking inspiration from Nepalese/Indian fusion dishes, with meat and veggie options available, and a traditional Diwali dance performance to watch while you dine.
Diwali at Everest Inn, 6-7 November 2023.
Diwali at Gymkhana
A pappadum selection, Amritsari pink shrimps, kesari chicken chops, chicken butter masala and Bengali prawn curry are among the dishes on the special Diwali menu at Mayfair restaurant Gymkhana. A vegetarian tasting menu is available too.
Diwali menu at Gymkhana, 6-12 November 2023.
Diwali menu at Trishna
Michelin-starred Marylebone restaurant Trishna combines Diwali with its own 15th birthday celebrations, resulting in three six-course tasting menus for Diwali (traditional, vegetarian or vegan).
Highlight dishes include coconut and curry leaf scallops, tandoori lamb chops, Mangalorean fish curry, and coconut and corn tikki. Wash it down with a range of limited edition cocktails, including a Gujarat inspired Cosmopolitan, Jal-Jeera Whisky Soda and Chikki Chikki Old Fashioned.
Diwali menu at Trishna, available 6-12 November 2023.
Shine Your Light Diwali celebrations at National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Royal Museums Greenwich hosts a family-friendly Shine Your Light takeover by South Asian arts collective CommonGround& at the National Maritime Museum. The theme this year is a celebration of the light within all of us, something which is celebrated through several events and activties including:
Rajasthani Dance Performance by South Asian dance group, Akademi
A puppet performance of The Ramayana story (a Sanskrit tale from Ancient India which is important in Hinduism)
A live set by DJ and broadcaster Tara Kumar — dancing and saris very much encouraged!
Sari styling, rangoli, yoga and meditation workshops
Lantern making workshops, to be used in the annual lantern parade through Greenwich Park at the end of the day.
Diwali 2023 at National Maritime Museum, Saturday 11 November 2023.
Diwali at Marble Hill
South-west London English Heritage property Marble Hill marks Diwali with an evening of illuminations, dancers, Dhol drummers, giant puppets and more. It's free, and open to all.
Diwali at Marble Hill, 11 November 2023.
Diwali meal at Babur, Forest Hill
Babur, one of London's oldest Indian restaurants, hosts a special candlelit Diwali meal, featuring a three-course menu with wine pairings, and live entertainment by the Bollywood Vibes dance group. It takes place in the venue's Rajasthani marquee, which is decked out in Diwali decorations for the occasion.
The family-run restaurant specialises in contemporary takes on regional dishes. For Diwali, chef Jiwan’s limited-edition menu includes Dahi Bhalle ki chaat (lentil doughnut, cool yogurt, crispy puff puri and pomegranate); chapli kebab (minced mutton kebab, malabari paratha, mint sauce and pickle onion); and tehari biryani (cooked in a sealed pot, with guchhi mushrooms, mutter, paneer and beetroot raita), all followed by some special desserts.
Diwali at Babur. Diwali celebration meal takes place on 12 November 2023. Diwali menu available 12-30 November.
Diwali at Yaatra
Indian restaurant Yaatra — located in the old Westminster Fire Station — has a limited-edition Diwali menu running throughout November, as well as two special Diwali events: a candlelit dinner on Diwali itself, and a Diwali Supper Club a couple of days before, hosted by executive chef Amit Bagyal.
The Diwali menu includes a ginger and mint punch rum cocktail on arrival, followed by a five-course, Indian feast including tandoori malai prawn; saffron chicken tikka and sous vide lamb rump with lamb keema mutter and butternut squash.
Ahead of the main event, Yaatra's private state room hosts an intimate supper club on 9 November. Amit Bagyal shares his own Diwali stories with diners, as you tuck into that Diwali menu.
Then on Diwali itself, the restaurant is illuminated with flickering candles to mark the festival of light with a special candlelit dinner, accompanied by celebratory Diwali music. Traditional dress is encouraged and everyone receives a sweet gift box to take home. Children are very welcome too.
Diwali at Yaatra. Special menu available throughout November. Intimate supper club takes place on 9 November, and candlelit Diwali celebrations take place on 12 November.