Are you looking for the ultimate multicultural experience? Want to see and hear different languages, attend global festivals, and taste foods from across the globe?
Then look no further than London. Many know London for it’s many events and festivities, as the largest city in the UK. If you’ve been to London before, you’ll know that it is an incredibly diverse and inclusive city. This is due to the multicultural and ethnically diverse population. Throughout the city, you can find districts with shops, restaurants, museums, and galleries dedicated to one or many cultures.
There are many international communities in specific locations, but the whole city is a mix of many shared cultures and histories, and this is celebrated by the whole of London.
We’ll look at the boroughs, and areas in London that are holding specific events annually. Let’s take a look at some of London’s biggest and most popular celebrations.
- Chinese Language & Culture
- Japanese Language & Culture
- World Foods and Landmarks in London
- Cultural Festivals in London
- Religious Celebrations and Events
Chinese Language & Culture
Chinatown, in London’s West End, is a hub of Chinese culture, food, and art. Chinatown is also the best place to visit if you’re learning Mandarin or Cantonese. There are many places where the staff prefer to speak in Chinese. It is home to a large East Asian community that has been growing since the 1950’s. The streets and alleys of Chinatown have many traditional Chinese restaurants, Korean markets, traditional clinics, and many other unique shops. If you’re looking for the most authentic East Asian imported goods, this is the place, from fresh ingredients to hand-crafted toys, and clothing.
Chinatown (west end)
London’s festivities are some of the largest to take place, but the 2022 event has been cancelled, with most of the events being moved online. Usually, the West End of London’s often decorated in red confetti, signage and posters. People play drums through the streets, and huge floats make their way through as the parade goes through the city. The New Years’ celebrations are some of the best ways to partake in this annual cultural event. Immerse yourself in the Chinese culture and language.
Wandering the streets of Chinatown, you’ll see many signs and posters written in Hanzi characters (Chinese characters/alphabet), and items in shops labelled the same way. This will help you to learn new words and phrases, while also allowing you to visualise using them.
Visiting Chinatown is a great experience that provides a snippet of what the Chinese culture and language have to offer. Take the time to try out some local delicacies, and experience the brilliance of the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Japanese Language & Culture
Have you been wanting to visit Japan? Are you a fan of anime, manga, or Japanese media? If so, then you’ll be delighted by the recent boom in popular Japanese media available in the UK and Europe. Various stores, exhibitions and restaurants have popped up around London, so it’d be the perfect place to learn more about Japanese culture and language.
Many exhibitions, galleries, and conventions specialising in (or dedicated to) Japan have become popular due to a rapid rise in Japanese media around the world. Many grand openings of places like Japan House London, Japan Centre, and Ichiba boosted Japanese representation in London (and throughout the UK).
Japanese House (kensington)
Japan House in Kensington, opened to the public in June 2018. Since then it has attracted professionals from various industries in Japan and has displayed exhibitions from some of Japan’s most unique, and talented individuals. One of the highlights included a visit from world-renowned mangaka, Naoki Urasawa (summer 2019). Urasawa’s artwork, panels, scripts, and childhood journals were on display. Visitors could enjoy a signing session with the writer. Japan House also organised a live drawing session, which included a musical performance by Urasawa.
The Japan Centre Group (Leicester Square, Westfield Stratford & Ichiba, Westfield White City)
There are three main locations for Japanese language and culture. They are Japan Centre Leicester Square, Japan Centre Westfield Stratford, and Ichiba in Westfield White City. These stores offer an authentic Japanese market and restaurant experience. Most, if not all, have imported their products from Japan. Packaged foods, the shop aisles, and the menus are in both Japanese and English. These locations are brilliant places to visit. Try experiencing a day out in a Japanese market and practice your Japanese outside.
World Foods and Landmarks in London
Asian foods from India and Bangladesh can be found in areas such as Whitechapel, Brick Lane, Green Street, and East London in general. Brick Lane and Green Street are popular London destinations in particular. They are a hub for the South Asian communities of London. People seeking South-Asian cuisine, clothing, ingredients, and imported goods flock here, especially before celebrations – to stock up on such goods.
The Shri Swaminarayan Temple (Neasden)
The Shri Swaminarayan Temple in Neasden is a landmark of great cultural, and spiritual significance in London. It is one of the largest Hindu temples outside India. It is one of the most striking landmarks in London, and is instantly recognisable. The old temple site has been converted into an Indian supermarket and vegetarian restaurant. You can have a traditional Indian dish to enrich your experience.
Another cultural hub in London is Brixton Village. Here you’ll find Afro-Caribbean cuisine and culture. The market has endless amounts of stalls representing African cultures from Ethiopia, Trinidad, and the Caribbean. You will, without doubt, come across new foods, clothing and events here. While the focus is on Afro-Caribbean foods, there are many international communities represented throughout Brixton Village. Some restaurants and stalls also present Portuguese, French, and South American delicacies and drinks.
New Malden (London borough of kingston)
New Malden in the London Borough of Kingston, also colloquially known as ‘Koreatown‘ or ‘Little Korea‘, is home to a large Korean population of over 20,000 (including over 700 North who began arriving from 2003). Here you can find many Korean restaurants and grocery stores, as well as over 100 Korean businesses. If you want an authentic taste of Korean food, lesser known savoury treats, and to witness North and South Koreans working side by side – you’ll find that right here.
There aren’t many places outside of Korea where you’d find such a large area focused on Korean culture, food, and enterprise. If you’re learning Korean or need to brush up on your conversational skills, definitely check out New Malden.
Cultural Festivals in London
Are you looking for a party or big cultural event? Then why not head to one of London’s many festivals? There are many events held every month of the year. This is due to the vast amount of cultures, religions, and ethnicities represented in the UK. Here we’ll take a look at just a few of the most prominent annual festivals and celebrations.
Notting Hill Carnival
Starting off with Notting Hill Carnival, which has become one of the biggest street festivals in Europe. It is a big, loud, and colourful celebration of the British West Indian community. The celebrations usually cover an entire weekend. You’ll see a bright parade made up of massive floats, dancers and musicians in sparkling attire, and stalls dedicated to aromatic delicacies. The 2022 edition of this event falls on the 28th and 29th of August.
naija in the Park
Naija in the Park is a celebration of Nigerian Heritage and culture. The event takes place in Finsbury Park, and is an exciting party for families and friends to enjoy. Loud music, dancing, and food stalls bring the park alive in a way that few have experienced before. There’s something for everyone, traditional food and outfits, party music, fun fair attractions, and more. The dates for a possible 2022 event have not yet been announced.
One of the biggest European festivals, Oktoberfest also has its own place in London’s schedule. It is one of the more popular events in the capital, and of course hails from the famous German celebration. On average, more than 50,000 guests attend the festival.
The original German tradition celebrates the October harvest, but recently it’s become a general country wide celebration and time of jubilance. This usually involves a lot of drinking, traditional dancing, feasting, and a parade. The London edition takes place in either October or November every year. You can join in for free or as a guest at a paid venue.
Religious Celebrations and Events
The Holi celebrations bring the festival of spring to London. If you watch the news or travel through London on the day of the event, you’ll recognise the colored powders being thrown in the air and towards those celebrating. It has become one of the most recognisable and iconic events in the UK. Everyone’s invited, regardless of ethnicity or religion.
Eid, the Islamic event that celebrates ‘breaking of the fast’ and follows immediately after Ramadan, has gained popularity amongst the public. Each year more and more non-muslims take part in the celebration with their friends and family, and share in the joy of exchanging gifts, and sharing home-made foods. Eid has been celebrated more widely of late, with many parks in Central London hosting fun fairs for families, and hundreds of traditional Middle-Eastern, African, and Asian food stalls across London.
Christmas in London is iconic. The chilly weather, the huge tree, the Christmas angel, hymns, carols, and hurried shoppers. The atmosphere in London is unmatched for an authentic, modern Christmas. Every year, thousands of people flock to London to witness the lights and events on the days leading to Christmas. The city is perfect in December for festive dinner dates, Instagram worthy snaps, and the smell of winter roasts. To experience the perfect end to the year – Christmas in London is a must.
As you can see, London is the UK’s hub of multiculturalism and international events. Very few cities around the world can boast of such a diverse array of world festivities, events, and celebrations. If you want to experience the foods, music, and dances of multiple cultures – as well as seeing some of the world’s most famous sites – then there’s no reason not to come to London.