London is one of the great cities of the world for festivals, parties and celebrations of all kinds. One of the main reasons for this is its diverse multicultural population.
London has always welcomed communities from all over the world, and in return, these communities are usually happy to share their culture with others, inviting them to join in with their festivals and holy days and to sample the music, arts and cuisine they have to offer.
If you're visiting London then you will certainly want to see all of the typically English sites and tourist attractions. But you should not overlook the city's international communities and all they have to offer.
Chinese New Year
London has a large and vibrant Chinese community, and as a result, the Chinese New Year is always celebrated in style. In 2017, this will be on 28 January, marking the beginning of the year of the rooster. Expect large crowds, fireworks, dancing, parades and performances, as well as hanging lanterns and paper dragons, plus martial arts and acrobatics demonstrations. Trafalgar Square is close to London's Chinatown and this is the location of the main celebration, with a stage show and a spectacular fireworks display.
The Buta Festival is a relatively new event that takes place in London every five years, showcasing and celebrating the full range of Azerbaijani arts and culture. The Second Buta Festival took place at various London venues from November 2014 to March 2015 and was a great success, with performances described as "unforgettable". Azeri music, art, poetry, food, film and photography were all on display under the slogan "Azerbai-Wow". Some of the country's greatest singers and musicians more than justified this exclamation, with performances from internationally renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli and jazz musician Shahin Novrasli among the highlights. The third Buta Festival begins in London in 2019, with plans already in progress.
Diwali – the festival of lights
Diwali is also celebrated in Trafalgar Square in London. The name means festival of lights, and it symbolises the triumph of light over darkness, a fresh start and a renewed commitment to love, wisdom and family. Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, with each religion putting a different interpretation on the event. Nevertheless, all come together for this wonderful free family event, and non-believers are welcome to enjoy the parade, the performances – including music and dance – and a wide range of delicious Asian cuisine. In 2016, this will take place on 16 October.
The Hindu festival of Holi is another great event, with large crowds throwing brightly coloured powder at each other to celebrate this festival of colours. Indian drumming, featuring the double-headed dohl, sweets and meals also generally accompany the revelry. The two-night celebration usually starts with a bonfire on the first evening – Jalanewali Holi – and the colour-throwing and partying takes place on the second night, Rangwali Holi. London usually has several Holi parties, so check in advance which is right for you. In 2017, this takes place on 12 and 13 March.
These are just some of the rich variety of multicultural events that take place in London. Dive in and celebrate the city's international diversity!