Diwali – also known as the ‘Festival of Light’ – is a five-day Hindu, Jain, and Sikh festival celebrated each year. For many, the celebrations honour the story from Hindu mythology, which symbolises good over evil, and light over darkness. Hindus also honour the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, and god of good fortune and wisdom, Ganesh. Here in London, there are many Diwali celebrations taking place that people of all faiths (or none at all) can get involved in. So, without further ado, here’s our rundown of some of the best places to celebrate Diwali in London for 2023:
Diwali events still running
Blasting the best Bhangra and Bollywood tunes all night long, the Diwali Festival of Lights Celebration Boat Party is a lively way to kick off your Diwali celebrations. Setting sail on Saturday, November 11, the boat departs Westminster Millennium Pier at 8pm and cruises up and down the Thames for four hours before returning at midnight.
Over the course of four hours, you’ll be able to dance to live DJs and drum performers, grab a drink or three from the bar, and soak in all the city sights twinkling against the dark night sky. Snap up your Diwali boat party tickets here.
📍You’ll find the Westminster Millennium Pier at Victoria Embankment, London, SW1A 2JH.
🚇 Nearest station is Westminster.
2. Enjoy a candlelit, three-course meal at Babur
A popular South London spot, the Forest Hill-based Babur has been keeping peoples’ bellies satisfied since it first opened its doors all the way back in 1985, and for good reason. The food at this critically-acclaimed, Michelin-starred gem is absolutely out of this world, and we’d argue that it qualifies as being one of London’s best restaurants.
They’re also pulling out all the stops this Diwali with a magical candlelit Diwali celebration in their beautiful marquee on Sunday November 12. Expect a three-course meal, wine pairings, and an evening of entertainment for just £50 per head. Winner, winner.
📍You’ll find Babur at 119 Brockley Rise, Forest Hill, London, SE23 1JP.
🚇 Nearest station is Honor Oak Park.
3. Experience the ‘Diwali: Shine Your Light’ celebrations at Greenwich’s National Maritime Museum
One of our favourite museums in London, Greenwich’s National Maritime Museum this year is running ‘Diwali: Shine Your Light’ – a fantastic, family-friendly celebration of Diwali, featuring free live performances, workshops, talks, a lantern parade and much more.
This year, they’ve once again teamed up with Mehala Ford – the founder of south Asian arts collective COMMONGROUND& – to curate this year’s celebrations on Saturday November 11. Plus – all the events are free!
📍You’ll find the National Maritime Museum at Romney Road, London, SE10 9NF.
🚇 Nearest stations are Cutty Sark DLR and Maze Hill.
4. Dive into six different delectable courses at Kanishka
Kanishka, the Mayfair fine-dining Indian restaurant by acclaimed chef, Atul Kochhar, is celebrating the festivities with a six-course tasting menu that showcases the diverse and distinct flavours of India’s various regions. Running from November 6-12, and priced at £95 per person, diners can expect dishes that are inspired by Atul Kochhar’s love of traditional Indian cuisine.
Dishes include Atul’s chicken tikka pie with mixed berry cumin, Orkney scallops with caramelised William and lime gel, coconut marinated stone bass crab with Devon crab croquette; and Anjeer paneer tikka – a fig-stuffed cottage paneer tikka with cavolo nero and korma. Plus, you can opt to add in a wine flight with your meal too – what’s not to love?
📍You’ll find Kanishka by Atul Kochha at 17-19 Maddox Street, London, W1S 2QH.
🚇 Nearest station is Oxford Circus.
5. Enjoy a party with cult favourites Dishoom at The Steel Yard
Another one of the best ways to celebrate Diwali in London is Dishoom’s yearly party, which for 2023 is taking place on Wednesday November 8 from 7pm to 12am at The Steel Yard. The biggest of their Diwali parties to date, you can expect an evening of sensory storytelling and celebration from a first-class South-Asian lineup spanning music and dance – all curated by Almass Badat.
Performances come from renowned DJs Haseeb Iqbal and Sanj J Sanj, contemporary flautists 2Flutes, internationally-sought bharatanatyam dancer Amritha Jayakrishnan and many, many more.
📍You’ll find The Steel Yard at 13-16 Allhallows Lane, London, EC4R 3UE.
🚇 Nearest station is London Cannon Street.
6. Tuck into a limited-edition menu at Westminster’s Yaatra
Celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of light and India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year, this November at the critically-acclaimed restaurant Yaatra, housed in the landmark Grade II-listed Old Westminster Fire Station. A limited-edition Diwali menu will be running throughout the month of November, alongside two celebratory events: a special candlelit dinner on Diwali itself (Sunday November 12), and a Diwali-themed supper club on Thursday November 9, hosted by executive chef Amit Bagyal.
The limited-edition Diwali menu is priced at £60 per person and includes a ginger and mint punch rum cocktail on arrival, followed by a five-course, spice-laden Indian feast including a tandoori malai prawn curry, a saffron chicken tikka and a sous vide lamb rump with lamb keema mutter and butternut squash. Sounds pretty heavenly if you ask us!
On Diwali itself, the gorgeous space will be filled with flickering candles for guests to fully immerse themselves in the festival of light with a special candlelit dinner. Diners are encouraged to wear traditional dress if they can. Celebratory Diwali music and a sweet gift box to take home will complete the festival experience, and kids are more than welcome here too!
📍You’ll find Yaatra at Old Westminster Fire Station, 4 Greycoat Place, London, SW1P 1SB.
🚇 Nearest station is St. James’s Park.
7. Indulge in a delightful afternoon tea at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate
If you really want to class it up this year for Diwali, then Kona at the five-star Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences will be offering a limited-edition version of its famous Indian jasmine afternoon tea, with a menu crafted especially to celebrate the festival of lights.
Inspired by the traditional afternoon tea but with its roots firmly within Indian dining culture, guests and visitors to the hotel can indulge in beautifully-crafted Diwali themed pastries and delicious savoury treats too. The tea itself will be served in the Kona restaurant and cost £75 per person. You can enjoy it on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from October 14 to November 19. The hotel’s restaurant TH@51 will also be offering a special range of thalis – what better way to indulge!
📍You’ll find Kona at 51 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6AF.
🚇 Nearest station is St. James’s Park.
8. Go all out with a slap-up meal at Trishna
Located right in the heart of bougie Marylebone village, the Michelin-starred Trishna is the perfect location for an intimate dining experience with you and a mate or date. Famed for its taste of Indian coastal cuisine, Executive Chef Sajeev Nair has created three six-course tasting menus for Diwali this year.
It’s also the beloved restaurant’s 15-year-anniversary, so to celebrate, this year’s Diwali menu has been designed with beautiful ruby red roses, reminiscent of the flower valleys of South India and traditional symbols of the significant 15-year milestone. The upmarket eatery will serve both a traditional tasting menu (£110 per person) and vegetarian & vegan options (£100 per person), with highlighted dishes including coconut and curry leaf scallops, tandoori lamb chops, Mangalorean fish curry or vegetarian dishes including jackfruit and pea chettinad with a coconut and corn tikki.
To accompany the Diwali tasting menu and celebrate Trishna’s anniversary, the team have also created a range of limited-edition cocktails including a Gujarat-inspired Cosmopolitan, a jal-jeera whisky soda and a chikki chikki old fashioned.
📍You’ll find Trishna at 15-17 Blandford Street, London, W1U 3DG.
🚇 Nearest station is Bond Street.
9. Enjoy a range of celebrations hosted by Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai
The Michelin-guide recommended Indian restaurant in Fitzrovia is set to host a week of Diwali celebrations this year from Monday November 6 to Sunday November 12. Throughout the week, artist Chila Kumari Burman will showcase a selection of her thought-provoking artwork, which combines her Indian roots with popular culture, in the restaurant. On Wednesday November 8, Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai will host a special Diwali dinner where Renowned Chef Sabrina Gidda will join Chef Avi in the kitchen for a one-off collaborative feast of South Asian flavours. The week of celebration culminates in a party on Sunday November 11 where guests can enjoy the two Indian-inspired cocktails to celebrate the festival, the Yuzu and Spice, which are also available throughout the week.
📍You’ll find Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai at 79-81 Mortimer Street, W1W 7SJ.
🚇Nearest station is Oxford Circus.
Diwali events which have been and gone
10. Enjoy London’s largest Diwali celebration at Trafalgar Square
Now, if you’re wanting to celebrate Diwali in London, then you really need to make your way to Trafalgar Square on Sunday October 29. Brought to you in collaboration with Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, and the Diwali in London (DiL) committee, you can expect up to 35,000 people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds coming together to enjoy traditional Indian street food (vegan and veggie too), dance, live music and overall celebration. It’s one not to miss!
📍You’ll find Trafalgar Square at Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DS.
🚇 Nearest station is Charing Cross.
11. Dine on Sri Lankan, Keralan and Arabic fare at a Karapincha supper club
Diwali has always been synonymous with feasting and togetherness. And this year, you can elevate your celebrations with a culinary journey at Karapincha’s exclusive 12-dish Diwali supper club – taking place in the historic surrounds of the eclectic Old Spitalfields Market.
As one of London’s best places for authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, Karapincha invites you to join them on Tuesday November 7 from 6:30pm, for an evening of pure indulgence. Upon arrival,you’ll be greeted with a limited-edition cocktail, a pretty darn nice preclude to the festivities to follow.
Once you take your seats, you’ll then be immersed in a magical world as the warm glow of countless candles illuminates the space for a truly remarkable atmosphere. At the heart of the evening lies the 12-dish menu – a culinary odyssey inspired by the rich traditions of Sri Lanka, Kerala and Arabia. Each dish is beautifully presented on a traditional Sri Lankan banana leaf, transporting guests to the heart of South Asia. Plus, at £40, it’s not too bad on the old wallet.
📍You’ll find Karapincha at Old Spitalfields Market, 16 Horner Square, London, E1 6EW.
🚇 Nearest station is Liverpool Street.
So there you have it – a roundup of the best things to do for Diwali in London this year. From making your way through a tasty 12-course menu to visiting the capital’s biggest celebration in Trafalgar Square, there’s plenty here for you to do whatever your age or cultural background!