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.
1. Sail along the Thames on a ‘Celebration of Lights’ boat party
Blasting the best bhangra and Bollywood tunes all night long, the Diwali Celebration of Lights boat party is a lively way to kick off your Diwali celebrations. Setting sail on Saturday, October 22, the boat departs Crown Pier at 8pm and cruises up and down the Thames, 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.
2. Enjoy a luxury stay and fantastic firework display at a Westminster hotel
3. Join a festival that celebrates the Festival of Light
Much loved restaurant Dishoom is hosting a special event at Studio Spaces in Wapping on Thursday, October 20, filled with poetry, live music, dance performances and, of course, their fine signature dishes. The night-time event, welcoming guests 18+ only, will shine a light on British talent of South-Asian heritage – performances will be curated by Sweety Kapoor, a renowned artistic director and creative producer – and also see snacks available from Jhal Muri Express and Horn OK Please. Find out more information on Dishoom’s events page.
4–10. Feast on an abundance of Diwali dishes at restaurants across the capital
Nothing says ‘festive celebration’ like a feast with loved ones. A selection of London restaurants are hosting special Diwali meals over the next few days and weeks at various price points, so grab a napkin and your stretchy trousers, and head on down.
🪔 Gymkhana will offer a very special (and rather spenny) five-course menu between October 21–31, alongside their regular a la carte menu. Expect sharing dishes such as Amritsari pink shrimps and queenies with dill raita; wild muntjac biryani, pomegranate and mint raita; and saffron pistachio kulfi falooda for dessert. Book a table at Gymkhana here.
🪔 Westfield White City spot Bindas Eatery will unveil a collection of new dishes on October 24, specifically created for Diwali. The three dishes are aloo tikka chaat (a spiced potato cake, served with whipped feta, chilli jam, beetroot slaw, coriander and sev); ra ra biriyani (made with lamb shoulder and lamb mince); and for dessert, butterscotch and saffron kulfi cake with popcorn. Book your table at Bindas Eatery here.
🪔 Pan-Indian restaurant Farzi Café, located in Haymarket, will offer a six-course tasting menu in a candlelit setting between October 18–29. Prime cuts will be on the menu, including vension laal maas, goat farzi rocher and aburi salmon. Book your table here.
🪔 If you fancy your Diwali celebrations in London a little, well, fancy, try the set menu at Marylebone-based restaurant Trishna (available between October 21–31). Spanning five courses of refined seafood and meat dishes (or veggie dishes, if you opt for the vegetarian menu), the meal will be bountiful. Be sure to accompany your meal with the limited-edition Diwali cocktail, Gende Ka Phool, created using whiskey, coconut, saffron and lemon. Make a reservation at Trishna here.
🪔 Nestled just behind Selfridges, the family-run, Indian street-food spot PAPA-DUM is offering a special menu AND goody bag between October 13–29. Whether you opt to dine in, or grab and go, celebrate Diwali with special snacks and mains, sweet desserts, PAPA-DUM’s signature masala chai tea, and even get a Diwali goody bag to honour the occasion. Check out PAPA-DUM’s full menu here.
🪔 Feast on a decadent five-course tasting menu amongst the bookshelves of the Grade II-listed Old Westminster Library at The Cinnamon Club. Accompanied by a festival cocktail, you can expect delicious Diwali canapés, indulgent mains, and sweet petit fours. Make a reservation here.
🪔 The newly opened Yaatra, situated in the Old Westminster Fire Station, has created a Diwali feasting menu, highlighting dishes from all over the country, blending culture and cooking styles from large cities to smaller villages alike. Between October 24–30, you’ll receive a sparkling cocktail on arrival, and indulge in the likes of Awadhi lamb biryani and tawa masala seabass. Book your table at Yaatra here.
11. Sample cocktails created from a dry, spiced Indian rum
Rounding off our Diwali celebrations in London, Five Rivers rum has set up a pop-up bar at Devonshire Square as part of London Cocktail Week, and they are inviting patrons to come and try their five signature cocktails. Between October 13–23, the bar will be adorned with festoon lighting, lanterns and candles, and cocktails will be £7 each. The rum, which hails from near Jalandhar in Northern Punjab, is made using sugarcane grown on the Sanghera family’s farm, and redistilled by this same family using a unique blend of cardamom, cassia, cloves, coriander and ginger. Find out more about the pop-up bar here.