London is one of the most diverse cities in the world, and one could say you haven’t truly experienced it until you’ve had a taste of its multicultural character.
From Irish to Indian, Afro-Caribbean to East European, you can see the fantastic influence of so many cultures throughout the UK capital today.
This unique blend of communities is part of what has helped the city develop its distinct personality. To help highlight what makes this city so great, we’ve pulled together information about how you can best experience the cultural melting pot that is London, during your stay.
Finding Our Favourites
To locate great examples of the cultures that make up London, we extensively researched top-rated events, restaurants, markets, museums and workshops for each culture.
We also talked to local bloggers from each community, to ensure we were capturing the very best of what’s on offer. This information was then compiled and loaded onto our interactive map and helped build our shortlist of must-see cultural events and locations.
London’s Important Influences
The last UK census indicates that 55.1% of London’s population does not identify as White British, showing just how diverse the city is. There are significant communities from every corner of the earth and in every borough, who influence the culture, cuisine and feel of the capital. Some of the largest communities living in London, identified by the 2011 census are:
- Arabic (106,000)
- Bangladeshi (222,100)
- Caribbean (344,600 black, 119,400 mixed race)
- Chinese (124,300)
- Indian (542,900)
- Pakistani (223,800)
- African (573,900 black, 65,500 mixed race)
- Irish (176,000)
- Polish (147,816)
Many of these communities have their roots in Britain stretching back to the 19th Century and beyond, while others are more recent settlers in a metropolitan culture that has really blossomed over the last 70 years.
In cities like London, cultural dialogue has become more of a two-way street, with communities coming together to blend traditions in everything from languages to food, to create a striking identity. To understand today’s London you need to be looking outside the traditional tourist haunts.
To help you get started, here are our top recommended events and locations:
- The Shubbak Festival: This biennial event is a celebration of contemporary Arabic art and culture. The festival returns to London in Summer 2019 and will feature music, art, literature and more.
- Ealing Road, ‘Little India’, Wembley: Indian communities have long had a significant influence on Britain. One place to see some of this vibrant culture is Ealing Road, sometimes dubbed ‘Little India’. With traditional Indian restaurants, textile stores and more, there is plenty to see and taste in the area.
- Notting Hill Carnival: The Notting Hill Carnival is a world-famous Afro-Caribbean event, which takes place in the Notting Hill area every August bank holiday weekend. Since 1966, the festival has been a celebration of West Indian Culture, packed full of parades, music, dancing, street food and more. The event attracts around 1 million visitors each year, so plan ahead if you want to attend.
- Daquise Restaurant, South Kensington: Daquise is a traditional Polish restaurant that has been serving up dumplings, schnitzel and other native dishes since 1947. The restaurant has contributed more than just food to the community, as it was dubbed the unofficial headquarters of Polish president, Edward Raczynski, when he was exiled by the Communist Regime.
- Chinese New Year, West End: Chinese New Year is celebrated in late January or early February each year. In 2019, celebrations in London will take place on 10th February, stretching from the West End, through Trafalgar Square and down to Chinatown. Entertainment includes street and stage performances, martial arts demonstrations, traditional new years’ meals and much, much more.
Want to explore more cultural gems in London? We have created an interactive Multicultural Map of London where you can filter by restaurants, events, museums, markets and workshops across Indian, Polish, Irish, Arabic, Pakistani, Chinese, Afro-Caribbean and Bangladeshi cultures. Got a hidden gem near AMBA Hotel Charing Cross or Marble Arch you’d like to see added to our map? Let us know on twitter @amba_hotels.