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London’s Multicultural Highlights

London’s Multicultural Highlights main image

By Jenny Scott Russell – Local Leo

About a year ago I moved to London from a sleepy little town in the South East. I was ready to explore everything London had to offer, from food to festivals and more. And in the last year that is exactly what I’ve done, experiencing some of London’s greatest multicultural highlights along the way. There are countless cultures and communities intertwined and coexisting happily here and, in this post, I have listed my favorite events, areas and sites which display diversity in London at its best.

China Town for amazing Chinese supermarkets, restaurants and the Chinese New Year parade

An obvious example of a multicultural highlight in London has to be China Town. It’s located in the heart of the city, neighboring Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and Soho and is very easy to find thanks to Chinatown Gate! You can wander around the area, taking in the beautiful lantern lined streets and general hustle and bustle of the place while trying to decide where to stop for dinner. There are endless Chinese options as well as some great Korean, Japanese and Malaysian restaurants to choose from. The Chinese supermarkets are always interesting to explore and if you’re lucky enough to be in London during Chinese New Year you have to experience the parade. It’s the largest Chinese New Year celebration outside of China, in the world.

Brick Lane for Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine

I love exploring Brick Lane, especially on a Sunday when the long road becomes a huge street market. Exotic spices fill the air and often I find myself feeling a little transported! But this area hasn’t always been famous for its overwhelming number of Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants. Instead it has a history rich with immigration from French Huguenots moving there in the 17th century and Irish and Jewish populations relocating to the area in the 19th and 20th centuries. It’s an exciting and extremely multicultural area of London, definitely a must for exploring.

Notting Hill Carnival for celebrating Caribbean culture

Notting Hill Carnival is Europe’s biggest street party with over two million visitors every year. After the end of World War Two, people from the Caribbean islands were encouraged to come to the UK, many of whom settled in Notting Hill. The carnivals origins lie in the rise of racial tension and the race riots of 1958. In an effort to build connections between the communities and cultures sharing Notting Hill the carnival was born. It now takes place every August bank holiday weekend and is a wild and colorful celebration of Caribbean culture. I look forward to it every year because you know it’s going to be a great party.

Kingsland Road aka Pho Mile for the best Vietnamese in London

You will often find me walking up and down Pho Mile in search of the perfect Vietnamese restaurant, but the truth is, I have loved every single one I have ever visited in the area! London has a large community of Vietnamese who fled Vietnam and the communist regime in 1975. Many settled in East London, once again showing itself as a very multicultural area of the city. And much like Brick Lane for curry houses, Kingsland Road has developed a reputation for authentic Vietnamese food. Viet Hoa started as a canteen providing affordable meals to Vietnamese immigrants and many of the other nearby restaurants are still family run. You feel the homely, family atmosphere when eating here, which is one of the reasons Pho Mile is my favorite place for a meal out.

Shri Swaminarayan Temple, the largest Hindu temple outside India

Spending the day at this beautiful temple will leave you feeling relaxed and transported! It’s Europe’s first traditional Hindu temple and was hand-carved in India before being assembled in London. You can join guided tours or explore the immensely impressive complex on your own. The craftsmanship is really something to marvel at and even though this is one of London’s lesser known sights, it is well worth a visit.

Brixton Village for authentic Afro-Caribbean cuisine and culture

Like Notting Hill, Brixton saw high numbers of Caribbean people relocating to the area after the end of the Second World War. And as an ex-resident of Brixton myself, I have to say the best Caribbean food I have ever had is in Brixton Village. But it’s not just the food which creates the multicultural atmosphere so rich in this area. It’s the shops, street market and covered walkways. You can also visit the Black Cultural Archives to learn about the influence of Britain’s black community. They hold free heritage walking tours around the market, hold exhibitions and talks which you can take part in too. The nightlife in Brixton is also great with an amazing musical history, being the birthplace of David Bowie and the inspiration for the song, Electric Avenue.

Green Lanes for Kurdish, Turkish and Greek restaurants

If you think kebabs are just for nights out then Green Lanes is about to change your view on Eastern Mediterranean cuisine! The area is home to a large community of Turkish Cypriots who were later joined by Greek Cypriots attracted to the eastern Mediterranean shops and restaurants. The restaurants are authentic and inexpensive and as you wander down the road, choosing one to eat in becomes more and more impossible. They all smell so good! Green Lanes is also home to a large Kurdish, Bulgarian, Albanian and Kosovan population which is reflected in the eastern European markets and shops.

Celebrate multiculturalism at the Migration Museum London

Last but not least we have the Migration Museum, which celebrates this history of multicultural Britain. It’s the perfect place to learn about the movement of people to and from the country with a special focus on London. They aim to shed light on the central role that migration has played in making individuals and the nation what it is today.

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Written by Jenny Scott Russell
The author of London-based travel blog LocalLeo.co.uk, Jenny travels the world while working full time in the UK fashion industry. She has a passion for vegan street food and outdoor sports and in 2015 moved to Austria on an Erasmus exchange. She has since graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Textile Design and has visited over 25 different countries.

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