LONDON mayor Sadiq Khan has announced the annual Diwali on the Square festivities will be held in Trafalgar Square on Sunday (29).
This festival of lights will bring together Londoners and visitors in the heart of the city, offering dance, music, cultural activities and food.
The event will kick off with 200 dancers, followed by performances by artists from the city’s Hindu, Sikh, and Jain communities. Attendees will be able to enjoy various market stalls and activities, including dance workshops, yoga, meditation, Ramayana puppet shows, Soho Theatre comedy and the glimpse of goddesses stall, to learn more about Hindu deities.
This year’s event will also feature the Diwali Queen, a series of dance performances presented by Kalasetu, a collaborative project between Subrang Arts and Kinetika commissioned on behalf of This is Croydon and the mayor’s London Borough of Culture 2023.
Khan expressed his delight about the event, emphasising its significance in London’s cultural calendar and its role in celebrating diversity.
He said, “I’m delighted that Londoners and visitors of all backgrounds will once again be joining together for a fantastic family-friendly afternoon of entertainment to mark the symbolic victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. By celebrating our city’s diversity, we are building a fairer, more prosperous London for everyone.”
There is no entry charge to attend the event, hosted in collaboration with the Diwali in London committee and sponsored by Remitly, a remittance firm.
Leicester will also witness one of the biggest Diwali celebrations outside of outside of India.
The city’s Golden Mile will be lit up, and there will also be food stalls, fairground rides and a fireworks show. But it also comes with a £250,000 price tag for Leicester City Council and the authority has said it might not be able to continue to pay it.
“The funding that is for the wonderful Diwali Festival, which we are so proud of, is very substantial indeed,” mayor Peter Soulsby said last month.
“Both in the amount of money that goes into it, but also the amount of money that goes into it compared with other festivals. We are now being forced to reduce our spending down.”
He said the two Diwali events that feature in the annual festival calendar – the lights switch on and Diwali day itself – will continue as planned this year.
“But that’s really unsustainable for the future and we’re going to have to find other ways of getting the funding that’s necessary to make sure it can continue on both days,” he added.
“We are going to have to at some point say we need that commitment of the extra money a few good months in advance if we’re really going to continue to spend a quarter of a million pounds a year.”
The city mayor added that he has had “positive discussion” around the possibility of bringing in sponsorship.
On Diwali day, November 12, up to 40,000 people are expected at the city’s Golden Mile. In addition, the Diwali village on Cossington Street Recreation Ground will feature a cultural events featuring local talent, children’s fun fair rides and food stalls.
In Wolverhamton, more than 8,000 visitors packed into the Phoenix Park in Blakenhall last weekend at the annual Diwali gathering to enjoy a variety of music, live entertainment and food, followed by the switching on of the lights and fireworks.
Hosted by Shri Krishan Mandir and The Elias Mattu Foundation, the event was rescheduled from October 14 due to the recent heavy rain which flooded parts of the Dudley Road park.
Live entertainment included Pargan Bhindal, DJ Nav Entertainments, Sansar Maan, Hit the Dhol, Giddha Sherniya Da, Jodei Dancers, Nepalese Dance Performance and main headline artist Team Banger.
Councillor Bhupinder Gakhal said: “This is a fantastic free event for all the family, featuring top quality entertainment and a fantastic firework display. Plans are already being worked on for next year to enable us to welcome as many of you as possible to Phoenix Park to enjoy what is always a fantastic event for our community.” (with additional reporting by Joe Sweeney and Hannah Richardson, Local Democracy Reporting Service)