London’s Trafalgar Square is somewhat of a tourist and cultural centre point in the city, with some of the best events, such as festivals, protests and celebrations happening there throughout the year. There’s also lots of history to see, from fountains and statues to memorials.
It’s also ideally located near the city’s top theatre district, so you can take advantage of top London West End Hotel deals at The Piccadilly West End.
If you’re heading to the capital soon and want to catch one of the coveted cultural events before the end of the year, you’re in luck. There’s an abundance of varied and fun events for all the family to enjoy, and most of them are free! We’ve listed our must-sees.
Japan Matsuri Festival – September 29th
For lovers of Japanese food, art and culture, for one day, you can enjoy a little piece of Japan in the middle of London. Japan Matsuri is a yearly free celebration, with an impressive roster of live music, magic, dance, delicious eats, martial arts demonstrations, games activities and more.
Shows in previous years have included shishi-odori (deer dancing), Edo-period magic from Tezuma magician Taiju Fujiyama, and Hiroko Tanaka Japanese dancers. Get your fill of amazingly authentic Japanese dishes, such as chicken katsu burgers, pumpkin korroke burgers, takoyaki, gyoza, okonomiyaki and of course, plenty of ramen.
Still hungry? There are loads of restaurants West End London, including inside the hotel for guests keen to get back to their room.
Though it’s not all about sitting back and watching. Dust of those windpipes as festivalgoers can even perform in the Nodojiman karaoke contest. Not the world’s best singer? Never fear – you can create your own masterpiece on the 9 m long canvas, which will be on display in front of the National Gallery.
Bartolomé Bermejo: Master of the Spanish Renaissance – Ends 29th September
Another key component of Trafalgar Square that draws in so many visitors each year is the fact that it’s home to the National Gallery. And until the end of September, you can catch one of the gallery’s most spectacular exhibition.
Bermejo’s ability to capture light, colours and textures in an oil painting was unmatched in 15th-century Spain. Though fewer than 20 works by the artist are known today, and a lot of his life remains somewhat of a mystery, Bermejo’s paintings speak for themselves when it comes to setting him apart as a technically proficient and visionary master.
This exhibition brings together seven of his most rare works – six of which have never been seen before in the UK. It explores how Bermejo drew influence from Netherlandish painting styles. At the core of the exhibition is Saint Michael Triumphs over the Devil, which is widely considered the most significant early Spanish painting in Britain.
This, therefore, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Bermejo’s first documented painting, ‘Saint Michael’ beside his last, the recently renovated ‘Desplà Pietà’ (1490) which has never before been lent outside of Spain until now. Also on show will be Bermejo’s solely other signed masterwork, the ‘Triptych of the Virgin of Montserrat’.
Malaysia Night – October 4th
Another wonderful world festival you should absolutely experience if you’re in London in October is Malaysia Night – a celebration of all things Malaysian, with a variety of the sights, sounds and tastes that the country is loved for.
Visitors will get the chance to taste the cuisine, with over 20 of the UK’s leading Malaysian restaurants all exhibiting popular dishes, including Laksa, Satay and Beef Rendang. Though it’s not all stuff you’re used to eating at your local – there will also be a whole host of secret delights from the country, such as Apam Bali. Chefs, such as Ian Pengelly from Pan Chai will be conducting live cooking sessions on the square to get you inspired (and hungry).
If you love what you taste, you can try your hand at recreating the dishes at home, as there will be vendors selling local ingredients. Though it’s not all about the food. There are also Malaysian artists flying over to London for the occasion, as well as local acts performing live. There will even be a cultural art exhibition on display, highlighting some super special works of art.
All in all, a truly full and fun day before you relax back at your hotel in West End London UK.
Diwali Festival – November 3rd
Diwali is a wonderfully colourful celebration that the Mayor of London has brought to Trafalgar Square yearly, in collaboration with The Diwali in London (DiL) committee. The festival has been running for a whopping 17 years, and it’s easy to see why.
Diwali is a Hindu festival of lights, held in the period of October to November. It is particularly associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, and marks the beginning of the financial year in India. To mark this special event in the Hindu calendar, the DiL brings together amazing food vendors, dancers, singers and more to help bring light and love to London.
Silence in the Square – November 11th
Silence in the Square offers a collective place to mark the silence of Remembrance Day – a really important day in England. The event will be introduced by musical acts to enhance the experience and its significance. After the event, the public can join a symbolic act of Remembrance by placing poppy petals in the Trafalgar Square fountains.
Christmas Carols in Trafalgar Square – December (TBC)
Think it’s too early to get excited about Christmas? Think again! Throughout the build-up to the festive holidays, over 40 carol groups each sing for an hour beneath the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square to raise vital cash for both voluntary and charitable organisations. Dates will be released nearer the time, so check their Twitter and website.
Keep the festive fun and frolics going with a stay at one of the top nearby hotels near west end theatres.
Christmas Tree launch – December (TBC)
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a tree, would it?! Admire the country’s most famous Christmas tree, decorated in traditional Norwegian style, which has pride of place in Trafalgar Square over the season.
The giant Norwegian tree has been a yearly gift to London from the people of Norway since 1947, in recognition of Britain’s support during the Second World War. Every year, the 25-metre (82-foot) tree is decorated with hundreds of lightbulbs set in vertical strings of light.
Don’t miss out on the lighting of the famous Christmas tree in early December if you’re heading to London for the festive build-up (date TBC).
If you are, book London West End deals for your accommodation at Piccadilly West End early on to save some cash.