What do you know about Diwali? It's one of the biggest events in the Indian calendar. And that means big celebrations in multicultural cities in Britain, too. Find out all about the festival and how it is celebrated in Britain.

An Indian festival

Did you know that Diwali is one of the biggest events in the Indian calendar? It is celebrated around the world by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. In London, Birmingham, Belfast, Edinburgh, Leicester and other multicultural cities in Britain, British Asians celebrate Diwali. Celebrations include firework displays, Diwali lanterns, music, dancing, plays, as well as delicious traditional Indian food and sweets.

What does Diwali mean?

Diwali (or Deepavali) is also known as the Festival of Light. The word Diwali comes from the Sanskrit language and means 'row of lamps'. In South Asia, homes, shops and streets are decorated with small oil lamps called diyas. During Diwali, patterns, called rangoli, are drawn on floors. The lotus flower is one of the most popular patterns to draw. Diwali is celebrated every year on the darkest night of the month in October or November. The exact date changes every year to coincide with the new moon. With the new moon Diwali marks a new beginning and for many people it symbolises joy, love, reflection, resolution, forgiveness, light and knowledge. Diwali is traditionally a time for cleaning your home, decorating your house with lights and candles, wearing new clothes, painting henna tattoos on hands, giving presents, and getting together with family and friends.

London and Leicester

If you have ever visited London, the capital of England, you will know that it is a truly multicultural city where people of different ethnic groups and religions live, work, study and go to school. Depending on the time of year you can join in with celebrations for Christmas, Eid or Diwali in London’s Trafalgar Square. Diwali is celebrated every year in this world-famous square with Bhangra dancing around the fountains, vegetarian food sold at stalls, and free performances of South Asian contemporary and classical music and dance. 

Leicester, in the north of England, has one of the most important Diwali celebrations outside of India. The Festival of Light in Leicester starts with a display of thousands of lights along Belgrave Road, also known as ‘The Golden Mile’. There is Bollywood singing and dancing. You can go late-night shopping and restaurants stay open late too. All this is followed by spectacular fireworks. Tourists, visitors and local residents are all welcome to enjoy the fun! Leicester’s Asian community say that this is the best (as well as the biggest!) Diwali celebration outside of India.


Is Diwali all about tradition? These days many people in the UK celebrate the Festival of Light with electric fairy lights instead of old-fashioned oil lamps. Instead of traditional gold and silver gifts, it is common to give money to put towards electronic gifts or iTunes credits. Shopping has changed too. Now many people buy their Diwali presents online rather than visiting a shop. Family and friends can communicate easily via social media and #HappyDiwali tweets spread the message of hope and light around the world.

Happy Diwali!

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Do people celebrate Diwali where you live? Tell us all about it!

You can also read this blog about how one family in the UK celebrates Diwali.


Hiep's picture
Hiep 10 November, 2019 - 04:18

I come from Vietnam, the lighting festival in my country is held in many famous places with a brilliant scenery, shimmering by the light. I like the Light Festival most in Nha Trang. Nha Trang beach light festival is held at Tran Phu Street Park, visitors can immerse themselves in the colorful light on the beach. It's too big, but the light scenes with many different topics are enough to make the viewer happy. Nha Trang beach space at night, already romantic, now becomes a fairy garden.

1 user has voted.
arielthein's picture
arielthein 27 October, 2019 - 07:52

I'm from Myanmar, and in my country Diwali is a national holiday . Schools are closed on Diwali. In fact, today is Diwali and my Hindu friends seem to be looking forward to it. I'm not a Hindu, but a national festival, Thadingyut, is held about a month before Diwali, and it is very similar. Instead of diyas, we have simis. Our most popular patterns are the rabbit in the moon and the lotus flower. Thadingyut takes around 4 days, and one day the moon is full and mothers tell to their children, "See the old man crushing rice, and his companion rabbit beside him? They lived on Earth long ago, but when the old man was a young man, he and his rabbit moved to the moon because he fell in love with an angel from heaven. From time to time to the angel visits him, and it is easier for her to visit the moon rather than Earth, or she will be caught."

3 users have voted.
Youjiro's picture
Youjiro 22 February, 2019 - 16:08

People where live in Japan doesn't celebrate Diwali.Hindu is not common in my country.I have never see Hindu in my residence .

1 user has voted.
Batgirl's picture
Batgirl 12 June, 2018 - 17:49

People don't celebrate Diwali in my country, but I would really like to visit a place where it is celebrated.

1 user has voted.
englishlearner3141's picture
englishlearner3141 27 October, 2017 - 15:10

Hey there! :) And I am Hindu, I celebrate Diwali with my friends and family every year. Although we don't live in India, we all meet in our community Mandir and pray as usual! For me Diwali is the best and loveliest time of the year! I hope that Diwali spreads all over the world so that everyone can feel the joy of Diwali and the incredible story behind it ;)

18 users have voted.
SLMT's picture
SLMT 22 October, 2017 - 18:13

In my country,Myanmar,Diwali is celebrated every year.Furthermore,Diwali Day is one of the national holidays.Our country has the same kind of festival like Diwali.Our festival is called as “Thindinkyut Festival “.Like Diwali,we celebrate Thindinkyut by lightning all around the country.Electric bulbs,lamps,candles and fireworks can be seen everywhere on Thindinkyut Fullmoon day.The only difference between Thindinkyut and Diwali is that Diwali is celebrated on the darkest night of October or November, one the other hand,Thindinkyut is celebrated on Fullmoon Day.
In my country,Thindinkyut is the time for the reunion of family and time to give love,respect and care. I love both of them,because Diwali and Thindinkyut is the national holiday:D

19 users have voted.
arielthein's picture
arielthein 27 October, 2019 - 07:59

yes i do too. its amazing how they are so similar and both were celebrated to welcome someone back. for diwali, lord krishna, for thadingyut, lord buddha after coming back from heaven and preaching to the reincarnated angel of his mother.

2 users have voted.
fay4's picture
fay4 21 September, 2017 - 07:08

We don't celebrate Diwali but that made me wanna live in London to attend all these festivals that happen there .. it's really an awesome city ... I think there's at least three festivals there every month !

20 users have voted.
QueenPinkBluebel's picture
QueenPinkBluebel 3 August, 2017 - 15:17

We don't celebrate Diwali in Morocco, but we have a lot of other celebrations like Ramadan or l'AÏd-el-Kebir (usually known as AÏd of the sheep). During this event, we sacrifice a sheep and all the family is getting together.

33 users have voted.
GeeklyChic18's picture
GeeklyChic18 16 April, 2016 - 14:41

I live in Georgia and we don't celebrate Diwali, we have other national celebrations, I think Diwali is very interesting and I'd like to be India during this event.

96 users have voted.
bookworm19's picture
bookworm19 29 November, 2015 - 04:14

i live in India ..diwali is more exiting festival for all Indian...it is the festival of lights..the reason for celebrating diwali to celebrate the victory good over evil..there is a interesting story behind diwali..lord krishna the incarnation of vishnu defeated a demon named narakasura...and there are more reason behind diwali.. we will wear new dress and burst more crackers
and share sweets...we all children will be more exited on this day..

99 users have voted.
AzulM's picture
AzulM 3 November, 2015 - 20:41

I live in a small town in the center of Argentina and the people don't celebrate Diwali here because we aren't Hindu. However I think in the big cities of the country like Buenos Aires there are some Diwali celebrations organised by the Hindu community, probably.

101 users have voted.
poppymoore's picture
poppymoore 22 June, 2015 - 14:51

For Hindus Diwali is the biggest event of the year.Though most of the myths and legends have already been here told people also worship the Hindu goddess of wealth on this day because it is believed in our tradition that she came into this world on this day.Worshipping her is suppossed to bring prosperity.Another thing is that there is no fixed date for Diwali in the Georgian calendar. Diwali sometimes falls in october and sometimes in november because the dates of Hindu vedic calendar differ from the Georgian calendar every year.But for me this day is the greatest celebration of the year exept that bursting fireworks are a hazard to the envoirnment. I wish people stop that. Lighting diyas,candles,lights nd real enthusiasm are enough to light up the dat of Diwali!

102 users have voted.
Ken's picture
Ken 22 June, 2015 - 22:08

I didn't know Diwali, such a pleasurable event is held every year! It's lovely to know about various cultures in the world! Thanks for the information, Poppymoore!

97 users have voted.
Sriram's picture
Sriram 27 October, 2014 - 04:48

In Singapore, Diwali is celebrated on 22nd October instead of 23rd October this year. I do celebrate Diwali and I really love it because we get to wear our new clothes, eat traditional Indian sweets and get to burn firecrackers on that day. There is actually a legend behind as to why we celebrate Diwali. In South India, an Indian god named Krishna killed a bad demon known as Narakaasura, who tortures people and make people suffer. Krishna is the one who brings joy and happiness to the people. That is why Diwali is celebrated and it is also a reason why we need to bathe using oil on Diwali early morning. In fact, I am proud to be a Hindu person!!!

99 users have voted.
PoetryKumari's picture
PoetryKumari 7 June, 2014 - 08:41

I celebrate Diwali. I live in India, and the celebrations are really spectacular! Children get new clothes and presents on Diwali, and family reunions take place. In India, we get a week's holiday for Diwali (The festival is spread over a period of 3 to 4 days). I like Diwali best of all Hindu festivals, because I get to have fun with all my friends and family.

Last Diwali, we had actually lined our whole street with oil lamps and flower garlands, and it looked so beautiful!

97 users have voted.
SweetRobin3's picture
SweetRobin3 10 May, 2014 - 09:39

no we don't celebraite this holiday but it looks so interstin
i want to take a part in this holiday

94 users have voted.
RAGSANA99's picture
RAGSANA99 17 January, 2014 - 17:34

DIWALI isn t celebrated in my country but I heard about it in Indian films. I remember the big food (as cake)in the films .

88 users have voted.