So… you’re planning a trip to London, but maybe you want more from your trip then the usual sights. As a Black person, you might be eager to connect with the history of Black people in London, but you are unsure where to start.
This article shares all the things you need to know as a Black person travelling to London. Whether you’re looking for places to get great Caribbean food, to connect with the African diaspora in London or somewhere to get your hair done; you’ll find all the gems that you need for an immersion into London’s Black culture.
Photo Credit: Black History Walks
Black History in London
The first place I would start is with Black History Walks. Black History Walks offers guided tours around London that highlight the African contribution to London’s culture. The tours that they offer uncover periods of Black history in different areas of London.
During the tours, you’ll learn about the role that Africa played in the wealth and growth of the British Empire. You’ll be given insights to parts of London that are not on a traditional London tour’s itinerary.
So whether you’re curious about the history of the Windrush Generation, are keen to learn about the gentrification of certain areas of London or just want to add to your knowledge of African history in London, a tour with Black History Walks is a must-do.
Events Celebrating Black Culture in London
Throughout the year in London, there are a variety of events that take place to celebrate Black culture. From concerts, to day parties, to conferences and workshops – you can fill your calendar with culture-rich, entertaining and educational experiences.
Photo Credit: Reggae Brunch
The Reggae Brunch
The first event I would highly recommend you secure tickets for is The Reggae Brunch. Every Saturday in a different London location, you can experience all the fun and the flavours of the Caribbean. It’s island style partying with all the popular dancehall and reggae hits, and you also get to enjoy a good filling plate of jerk chicken with rice and peas.
The event starts with an unlimited rum punch hour, followed by a three course Caribbean meal and you spend the day dancing. By the time the event is over, it’s still daytime and you don’t have to worry about wandering around looking for a taxi – you can get the tube or bus home.
Photo Credit: Reggae Bingo
Taking place every Friday evening is bingo like you’ve never seen before. The stereotype of bingo is completely thrown out the window. Reggae Bingo is a night full of comedy, cash prizes, reggae and dancehall hits and three fun rounds of bingo.
If you’re like me, and born to be centre stage with a mic in hand, you’ll love the Reggae-oke. You don’t have to be pitch perfect, just up for a great time.
Whether you win a round or not, the Caribbean vibes make it a winning night for everyone.
Photo Credit: Ghana in the Park
Ghana in the Park
Ghana in the Park is an annual all-day festival that has been taking place in London since 2005 for the African diaspora in the UK. The festival celebrates and showcases Ghanaian music, food, arts and crafts, fashion and heritage. It continues to grow each year and is a great time for both adults and kids.
It’s definitely one of my favourite events that take place in London during summer. There’s such a great vibe and sense of community. The food on offer is second to none, you’d think you’re eating rice and stew straight from the pot of an Auntie in ax free Accra.
Photo Credit: Notting Hill Festival
Notting Hill Carnival
Notting Hill Carnival is the one of largest carnival celebrations in Europe, with visitors from all over the globe visiting the city for it. It’s been celebrated since 1966 in the heart of West London.
The colourful and vibrant carnival runs during the last weekend of August, on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, however carnival events start within the week running up to the weekend. The Sunday caters to a younger audience, having children’s floats showcasing the costumes and crafts by local kids, whereas Monday’s costumes and atmosphere attracts the 18s and over.
On both the Sunday and Monday, Carnival floats parade the streets of Notting Hill from the morning until around 6pm, but different static music systems keep the party going all night. Throughout the day you can venture around Notting Hill trying food from over 200 food stalls, dance to the rhythm of steel pan drums, reggae, soca and even salsa.
Photo Credit: Black History Month
Black History Month
In the UK, October is Black History Month, a month dedicated to the history and stories of Black Britain. Black History Month provides an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the great contributions of Black people in Britain. We celebrate Black athletes, scientists, men, women and children who have made an impact and inspired our community.
Throughout the month, you will find a variety of events and educational exhibitions. Hackney, Brent and Southwark are boroughs that have large Black communities and so they have an array of events taking place throughout Black History Month.
Where Can I Eat?
Whether you are looking for a taste of a Caribbean island or the flavours of your favourite African country, you will find something to tickle your tastebuds in all parts of London.
Photo Credit: Flavourz Africana
There are many family-run African restaurants in London, and my favourite, due to the price, taste and portion size, is Flavourz Africana. It’s a Nigerian restaurant located in North West London, offering both dine-in, takeaway and delivery.
If you’d like to experience the flavours of Africa while you are on the move in London, I GO CHOP is perfect for you. Stop by and grab the Oga Burrito, a Nigerian take on the burrito, with jollof rice and beans.
For your jerk chicken fix, Juici Jerk is a must try. Juici Jerk is in Tooting, South West London, and although it is not centrally located, it’s still worth the trip.
Eating out is great, especially with London having such a variety of options to choose from. But sometimes you want to save some money and enjoy the comforts of a home cooked meal…
Shops and Supermarkets
Buying ingredients for dishes from the Motherland is easier and more affordable than you think. Planning a jollof rice night? Wanting to wake up to ackee and saltfish?
In most supermarkets in London, they have “World Food” aisles, where you’ll find an “Afro-Caribbean” section, with different foods from Africa and the Caribbean. Whether you’re looking for Indomie noodles, plantain chips or jerk seasoning, you are sure to find them in these aisles.
However, if you want to save a little money and find more of a variety, head to a butcher, fishery, or fruit and veg shop in one of the London areas populated by African and Caribbean communities. There you’ll find a variety of ingredients for your home-cooked meal. Grab some Maize meal for your Zimbabwean dish, callaloo for your Caribbean night, or scotch bonnet peppers and plantain – great components of any African or Caribbean meal. You’ll also get a much better price for them then you would at a supermarket.
What To Do With Your Hair…?
As a Black traveller, when visiting different countries for extended periods of time, one common concern I usually have is, “have I brought enough hair products?” and “how will I maintain my hair while I’m here?”.
When visiting London, no need to worry. Getting a top-up on your hair products or getting your hair freshly braided is not a problem, and you are spoilt for choice when it comes to salons.
Where to get hair products
Harlesden, Shepherds Bush and Wembley are great places to purchase well-priced, affordable hair products if you’re around West or North West London. They have shops that are dedicated to supply products for Afro hair. If you are south of the Thames, head to Camberwell, Brixton or Peckham.
Those are just a few areas of London that predominantly have African and Caribbean populations. There are several others that offer an abundance of hair shops and hairdressers to choose from too.
Where to get your hair done
Instagram is also a great search engine if you are looking for affordable prices to get your hair done in London. Search “#braidslondon” and you’ll find many hairdressers that you can book an appointment with and some even come to you.
Travelling to London as a Black person is a must. You do not want to miss out on connecting with the African diaspora or experiencing the many celebratory events that take place in the year. You’ll be exposed to a host of new, educational experiences, with all the home comforts to go with it.
Don’t panic if you’ve forgotten your hair gel and slick brush or you didn’t pack Maggi seasoning cubes in your suitcase. London is a city that is no stranger to Black culture and you’ll never be too far away from the things that make you feel at home.
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Pin this to your London board…