Blackheath Halls is known for its rich programme of classical concerts, family shows and recently its film screenings, writes Holly O’Mahony… 

But this October, the entertainment venue is offering something entirely new: a five-day celebration of Diwali, inspired by the festival of lights observed by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains worldwide.
Ticking off several aspects of the cultural spectrum, the varied programme of events aims to offer something for all ages and tastes, including music, dance workshops, family-friendly activities, screenings and of course, traditional Indian food.

The festival follows on from a successful Diwali dinner and dance event held at the Halls last year, organised by the Friends of Blackheath Halls organisation. “It was so popular, we thought it would be lovely to create a series of events for the whole community and for all ages to enjoy,” says Nicola Metselaar, marketing manager at Blackheath Halls.
With this in mind, here’s what happening over the course of the Diwali Festival.

Blackheath gets a taste of Bollywood 

The Bollywood Brass Band, a well-known, Indian-style wedding band based in the UK, is putting on a vibrant and colourful show for the whole family to enjoy on Saturday October 19 (7:30pm). Hear the band’s extensive repertoire – played on saxophones, tabla, dhol drums and a colossal sousaphone. If you want to learn the moves so you can dance along, head to the Halls in the afternoon, when the band is leading Bollywood Dance Workshops (2pm or 3pm).

“Having the Bollywood Brass Band perform here is very exciting and a fantastic finale to the day’s events” says Nicola. “Their shows are always full of colour and really good fun.”
Extending the Diwali celebrations beyond the confines of Blackheath Halls is The Everest Inn, Blackhealth Village’s popular Nepalese and Indian restaurant, which is offering discounts to those with tickets to events in the festival – regardless of whether you’re dining in or ordering a takeaway.

Should the events prove popular, Nicola has high hopes the Diwali Festival will be the first of many. “We hope that our Diwali Festival will become an annual event so that the whole community can come together in celebrating what is an important fixture of the Hindu, Sikh and Jain calendar.”

Music and literature
Author Preti Taneja, whose book We That Are Young won the 2018 Desmond Elliott Prize for the UK’s best debut novel, is giving a literary talk at the festival on October 16 (8pm). On the surface, Preti’s novel tells a story about power, status and and the love of a megalomaniac father, while on a deeper level it explores human fallibility. Then on October 20, sitarist Jasdeep Singh – a ‘rising star of the Indian classical and contemporary music scenes’ – is giving a recital.

Diwali Festival is being celebrated at Blackheath Halls, 23 Lee Road, Blackheath, London SE3 9RQ. October 16 – 20. Times and admission vary depending on event. www.blackheathhalls.com/community-engagement-programme/diwali-2019