The HMT Empire Windrush arrived in Britain on 22 June 1948 and this summer promises plenty of opportunity to celebrate Windrush 75. From a one-off concert at Royal Albert Hall and Lenny Henry’s critically-acclaimed play August in London to thought-provoking photography exhibitions and installations, here’s our edit of the don’t-miss events celebrating the 75th anniversary of Windrush in London.
Windrush 75 Events in London
Royal Albert Hall
To mark Windrush 75 and celebrate the impact of Caribbean culture on British life, DJ and presenter Trevor Nelson is presenting a night of music at the Royal Albert Hall. The one-off concert promises a multi-generational line-up with a focus on British talent with Caribbean heritage, exploring the evolution of Caribbean-influenced music from the 1940s to the present day. Stars, including Craig David, Beverly Knight and Hak Baker, will be accompanied by the Chineke! Orchestra conducted by Chris Cameron.
Kensington Gore, Kensington, London SW7 2AP
August in England
Until 10 June
Lenny Henry brings his prodigious talent to the Bush Theatre with August in England, which is written and performed by the actor and comedian (it’s his playwriting debut). The play is an insight into the lives of those impacted by the Windrush Scandal and centres around August Henderson, a character described as “charming, flawed and with the gift of the gab”. With his three kids, devoted wife-to-be and part-ownership of a fruit and veg shop, August is content with the life he’s built since arriving in West Bromwich. But when he’s threatened with deportation, to a country he has no memory of, he isn’t prepared to go quietly.
7 Uxbridge Road, Shepherd’s Bush, London W12 8LJ
Windrush 75 Festival
Bernie Grant Arts Centre
19 - 24 June
To mark the 75th anniversary of HMS Windrush arriving on our shores, the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham returns with its fourth annual Windrush Festival. The week-long programme of events has this year been inspired by Professor Laura Serrant’s poem “You Called… And We Came”, a homage to the Windrush generation. Expect live music, film, dance, poetry, installations, pop-up stalls, a family-friendly block party, arts and crafts and so much more – all offered on a ‘pay what you can’ basis. Highlights include performances by south London-based Pegasus Opera, Reggae Choir, singer-songwriter Dionne Reid and DJ Donnie Sunshine, and the unveiling of a new artwork by conceptual artist and activist Elsa James.
Town Hall Approach Road, Tottenham Green, London N15 4RX
The Spirit of Windrush
National Maritime Museum
A free family festival to celebrate Windrush Day 2023 and the 75th anniversary of Windrush. Expect a ‘music jam’ by musicians and spoken word artists and history brought to life by performers; there’ll also be calypso dancing, creative workshops, dominoes matches with the Caribbean Social Forum, as well as the opportunity to explore family connections to Windrush, reminisce workshops – designed to open up memories of the Caribbean – and a free talks programme. This includes arts organisation Lin Kam Art on the cultural significance and impact of sound systems in the UK; while Royal Museums Greenwich curators will also be sharing objects and stories from the collections with Caribbean connections.
Romney Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF
A Charmed Life + panel with directors and special guests
This is a screening of two films to mark Windrush 75, both of which explore the contribution of post-war Caribbean migration to life in the UK. A Charmed Life is a documentary directed by Patrick Vernon charting the life of Jamaican-born RAF airman Eddie Noble, that explores how Black servicemen helped the war effort. It’s a story of struggle and achievement, and one that inspired Andrea Levy’s acclaimed novel Small Island. The other film, Lorna Holder-directed Hanging Out Caribbean Style, highlights how youth culture in the 1960s was fuelled by the sounds and styles arriving from the Caribbean.
Belvedere Road, Waterloo, London SE1 8XT
South London Gallery
22 - 25 June
South London Gallery is planning a weekend of events for all ages, celebrating the local Caribbean community and working in collaboration with 948 Collective. Programme highlights include Lewis Dalton Gilbert, creative designer of A Vibe Called Tech, designer Abi Wright and artist Matthew Arthur Williams in conversation about how their Windrush heritage has shaped their careers – a talk that’s aimed at 16- to 21-year-olds; a free, family-friendly workshop in Sir Frank Bowling’s studio, where you’ll meet the artist’s grandson and create your own abstract art; and the opportunity to watch a series of interviews with creative and cultural practitioners who either belong to the Windrush generation or are direct descendants of the Windrush generation. Another don’t-miss is 948 x Jumbi on the Friday evening, when 948 Collective will be celebrating their first birthday at Jumbi bar in Peckham with DJs exploring the evolution of sounds from the Caribbean.
South London Gallery, 65-67 Peckham Road, Peckham, London SE5 8UH
Windrush: Portrait of a Generation
St John’s Smith Square
Until 30 June
Social documentary photographer Jim Grover brings his acclaimed photo-story Windrush: Portrait of a Generation to St John’s Smith Square’s crypt. This free-to-enter exhibition – originally displayed in 2018 at the Oxo Gallery – came about with an invite to play dominoes with his local community. Grover soon came to realise that there was a bigger, more vital story to be told than dominoes and so he spent a year documenting the lives of these first-generation migrants from the Caribbean. The images reflect the daily lives and traditions of this South London-based Windrush community, many of whom – now in their late 60s to 90s – live in Clapham and Brixton. “As I became increasingly immersed in this project, I realised that I was capturing living history,” Grover explains. “As this generation passes away, and the younger generations move on, some of these traditions will become lost forever. And so it felt imperative to document this way of life and to record these stories before it becomes too late.”
St John’s Smith Square, Westminster, London SW1P 3HA
Recent Acquisition: Journeys to Hope
In 2020, the visual arts charity Autograph, which champions the work of artists who use photography and film to highlight questions of race, representation, human rights and social justice, acquired a portfolio of 37 photographs from the TopFoto archives, all of which captured the journey of the Windrush generation – before, during and after arriving in the UK. These images, alongside their stories, are now part of Autograph’s permanent collection, and many can be seen for the first time in a free outdoor public display on the side of the charity’s gallery, as well as online.
Rivington Place, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3BA
Lewisham: About Face
Until 16 July
The Migration Museum is displaying a new installation by Evewright exploring the multidisciplinary artist’s own perspectives on growing up in Lewisham, while also reflecting on the places and people of the area’s past and present that have shaped his life. The work complements Evewright’s site-specific art and sound installation Tilbury Bridge Walkway of Memories on the walkway used by passengers when they disembarked from the Empire Windrush at Tilbury Port on 22 June 1948.
Lewisham Shopping Centre, Lewisham, London SE13 7HB
Over a Barrel: Windrush Children, Tragedy and Triumph
Black Cultural Archives
23 June - 10 September
Co-curated by Nadine White and Black Cultural Archives, Over a Barrel considers the journeys of children travelling from the Caribbean to the UK during the Windrush era, with a focus on the experiences these children had as they progressed into adulthood and their ongoing repercussions. The exhibition will explore the tensions and traumas of separation and reunion, isolation and belonging, as well as the cultural and social adjustments these children had to make to thrive in a hostile environment. It will also highlight the development of community action against racism in education, particularly the Black Parents Movement and the African and Caribbean Education Resource.
1 Windrush Square, Brixton, London SW2 1EF
Zinzi Minott: Many Mikl Mek Ah Mukl
22 June - 27 August
British artist Zinzi Minott’s new exhibition at Queercircle is called Many Mikl Mek Ah Mukl, which loosely translates from Patois as “Every little helps, all the small pieces will come together to make something larger.” Minott presents the sixth iteration of her film series Fi-Dem (“for them” in Patois), a continued exploration into Blackness and diaspora collectives which she first created in response to the Windrush Scandal of 2018. Fi-Dem VI coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Empire Windrush docking on 22 June 1948; the new film will be accompanied by a series of five large-scale digital framed prints, some of which are taken directly from past iterations of Fi-Dem.
Soames Walk, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0BN
Black Culture Market - Windrush Summer Market
The Department Store
3 - 4 June
Black Culture Market supports emerging entrepreneurs and new Black businesses of African and Caribbean descent with opportunities to showcase and sell their products in the retail industry. During the first weekend of June, to celebrate Windrush 75 and embody the community spirit, they will be showcasing a number of curated Black businesses at the Windrush Summer Market, downstairs at The Department Store in the heart of Brixton. Gifts, cards, unique prints, jewellery, male grooming kits, skincare, clothes and other original accessories will all be available to purchase.
248 Ferndale Road, Brixton, London SW9 8FR
Windrush Legacy Festival
An inclusive celebratory festival-style event that’s being held at Battersea Park, with art, music, food, crafts, talks, dance and much much more for everyone and anyone, with a focus on families across London. The eclectic programme promises to bring people together and take them on a journey of discovery, reflection and inspiration around the story and legacy of the Windrush Generation.
Battersea Park, Battersea, London SW11 4NJ