London's new look Vaisakhi festival to take place at City Hall
London's Vaisakhi Festival has a new look this weekend, when it moves to City Hall for the first time. Following consultation with the Sikh community, the popular free event is taking place this Saturday 11 April 2015 inside and outside the distinctive riverside building, which is home to the Greater London Authority and next to the historic Tower Bridge. All are welcome to attend the family friendly event, which runs from 12pm-5pm. Vaisakhi is the most important day in the Sikh calendar, commemorating the beginning of Sikhism as a collective faith. London's celebrations are an opportunity for people from all communities, faiths and backgrounds to experience a festival that is celebrated by over 126,000 Sikhs who live in the capital and 20 million people across the world. City Hall has been working with representatives from the Sikh community, including Singh Sabha London East Gurdwara, EY Sikh Network and other groups, to create a culturally rich, enjoyable day that represents Sikh identity and culture. The new venue means a wider array of cultural activities is being offered than in previous years. As well as a colourful outdoor programme of live music and performance, food and children's activities, film screenings, cultural talks, poetry readings and an exhibition are taking place. Visitors can enjoy traditional dance, turban tying and Sikh spiritual music (Shabad Kirtan). Food (langar) is also being prepared and offered by volunteers from the Sikh community. The celebrations are also taking place much closer to the official Vaisakhi festival - 14 April - than in previous years. Mankamal Singh, Gurdwara Singh Sabha London East, said 'The Gurdwaras are excited to be involved in this year’s Vaisakhi celebrations at City Hall. The Sikh community are an integral part of the London landscape, whilst maintaining a very visible and distinctive identity. This year’s event gives London the opportunity to share British Sikh talent as well as offering great activities that all Londoners can get involved in.' Manraj Singh Othi, Co-founder EY Sikh Network, said 'We are pleased to be part of the organisation of this Vaisakhi celebration. As both Londoners and Sikhs, we feel the grassroots approach to the programme that has been created in collaboration with City Hall will produce a day that is inclusive for both Sikhs and non-Sikhs, and be an opportunity to learn and celebrate together through a diverse range of displays and activities.' ENDS Event: Vaisakhi Festival Location: City Hall, The Queen's Walk, London SE1 2AA Date: Saturday 11 April 2015 Time: 12pm-5pm Entry: FREE – ALL WELCOME Information: www.london.gov.uk/vaisakhi Notes to Editors • Data relating to Sikhism in London is taken from the 2011 Census. More information can be found here: www.data.london.gov.uk/census.