“Latin culture by definition is very inclusive, because it draws from so many places and other smaller cultures – it doesn’t matter where you are from, it’s all about sharing [that] passion,” says Jose Luis, a Londoner of 15 years who hails from Venezuela and is one of the brains behind Carnaval del Pueblo, a festival which was the second-largest of its kind – behind Notting Hill – before funding cuts and the shutdown of its venue last year.

The Carnaval is set to return though, bigger and better, starting with a warm-up day on Aug 11 at Coronet in Elephant & Castle, a taster for a 2014 fiesta in Burgess Park. 

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Afro-Colombian: Luis Lema and his band

DJ and events specialist Luis, who runs the Latin UK Awards and La Bomba for Ministry of Sound, is calling the del Pueblo preview with Local World Arts a “showcase of things to come”. Above all, it’s “a really fun day that’s all about the music and food and culture. If you’re not Latino in the blood, you can still be part of the culture,” he says. “Come and have a good time, a little dance and some fantastic food – we are always wanting to share what we have.”

Along with music and art, live acts featured at the LWA Festival include Combe, a soulful London-based Latino band, and Los Niños Vallenatos, an 11-piece Colombian folk accordion group revered around the globe. 

Musician and performer Luis Lema is singing from the same hymn book as Luis. Lema, who’s lived in the UK for 20 years since coming here from Colombia, will perform as part of the Latidos Latin American Festival, another colourful celebration at Coronet on August 18. 

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Vibrant: London-based Latino group Combe

Latidos is focusing on different, specific aspects of Latino culture, and how they relate, with music, art,  dance, workshops and a 10 DJ-strong afterparty until late. 

From 1pm there will be music on the main stage from Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, the Andes, Cuba and Colombia, wrapping up with Luis Lema and his Colombian Band 1600. 

“My folk music is exposing the Afro-Colombian music you don’t see very often here,” he tells us proudly. “It’s very tropical, it’s very, very fresh…” He pauses for a moment. “It’s like oranges.” Who could deny themselves that? “It’s upbeat, like Carnival, and puts people into a holiday time. Free flowing – perfect to dance and feel it.”

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Folk: members of Los Ninos Vallenatos

You can also learn various Latin dance styles at the event to ensure you do Lema’s work justice.

 If Lema sounds proud of his own music, he’s even more enthusiastic about sharing his and other cultures as a team with his fellow Londoners. 

“It’s amazing to be able to bring all of these cultures together as one and bring in our new friends too,” he says.

Following the live programme is an after party featuring the gamut of Latino styles across three rooms. So what are you waiting for? Get a taste of some Latin flavour.

More Latino London> 


Local World Arts Festival
Aug 11, 2pm-6pm, £10.
Latidos, Aug 18, 1pm-6pm, free; 
6pm-10pm, £5; after party, 10pm-late  
Coronet, SE1 6TJ  Elephant & Castle  
latidos.co.uk;  coronettheatre.co.uk 

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Ceviche – Soho 

This brilliant little Soho spot serves Peruvian small plates (above) and pisco (Peruvian grape brandy) cocktails, with a special focus on Peru’s favourite national dish, ceviche (raw seafood marinated in citrus juices). Be warned, you’ll want to order everything, and with dishes averaging at about £8 you can rack up quite the bill (but it’s worth it). The menu has a grilled skewer section if you’re not a seafoodie.   

£10+, Mon-Sat, 12pm-11.30pm; 
Sun, 12pm-10.15pm 17 Frith Street, W1D 4RG 
Tube | Tottenham Court Road 


Sushisamba – Liverpool Street

This swank fusion eatery blends Brazilian, Peruvian and, er, Japanese flavours to create a unique cuisine that first found popularity in NYC and has since gone on to take Miami, Chicago, Vegas and London – in the City’s tallest building, Heron Tower, no less. Wrap your tastebuds around mongrel dishes including wagyu gyoza, yellowtail taquitos and sushi ceviche. Big yum.

£10+, Sun-Thur,11.30am-12.30am; 
Fri-Sat, 11.30am-1.30am 
110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY 
Station | Liverpool Street 


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Hamlet de los Andes – Barbican

Flex your brain cells at this production that takes Shakespeare’s Hamlet and transports the action to Bolivia, with a company of three actors and a musician playing 15 characters. This politically charged interpretation tackles the plight of the thousands of Bolivians who leave their rural homes for the city in hope of a better life.  

£16, Oct 2-3, 7.45pm 
Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS 
Tube | Barbican 



Floridita – Soho

This chic Cuban bar is based on the original El Floridita, the legendary drinking hole which opened more than 150 years ago in Havana. Currently offers a boozy gelato bar alongside Latino food, drink and live music. 

£9.50+, Tue-Wed, 5.30pm-2am; 
Thur-Sat, 5.30pm-3am 
100 Wardour Street, W1F 0TN 
Tube | Tottenham Court Road 


Sabor – Angel

This colourful spot serves ‘nuevo Latino’ cuisine, representing the best of the countries’ dishes (empanadas, quesadillas, ceviche, melt-in-the-mouth steak, etc).

£6+, Tue-Sun, 6pm-11pm 108
Essex Road, N1 8LX 
Tube | Angel 


Camden: Made in Brasil

Camden’s Brazilian beach bar has live music most nights, from DJs playing funky party tunes to bands banging out Brazilian reggae and samba and bossa classics. Also serves traditional food and various fruity flavours of caipirinha.

£5.95+, Sun-Thur, 12pm-1am; 
Fri-Sat, 12pm-2am 
12 Inverness Street, NW1 7HJ 
Tube | Camden Town 

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Buen Ayre – East London

We heard whispers of “better than Hawksmoor” from fellow diners the last time we visited this exceptional Argentine grill on Broadway Market (above). And it should be incredible – chef John Patrick Rattagan was born in Buenos Aires.

Treat yourself and try the truly monstrous parrillada mixta – probably a challenge for three, never mind two – which delivers a sizzling grill piled with various steaks, Argentine-style pork sausage, black pudding, provolone cheese and mushrooms with pesto – for an uncommonly reasonable £20.50 each.  

£13.50+, Mon-Fri, 12pm-3pm & 6pm-10.30pm; 
Sat-Sun, 12pm-3.30pm & 6pm-10.30pm  
Broadway Market, E8 4QJ 
Tube | Hoxton 


Santa Maria Del Sur – Battersea

A neighbourhood Argentine grill, this eatery also serves up regular nights of Argentine live music – mostly tango-worthy guitar.

£14+, Mon-Sun, 12pm-3pm; 6pm-12am 
129 Queenstown Rd, SW8 3RH 
Tube / Station | Clapham Common / Queenstown Road 



Salsa! – Charing Cross

Bring your best moves to Salsa! on Friday and Saturday nights, when live bands play Latin music for you to salsa, merengue and lambada to. Got no clue how to bring the snake hips? There are dance classes every night – including the Friday and Saturday – with some offered for free and others costing a fiver. Check the website for class times, as they cater to beginner, intermediate and advanced.    

£5, Sun-Thur, 5pm-2am; Fri-Sat, 5pm-3am  
96 Charing Cross Road,WC2H 0JG 
Station | Tottenham Court Road 

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Guanabara – Covent Garden

There’s a party at this legendary Brazilian club/ restaurant/ bar (above) every night of the week, with DJs and live bands playing Latino tunes, plus live acts at the weekends showing off their capoeira (a Brazilian hybrid of martial arts and dance), samba and even circus skills. Some events are free, while others will charge £5-£10 after 9pm. There are also loads of happy hour deals.  

£5+, Mon-Sat, 5pm-2.30am; 
Sun, 5pm-12am  Parker Street, WC2B 5PW  
Tube | Covent Garden  



Forgery – Camden

This regular Friday club night at The Forge & Foundry (free entry) sees DJ Patrick Forge play Latin and Afro tunes to fill the dancefloor, blending jazz, Brazilian and soul into the mix to create irresistible rhythms and seductive grooves. Don’t bother turning up if you’re not pumped to dance. 

Free, Fridays, 10.30pm-1am 
3-7 Delancey Street, NW1 7NL 
Tube | Camden Town 


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Down Mexico Way – Bethnal Green 

Mexican writers Juan Pablo Villalobos (Down The Rabbit Hole) and DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, above) host an evening at Rich Mix, reading excerpts from their new works, sharing the music that inspired them and maybe even shooting a tequila or two. Not likely to be a stuffy literary event, Moshi Moshi Records guest DJ on the night. 

£4, Sep 6, 8pm 35-47
Bethnal Green Road, E1 6LA 
Tube | Shoreditch High Street 


Rodizio Rico – Fulham

Grilled meat is sliced straight from skewers onto your plate the traditional Brazilian way at this eatery, with beef, lamb, pork and chicken all on offer. Pay £25 and scoff as much as you want – flip over a card when you can simply stuff yourself no more.

£25, Mon-Thur, 5.30pm-11.30pm;
Fri-Sat, 12pm-4pm & 5.30pm-midnight;
Sun, 12pm-11pm 11 Jerdan Place, SW6 1BE 
Tube | Fulham Broadway 


Floripa – Shoreditch

Sunny Brazilian ‘beach shack’ bar with food, cahaça cocktails and dancing on tables. 

£7, Tue-Thur, 5pm-1am;
Fri-Sat, 5pm-2am; Sun, 1pm-midnight 
91-93 Great Eastern Street,EC2A 3HZ
Tube | Old Street 


Lima – Fitzrovia

Another posh Peruvian joint, Lima is making a case for Peru as the gastronomic capital of the Americas. Ceviche, Amazonian fish, lamb shoulder with pisco and suckling pig all feature.

£16+, Mon-Sat, 12pm-2.30pm & 5.30pm-10.30pm 
31 Rathbone Place, W1T 1JH 
Tube | Tottenham Court Road 



The Cuban – The City

Rum and mojitos are a speciality here, it’s happy hour 5pm-8pm every day and there are salsa classes most nights. There’s tapas too if you’re not looking to pig out. 

£6.95+, Mon-Fri, 10am ‘til late City Point,
1 Ropemaker Street,EC2Y 9AW 
Tube | Moorgate 



Cuba Libre – Angel

A lively little spot among the throngs of bars and restaurants on Upper Street, Cuba Libre serves Latino tapas and more hefty Cuban cuisine, plus plenty of rum-drenched cocktails. The brightly painted walls and tiles, hanging lanterns and drifting Latin music really do transport you from the traffic-packed streets of Islington, plus there are happy hour deals all week.   

£7+, Sun-Thur, 2pm-11pm; 
Fri-Sat, 2pm-12am 
72 Upper Street, N1 0NY 
Tube | Angel 


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Barrio East – Shoreditch

A slice of sunny paradise on Shoreditch High Street, Latino-themed Barrio East (above) has a formidable cocktail list (split into new releases, remixes and greatest hits), plus a daily ‘Amigo Hour’, where classic cocktails are £4.50, bottled beers are £3 and there’s £5 off selected bottles of vino.

To keep the happy holiday vibes flowing, it’s on every day between 4pm and 8pm. Score. The decor is so bright and inviting it’s like being handed an instant vaycay. 

£8.50+, Mon-Fri, 3pm-2am; 
Sat-Sun, 11am-2am 
141-143 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JE 
Station | Shoreditch High Street 


Photos: Buen Ayre Argentinian Grill; Facebook; Ronald Batalini; Valentino Saldivar; Sarah Lee; richmix.org.uk