A trip to Brixton may not have been one of the top priorities on your to-do list when you booked some time in London, but there are many reasons to drop by this hip district.
Visit the Bowie mural
Brixton is the birthplace of David Bowie and a mural, created by Australian street artist James Cochran, has been on the side of Morleys department store on Tunstall Road since 2013.
However, when the rock icon passed away in January 2016, the painting – which recreates the Thin White Duke’s Aladdin Sane album cover – became something of a shrine for fans from all over the world who flocked to the mural to leave flowers and messages of admiration.
If you feel obliged to do the same, don’t write on Bowie or the surrounding spheres – it has already had to be repainted and the council has suggested that the mural may soon be permanently protected by being locally listed.
It can be found directly opposite Brixton Tube Station, on the other side of Brixton Road.
Go to a gig
The Brixton O2 Academy (SW9 9SL) is without doubt one of the capital’s leading venues, attracting some of the world’s best-loved rock and indie acts.
It was where the Smiths played their last ever gig in December 1986 and other top acts like Bob Dylan, The Clash and Iron Maiden have all played five consecutive nights here.
There’s also the Windmill (SW2 5BZ), which was voted London’s third best music venue in Time Out’s 2012 poll and is a regular stopping-off point for any up-and-coming touring band.
Check the upcoming listings for the chance to experience a potentially legendary gig.
Walk on through Electric Avenue
Just like Eddy Grant did in his 1983 hit song, you too can stroll down this infamous avenue, which gained its name when it became the first market street in London to be lit by electricity in the 1880s.
The song was inspired by the 1981 Brixton riots, sparked by the high level of unemployment among the Caribbean immigrant population of Britain at that time. It’s much more peaceful today though with a regular street market and local shops serving the community.
Brixton Village and Market Row
When you reach the end of Electric Avenue, take a right onto Atlantic Road and head to Brixton Village and Market Row (SW9 8PS) where you’ll find foods from around the world and shops that sell everything from charcuterie and cheese to traditional Chinese medicine.
Black Cultural Archives
The Black Cultural Archives was first set up in 1981 to redress the historical imbalance of the representation of black people in Britain, telling their stories using objects, documents, publications and oral histories dating back centuries.
Its collection includes a small silver coin – depicting Septimus Severus, the black Roman emperor, dating back to 208AD – a collection of photographs of the affluent black Barbour-James family from the Edwardian era and the entire back catalogue of black lifestyle magazines such as Drum and Flamingo, which date from the 1970s.
It now resides in a new £7 million building on Windrush Square (SW2 1EF) after a 33-year struggle and with the help of a £5 million grant from Heritage Lottery Fund.
Relax in Brockwell Park
Escape London’s hustle and bustle for a while in the beautiful Brockwell Park (SE24 9BJ). It has a playground, a pond, tennis court and many picturesque spots to chill out in on a balmy summer’s day.
The Chocolate Museum
London’s only chocolate museum was set up by a French artisan chocolatier in 2013 with the aim of educating people on quality chocolate and its history in Britain and around the world.
Its exhibition charts the process of converting the cacao bean into the tasty treat we all know and love, while its shop and cafe stocks ethically-sourced chocolates produced by independent bean-to-bar makers. You can also try your hand at making your own chocolates and truffles.
Find it on 187 Ferndale Road, SW9 8BA.