Windrush Day is celebrated in the United Kingdom every year on June 22. The day marks the arrival of Afro-Caribbean immigrants to the shores of Britain and honors the British Caribbean community. An estimated half a million people made their way to England after the Second World War. The first Windrush Day was held on June 22, 2018, after a successful campaign led by Patrick Vernon. Since then, more and more people have started participating in Windrush Day celebrations and observations to show empathy with the hardships that the previous generations of Black Britons endured and the current generations continue to endure.
History of Windrush Day
On June 22, 1948, 492 Caribbean people arrived at Tilbury Docks, Essex on the Empire Windrush ship. While news reports claimed that the number was 492, the ship’s records show that more than a thousand passengers were on board. The United Kingdom suffered significant losses after the Second World War, and the British government decided that it was essential to recruit Afro-Caribbean migrants for the production of steel, coal, iron, and food, and running public transport. The transition wasn’t smooth and the first Afro-Caribbean immigrants faced violence and intolerance from the majority of the white population. Black people were also banned from many pubs, clubs, and churches.
Patrick Vernon recognized the importance of the day and called for its commemoration to acknowledge the contribution of migrants to British society, culture, and economy. Vernon first launched a petition to this effect in 2013, which was followed by another campaign in 2018, during the Windrush scandal. Officials accepted the petition and the government declared June 22 as Windrush Day. The community was also supported by a grant of up to £500,000 to honor the contribution of the Windrush generation and their descendants in making Britain a culturally diverse country. Although Windrush Day isn’t a public holiday, the citizens of the United Kingdom observe the day with parades, dances, and other events.
Windrush Day timeline
William Wilberforce leads the abolitionist crusade against slavery.
The first generation of Windrushers arrives at Tilbury Docks, Essex.
Commonwealth citizens in the U.K. are officially permitted to live in the country indefinitely.
Immigration rules are tightened for those who live and work in the U.K.
Windrush Day FAQs
What happened on Windrush Day?
About 500 immigrants from the Caribbean arrived on British shores on June 22, 1948.
Why do we celebrate Windrush Day?
Windrush Day celebrates the British Caribbean community’s sacrifice and contribution to Britain.
How long did it take for the Windrush to get to England?
The Empire Windrush arrived in England on June 22, 1948, after 30 days at sea.
How to Observe Windrush Day
Try some Caribbean cuisine
Caribbean cuisine has something to offer for everyone. You can either try your hand at a recipe or dine at an authentic Caribbean restaurant.
Read about the Windrush generation
Many books and journal essays chronicle the lives of the Windrush generation. Pick a title or two to learn more about the event and its impact.
Watch a play
Windrush-themed concerts and plays are easily available online on different streaming platforms. Gear up to enjoy some marvelous performances on Windrush Day.
5 Facts About The United Kingdom That Will Blow Your Mind
English wasn’t always the official language
For 300 years, French was the official language in England.
Britain drinks a lot of tea
About 165 million cups of tea are drunk by the British every day.
London subways are iconic
London was the first city in the world to have underground subways.
Long live the Queen
Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning monarch ever.
Everyone stays close to the beach.
The furthest that any U.K. town is from a coastline is 72 miles.
Why Windrush Day is Important
It celebrates diversity
Windrush Day is a day to celebrate the Afro-Caribbean community’s contribution to making Britain a racially, culturally, and socially diverse country.
It celebrates history
The day celebrates an important event in British history. June 22 marks the arrival of immigrants and their indispensable role in shaping Britain.
It promotes a harmonious future
Since Windrush Day also celebrates racial equality, the day anticipates a harmonious future with no racial tensions.
Windrush Day dates