People gather outside the doors of White Horse in Brixton, London.
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Prior to the 1900s, Brixton was famous for its fields of lush strawberries, stunning windmills, and expansive open-air markets. By the 1940s, however, the farmland had long since given way to a culturally rich mass of new London immigrants, and today the streets are lined with kaleidoscopic murals, packed with ethnic eateries, and home to a diverse population where roughly a quarter of residents are of African or Caribbean descent.

Foreigners may know it best as the subject of The Clash’s 1979 hit “The Guns of Brixton” – or for the massive riots over alleged police profiling that occurred a few years later – and it would be fatuous to ignore the fact that modern day Brixton is still gritty, even dangerous in parts. But its edge has been tempered by ongoing economic revitalization that includes major arts initiatives, urban farming projects, and even the establishment of a locally honored currency called the Brixton Pound.

By day, young locals flock to the Stockwell Skatepark to ride the rails and socialize, while budget-minded shoppers take to Brixton Market along Electric Avenue, a historic trading post home to some of the city’s best African and Caribbean food, handmade jewelry, low-cost souvenirs, and the inspiration for Eddy Grant’s 80s hit of the same name. Art lovers can take in a flick and sip a martini at Ritzy Cinemas, one of England’s oldest movie theaters, or marvel at the recently restored Brixton Windmill, the one remnant of the neighborhood’s wind-driven past and one of the last in all of London.

At night, Brixton plays host to tons of casual dives and a lively but intimate concert scene, especially at The Windmill pub – two guesses where the name comes from – which has a long-standing reputation of championing new music. The DJ-driven after-hours landscape is equally vibrant, offering booming hip-hop and a raucous club-centric dance vibe at stalwart haunts like the legendary O2 Academy Brixton, The Fridge, and dozens of other venues open till the wee hours.

Brixton may not be the most refined corner of London, but it is one of the most boisterous, keeping the beat – whether through music or just cheap pints – going strong until sunrise.

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Where to Go in Brixton

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