The cultures of the world will come together in colourful, noisy, fun-filled collaboration and celebration in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens on Sunday 30 August when the city hosts its 9th Belfast Mela in association with Belfast Telegraph and Turkish Airlines.
More than 30,000 people are expected to attend the annual extravaganza of sights, sounds, smells and cuisine from around the globe come to life for one day.
Launching the 2015 programme, ArtsEkta Director Nisha Tandon spoke of the importance of the venture, not only as a highlight of Northern Ireland’s entertainments calendar, but also as a symbol of the city’s growing confidence as a diverse and culturally-aware destination.
“Communities across the city and beyond are the lifeblood of the Mela and we are proud to provide this exciting, exuberant showcase for such a vast range of ethnic groups. Our minority ethnic communities look to Mela as a platform to express their cultural identity, experiment creatively and introduce others to their inner world.
“That core community strength, and the integrity which flows from it, have enabled us to reach out and attract artists from around the world to join with us in our celebrations. The 2015 Belfast Mela programme reflects an extraordinary variety of internationally acclaimed artistes, most of whom will be bringing their talents to Northern Ireland for the first time," she said.
“As the artistes focus their attention on Belfast, so do visitors and we are proud that Belfast Mela is also growing in stature as a ‘must-see’ event for tourists, and is contributing significantly to the local economy.”
Belfast Lord Mayor Arder Carson said, “Every August Belfast Mela is guaranteed to bring a little bit of sunshine to the city as tens of thousands of people gather in Botanic Gardens to have fun and experience music, dance, theatre, sport and food from around the world.
“Mela means 'to meet', and while it is inspired by traditional Indian festivals, Belfast’s Mela is an even more international affair, mirroring the ever-evolving cultural make-up of our city.
“Now in its ninth year, Belfast Mela is the creation of local organisation ArtsEkta, whose many awards are testimony to its trailblazing in both arts and good relations. This is also a particularly huge year for ArtsEkta as on Saturday 24 October, they will be transforming the city centre for “Nine Nights” – an outdoor theatre spectacular retelling centuries-old Hindu folklore as a thrilling, contemporary Belfast celebration."