Elephant? Check. Dragon? Check...Belfast Mela festival's all set to go
Final preparations are being made at Botanic Gardens for this year's Belfast Mela.
The festivities will start tomorrow at noon in style with a colourful and noisy opening procession featuring a life-size model elephant and and 16ft Chinese dragon reflecting the diverse cultures that the event will be showcasing.
As media partners of Mela, the Belfast Telegraph has this week run a series of articles looking behind the scenes at the preparations for the big day as well as the multitude of outreach programmes which take place across the year.
It will be the eighth Mela to take place, with more than 25,000 people expected to turn out for this year's event. Belfast Mela organiser Nisha Tandon said this year's programme was the biggest yet.
"We are delighted to be presenting a superb programme which features performances by some enormously creative international artists alongside contributions from culturally diverse communities from right across Northern Ireland," she said. "Visitors to Belfast Mela can expect to step into a whole new world, teaming with entertainment and buzzing with atmosphere and with a programme that's so packed and varied it will provide enjoyment and stimulation for everyone for the entire day, as well as providing a unique cultural learning experience in the spirit of shared celebration."
Mela festivals take place around the word. The word Mela means 'to meet' in Sanskrit.
Belfast Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon, who will lead the opening procession, described Mela as "an important celebration of the diversity within our city".
"It encourages mutual understanding and appreciation of Belfast's rich cultural tapestry and helps promote inclusion," she said.
Belfast Mela will run in Botanic Gardens tomorrow from noon– 6pm. On the day tickets are £5 for adults, £4 for concessions or £15 for families. Online discounts are available at www.belfastmela.com.