Belfast Telegraph

The magic of Mela...spectacle expected to draw crowd of 30,000

Some of the performers who will be at the Belfast Mela at Botanic Gardens on Sunday
Some of the performers who will be at the Belfast Mela at Botanic Gardens on Sunday

By Christopher Leebody

There will be colour and craic on Sunday as the annual Belfast Mela returns for its 13th and biggest year yet.

The bank holiday event brings together music, dance, arts and food from across the world, with the day boasting Belfast's most diverse line-up of creative and artistic performers to showcase the increasing cultural spectrum within the city.

The 30,000 visitors estimated to pack out Botanic Gardens between noon and 6pm can expect to be wowed by stage shows and performances.

There will be eastern European folk music by the Rosinka Russian Choir and the Kakatsitsi Master Drummers will share traditional African culture from the villages of Ghana.

Hosted by U105's Carolyn Stewart and UTV's Paul Reilly and Julian Simmons, the family-friendly event will also have plenty to keep the kids occupied; with a spectacular fairy forest trail running through the park and culture land, a magical children's dance, story and art experience.

There will also be plenty of culinary delights to sample in the Mela World Food Market, promising tastes and smells from as far as India and China, to Spain and Mexico.

Nisha Tandon, founder of the Belfast Mela and executive director at Arts Ekta that runs the festival said: "The overarching theme of Mela every year is celebrating diversity and promoting a shared society free from prejudice and hate.

"Mela has grown dramatically over the years from humble beginnings 12 years ago with a few thousand people in Botanic Gardens to what is now the largest cultural diversity festival on the island of Ireland. If you look back over the last 12 years that the Mela has been delivered, there has been a noticeable increase in the different cultures living in Northern Ireland.

"Each community that develops here brings its own culture, ideas and skills which enriches society as a whole.

"The event was originally set up as a celebration of Indian culture. It was a way for the Indian community to integrate with local society to promote and showcase their culture," Nisha said.

"Melas happen in every major UK city so we thought it was important for Belfast to have its own celebration.

"The event has since developed to showcase the many different cultures living in Northern Ireland."

Praising this year's event, Lord Mayor of Belfast John Finucane said: "The buoyant vibrancy at Botanic Gardens is a real tribute to Belfast's welcoming spirit and showcases our capital's continuously evolving make up."


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