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 Turkish Airlines.
More than 30,000 people are expected to attend the annual extravaganza,stepping into a freshly created world of diversity where the sights, sounds,smells and cuisine from around the globe come to life for one amazing day.
Tibetan tradition, Bulgarian dance, Andalucian flamenco, African drumming, Afro-Caribbean funk and reggae, Punjabi folk, Chinese lion dancing,Irish trad … a garden of flowers, magically come to life; an international souk and Little Bollywood for the tiny tots …there’s a whole world of entertainment for the whole family.
Presenting that wealth of nations is ArtsEkta, Northern Ireland’s multi-award winning ethnic arts organisation. Launching the 2015 programme, ArtsEkta Director Nisha Tandon OBE, 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 artists, most of whom will be bringing their talents to Northern Ireland for the first time.”
Welcoming that positive impact on the city, Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor 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.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Carál Ní Chuilín MLA, Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, anenthusiastic Mela-goer. Looking forwardto the 2015 event, she said, “through ethnic and community arts we can express the richness and diversity of our society and confront the challenges raised by prejudice, all of which are vital to our cultural development.”
To find out more about this years line up and to book tickets, head to www.belfastmela.org.uk