Belfast Mela will bring a world of colour and cultural diversity to Botanic Gardens in Belfast on Sunday 27th August. U105’s Carolyn Stewart will be hosting the event alongside Marc Mallet from UTV.
Check out our list of 10 great things to do at this year's festival.
1. An Evening of Qawwali Music
Kick the Mela off, with a special opening concert on the 25th August at the MAC from internationally renowned Sufi artist Salim Sabri. Qawwali is a form of Sufi devotional music popular on the Indian subcontinent and a musical traditional that dates back over 700 years.
2. Flavours of the East
Visit the Mela Cookery Theatre where guest celebrity chef – The Urban Rajah – will bring together a distillation of global culture, stories from a vibrant past fuelled by migration, ideas and trends. Visitors will be able to get hands on with cooking in a specially designed cookery theatre alongside memorable live music, dance and conversation.
3. Little Bollywood
Designed for babies, toddlers and young children, Little Bollywood is a fun family experience with a cultural twist! Led by ArtsEkta's South Asian Dance Academy and early years facilitators, come and experience the vibrant sounds and colours of India in a specially decorated marquee. Both adults and children alike can explore relaxation, movement & singing with the happy sounds of Bollywood that is guaranteed to have everyone wiggling their fingers and bouncing in their babygros.
4. The Fantasy Forest
Tucked away in the tropical scenery of Botanic the Fantasy Forest makes a welcome return to the Mela. This is a magical children's arts experience featuring a diverse programme of interactive nature-inspired creative arts workshops, delivered by visual artists, craft people, dancers, musicians and storytellers.
5. A World of Music & Dance
No visit to the Mela is complete without experiencing the diverse music and dance on offer. Over 50 artists from 20 different nationalities will come together to present a high energy, vibrant and vivid programme. From the indigenous sounds of the Indian Dhol Drum and the soulful melodies of African village songs to Argentinian Tango, Japanese Taiko, Ugandan Afropop and the magical colours of Bollywood there is something for everyone!
6. Rickshaw Wallah
Create some Mela memories with our photo booth Tuk Tuk straight from Mumbai. Hop on board and transport yourself to the streets of India, for the ultimate selfie experience!
7. World of Wellbeing
Phew! If it all gets a bit too much and you need to take a breathier, what better place than the Mela’s World of Wellbeing? Created by TONIC Health & Wellness, experience an area of calm admist all the bustle with a range of workshops and sessions including sound healing, tai chi, meditation, yoga, drumming and arts activities.
8. Feile an Droichead
Created by Irish language organisation An Droichead, this area features an exciting programme of Celtic arts, Irish language and traditional music. The programme will bring Mela go-ers lots of opportunities to hear speak and learn about the Irish language, its history and how it exists today, to engage with our tutors to enjoy some Celtic music and dance, and hear some of the best traditional music in Ireland.
9. Global Souk
The Global Souk features an even larger selection of intricate and hand-made crafts from local, national and international acclaimed artists. Immerse yourself in a shopper's paradise and take home your own memory of the Mela. Don't forget to check out ArtsEkta's Ethnic Bazaar featuring cutting edge Asian fashion trends. Why not pick up a gift for someone special, or simply treat yourself!
10. The Gathering Place
The Gathering Place will be a sculptural installation around which outreach activities and creative gatherings will take place. Audiences will be offered opportunities to literally form the walls of this space from their own personal creative practices. The installation will develop and grow with the input of everyone, creating an ever-expanding structure which reflects the diverse and interconnected communities in Northern Ireland.
Canny Festival-goers can now book online to secure special early discount and beat the queues on the day. For more, see www.belfastmela.org.uk