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13TH BELFAST MELA - A GLOBAL WONDERLAND OF DIVERSITY IN BELFAST
September 2019 - South Side Advertiser
Adriana Morvaiova, Team Development Coordinator and Chair of ACE Network, Sensata Technologies, Nisha Tandon, Executive Director of Arts Ekta and founder of the Belfast Mela, and Mexican dancer Mayte Segura
Northern Ireland’s biggest celebration of cultural diversity, the Belfast Mela, is returning for its 13th annual festival this August.
Up to 30,000 people visit the Belfast Mela each summer and this year’s festival promises to be the biggest ever on Sunday 25thh August in Botanic Gardens from 12 noon to 6pm hosted by U105’s Carolyn Stewart and UTV’s Paul Reilly and Julian Simmons.
The Belfast Mela is a wonderful family day out celebrating Northern Ireland’s increasing cultural diversity with music, dance, food and much more from around the world.
Speaking at the launch of the festival at the Lyric Theatre, the Lord Mayor of Belfast, councillor John Finucane said: “The award winning Mela, launched by the one of the city’s leading cultural groups - ArtsEkta, is now the biggest celebration of cultural diversity on the island of Ireland.
“Mingling at the Mela (the word actually means “to meet” in Sanskrit) is more than just a fun day out, it is also a tangible and high-profile demonstration of the life-enhancing benefits of diversity. The buoyant vibrancy at Botanic Gardens is a real tribute to Belfast’s welcoming spirit and showcases our capital’s continuously evolving make up.”
Nisha Tandon, OBE, Founder and Executive Director, Arts Ekta said that the success of Mela is “rooted in a desire by all communities across Belfast and beyond to be part of something that represents their own cultural identity”.
“We must continue to move forward together to create a society where everyone is respected and feels a sense of belonging. The Mela represents Belfast as the vibrant, enriched, intercultural and ambitious city it is growing to become,” she said.
“In 2019, we present a bold, vibrant and colourful cultural celebration working with hundreds of artists, locally and internationally, to create a wonderful world of music, dance, food, storytelling and arts for all the family to enjoy together.”
Adriana Morvaiova, team development coordinator and chair of ACE network, Sensata Technologies, principal sponsor of Mela, said: “We are delighted to be the principal sponsor of the Belfast Mela this year, as diversity in our workplace is very important to Sensata.
“This is a perfect partnership as both brands are committed to celebrating the best of our communities in Northern Ireland. We are looking forward to taking part in this year’s celebration with special STEM activities for all the family to enjoy in Culture Land.”
The opening procession led by the Lord Mayor of Belfast and other special guests will feature commissioned carnival creations, Bollywood dancers, scores of community participants, spectacular processional sculpture, all set to the sound of a lively brass band from Rajasthan.
Highlights of this year’s Festival include:
· Brand new to this year’s Mela, is the World of Words zone, a celebration of voices, storytellers and creativity including storytellers Peter Chand (India), Nandi Jola (Africa), Joel Ben Izzy (Canada) and Liz Weir (Ireland)
· Carnival style finale based on the popular Dandiya Raas dance style with professional and community dancers as well as carnival props and performers.
· Interactive fairy trail in the new Fairy Forest for young children inspired by fairy folklore from across the world.
· Chinatown, set along the beautiful backdrop of the park’s Rose Garden, where an installation of traditional lanterns awaits while you can explore the delights of China from traditional arts and crafts, street performances and food sampling by members of the local Chinese community.
For full details of this year’s Festival go to www.belfastmela.org.uk. Tickets are £7 for adults; £6 concession and a family ticket costs £15, covering entry for 2 adults and 2 children under 16