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Seven day Mela festival launched by Lord Mayor

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Date: 04 Aug 2021

Category: Arts and culture

Lord Mayor of Belfast City Council launches this year's Belfast Mela.

Northern Ireland’s largest cultural diversity festival, the 15th Belfast Mela, sponsored by Sensata Technologies returns to the city with a fresh look and a week look programme of 40 plus world music, dance, food, theatre and art events starting on Monday 23 August and running until Sunday 29 August, 2021.

Highlights of this year’s Belfast Mela include a spectacular free ‘Mini Mela’ celebration on Saturday 28 August from 11am – 5pm across the city centre. UTV’s Paul Reilly and U105’s Carolyn Stewart will host a spectacular line up of world music, dance and food live from Writers Square, while Cathedral Gardens will be transformed into Culture Land, a journey around the world for young children. There will also be a World of Wellbeing at St Anne’s Square with free wellness activities throughout the day and St George’s Market will host pop up taste experiences including a fiery curry eating competition.

In addition to a fantastic line up of events in each part of the city including an evening of lively music from the explosive Dhol Foundation at The Black Box, the bank holiday weekend will also see Botanic Gardens welcome a spectacular FREE outdoor cinema showing Danny Boyle classic Slumdog Millionaire fused together with live Bollywood dance on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 August.

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Kate Nicholl said: “Belfast Mela, produced by ArtsEkta, is the biggest and most colourful celebration of cultural diversity in Northern Ireland and one of the city’s much-loved family festivals. It’s also one of the four major annual events funded by our Cultural Multi-Annual Grants. We’re proud of the excellent work that ArtsEkta does to build the capacity, confidence and visibility of our established minority groups and newer communities through cultural participation and celebration. Their main festival, Belfast Mela is central to their work. It’s a festival that reflects Belfast’s welcoming spirit and celebrates our city’s diverse, dynamic and wonderful cultures. This year, Mela events will be scattered across the city enabling people to explore the world at Mela in a safe and more socially-distanced way. I hope you enjoy the magic.”

First Minister, Paul Givan, MLA and Deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill, MLA said: “We are delighted to welcome the 15th annual Mela to the streets, sites and screens of Belfast – and beyond. Every year we are impressed with the vision and verve of Nisha Tandon and her team at ArtsEkta. Their hard work and inventiveness is inspiring. Protecting public health is vital, and we would urge everyone to support ArtsEkta in their efforts to keep people safe throughout the Mela.”

Nisha Tandon, OBE, Founder of Belfast Mela and Director of ArtsEkta said: “This year’s Mela will see a brand new format created especially to respond to the ongoing challenges of the Covid 19 pandemic. We have extended the festival over a full week providing opportunities for everyone across the city to take part and celebrate the magic of Mela in a safe and enjoyable way. Whilst we know many of you will miss our traditional festival at Botanic Gardens, we are sure you will find something that appeals to you with global music, dance, food, street theatre, tours and much more across the week.

“Mela will continue to reflect the vibrant, enriched, intercultural and ambitious city Belfast is growing to become and unite all communities to feel a sense of identity, belonging and pride. I would like to pay tribute to all the artists involved in bringing us a bold, vibrant and colourful cultural celebration this year, who have risen to the challenge to adapt and create unique creative experiences to showcase the city’s diversity. At this year’s Mela, you will see a culmination of a year-long outreach programme through special showcases that have been developed with communities across the country.”

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council Northern Ireland said: “If ever there was a time we needed this vibrant, enchanting and uplifting celebration of arts and culture, it’s surely now. For the arts and cultural sectors which thrive on live, in-person engagement, social distancing and lockdown has been particularly challenging. With the Mela’s excellent programme of smaller events across the city we will have the opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of the festival in a safe and socially distanced way.”

Adriana Morvaiova, Sensata Technologies, title sponsor of the Belfast Mela says: “As a global company, we are very proud of our diverse workforce. We know that we are smarter together. That’s why we are delighted to continue our support for the Belfast Mela and its goal to celebrate the richness of culture that we have in Northern Ireland. It’s great to see it adapt this year to a week long celebration with lots of events for all the family.”

Please note booking is required for most activities and more information is available at:

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