The 10th edition of the Belfast Mela took place on the 27th and 28th August at Botanic Gardens

Highlights of the 2016 festival included


  • To celebrate a decade of Mela in Belfast, the festival is presented a special opening night show on the 27th August. Inspired by the most haunted place in India – the palace ruins of Bhangarh in the region of Rajasthan – this mystical family show featured a prominent cast of circus, dance, theatre artists and musicians. Created by the Foundation for Indian Performing Arts as part of collaboration between artists from the UK and Rajasthan in India, the story centers around three iconic Asian animals, the Horse, Camel and Elephant  – who lead us into a world of a King in search of himself.


  • A show stopping line up included Africa, Spanish and Gyspy Folk music from local groups MagwereLos Dramaticos and Balkan Alien Sound; dazzling dance displays from China, Mexico & Italy; cultural showcases from the local Russian, Bulgarian, Philipino, Latin American, Lithuanian, Ulster Scots and Polish communities; an exciting mix of Celtic arts, language and traditional music from An Droichead; and of course all the Bollywood and Bhangra you can dream of with performances from festival favourites Dhol Belfast and the South Asian Dance Academy.


  • Global gastronomy will wafted luscious aromas around the park as international chefs combined their talents and culinary heritage with great local produce, paying tribute to Northern Ireland Year of Food & Drink 2016.


  • Back by popular demand, the fabulous colourful world of Little Bollywood created a dazzling dance experience for wee ones. Led by a DJ and early years specialists both adults and children alike can explored relaxation, movement & singing with the happy sounds of Bollywood that had everyone wiggling their fingers and bouncing in their babygros.


  • We came together with our friends at Moving on Music, to present Riot Jazz Brass Band, a group anchored in the same New Orleans swamplands as the Hot 8 Brass Band and Youngblood Brass Band. The Riot Jazz Brass Band navigate a minefield of original peace-lovin’ aggro jazz, hip-hop samples, funked-up favourites and re-interpreted dubstep, drum’n’bass and dancefloor bangers that never fail to send limbs flying.


  • Audiences experienced the ancient traditions from the streets and villages of Africa. Music, dance, singing, acrobatics and fire performance await in breath taking, high energy street shows from Zulu Tradition and Afrikan WarriorsThe Storytelling Tree explored the traditional African folk tale of Anansi the Spider and her web of dreams.


  • Voices of Mela was a digital media and photographic exhibition celebrating 10 years of Mela, exploring its importance to Northern Ireland’s cultural landscape. The exhibition seeks to uncover the stories of the NI’s minority ethnic communities and how the Mela has been a pioneering model that embodies our vision for a shared future in Northern Ireland. It will draw on the stunning photography of the Mela over the last 10 years and feature film shorts offering different perspectives about people associated with the festival.


  • To celebrate the redevelopment of the park’s Tropical Ravine we invited audiences on a discovery back in time to uncover unique stories of the city’s favourite park. Little ones can create their very own hot air balloon and learn how in the 1800s Botanic Gardens was home to the largest ascent of hot air balloons anywhere in the world.



2016 Festival Snaps