The 11th edition of the Belfast Mela took place on the 25th August 2017 at Botanic Gardens

Highlights from the 2017 festival included


  • In 2017, the Belfast Mela celebrations launched with an opening concert at The MAC on Friday 25 August when acclaimed Sufi singer Salim Sabri presented evening of Indian Qawwali music – a form of Sufi devotional music dating back over 700 years and still popular across the India and Pakistan.


  • Led by the Lord Mayor of Belfast and other special guests, the Mela Carnival Procession was bigger than ever with commissioned carnival creations, Bollywood dancers, scores of community participants, spectacular processional sculpture, all set to the sound of over 20 local Dhol drummers with a towering Buddha statue blessing Botanic Gardens.


  • A show stopping line up  included Africa, Spanish and Gyspy Folk music from Allen Taylor’s Afrobeat OrchestraMagwereLos Dramaticos and Booka Brass Band; dazzling dance displays from China, Mexico & India; cultural showcases from the local Russian, Bulgarian, Philipino, Latin American, Lithuanian 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 combine their talents and culinary heritage with great local produce. The World Food Market & Live Cookery Theatre showcased what’s fresh and new from dynamic local food producers …. cooking doesn’t get much better than this! We also welcomed food blogger and chef The Urban Rajah who brings together a distillation of global culture, stories from a vibrant past fuelled by migration, ideas and trends, a celebration of the individual and a thirst for abundant life.


  • We teamed up with Voluntary Arts Ireland to deliver pop up arts workshops throughout the summer months, where people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities came together to create mixed media portraits and artworks for a sculptural installation in The Gathering Place. Visitors to Mela were able to view this ever-expanding artwork, while enjoying live music and dance in this space.


  • A magical arts experience inspired by the wonderful world around us with a special Fantastical Creatures installation inspired by the Mexican Albergies. Drumming, dance, acrobatics and fire performance come together to re-tell ancient traditions from the streets and villages of African and Japan. Audiences gathered round our Storytelling Tree and get cosy in the mermaids cover to hear mystical tales of underwater Japanese folklore.


  • Our annual Mela Exhibition in the Craft Village showcased refugees from across the world with each other through sharing recipes and embroidering imagery of food. Audiences  the Syrian, Sudanense and Spanish flavours in our recipe book with authentic homecooking from the participants’ hometowns. 


  • Created by TONIC Health & Wellness and supported by the Public Health Agency, our World of Wellbeing offered festival go-ers a chance experience an area of calm amidst all the bustle with The Sound Healing Spa, Yoga, Drum Circles, Meditation, Tai Chi and Mandela art making workshops.


  • The festival finished with the legendary wall of sound, global rhythms and thumping contemporary beats from The Dhol Foundation. Fronted by Johnny Kalsi, one of the world’s most celebrated Dhol players and a member of Afro Celt Sound System, Imagined Village and Transglobal Underground audiences partied in partied in the park with beats that had them dancing all the way home!

2017 Festival Snaps