The 12th edition of the Mela took place on the 24th August from 12noon-6pm at Botanic Gardens

Highlights of the 2018 festival included: 


  • A show stopping line up including Africa, Spanish and Indian Folk music from Dublin African Gospel Choir, Magwere, Los Dramaticos and Rajasthani Heritage Brass Band; dazzling dance displays from China, Mexico & India; cultural showcases from the local Russian, Bulgarian, Slovakian, Lithuanian and Polish communities; and an exciting mix of Celtic arts, language and traditional music from An Droichead.


  • Rhythms of the World tent delving deeper into the music, the moves, and the motivations of some of the amazing artists performing at the festival.  Throughout the festival  audiences could have a go at anything from African drumming to Chinese Fan dancing, from Hula Hooping to Punjabi Dhol Drumming.


  • A spectacular finale, Reunite, transported audiences to the streets of Bollywood with music, dance, storytelling and dramatic special effects.


  • This mesmerising show by Place to Wonder followed the journey of a little girl called Luna who is stuck in a bad dream and the only way to get out of her dream is to find something beautiful. A series of installations encouraged the audience to stop and see the extraordinary in the everyday ordinary, with enchanting storytelling and Hawaiian themed ukulele music


  • For the first time, the Mela featured an eye watering chilli eating competition guaranteed to challenge even the most fiery food lovers. The contest featured different heats were contestants were challenged with dishes created by our Mela chefs. The finale took place on the main stage infront of thousands!


  • Title sponsors, SPAR NI, offered festival goers the chance to experience the best of fresh produce from Northern Ireland, as well as exploring the fantastic fresh foods available at SPAR.  There was also a demo from Chef Adrian Martin, author of the bestselling cookbook Fake Away, aswell as many sampling pods around the festival site.


  • No visit to Mela is complete without a browse through the Global Souk which featured an even larger selection of intricate and hand-made crafts from local, national and international acclaimed artists.


  • For the first time, the 2018 Mela are invited all tea lovers to join in on a global tea party. SD Bells presented ‘The Story of Tea’ giving a fascinating historical perspective of tea from its ancient beginnings to the present day. Alchemy, dietetics, health, horticulture, war, insurrection, linguistics and good old Belfast ingenuity all feature


  • Brand new to the 2018 was Chinatown set along the beautiful backdrop of the park’s Rose Garden, while, the Polska Village grew even bigger and better! Audiences had the chance to get your hands on a great selection of arts & crafts made by Polish artists living in Northern Ireland. They enjoyed listening to folk tales and stories, taking part in dance workshops and sampling traditional Polish cuisine


2018 Festival Snaps