In 2020, we presented a special edition of the festival in response to the Covid 19 pandemic

Audiences enjoyed the magic of Mela from their home through a special interactive website and festival map re-creating Botanic Gardens. Mela at Home curated over 40 virtual events showcase the diversity of the Belfast to world wide digital audience of 260,000 people.


Highlights of the 2020 virtual festival included: 


  • From the happy sounds of African band Magwere, to infectious Spanish music from Los Dramaticos, and the explosive energy of Bollywood from the South Asian Dance Academy to the cheeky banter of Anna’s Number, the World Stage offered a taste of the diversity in Belfast.


  • ‘Garden of Hopes’  was an an online immersive storytelling adventure for ages 5 plus. From mermaids to sprites each character in the garden used an enchanting mix of storytelling, song and mindfulness tools to tell their tales of how they use the power of hope to help garden seeds find their way into the light.


  • Set in the tropical surroundings of the Palm House at Botanic Gardens we presented a tasty line up of artisan producers including The Urban Rajah, chilli grower Tim from Blackfire, fresh oysters demonstration from the Belfast Oyster Club as well as making the traditional Indian summer drink, Mango Lassi.


  • At the  Virtual Mela, audiences heard from Eric Woods who discussed the life and achievements of Sir Samuel Davidson, founder of the Sirocco Works including links to India as part of our You, Me and Tea heritage programme 


  • Culture and creativity came alive at the World of Words with stories from across the city and beyond. This included revealing the winners from our storytelling competition and celebrating their work with a series of animated cartoon shorts to bring their stories to life.


  • Visual artist Elaine Taylor and a team of local artists took over Botanic Gardens to create a massive art installation inspired by the ancient Indian rice craft of Rangoli.


  • Curated by Tessa Ann from Tonic Wellness, the World of Wellbeing offered a chance for us all to take a step back, relax and unwind through a gentle mix of guided yogasound meditation and tai chi 


  • Voices of Mela is a film and photographic exhibition that was commissioned to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the festival back in 2016. As part of the Virtual Mela we brough the exhibition online for first time exploring all our favourite and iconic moments of the festival as well as the immeasurable impact it has had on the cultural landscape of Belfast.

2020 Festival Snaps