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Seven days to celebrate seven continents as Mela returns to Belfast

Northern Ireland’s largest cultural diversity festival, the 15th Belfast Mela, sponsored by Sensata Technologies will take place across the city this year starting on Monday 23 August and running until Sunday 29 August

A wonderful line-up of music, dance, cookery, visual art, theatre and wellbeing from around the world is planned, led by artists and performers who have made Northern Ireland their home.

U105’s Carolyn Stewart and UTV’s Paul O’Reilly will host a spectacular FREE ‘Mini Mela’ celebration on Saturday 28 August transforming the city centre into a global village with a pop-up programme of music, dance and art, as current Covid restrictions would make a return to Botanic Gardens for the traditional Mela format unworkable until 2022.

However, all week starting from Monday 23 August, we’ll be bringing the magic of Mela to outdoor spaces and venues across the city – North, South, East and West as well as the city centre with events to celebrate cultural diversity. Highlights include a Silk Road Supper Club evening celebrating food and traditions of our newer communities; a Caribbean Carnival night; the first Global Ceili of its’ kind in the city fusing together Irish trad, Indian and Chinese dance; a spectacular Luminate large scale outdoor lighting event in CS Lewis Square; Taste the World at St George’s Market; as well as lunchtime tasting tours; a beautiful evening of Sufi Music at St Anne’s Cathedral and Wonder Walks, an immersive family storytelling experience.

A spectacular FREE outdoor cinema event is also being planned with showings of Danny Boyle classic Slumdog Millionaire fused together with live Bollywood dance from ArtsEkta’s South Asian Dance Academy and an Indian Summer BBQ on the 28th and 29th August.

Nisha Tandon OBE, Founder of the Belfast Mela and Director, ArtsEkta said:

“Seven is a very special number for this year’s Belfast Mela Festival, with the seven continents and the seven seas we decided to put on seven days of Mela to reflect Northern Ireland’s growing diverse communities from all over the world.

Following our successful Virtual Mela at Home last year which attracted an audience of over a quarter of million people worldwide, we are optimistic that given the current vaccine roll out in Northern Ireland we will be able to put on a series of wonderful events across the city this August.

While it will not be possible again this year to hold the large scale event at Botanic Gardens which normally attracts in excess of 30,000 people, we want to make sure the joy and positivity for which the Belfast Mela is renowned reaches as many people as possible while respecting current public health guidance as we emerge from the pandemic cautiously.

Therefore, we are planning a week-long programme this Summer, with exciting events being organised in a variety of venues and public places in different parts of the city which everyone can enjoy in a safe and responsible way. Audiences can look forward to a spectacular return of Mela at Botanic Gardens in 2022.”

Tickets for selected Belfast Mela events are available to book now. Full details of the complete Belfast Mela 2021 programme will be announced in early August.

All events are subject to license and may change at short notice based on updates to public health guidance.