By Rebecca Black, PA
Northern Ireland’s largest multi-cultural event is set to celebrate diversity with events across nine days.
The 17th Belfast Mela Festival is expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors to enjoy displays of music, dance, arts, theatre, wellbeing and food later this month.
This year a vivid coloured powder-throwing event Mela Colours will be added to the offering on Saturday, August 26th ahead of the main day of festivities on Sunday, August 27th.
At the launch of this year’s event, the Lord Mayor of Belfast Ryan Murphy said the Mela Festival “encapsulates our city and its welcoming spirit, while also celebrating the diverse, dynamic and fantastic mix of cultural diversity”.
“The nine-day festival is an important platform that will allow minority ethnic communities to share and express their identity and embodies our collective vision for a shared future in Belfast,” he said.
Dr Nisha Tandon, founder of Belfast Mela and Director of ArtsEkta said the event has come a long way from its first year in 2007 which was attended by 300 people.
“It’s now an incredible nine-day festival which now attracting more than 60,000 people and representatives from more than 20 nationalities who have made Belfast home,” she said.
“ArtsEkta has taken enormous strides towards positioning Mela as a festival which can make a significant impact on the lives of members of our new and established migrant communities who remain seriously under-represented in civic life.
“Central to our work is the use of the arts to generate creative responses to social problems at a local level, helping communities to develop a sense of belonging and a more open, welcoming and vibrant society where all communities in Northern Ireland thrive.”
Highlights of this year’s event are set to include a carnival parades through the city with participants from more than 20 different cultural groups, a mini Mela at Belfast City Hall as well as the main festival at Botanic Gardens on Sunday, August 27th.