Published Friday, 23 August 2013
Now in its seventh year, Northern Ireland's largest festival of ethnic arts, culture and heritage, is extending this year to include a Saturday night spectacular as well as the main event on Sunday.
Belfast Mela's (the word Mela comes from the Sanskrit 'to meet' or 'unite') eclectic combination of music and dance, food, fashion, cuisine and crafts from around the world is expected to attract more than 30,000 festival-goers over the August Bank Holiday.
Festival director Nisha Tandon said the main day will plenty in store.
"There will be lots and lots of which will be happening for people to come and enjoy, meet, and learn about each other, make new friends and be part of the festivities," she explained.
"I think people want to be part of it. It's all about people and communities who love to see something new and embracing new communities and wanting learn about different cultural identities. I think that is the success of the event."
The Mela weekend will open with a spectacular free evening show 'Spellbound' on Saturday.
It will see world-renowned outdoor theatre company Walk The Plank, celebrated for their visual artistry and talent for gigantic-scale outdoor spectacles, team up with ArtsEkta's own South Asian Dance Academy, for an extravaganza using dance, fireworks and a twelve-foot high flaming puppet.
Artistic director of the show, Nick Clark, explained the contemporary retelling of one of the oldest stories in the world, the epic legend of Rama and Sita.
"We tell that story using local dancers and a local dance group, it's told through shadow work behind a giant screen, pyrotechnics, narration and other surprises," he said.
The following day, from 12 noon to 6pm on Sunday, the 'mega Mela' will fill Botanic Gardens with a dazzling, high octane line up of music, dance, food, fashion, street theatre, circus and carnival from around the globe.
The iconic Parade of Cultures launches the main festivities, weaving its way around World Stage, Showcase Stage, Culture Land, Maharaja Tent, World Food Market, The Taste The World Cookery Theatre, Health & Sports Zones and Street Mela.
© UTV News