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Mela Festival returns to Tunbridge Wells on July 1st

The hugely popular Tunbridge Wells Mela Festival will return to the borough on July 1st. The Mela Festival is now in its 13th year and takes place in Calverley Grounds between 12.30 pm and 6.30 pm. The Mela is organised in partnership by Cohesion Plus and the Kent Equality Cohesion Council with the support of Arts Council England. Other partners include The Mela Partnership and the Tunbridge Wells Round Table. The Mela Festival celebrates the diversity and cohesion of the borough through music, food and dance.

As in previous years, the Mela Festival promises to be a great free day out for the family. This year’s stage programme boasts a range of leading culturally diverse artists with an international flavour including Anaconda Belly Dance, Syrian duo Jamal and Alaa and African troupe Drumbeat. They will be joined by local artists including Ukelear Fall Out, The Paul Dunton Orchestra, Jack Curtis and Sahrudaya – The Kent Keralites.

The Cohesion Plus produced Folkin Fusion Collective will also be performing a unique fusion of street dance, dhol and djembe drumming for the first time on stage.

The headliners for the day will be International Bhangra Superstar PBN and renowned Bruno Mars tribute act Mars Live who promise to have the crowds singing and dancing by the days end!

The off stage activity will be just as colourful. Highlights include the Chinese Dancing Lions who will be looking to make mischief, performing amongst the audience. Mela festival goers will also have a chance to help find Auntie’s missing shoe during the course of an interactive show called Chappal, The Case of the Missing Sandal’. This particular show has been created working with the Mela Partnership and Nutkhut. In addition there will be a creative arts zone where LV21 will be delivering free workshops.

Alongside the exciting artistic programme, there will be a food zone where there will be countless delicious dishes from around the World for audiences to enjoy including Thai, Indian, Greek, Chinese and British food as well as Ice Cream, Donuts and Fudge. No festival is complete without a cold beverage so Fuggles Beer Café will be serving craft alcohol from around the Globe.

Gurvinder Sandher the Mela Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “I am so proud to have been involved with the delivery of the Mela since its inception. The Mela Festival gets bigger and better every year and I am really pleased with what we have put together this year. We have a great artistic line up both on and off stage. A lot of time and thought has gone into this as we wanted to showcase some really great culturally diverse work. The Mela is great family day out and we hope the communities of Tunbridge Wells will come out and support us as they have done in previous years.”

Mela Sunshine in Calverley Grounds

Sunshine, music, food and dance from around the world was the order of the day at the 11th Tunbridge Wells Mela Festival which took place in Calverley Grounds on July 17. The Mela was organised by Cohesion Plus and the Kent Equality Cohesion Council with the support of Arts Council England.

Gurvinder Sandher the Mela Festival Director commented “I have been involved with the Mela in Tunbridge Wells since its inception and am really proud of how we have managed to develop it over the years. This year despite the funding issues we have managed to deliver an excellent culturally diverse stage programme which showcased a number of local acts alongside internationally renowned artists like Jassi Sidhu. I am very grateful to everyone who attended and supported this community celebration. The Mela Festival is unique to Tunbridge Wells and I am determined to keep it going.” 

The Mela Festival stage programme featured a range of culturally diverse acts including local artists Sean Fennessey and Friends and the renowned Paul Dunton Orchestra, Kent based African ensemble Uzambezi, Bulgarian folk dance group Kitka, belly dancing troupe Anaconda and Phase 5 Steel Band. The headline act was International Bhangra Superstar Jassi Sidhu who had the crowd up and dancing with his unique fusion of bhangra and pop music. The Mela Festival was climaxed by Stevie One who sang the hits of Stevie Wonder. 

According to Jassi Sidhu “It was a great privilege to perform in Royal Tunbridge Wells. In recent months I have been performing in North America, Africa and India, so to come to an event like this where many in the audience are not familiar with my catalogue of hits and have them up and dancing was a great experience. I believe events like this are a great way to expose audiences to new styles of music and established artists in particular genres like me to new fans” 

Alongside the exciting stage programme there was a creative arts zone where Same Sky Arts delivered workshops, Four by Four Dhol Drummers taught members of the public how to play the popular Indian Percussion instrument and Nutkhut who performed with their special stilt walkers and had the audience up, laughing and dancing. There was also an array of food, craft and information stalls including Kent Police who were represented along with members of the Tunbridge Wells Independent Police Advisory Group. 

Maidstone Mela Again Proves Popular

Despite the poor weather thousands attended the 13th Maidstone Mela in Mote Park. The Mela has since its inception has been held on the second Sunday of September and has attracted a huge following and this year was no exception. The event was organised by Maidstone Borough Council in partnership with Cohesion Plus, Mela Steering Group and Kent Equality Cohesion Council.

The free festival celebrates the diversity of the borough through music, food and dance and provided an excellent showcase not just for artists performing on the stage but also for stall holders including food outlets, local charities and community groups.

The stage programme ran from 12.30pm to 6.30pm and was officially opened by the Mayor of Maidstone Cllr Daniel Moriarty and included a range of culturally diverse acts including popular local band The Choos, Kitka a Bulgarian Folk Dance Troupe who went into the audience and got them to join in with their routine and the Kerala Cultural Association who performed some popular South Indian Dance. They were followed by the award winning Reel Eire Irish dance troupe, drama group GDS who previewed their forthcoming show at the Hazlitt Theatre and Anaconda who performed a series of traditional belly dances.

In the second half of the programme local vocal trio Imminent again proved to be a hit. There was some further Eastern European flavour with the popular Polish folk group Piwnica pod Aniolami (Cellar under the Angels) performing, before the Maidstone Nepalese Community Group took to the stage to perform a number of traditional dances. The colourful and energetic Four by Four Bhangra Group had everyone up and dancing and copying their bhangra moves before the Mela was finished by the Trenchtown Experience who performed the hits of reggae legend Bob Marley and had the audiences singing along to his popular hits.

In addition to the stage programme there was over 50 stalls ranging from food from around the world to local charity and information stands as well as interactive arts workshops.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “I am very pleased that working in partnership with Maidstone Borough Council that we were able to deliver another excellent Mela. I was delighted to see so many people come out in the poor weather to enjoy what has become one of the largest culturally diverse celebrations in Kent. Great credit needs to be given not only to Maidstone Borough Council but all the volunteers who have helped make the Mela the success it has become today. When we started all those years ago we could never imagine how big the Mela would become in Maidstone. “

To view the film of this event go to the Event Films page

Maidstone Mela Returns for 13th Year!

The popular Maidstone Mela – one of the largest Melas in the South East – will return to Mote Park for its 13th year on Sunday 13 September. The free festival is a celebration of the borough’s cultural diversity and local talent, with food, music and dance from around the world. Entertainment starts at 12:30pm, with the final act finishing at 6:30pm.

Exciting culturally diverse artists performing at the Mela include local band The Choos, Bulgarian Folk Dance Group Kitka, Dancers from the Kerala Cultural Association, popular Irish group Real Eire Dance, drama group GDS Productions, and Anaconda an award winning belly dance troupe specialising in Egyptian, Bolly, Romany, Tribal and Fusion. They will be joined by up and coming local trio Imminent, Piwnica pod Aniolami (Cellar under the Angels), an exciting Polish folk group who will bring a flavour of Eastern Europe to the Mela, the Maidstone Nepalese Community Group who have supported and performed at every Mela since its inception and the colourful and dynamic Four by Four Bhangra Dancers. Headlining the stage will be The Trenchtown Experience, an 8 piece band dedicated to the music of reggae legend Bob Marley.

In addition to the stage programme, visitors can try food from across the globe, explore craft and clothing stalls, and find out more about local charities and community groups to get involved with.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “I am proud that we have been involved with every Mela since it started. I could never have envisaged all those years ago that the Mela would have grown like it has. We are very pleased with the culturally diverse stage programme we have with the majority of the acts from and around Maidstone, and we hope the local community will come out as it has in previous years to support this fantastic showcase of culturally diverse arts and food. Much credit needs to be given to Maidstone Borough Council for their ongoing support for the Mela.”

The event has been organised by Maidstone Borough Council in partnership with Cohesion Plus and Kent Equality Cohesion Council.

Poster Imminent

Tunbridge Wells Mela Festival Proves to be Popular

The 10th Tunbridge Wells Mela Festival which celebrated the diversity of the borough through music, food and dance at Calverley Grounds proved to be popular with the local community. The Mela was organised in partnership by Cohesion Plus Kent, Sue Latham Events and the Kent Equality Cohesion Council.

A range of culturally diverse artists performed at the Mela including the Bollywood Brass Band, Four by Four Bhangra Group, Bloco Fogo Samba Group, Bulgarian folk dance group Kitka, local band Sean Fennessey and Friends, popular Bangladeshi star Nurjahan Shilpi, African ensemble Uzambezi, the Paul Dunton Orchestra, bellydancng troupe Anaconda and leading Ed Sheeran tribute Jack Sheppard.

In addition the Cohesion Plus co-produced performance “Samba Bhangra Beats” which featured the Bollywood Brass Band, Bloco Fogo Samba, Samba Reggae Dancers and Four by Four Bhangra proved to be very popular with the audience.

Alongside the exciting stage programme there was also a creative arts zone where LV21 Arts put together the Changing Audiences piece of art, with members of the public dressing up wooden models to create an additional audience. While Eric MacLennan’s new piece of work “Voyage around my Bedroom “also proved to be very popular with people queuing to take part. In addition the popular Nutkhut Stilt Walkers had the audience up, laughing and dancing throughout the day.

In the food zone there were be dishes from around the World for everyone to enjoy and there was also a licensed bar serving alcohol from around the Globe.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “This was the 10th Mela that we have organised in partnership in Tunbridge Wells and I feel it was the most biggest and successful to date. I am very humbled by the support of the local community and the excellent reception we received on the day made all the efforts worthwhile. If this does prove to be the last Mela that we are involved with in Tunbridge Wells I am glad that we went out on such a positive note. I felt the artistic programme on and off stage was very strong and the support from Arts Council England and local community partners needs to be commended without which there would have been no Mela. ”

Sue Latham from Sue Latham Events commented “The Mela is a unique event in Tunbridge Wells and the support for it is as strong as ever as this year has shown. I am really proud of what has been achieved on such limited resources.”