The Holi Festival of Colours returned to Dartford’s Open Air Theatre on Sunday 24th March for a second time in what could only be described as storm of colour, music dance and food. The event was organised by Cohesion Plus, Dartford Borough Council, community members led by local resident Santosh Pail and supported by Arts Council England.

The festival which celebrates the arrival of spring as well as the victory of good over evil originates from India and is a popular event which is celebrated all around the world. This year’s celebrations were the biggest in Dartford yet with nearly 4000 people attending throughout the day. The celebrations were free to attend and open to all regardless of ethnicity, faith and background, an ethos which was deeply embraced by audiences who represented many of Dartford’s diverse communities.

There was a wonderful artistic programme to compliment the colours that were being thrown on attendees, which consisted of DJ Inspire, Kings of Dhol and various performances from the Nepalese and Indian community groups. Free food and colour powders were also available to the public.

Civic guests included Deputy Lieutenant Gurvinder Sandher MBE who represented the Lord Lieutenant of Kent, The Mayor of Dartford Cllr Rosanna Currans, Leader of Dartford Borough Council Cllr Jeremy Kite MBE and Gareth Johnson MP all of whom wished onlookers a Happy Holi.

Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus, Gurvinder Sandher MBE DL commented, “I am so immensely proud of what we have been able to achieve today working in partnership with Dartford Borough Council and local community members. The Dartford Holi Festival of Colours is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when we work in partnership and my special thanks go to the council and local community members who have worked so hard with us to put on such an unforgettable day. I am also grateful to Arts Council England for their continued support and championing of our work. We look forward to putting on bigger and better celebrations next year!”

Santosh Patil the community lead on the celebrations commented, “What an incredible day! As a community, we always knew there was an appetite for Holi to be celebrated but I had no idea that people would come out and support in such huge numbers. This year we were honoured that the Nepalese and Punjabi and British communities were able to join us in celebrating and we only hope that going forward we can be even more inclusive. These celebrations are for everyone. We are very thankful to our partners who assisted us in delivering this event and we look forward to many more.”

Leader of Dartford Borough Council Cllr Jeremy Kite MBE commented, “This weekend’s Holi event was a triumph. Over the course of the day, thousands of people called in to have a good time which was wonderful to see. I am delighted that we’ve been able to hold such a brilliant FREE event for local people to enjoy. Our partnership with Cohesion Plus has produced some wonderful events over the years, and this has become a real highlight.”