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.