Temperatures soared at the beloved Maidstone Community Mela in Mote Park on Sunday September 10th which celebrated 20 years of bringing communities together from across the borough.

Cohesion Plus once again produced the festival working in partnership with the Maidstone Cultural Group and community partners. The event was supported by Arts Council England, Maidstone Borough Council and Kent Equality Cohesion Council.

Despite the record heat those in attendance enjoyed a free artistic programme of culturally diverse performers ranging from Uzambezi traditional Zimbabwean singing and dance troupe, Kitka Bulgaria Dancers and Square Peg Arts an award winning arts organisation whose choir consists of young people and adults with SEND. Also featured were local community groups such as the Maidstone Nepalese Community Group, Kerala Culture Association and the Maidstone Malayalee Association all of whom showcased the many wonders of their cultures.

Further acts included the Kings of Dhol the UK’s leading Dhol ensemble, Jassi Sidhu international Bhangra Superstar, legend in the making DJ Amit and One Love Orchestra who wowed the crowd with their renditions of Reggae classics. There was also a fantastic offstage artistic offer with the amazing Dancing Lions and interactive stilt walkers. There was also cuisine from around the world such as Thai, North and South Indian, best of British as well as Caribbean.

The 20th anniversary of the Mela was marked with a special presentation which was overseen by the High Sheriff of Kent Nadra Ahmed, Deputy Lieutenant Brigadier Wood, KCC Chairman Gary Cooke and Mayor of Maidstone Gordon Newton, to Karin D’Souza, the widow of the late Morell D’Souza, former Mayor of Maidstone and founder of the Mela.

Community Mela Producer Gurvinder Sandher MBE DL said: “If someone said to me 20 years ago that the Maidstone Community Mela would still be taking place, growing from strength to strength I would not have believed them. It was humbling to see thousands in attendance despite the record breaking heat which underlines the love and support that exists in the local community for the Mela. The whole ethos of the Mela is to bring communities together, celebrate all that unites us and to showcase the diversity of Maidstone and surrounding areas through music, food, and dance and I feel that this continues to be true today as when we started in 2003. Here’s hoping and looking forward to another 20 years of Mela magic in Maidstone!”