Sun and smiles were the order of the day at the annual Tunbridge Wells Mela Festival, which took place on July 9 at the Calverley Grounds and is now in its 12th year. The Mela Festival which has established itself as one of the biggest culturally diverse festivals in Kent proved to be very popular with local residents with thousands in attendance throughout the day.

The whole concept of the Mela Festival which is organised in partnership by Cohesion Plus and the Kent Equality Cohesion Council with the support of Arts Council England is to celebrate the diversity and cohesion of Tunbridge Wells through music, food and dance.

Highlights of the stage programme included performances by Ukelear Fallout, The Paul Dunton Orchestra, Mumbai Vice, The Syrian All Stars and leading Bob Marley tribute act Tanni – L Browne. The Cohesion Plus new production “Bhangrawood” also premiered on the stage celebrating the UK-India Year of Culture and featured Bollywood Brass Band and Four by Four Bhangra Group.

Off stage the spectacular Dream Engine and Nutkhut production “Zamana” which featured an acrobat performing over Calverley Grounds on a harness whilst suspended from a huge clear hot air balloon proved to be a particular highlight, enthralling those below as the balloon went up and down.

There was also a range of food from around the world featured including British, Indian, Thai; Greek, Syrian, Turkish and American alongside local bar Fuggles.

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus who organised the Mela Festival commented “I am humbled by the support shown by the local community in Tunbridge Wells in making the Mela this year so special. This was our most ambitious to date, we had spent a lot of time creating opportunities off stage for members of the public to enjoy as well as on stage. I am glad this approach provided to be popular and will be something we will look to build upon next year. I have been involved with the Mela since the start and am proud of how it has evolved over the past 12 years, it has become a fixture in the event calendar and is a great example of how music, food and dance can bring communities together to celebrate as one.”