Grey clouds threatened the skies of Calverley Grounds as the beloved Tunbridge Wells Mela Festival was set to take place. However the sun came out and shone all day on loyal attendees who turned up in their thousands to support on Sunday 23rd July. The free to attend community festival was organised in partnership by Cohesion Plus and Kent Equality Cohesion Council supported by Arts Council England and Royal Tunbridge Wells Together.
As always, festival goers were treated to an extravagant artistic programme both on and off stage with the likes of local favourites such as The Paul Dunton Orchestra and The West Kent Keralites who provided British and South Indian music, song and dance. The Ukrainian Choir also performed, showcasing the enduring power of Ukrainian hymns and folk songs. Electric performances were also put on by Kent based Kings of Dhol who delivering their signature blend of Eastern and Western beats and fusions sounds as well as DJ Amit who had the audiences up and dancing between sets and in the lead up to the headline act. Closing out the Mela Festival were the incomparable Midnight Soul Sisters who wowed the crowds with Motown fan favourites hits as well as mind blowing Socca classics.
Off stage further entertainment was provided by Baja Beats, a fusion brass band as well as street acts and stilt walkers. Also available was the Playground Project who provided free musical workshops for early years and parents / guardians. There was also a range of mouth-watering food and drink from around the world which was supplied by local traders. Deputy Lieutenant Mrs Georgie Warner and the Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, Cllr Huges Patterson were in attendance and brought a sense of civic pride to the proceedings.
Gurvinder Sandher MBE, Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus who produced the Mela commented, “What can I say other than a huge thank you to every single one of the local residents who turn up every year be it in blazing sunshine or torrential down pours! Thankfully the weather was good to us this year and we were able to showcase an excellent artistic programme both on and off -stage which was amazing. Each year we aim to get bigger and better but none of it means anything is we don’t have the buy in from local residents and businesses, so we are really grateful to Tunbridge Wells for always embracing the Mela Festival and highlighting exactly why the arts and cultural diversity contribute so immensely to society as a whole. We look forward to coming back next year to do it all again!”