Festival of World Cultures
Belfast Mela (meaning 'meet') was launched in 2007 by the critically acclaimed and pioneering ArtsEkta organisation in a bid to showcase and celebrate Northern Ireland’s increasing cultural diversity. Today the project has grown beyond all original expectations and Belfast Mela is not only celebrating world diversity but is taking its place as one of the province’s hottest, fastest growing tourist attractions.
The Mela returns to Belfast in 2016 for a 10th Anniversary Special. Check back for updates.
What is a Mela?
In modern usage outside South Asia it has become a term that shows widespread diversity of interpretation, just as has been the case in South Asia. One can find a Nepalese mela in the USA or a Bengali mela in London. For many it is a wider intercultural (though mainly Asian) festival incorporating music, dance, food and other aspects of mainstream culture. Mela provides opportunities for bridge building and community building and can perform a strong socially cohesive function
The Belfast Mela
The Belfast Mela was created in 2007, by ArtsEkta, Northern Ireland's leading ethnic arts organisation. It has since become established as an unmissable highlight in Belfast's festival line-up and has rapidly reached status as Northern Ireland's largest multi-cultural festival, attracting a collective number of 0.25m visitors over eight years. Although Melas traditionally have a strong south-Asian focus, ArtsEkta have adopted the concept with a unique multi-cultural focus with the festival promoting a large number of cultures through the arts.
Mela is an artistically led celebration of culture and creativity, inspired by local and international talent and celebrates identity through a unique programme of music, dance, food and visual arts. The festival has grown in size with annual audiences increasing from 5,000 to 30,000 over five years and is endorsed across the community/voluntary, public and private sectors in Northern Ireland.