Media Release: Mela Festival programme launch – cultural melange returns with world premieres, outdoor dance spectacles and BMX break-dancing

A COLOURFUL celebration of the world’s different cultures returns to the capital, bursting at the seams with a jam packed three day programme.

The Edinburgh Mela Festival, Scotland’s foremost celebration of cultural diversity through arts and culture, returns to Leith Links with an exciting programme including BMX-infused dance and world class musical performances, as well as the firm favourites of the fashion show and children events.

Taking place Friday 2 September to Sunday 4 September, and now in its 16th year, the Mela will be themed around Asian urban arts under the artistic guidance of new director, Steve Stenning.

Funded and supported by the City of Edinburgh Council and Creative Scotland, the Mela will also see the unveiling of a specially-commissioned Pandal (see notes to editors), supported by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, featuring South Asian and Scottish cultural symbols designed and created by Bengali and Scottish artists.

Speaking at the programme launch today, Steve Stenning, Edinburgh Mela director, said: “The Mela prides itself in being a platform for world class international artists and up-and-coming local performers and this year will be no different.

“This year’s programme has an ambitious mix of spectacular commissions, world premiere performances and diverse programming that I’m sure will excite and enthral in equal measure.

“We still have our firm favourites such as the children’s programme featuring outdoor themed arts and crafts activities and the popular fashion show which will combine contemporary Asian designs with work from local fashion graduates.”

The programme for this year includes a large dedicated outdoor area showcasing Rotations a unique fusion of BMX ‘flatlanding – breakin’ (breakdancing) with contemporary dance, and a colourful and exuberant performance of live music, ‘Africa Calling’, by Samba Sene and Diwan.

The Big Top Tent will play host to an impressive collaboration of Indian and Western musicians, Simon Thacker’s Svara-Kanti, performing their world premiere which builds on the achievements of the acclaimed Nava Rasa ensemble, and the Garden Stage will be a platform for Bollywood and classical Indian dance along with choirs and musical jam sessions.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: “The Mela is a wonderful celebration of our nation’s cultural diversity and an integral part of Edinburgh’s world renowned festivals. Featuring a dazzling array of dance, theatre, music, food and performance and with a host of local and international talent, including our Expo funded collaboration between Bengali and Scottish artists, this year’s programme is sure to be a huge success.”

Edinburgh Mela Festival chair, Cllr Steve Cardownie, said: “Year-on-year we receive fantastic support from local residents and businesses alike – this is crucial to the Mela’s ongoing success. The Mela is proud to be working with the community on a year round basis through its Shared Territories project and will continue to expand this.

“The programme offers something for everyone, from festival aficionadas seeking world-class performances, to families who just want a fun day out with tasty Mela food!

“As ever, we are grateful to City of Edinburgh Council, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government for their continued support. My thanks also go to Lothian and Borders Police, The Forestry Commission and Scottish Natural Heritage, in helping bring together the children’s programme.”

Highlights of the programme include:

* Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Asia’s first Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore at the Mela 2011.

* Created especially for Edinburgh Mela 2011 where it will premiere, Gitanjali isa musical performance depicting Tagore’s life capturing the nuances of the great man’s musical genius.

* Elegant Asian high fashion mixed with raw contemporary western designs will be laced down the catwalk this year at the Mela Fashion Show, devised by Dutch ex-supermodel Anna Freemantle.

* A range of free sporting activities for children and adults including cricket at Leith Links supported by ActivCity and City of Edinburgh Council Culture and Sport.

* Award-winning urban singing sensation Mumzy Stranger combines R&B and hip hop with the New Jack Swing riffs and reggae-inspired rhythms.

* MOBO Award winner classical Hindi and RnB singing sensation Raghav, phenomenal Punjabi vocalist Des-c and his band, along with newcomer to the UK Asian pop scene Junai Kaden.

* Dance Ihayami – Ekam presents the world premiere of their spectacular brand new dynamic Indian classical dance production; breaking new ground with its cross-cultural overtones.

* Jaipur Kawa Circus, a charming family story of a travelling circus troupe from Rajasthan using materials, rhythm and music to tell their tale.

* Ashesh and Nekhvam are Nepal’s outstanding blues rock band with their unique blend of rock, blues and Eastern rhythms.

* Beat-boxing from award winning performers Bigg Taj and Danny Ladwa.

Day passes, giving unlimited access, cost £2 in advance or £2.50 on the door and under-12s go free.

Tickets are available from The Hub, Castlehill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NE or by calling 0131 473 2000. They can also be purchased at and from the on-site box office over the Mela weekend.


For more information please contact Shaheena Abbas on 0131 556 0770 or

Note to Editors

The Edinburgh Mela Festival was founded in 1995 by members of the city’s minority ethnic communities, and one of its key objectives was to reflect and celebrate Scotland’s cultural diversity.

The Edinburgh Mela Festival is one of the 12 major festivals in Edinburgh under the Festivals Edinburgh umbrella organisation.

For more information about the Edinburgh Mela Festival, please visit

The Edinburgh Mela Pandals, supported by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund will be temporary structures built from steel and shrink wrap structures, featuring wild herbaceous plant designs.

They will be created by a team of artists led by Nandita Palchoudhuri and Graeme Gilmour.

Nandita is based in Kolkata but has worked all over the world (including having created spectacular works for the Thames Festival in the UK). Graeme Gilmour is a Scottish artist who has created structures and designs for major events and performances outdoors (‘Sticky’ and ‘Full Circle’) and for theatre.

MEDIA RELEASE posted by Pagoda PR. You too can post media releases (aka press releases) on For more information, email here.

Contact: Shaheena Abbas
Phone: 0131 556 0770