Packed events list at revamped Edinburgh Mela

The Mela has been given a rescue package. Picture: Toby Williams
The Mela has been given a rescue package. Picture: Toby Williams
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A REVAMPED Edinburgh Mela kicks off this weekend with the first of an-eight day celebration of the city’s diversity.

An £80,000 rescue package from the City of Edinburgh Council and Creative Scotland, the government arts agency, has saved the celebration from permanent extinction a year after it was cancelled amid concern over funding issues.

Now a vibrant programme of events has been released ahead of the week-long festival.

Starting on Sunday, August 27 the revamped event will culminate in a two-day programme on Leith Links over the weekend of September 2 and 3.

Billed as Scotland’s foremost celebration of cultural diversity, this year features everything from hip hop bhangra to indo jazz fusion and West African drumming.

The ever-popular fashion show will also return along with food from around the world and a kids’ zone with arts, crafts and stories.

The build-up starts on Sunday with a sports day on Leith Links featuring five-a-side football, cricket and active workshops for girls and women run by Street Soccer Scotland.

Events will continue throughout the week including a writing workshop with novelist Chitra Ramaswamy and an African dance workshop led by Ghanaian drum group Kakatsisi.

Organisers have arranged a final flourish for September 2 and 3 featuring performances from the seven-piece Babylon Arabic band and Swaryata, performing Bollywood numbers with a touch of Indian classical music on Saturday.

The day culminates with the film Lunchbox, featuring Nimrat Kaur and Bollywood star, Irrfan Khan.

Sunday’s programme features the Edinburgh Samba School, Bollywood crossover artist Sher Yar Khan and international bhangra singer Sona Walia complete with dhol and dancers.

Chair of the Edinburgh Mela, Lesley Hinds, said: “It is great to have the Mela back in the 70th year of the Edinburgh Festivals.

“As a community event with a global focus, it draws on Scotland’s rich and diverse 
cultures.

“Above all, it is a chance to have fun, learn new things and dazzle the senses.”

The Leith Links location over September 2-3 also provides a kids zone, specifically for families with pre-school and primary aged children hosted by Play Talk Read – one tent running arts and crafts and messy play and another tent running storytelling sessions from around the world.

Families and visitors are invited to make a day of it, with a wide range of food options also available onsite.

This year’s event is being supported by the City of Edinburgh Council, Creative Scotland, Scottish Historic Buildings Trust, Edinburgh One City Trust and Ria financial services.

Entry to the festival and the workshops will be free.

A full programme is also available at www.edinburgh-mela.co.uk.

The Mela, which was cancelled last year after the council and Creative Scotland raised concerns about its governance, was founded in 1995 by members of the city’s minority ethnic communities.

The city council and Creative Scotland have agreed to fund a rebooted festival after an 
overhaul of the Mela’s board, who were accused of sabotaging the event last year by its last director, Chris Purnell.