Record numbers expected for the 20th Mela festival

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A RECORD-breaking turnout has been predicted for an international extravaganza as it marks its 20th birthday this weekend.

Organisers say the Mela will live up to its reputation as Scotland’s biggest celebration of world music and dance.

More than 30,000 people are expected to flock to Leith Links to enjoy multicultural entertainment and give a colourful send-off to the festivals season.

The annual riot of sound and colour, which kicked off yesterday, boasts the “most exciting programme” in the event’s two-decade history, bosses said.

This year’s carnival started with the world premiere of The King of Ghosts, a collaboration between young musician Soumick Datta, who plays Indian lute-like instrument the sarod, and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Edinburgh-based beat boxer Danny Ladwa will take to the stage as well as Polish folk group Wielkopolska – who give their music a Scottish twist by playing the bagpipes – and Chinese electronic punk/opera outfit DaWangGang.

Apache Indian followed by renowned Italian DJ Gaudi will bring down the curtain on tomorrow night, after a hectic weekend with an eclectic mix of performers over three stages.

Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie, a Mela board member and its former chairman, said he was “confident” this year would be the best yet, with more people than ever flocking to the show.

He said: “I am looking 
forward to a fantastic Mela, and we are confident that we will have record turnout.

“It’s been going from strength to strength over many years now, and we keep 
breaking records in terms of attendance.

“The weather looks like it’s going to be great for the weekend. It is a great day for the family and it’s fantastic value for money. I look forward to all the events but the fashion show is great.”

Festival-goers have been enjoying skilled choreography at the Mela World Dance Feste, trying out new spices in the Global Food Village and watching a colourful display at the famous Mela Fashion Show.

Children can also enjoy their share of the fun at the Kidzone Animela, which this year is themed on animals from around the world.

Although the 2014 Mela programme brings together artists from Poland, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Jamaica, China, Gambia, Rajasthan, Cuba, Ukraine and Kenya, it still keeps traditional and contemporary South Asian culture at its heart.

Mela director Chris Purnell believes this year’s packed programme – featuring international acts, newcomers, creative children’s entertainment and a host of world food stalls and wares – has something for 
everyone.

He previously told the Evening News that it was “becoming a very popular event amongst all the communities in Edinburgh, and further afield”.