Edinburgh Mela festival cancelled after high winds

Organisers  tried to keep yesterday's event open. Picture: Jon Savage
Organisers tried to keep yesterday's event open. Picture: Jon Savage
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HIGH winds forced organisers of the Edinburgh Mela to call the event off part way through the day and cancel the remaining shows.

The annual dance and music festival in Leith was abandoned after organisers were ordered to evacuate the site.

The gusts of wind were said to have exceeded the “safety ­rating”.

Among the events cancelled was a headline performance by 90s dance act The Orb, their only UK set this year outside of Glastonbury Festival.

Refunds are being offered to those who picked up their entrance wristbands after 3pm or were unable to collect pre-paid writsbands before the site closed.

Organisers said they had tried their “absolute hardest” to keep yesterday’s event open.

A statement on the Mela website said: “Public safety is our number one priority when organising the Mela. Given the weather forecast for this weekend and the nature of the venues used in our festival, we monitored wind speed very closely all day.

“Due to extremely high winds and circumstances completely beyond our control, the Edinburgh Mela was forced to close the site at around 4.45pm today.

“It was thought at first that this would be a temporary closure and our team worked very hard to reopen the site; however at just after 7pm we were forced to completely close the site and cancel our remaining shows.”

The website said organisers had been forced to close the main stage just after 4pm due to “a structural issue” caused by high winds.

“At this point we thought it would be possible to re-stage our main stage programme on the mix stage, and informed the public of this. At around 4.45pm, wind speeds exceeded the safety rating of some of our smaller stalls and we were left with no alternative but to temporarily close the site while we dealt with that issue.

“We were still working hard to try and resolve the issue and return to a reduced programme of events as quickly as possible. However, at just after 7pm the wind-related structural issue with the main stage became much worse, leaving the site unsafe for the public to re-enter, and all personnel on site had to be completely evacuated.”

Organisers stressed they had tried to keep the festival open – but the decision was taken on safety grounds.

A Mela spokeswoman said: “We just want to make sure everyone knows that we really ­really tried our absolute hardest to keep the festival going, but in the end we just couldn’t.”

The statement on the website said: “Full refunds will be available to anyone who bought or picked up their entrance wristbands after 3pm on Sunday or was unable to pick up a pre-paid wristband before site closure. We will also refund any members of the public with pre-bought unused wristbands.”

Until the weather made the Leith Links site unsafe, the Mela’s celebration of dance, fashion and arts from around the world was enjoying a bumper year.

It had seen its most successful Saturday ever, with 13,000 people going through the doors.

More than 500 performers were taking part in 75 shows across three stages over the weekend, including the Mela Kidzone.

Edinburgh North & Leith MSP Malcolm Chisholm posted a message on Twitter saying: “So sad @EdinburghMela had to be curtailed because of severe winds. Brilliant on Saturday+Sunday till call off.Thanks+congratulations to all.”

For refunds, wristbands need to be returned to the box office by post to: Edinburgh Mela Box Office, 180 High Street,