Official Guide to Edinburgh
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Edinburgh Mela

30 July 2014

29th - 31st August.

At the end of August Edinburgh’s city centre streets begin to calm, but don’t think that the crowds have left the Scottish capital – instead they’ve all gone down to Leith Links! There, the Edinburgh Mela presents a smorgasbord of music, dance, fashion and food: the perfect ending to the summer festival season.

20 years old this year, the Edinburgh Mela is a celebration of diverse communities and cultures, dedicated to building understanding between people in the most enjoyable way possible – through the mediums of art, performance and food. And if the magnificence of that art, performance and food is a good measure for success, then they’re getting everything right; the Mela is a festival like no other.

It might be the Mela’s birthday, but the gifts are for its audiences. On Friday 29th August, the specially commissioned King of Ghosts will open the festival, a unique collaboration between the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and rising world music star Soumik Datta. The brand new piece of music is inspired by the classic 1969 Indian art house film Gupi Gayen, Bagha Bayen, scenes of which will be projected above the musicians. It promises to be a fairytale beginning to a weekend to remember.

Everyone Welcome

On Saturday and Sunday, the entire Mela festival space opens up to the public. Entrance costs only £4 per day, with 12s and under admitted for free , and gives you access to music, dance, fashion, children’s events, food and markets; in other words, all the ingredients for an incredible day out. The offerings of the Global Food Fair are beyond tempting – you’ll be forgiven for going back for seconds (and thirds… and fourths…), as the delicious aromas waft over the entire festival site.

The Main Stage programme is a force to be reckoned with. Among the performers you’ll find legendary reggae falsetto Cornel Campbell rubbing shoulders with Cuban son extraordinaires Son Yambu, kings of Ghanian drumming Kakatsitsi and Desi pop star Tasha Tah. The final act closing the Mela will be GAUDI and Danny Ladwa, coming straight from their world tour – their last stop was the Pyramids of Giza.

The Mix Stage, where dancing is the order of the evening (and afternoon), is equally impressively turned out. Expect the unexpected: Bihu folk music intertwined with Celtic fiddle from Sunita Khaund Bhuyan, melodies from Eastern Europe to South Asia mixed by MUHA, or Rajasthani rhythms and fire-eating from the Dhoad Gypsies. Be sure not to miss Zimbabwean star Rise Kagona, whose music once made John Peel cry.

Because two stages are never enough, especially when so many incredible talents fill your festival programme, the Mela introduced the World Dance Feste stage two years ago, and this year it continues to grow, offering an unparalleled platform for international dance sure to blow you away. From Merav Israel’s incredible new fusion of Asian and modern dance, From Here to There, to The Black Album, a passionate hip-hop performance, the festival has ensured there is something for everyone.

A Festival for All Ages

The beauty of the Mela is the diversity of its offerings, and that’s also true when comes to kids. This year the Mela Kidzone – Animela! – offers interactive performances and workshops in crafts, dance, music and visual arts, ready to inspire and delight. Then there’s the storytelling boat, crewed by animals, waiting to take young Mela-goers on journeys of discovery across the seas, with environmental educators and wildlife experts on hand to help. It’s no surprise children love the Mela.

With performers coming from all corners of the globe – countries represented include Pakistan, India, China, Gambia, Kenya, Jamaica, Brazil and Ukraine, as well as many UK stars – to enchant and thrill the people of Edinburgh, the Mela offers a unique opportunity for cultural experience for the whole family. Head down to Leith Links and make the most of it!

The Edinburgh Mela runs from the 29th to the 31st of August. For full programme details and to buy tickets, visit their website

Words courtesy of Edinburgh Festivals