Stilt-walkers and a giant man-made tiger and camel will join dozens of local schoolchildren as the Mela launches with a ‘Stories of the World’ parade that will wind its way around Middlesbrough town centre.
A record-breaking 50,000 visitors are forecast to attend the two-day celebration of worldwide music, food, arts and fashion on the weekend of June 6-7.
Students from schools, colleges and groups across Teesside have spent weeks working with professional artists to perfect dance moves and eye-catching costumes for the parade through the town centre.
Children from Middlesbrough’s Abingdon Primary School will lead the parade, while a group of 70 young people will take part in the DestinAsian Dance Project, a six-minute dance medley on the Mela main stage, celebrating multiple dance forms across Asia.
Those taking part will represent Bellamy School of Dance, Tees Valley Youth Dance Company, Youth Dance Academy and Johansen Dance Company.
Brave local volunteers have been in training with the Iron Giants stilt-walking team, while others will don colourful costumes for a parade that will start at Middlesbrough Town Hall at 12 noon.
The parade will follow a route from Middlesbrough Town Hall though Cleveland Centre and back to Centre Square.
Mela chairman Satnam Singh said: “We are proud that Middlesbrough Mela has built a reputation for being representative of the town’s diverse cultures.
“Following its successful launch last year, we are continuing with the parade as we celebrate our 25th year as a fantastic way of engaging with audiences beyond the Asian community, spreading the spirit of the festival into the streets of Middlesbrough town centre.”
Other Mela highlights include a ceramic workshop and Navrattan, an interactive family theatre performance featuring shadow puppetry, storytelling and traditional Kathak dance.
Saturday will culminate in a 5pm performance from local girl Kerrianne Covell, making her first public Middlesbrough performance since wowing the judges in last year’s X-Factor.
A Bollywood film will also be shown at the Mela for the first time, when family favourite ‘Om Shanti Om’ features on Centre Square’s giant screen from 5.30pm on Saturday.
Eight hours of music on Sunday will culminate with performances from former Britain’s Got Talent runners-up Signature, MOBO Award-winning hit vocalist Raghav and leading UK Asian singer-songwriter Arjun.
Hosted by Zee TV presenter Natasha Asghar, the worldwide music fest will feature the sounds of bhangra, hip hop, dance, pop, R&B, dhol, Desi, Punjab, Bhengal and Pakistan.
Other performers include bhangra legend Balwinder Safri and UK Bhangra Awards best newcomer Nesdi Jones, together with experienced performers Virtue Dholis, Punjabi singers Sarika Gill and Nav Sidhu, Bollywood dancers Bolly Nrutya and British-Pakistani singer-songerwriter Jay KADN.
Sponsored by Middlesbrough College for the fourth successive year, the 25th Mela promises a fabulous mix of world class music, a wide range of entertainment, a family fairground and a popular bazaar, packed full of stalls.
The event is organised by Middlesbrough Council in conjunction with a steering group comprising members of the local community.
Other backers, without whom the Mela could not take place, include Cleveland Centre, Teesside University, Unison, Arts Council England, housing association Coast and Country and the Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office.
- Free to enter, Middlesbrough Mela runs from noon to 8pm on Saturday, June 6, and noon to an 8.30pm finale on Sunday, June 7.
Visit www.boromela.co.uk for further details.