Preston Mela festival returns to city to celebrate South Asian culture
Preston’s popular Mela festival, celebrating South Asian heritage and culture, makes its anticipated return to the city centre tomorrow, September 4.
The annual festival, which was put on hold last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, makes its return to the Flag Market to celebrate the rich culture of Asian people living in Preston.
The festival usually takes place between June and July but is being held later than other years due to difficulties in logistics brought on by the pandemic.
The South Asian Mela first happened in Preston in 1997 and has been organised by Preston City Mela every year since, who will host free activities at both the Flag Market and New Season Market this year.
Bollywood dancing and string puppet performances are just some of the spectacles that will entertain visitors throughout the day, as well as South Asian drumming and Henna craft workshops.
Celebrations will begin in the Flag Market from 11 am and will run until 4 pm, with New Season Market activities running from 12 until 2.30 pm.
Gulab Singh MBE DL, Mela Production Manager said: "We are pleased to bring back the Preston City Mela programme this Saturday after a long break due to the Covid pandemic restrictions.
“It will have the same spirit & energy as our normal event. In some ways, it will be even more of a celebration than usual as we will have hopefully left behind a great deal of the disruption that the pandemic brought.
"Mela in Preston has been the South Asian Arts event going back for more than 20 years and is one of the highlights of the City’s cultural calendar. Our partners Preston City Council, Community Gateway Association and Arts Council of England have been brilliant with their support.
"The Mela programme is full of family activities all free to the public, we have 22 workshops on the Flag Market and 16 performing artists on the main stage and at the Seasonal Market. We also have 14 community and public organisations offering free advice on their services.
"Come and join in with the music, dancing and the workshops between 11am - 4pm. Look out for the Cycling Project Rickshaws offering free rides along Bailey Street, a must for the elderly to reminisce and for young people to have a new experience."
Councillor Peter Kelly, Cabinet Member for Culture and Arts at Preston City Council, said: “The festival is always a highlight of the cultural calendar in the city and an opportunity for people to come together and celebrate while learning more about the diverse communities that make up our fantastic city.
“Preston has hosted a Mela for many years and they are a wonderful opportunity to enjoy South Asian arts, culture, tradition, and heritage as well as a range of food stalls with enticing cuisine from across South Asia.
"I’d encourage everyone in Preston to come along and join the celebrations.”
Mark Whittle, Manager for the Preston Business Improvement District (BID) added: "Large events are an important element of city centre life, especially in terms of encouraging visitor numbers, who will not only enjoy the event experience but will support and enjoy the wider city centre offer.
"The Mela has been a staple in Preston’s event’s calendar for many years, showing its importance and popularity; we hope that people will come along to enjoy what’s on offer."
Information can be found at the Preston City Mela website.
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