UK’s biggest Asian music festival returns

Thousands set to attend Victoria Park for UK’s biggest Asian music festival – and here’s what to expect.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend the UK’s biggest Asian music festival for a weekend of family entertainment with Bollywood stars.

The annual Ola Sandwell & Birmingham Mela is set to return to Victoria Park, Smethwick this July.

Now in its ninth year, the Mela is an established highlight in the UK’s cultural calendar, an artistically led celebration of Asian culture and creativity, inspired by South Asia.

Organisers say it is one of the biggest melas in the country to champion new work, showcase international talent and provide a platform for emerging British artists as well as bringing visual art forms to a wider audience.

As the UK’s biggest Asian music festival, the Ola Sandwell & Birmingham Mela showcases the best in pop, folk and classical music from across the globe, British Asian urban acts, dance, visual arts and arts and crafts activity, as well as exhibitions and a shopping bazaar.

And, with a nearly a quarter of the audience from non-Asian communities, it is an intercultural family event with “something for every generation of every community.”

The Ola Sandwell & Birmingham Mela in association with Lidl will take place on Saturday, July 20 and Sunday July 21, 2019 with two major stages, complemented by the Tastes of Asia Food Market along with colourful entertainment for the family.

Lidl GB will be bringing an array of interactive activities to the Mela, including a cookery demonstration with top chef Tony Singh and the chance to blend your own smoothie on one of Lidl’s smoothie bikes.

You can take home a custom-made goodie bag complete with Lidl product samples and a booklet of delicious vegetarian recipes.

Ola Sandwell & Birmingham Mela is lottery funded and supported by public funding from Arts Council England.

Attractions include the main stage, arts village, showcase stage, food and shopping bazaar, funfair and roaming visual arts.

Bollywood stars from Mika Singh, Ali Zafar and Gippy Grewal have performed at the mela in previous years.

The mela was responsible for staging the Olympics 2012 Torch Relay event in Smethwick.

Confirmed to be appearing at the mela this year so far are Zain, Kadam Verma, Amar Noorie, Sardool Sikander, Ali Brothers, Falak Shabir and Khan Saab.

Danny Singh, chairman of Ola Sandwell & Birmingham Mela, said: “With the Mela in its ninth year we are gearing up to our 10th anniversary and have an exciting programme on offer this year.

“Sandwell and Birmingham have a vibrant South Asian community with a rich history of mela and this is the place to celebrate with the rest of the community.”

Sandwell Council Leader Councillor Yvonne Davies said: “Over the past eight years, the mela has gone from strength to strength, with a variety of entertainment and activities for the whole community, from the music to the food.

“I’m proud that we have the Ola Sandwell & Birmingham Mela here in Sandwell – it’s events like this, taking place in our communities, that showcase the West Midlands at its diverse, lively and open best.”

Emma Kenelm, chief marketing officer of Ola UK, said: “We are delighted to be the headline sponsor for the Ola Sandwell & Birmingham Mela festival, the biggest Asian music festival in Europe.

“Ola is an app based ride-hailing service recently launched in the UK, with global roots in India.

“This festival provides a unique opportunity to celebrate our heritage and culture, as well as our launch in Birmingham.

“Ola has now launched in six cities across the UK and looks forward to meeting new riders and drivers at the festival. We hope everyone has a fantastic time.”

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