Nottingham Mela Festival 2017 : A Feast For The Senses

Nottingham Mela Festival

A sensational display of music, dance, colour and celebration is set to take over Nottingham between 8th – 10th September as the UK’s original Mela Festival once again blossoms into life!

Celebrating the 70th anniversary of Indian Independence, this year’s theme centres around ‘Looking back, moving forwards’. Blending traditional South Asian culture with contemporary elements. The theme looks to celebrate and explore South Asian diaspora communities in the UK today.

A true feast for the senses, the weekend will be jam-packed with South Asian themed workshops, live music, authentic cuisine, traditional arts and crafts, theatre, art and entertainment, aimed at families and people from all walks of life to enjoy and get involved in!



Mela is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘gathering’ or ‘to meet’, and is used in the Indian subcontinent to describe religious, cultural, or sport related gatherings, festivals or fairs. In the west, many Mela festivals are organised by South Asian communities to share and celebrate their cultural heritage with the wider community.

Nottingham Mela launched in 1988 as the first official celebration of its kind in the UK. Organised by the Nottingham Mela Network with New Art Exchange and Nottingham Asian Arts Council, the event is set to celebrate its 30th anniversary next year, so expect more fantastic events throughout 2018!



With so much to do and see it’s definitely worth checking out the full programme of events, available to view and download here. We thought we’d pick out a few of our favourite activities and performances to give you a taste of what is on offer…

Mela New Art Exchange Nottingham

New Art Exchange will be buzzing with workshops, dance classes, storytelling and the scent of delicious cuisine from 9am on Saturday 9th September. Here’s some of the highlights…

  • Traditional Yoga – Enjoy a morning of relaxing yoga to the mellow sounds of a bansuri flute.
  • Mehndi & Rangoli Workshop – Learn how to paint beautiful mandalas and hypnotic patterns with henna and Rangoli.
  • Bhangra Tots – Bollywood and bhangra dance for little ones accompanied by interactive storytelling This is a free ticketed event – please click the link for booking
  • Mashi Theatre Workshop – Join Mashi Theatre to make your own crow from recycled materials and learn about the Tales of Birbal. An interactive drama and puppet making workshop for children 6-11 years. This is a ticket event – please click the link for details
  • Tongue Tied & Twisted – A UK twist on traditional tales collected from South Asian elders fused with a unqiue blend of urban hip hop and classical Asian sounds. This is a ticket event – please click the link for details

Mela at Nottingham Castle

The grand and gorgeous grounds of Nottingham Castle play host to Mela celebrations on Sunday 10th September, with stalls, street food, workshops and performances at various locations across the site.

Coinciding with the National Heritage Open Days 2017, entry to the Castle grounds and gallery will be free of charge! Here are a few of the highlights happening on the Sunday…


  • Opening Procession – Dhol drummer Harjinder Matharu leads a musical procession into the grounds of the Castle.
  • Live Music On The Bandstand : Throughout the day an eclectic mix of musicians will be performing on the bandstand, including Mona Singh, ‘Princess of Bhangra’ and daughter of UK’s Godfather of Bhangra, Channi Singh
  • Real Creative Futures Workshop – Make South Asian musical instruments and explore sound sculptures
  • Live Bollywood Dance – Acclaimed  dancer and teacher Pooja Kale performs, followed by Ankh Dance Company performing the beautiful and elegant Kathak Dance


Bhairav at New Art Exchange
As ever, New Art Exchange have curated two fantastic exhibitions to coincide with the festival, each exploring South Asian culture through music, art installation and video.

Bhairav – A film by Munir Kabani and Nikhil Chopra

Following a live art performance by Nikhil Chopra back in July, the main gallery was transformed with wall paintings representing both Nottingham and Goa. Become lost in an absorbing film exploring the sublime Goa landscape and culture set to the sounds of Bhairav, one of the most ancient raags in Hindustani classical music.

Dam Pani – An installation by Tasawar Bashir

Translated as ‘Divine Breath, Dam Pani pays homage to the late, great, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948-1997), the Pakistani Qawwali singer celebrated for his vocal power and spiritual energy. Take in this enchanting music and become mesmerised into a meditative state whilst observing patterns on water made by the vocal vibrations.

Not My Cup of Tea – Sarah Maple

A show of newly commissioned works by award winning artist, Sarah Maple, runner-up of NAE’s 2012 exhibition, Culture Cloud. Maple is known for her bold, brave, mischievous and occasionally controversial artworks that challenges our perceptions of cultural and religious identities. Not My Cup of Tea explores timely questions around integration, the meaning of ‘British Values’ and the current worldview of Islam.


New Art ExchangeNew Art Exchange (NAE) is a contemporary arts space in Nottingham that celebrates the region’s cultural richness and diversity. It is the largest gallery in the UK dedicated to culturally diverse contemporary visual arts. The venue presents an ever-changing programme of art exhibitions, creative activities for families and young people, film screenings, symposiums, lectures, festivals and a live performance programme of music, dance and theatre. Entry to NAE is FREE!

Read more about Nottingham Mela Festival on the New Art Exchange website.

Posted on 01 September 2017
Featured author: Sophie

Writer and amateur local historian with an affection for English eccentrics. Returned to Nottingham in 2013, only to fall in love with the creative and cultural goings of the city.

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