Hundreds descend on Calverley Grounds as the town celebrates cultural diversity

Hundreds descend on Calverley Grounds as the town celebrates cultural diversity
Local Group Sahrudaya entertain the crowds (All pictures: â’¸ Phil Lee / Cohesion Plus)

The festival, which has been running in the town every year since 2006 – except for 2020 when Covid saw the celebrations cancelled that year, returned on Sunday (July 24) with a dazzling programme on and off-stage and mouth-watering culturally diverse cuisine, celebrating music, food and dance from around the world.

Organised in partnership by Cohesion Plus and Kent Equality Cohesion Council supported by Arts Council England, Royal Tunbridge Wells Together and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Sunday saw a range of artists both with a local and international flavour entertain the crowds.

Warm weather and sunshine greeted Mela attendees, as the event followed last week’s heatwave unlike 2021 which saw the crowds have to brave the rain as downpours dampened the festival.

The sounds of vibrant world music was provided by Samba specialists, Bloco Fogo Samba, while Sahrudaya West Kent Keralites performed their signature song and dance originating from South India.

The ever dynamic Kings of Dhol, experts in fusion percussion which has its roots in the North of India, were a popular performance. D-Bollywood were also on hand to dazzle the crowds with their amazing choreography which had everyone up and dancing.

The Mela Festival wrapped with a show stopping performance from the One Love Orchestra who performed classic hits by the reggae giant himself Bob Marley. Off stage further entertainment took place by Circus Raj and the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band.

Both acts hail from the famous ‘Red City’, Rajasthan in India and brought a taste of ancient folklore and tales to Tunbridge Wells and its residents.

Times music editor Paul Dunton was also at the Mela and performed with his Paul Dunton Orchestra.

There was also a range of food and drink as well which was supplied by local traders.

Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, Mrs Georgie Warner, was in attendance and brought a sense of regality to the proceedings, representing Her Majesty the Queen.

Gurvinder Sandher MBE, Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus said: “This year’s Mela Festival is one of the best one we’ve ever delivered in the 16 years that the event has run.

“The artistic programme was one that we are exceptionally proud of and was rich in diversity, culture and heritage. I am even more proud of the fact that we could showcase these amazing acts and talent in Tunbridge Wells, a place where the arts thrives and is appreciated.

“I am grateful to everyone who turned out to support this year’s Mela and it was genuine pleasure to spot old faces and Mela loyalists.

“I know that myself and the Cohesion Plus team are incredibly enthused and excited by what we were able to deliver here today and this only makes us work harder for next year’s event which can only get bigger and better!”

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