Taking place over a weekend at the very end of August or beginning of September, Edinburgh Mela Festival is a celebration of the diversity of the city's communities. It is held on Leith Links and is one of the festivals which are held as part of the Edinburgh Summer festivals season from late July to early September each year.
The Edinburgh Mela attracts performers from many different parts of the world, who come together with local communities to celebrate their heritage and culture in a festival of live music, outdoor theatre, visual arts, sport, fashion, dance, food and children's activities. A great event, the Edinburgh Mela is a festival not to be missed: it is also very possibly the most family-friendly of Edinburgh's festivals.
At the food market, mouth-watering curries, naans, spicy snacks and chicken tikka, all straight from the pan or oven, made for difficult choices. Add into the mix sweet treats including kulfi and jalebi and you have the makings of a tasty family picnic on the Links, just perfect for a summer's day.
During the Mela, Leith Links is home to a number of performance areas. Largest by far is the 1,000-capacity Main Stage, which in many ways provides a focus for the whole festival. A varied programme of world music and dance performances takes place here over plus a dazzling fashion show, showcasing a variety of international and local designers.
Kidzone provides a simply brilliant educational, yet thoroughly enjoyable and interactive, experience. Children can embark on an truly inspiring journey around the world by taking part in performances and workshops.
2019 marked the Mela's ninth year in its permanent new home on Leith Links. 'Mela' is a Sanskrit word meaning 'gathering' or 'meeting' and is used on the Indian subcontinent for gatherings and events of all sizes and purposes.
The Edinburgh Mela was founded in 1995 by members of the city's minority ethnic communities and was the first Mela to be held in Scotland. It was initially held in the city's Meadowbank Stadium and rapidly grew. In 2000 the festival moved to Edinburgh's Pilrig Park and continued to grow, culminating in its move to Leith Links in 2010. The festival did not take place in 2016, but returned in 2017. It attracts over 25,000 people each year.
As a location, Leith Links seems pretty ideal for the Mela. It is well served by public transport and is just a mile and a half from Edinburgh's Waverley Station. Parking in the surrounding area is very restricted, though some disabled parking is available on the site. The site is fully accessible, though it should be noted that this is a largely outdoor event held on a mainly grass surface.