Mayor welcomes the 02 London Mela

16 August 2012
  • Celebrating 10 years as Europe's largest outdoor festival of Asian culture
  • Jaz Dhami, Dhol Academy, Bollywood Brass band amongst the performers
  • Red Poppy Ladies' Percussion from Beijing perform as part of Mayor's Showtime celebrations
  • Philharmonia Orchestra to perform Holst's 'Indra' and Ravi Shankar's 'Symphony'
  • End of Ramadan marked with Embracing Eid stage

The 02 London Mela celebrates ten years as Europe's largest outdoor festival of Asian culture with an exciting and colourful mix of music and performance bringing more than 300 artists from around the world. Backed by the Mayor of London, the free event takes place in Gunnersbury Park on Sunday 19 August and organisers hope to build on the success of last year's event, which attracted 92,000 people.

With contemporary, traditional and experimental music as well as DJs, street art and live comedy, the London Mela is aimed at Londoners and tourists alike. This family-friendly event features nine zones, including a Community and Kids Zone, Outdoor Arts area and the 'In Conversation With' tent, as well as food markets and a funfair. For the sixth successive year, the BBC Asian Network is programming the lively main stage.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'I'm delighted to once again be supporting the London Mela, a wonderful celebration of Asian culture in all its rich diversity. With the eyes of the world on the capital for the 2012 Games, this colourful family event will be a sparkling addition to the unprecedented series of free events taking place across the capital throughout the summer.'

The programme includes an exciting array of performances including Bhangra star Jaz Dhami performing with his full live band. Red Poppy, who were part of the Beijing Games and are being flown in from China especially for the London 2012 Games, are appearing as part of the Mayor's Showtime programme. Other Showtime performers include Arcadia, bringing a literally electrifying four million volts spectacular, 'Lords of Lightning', as the sun down goes.

The Philharmonia Orchestra are giving a two-hour long performance, which includes the London premiere of 'Indra', composed by distinguished onetime local resident Gustav Holst. The piece portrays Indra, the Hindu god of rain and storm, in a struggle with a dragon, Vrita, who causes a massive drought. Indra overcomes Vrita and the rain begins to fall. The orchestra is also performing Ravi Shankar's 'Symphony'– his first symphony conceived for a Western symphony orchestra. The performance will be followed by a special 10th birthday firework display – to round off what promises to be a wonderful day.

For this year, the London Mela is also hosting the Mayor of London's celebrations for Eid ul Fitr, which have been re-located away from Trafalgar Square, which is hosting BT London Live during the Paralympic Games. Featuring a wide range of talented Islamic artists and performers the Eid stage will see performances by U-Cef , Celt Islam, Seddik and the Seeds of Creation, Ustad Ali Hafeez Khan and the leading dance artist Tara Ibrahim, the only female tanoura dancer (Egyptian whirling dervish) in the UK.

Other highlights include the Mela Carnival, a special procession of colourful floats, including the motorised Elephant and Turtle, hundreds of community participants, plus live music from the Dhol Academy and the Bollywood Brass Band.

Artistic Director Ajay Chhabra says: 'We started off as a one-off event and have now transformed into a unique world-class festival. I am proud to be celebrating the London Mela’s10th birthday, especially during the 2012 Games. Nestled comfortably between the Olympics and Paralympics, this artistic event for all, is a fantastic celebration of the suburbs and continues to inspire, encourage and surprise.'

Leader of Ealing Council, Councillor Julian Bell, said: 'We are very pleased to once again host this fantastic free event. The 02 London Mela is a time of celebration and for the community to unite. It is a highlight in the capital's cultural calendar and we look forward to the colour and excitement of the day.'

Councillor Jagdish Sharma, Leader of the London Borough of Hounslow, says: 'I am delighted that the borough is once again hosting the 10th O2 London Mela in Gunnersbury Park, which brings together all parts of the community to enjoy a day of South Asian music, dance, culture and arts, not to mention the wonderful food on offer.

'The Mela is a time for the whole family; a day to celebrate and enjoy, with something for everyone, and this year will be no exception. It is one of the highlights of our summer of celebration, and I'm sure it will once again be a huge success.'

Event: 02 London Mela 2011

Venue: Gunnersbury Park, Ealing, London W3

Date: Sunday 19 August 2012

Time: 1pm – 9pm

Entry: FREE – ALL WELCOME

Tube: Acton Town

Information: www.londonmela.org / www.molpresents.com

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Notes to editors

  1. The 02 London Mela takes place in Gunnersbury Park, Popes Lane, London W3, which is in the Borough of Hounslow (although owned by both Ealing and Hounslow Boroughs) and is one of the largest green spaces in west London. Nearest underground is Acton Town.
  2. The 02 London Mela is produced by Ealing Council, and supported by the Mayor of London and London Borough of Hounslow. Other partners include BBC Asian Network and BBC London. The British Heart Foundation is the 02 London Mela's first charity partner. The Eid stage is organised by the Mayor of London.
  3. Eid ul Fitr officially marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting, which is observed by Muslims across the world. Mela is a Sanskrit word meaning 'to meet', which is used to describe all sorts of community celebrations and festivals in the Asian subcontinent.
  4. BBC Asian Network provides a distinctive mix of British Asian, Bollywood, Bhangra, music, news, debate, languages, entertainment and live events. The station has a real focus on promoting and highlighting a range of new music and artists and plays host to the best in Asian talent, including presenters Tommy Sandhu, Sonia Deol, Nihal, Noreen Khan, Gagan Grewal, Bobby Friction, Raj & Pablo. BBC Asian Network is committed to bringing the best in live music to its audience. You can listen to Asian Network on bbc.co.uk/asiannetwork / DAB and on Digital TV: Sky 0119 / Freeview 709 / Freesat 709 / Virgin 912The BBC Introducing initiative is multi-platform across BBC Radio 1, 6Music, Radio 1Xtra, the Asian Network, Switch, over 35 BBC Local Radio stations and at bbc.co.uk/introducing - all working together to provide an internal network dedicated to showcasing the hottest new talent from across the UK
  5. 13.2% of London's population is Asian [2001 census], making up more than one in eight Londoners. The London Borough of Ealing has one of the largest Asian communities in London (24% - 73,851). Hounslow has 24.7%, Brent has 27.8% and Harrow has 29.7% of its population as Asian – all neighbours of Ealing.
  6. The Mayor of London is presenting a huge programme of free events and cultural activities to add to the excitement of 2012. Working with outstanding international artists and world class cultural organisations this unprecedented Mayor of London Presents programme is taking place in every corner of the capital to add to and complement the London 2012 Festival. It includes Secrets: Hidden London, with artists and performers transforming hidden and lesser known locations; Showtime, the largest outdoor arts festival ever seen in the capital, with dozens of electrifying artists from the UK and abroad coming to every borough, in high streets, parks and town centres; BT London Live, bringing live action from the Games, as well as sporting activities and entertainment to Hyde Park, Victoria Park and Trafalgar Square; and Surprises bringing pop-up performances, such as Sacrilege, and once in a lifetime experiences to locations familiar and unusual, above your heads and atop landmark buildings. To be the first to know what's happening in this Summer Like No Other, sign up or follow us at www.molpresents.com / www.facebook.com/mayoroflondonpresents / www.twitter.com/molpresents