TENS of thousands of revellers attended what is thought to be the region’s biggest multi-cultural event.
The 24th Middlesbrough Mela in the town’s Centre Square was held on both Saturday and Sunday, June 7 and 8 and attracted some international entertainers.
Despite rain on Saturday organisers were still expected the event to have attracted record crowds over the two days.
Thousands braved the rain on Saturday to witness the Mela’s first parade which included a giant peacock and elephant and involved about 200 children from primary schools across the town. The first day of the Mela involved various sports displays, including martial arts, as well as cookery displays and hundreds of stalls selling everything from jewellery to food.
Sunday’s event traditionally attracts bigger and younger crowds with free entertainment including bhangra music, Bollywood style dancing and international stars. This year Brit Award nominee Apache Indian, a vocalist and reggae DJ who has been in the music industry for 25 years, was the headline act while ex-Eastenders actor Ameet Chana was the host on the main stage.
Naveed Hussain, chairman of the Mela, said Sunday’s sun had brought out what he estimated to be record crowds.
He said: “We had about 30,000 people coming on the Sunday last year and about 50,000 over the two days, which was a record.
“This year I’d say we still got a similar number coming on the Saturday, despite the rain. The parade was a big hit with children from all around the town involved and that was so popular I think it still got people coming.
“The crowds have just been getting bigger and bigger all day today (Sunday). I think by the end we’ll have had 35,000 or even 40,000 people here. For me, the parade has been a highlight because it’s got so many people from right across the community involved.
“But our headline act, Apache Indian, has really got people getting excited. It’s such a cracking atmosphere at the Mela, it’s just a fantastic experience.”
The Middlesbrough Mela is supported by Middlesbrough Borough Council and Middlesbrough College as well as many other organisations across the town. Crowds have gone up since the Mela returned to the town centre two years ago.