This year ZEE’s London Mela runs from Saturday 31st August until Sunday 1st September. The annual bonanza will be held at Southall Park, which is slap bang in the middle of Europe’s oldest Asian community. ZEE celebrates South Asian culture with a passion and attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year. What’s more, it’s completely free!
To get to Southall Park from Montcalm Marble Arch you are advised to take either the train from Paddington to Southall, South Road station or one of the buses that services the Uxbridge or South roads. Check in with Transport for London a little closer to the date for special services and updates on getting to the event.
There is no parking on site so you will be urged to find a parking space nearby. If you know London you’ll be only too aware of the fact that finding a freebie parking spot is nigh-on impossible. If you need to drive to the event you should leave more time for your journey in order to find a parking spot.
Every year the Mela welcomes dozens of musicians from around the world, as well as those based in London. There’s always a big faction of very local musicians and artists at the Mela too for obvious reasons: Southall is a rich boiling pot of the best of British and Asian fusion and the birthplace of Bhangra: a traditional India dance.
2019 marks the 17th year of the London Mela, hosted by Indian media company ZEE. 2018 was a blast with the likes of Jay Sean, Apache Indian and Arjun headlining. But the Mela isn’t just about music. It is a celebration of the talents of comedy, dance and art born of a great and colourful community.
This year guests will be treated to British and Asian artists and an eclectic mix of classical, urban and Bollywood numbers. In addition, the organisers promise a small circus, street theatre, funfair and an Asian food market. All in all, this free event doesn’t just allow you to enjoy the delights of Indian culture, it also gives you the perfect opportunity to mix with London folk and make new friends.
At the time of writing, there is no public schedule yet for the 2019 Mela but if last year is anything to go by then watch out for the ZEE marquee where entertainment abounds. This year the marquee will be fitted out with a red carpet in order to tempt visitors to imagine themselves stars at a premier.
The red carpet experience is a must for anyone who has ever wanted to be part of the glitz and glamour of Bollywood. In close proximity there will also be a Play the Zee Spin the Wheel game with a chance to win a tonne of Zee merchandise. If you’re bringing young children with you then head for Spin the Wheel whenever you get a chance. It should keep them entertained for hours.
The 2018 Line-up
Here are just some of the events that took place at ZEE’s Croydon Mela last year.
Music from international and home-grown artists was everywhere. Bhangra was big and according to Mela’s website the Sounds of Southall — “a band comprising featuring Kuljit Bhamra, Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi and his son Sanwal Esakhelvi” — was a real crowd pleaser. And more of the same is promised in 2019. If you enjoy classical music as much as you do R&B (why wouldn’t you?) then this year’s Mela is for you.
2018’s Mela saw the London premiere of the brand-new BBC documentary Pump Up the Bhangra, played on the big screen. In addition, Asian Network DJ Bobby Friction presented a programme celebrating young British Asians and the British Asian culture. The show was a fitting tribute to the legacy of those who have advocated the beauty of Bhangra for the last 30 years.
Held at Wandle Park in Croydon, South London the event attracted over 17,000 visitors. The event, as ever, was supported by local authorities such as Croydon council. This year’s Mela will have the backing of the London assembly. Colour, music and dance is what defined the festival in 2018, and the bringing together of acts from around the world and from all sorts of cultures was breath-taking.
Keep an eye out for this year’s line up next time you’re on the look out for M by Montcalm spa deals.
The Flavour of ZEE London Mela
London Mela has been likened to a British-Asian Glastonbury, complete with festival atmosphere, music and ample outlets for food and drink. Except here are the heroes of home-grown Asian talent, the ones whose followers can’t get enough of their music, art and entertainment. Top artists from India rub shoulders with new arrivals on the British Bhangra scene.
To be expected this year will be the likes of Panjabi MC, the Panjabi Hit Squad and Jazzy B.
Punjabi Bhangra is heard everywhere in places like Southall, where the Asian community has a glorious stronghold and yields forth its striking cuisine and culture. The area became the centre for strongly-bonded Punjabi communities in the 1960s and has retained its character ever since.
At the Mela you’ll also find nestled between funfairs and food outlets shops selling traditional Indian clothing, kulfi ice-cream and the finest of curries. Families are welcome and there is usually ample space for youngsters to run off some energy and return hungry to a picnic and a lie down.
Sony-award-winning acts are expected to the stage to bring a sense of celebration to the day. The party welcomes young and old. There really is something for everyone.
Last year Birmingham’s famous Bhangra singer Sukshinder Shinda sang his heart out. The singer, in his mid-40s, held audiences in the palm of his hand. Accompanied by hypnotic rhythms of the dhol drums Shinda is worth seeking out whenever he plays. Fingers crossed he’ll be holding the stage at this year’s London Mela too.