Countdown begins in east London for May 14 Mela Bengali festival at Bethnal Green

Previous Baishakhi Mela in 2011. Picture: REHAN JAMIL

Previous Baishakhi Mela in 2011. Picture: REHAN JAMIL - Credit: LBTH

Preparations for the biggest celebration of the Bengali New Year in Europe are under way in east London with less than a fortnight to go.

Remote-control robot thrills little girl at 2016 Mela in Bethnal Green's Weavers Fields. Picture: MI

Remote-control robot thrills little girl at 2016 Mela in Bethnal Green's Weavers Fields. Picture: MIKE BROOKE - Credit: Mike Brooke

The Sunday Boishakhi Mela on May 14 is the cultural highlight in the Bengali calendar which attracts 60,000 revellers from all over the country.

The free family fun day staged by Tower Hamlets Council begins at 11am in Spitalfields with a street parade from Buxton Street, off Brick Lane, leading to the festival at Bethnal Green’s Weavers Fields off Vallance Road for a five-hour festival from 1pm.

But the annual celebration has had a chequered history, with battles over who gets the licence to organise it before it was eventually brought back under council management and switched last year from Victoria Park back to Weavers Fields.

Moving the event led to a town hall protest by campaigners wanting to keep it at Vicky Park.


You may also want to watch:


This year’s Mela has age-old stories brought to life through music, song, dance and richly-decorated floats.

Town Hall protest over 2016 Mela being switched from Victoria Park back to Weavers Fields. Picture:

Town Hall protest over 2016 Mela being switched from Victoria Park back to Weavers Fields. Picture: MIKE BROOKE - Credit: Mike Brooke

It starts in Weavers Fields at 12noon with a stage line-up of the best Bengali traditional and contemporary music and dance. Internationally-renowned Miles is this year’s headline act with a fusion of musical styles. Other acts include Bangladesh folk-singer Rinku, singers Himangshu Goswami, Laboni Barua and Gouri Choudhury and ‘Bollywood bonanza’ dance performances by Bolly Flex.

Most Read

A ‘family and arts’ zone with creative activities from 1pm to 6pm includes Bengali arts and crafts workshops, storytelling and Bengali poetry and literature brought to life with talks and readings, while a ‘sports and wellbeing’ zone has workouts for the body and mind.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter