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Festival fun: Midlands Mela season - dates for the diary

The scene at the Leicester Mela last year Photo: ITV News Central

The Midlands is hosting a number of big mela events over the summer - and they'll attract crowds of thousands, some even bigger than mela events in London.

The word mela means "gathering" or to meet at a "fair". It has origins in South Indian communities, and mela events are now a huge part of summer festivities in the UK. The Midlands is home to some of the country's biggest mela events, including the Sandwell and Birmingham event, which hosted more than a hundred thousand people in 2012, many of whom came to see the Olympic Torch.

So what can you expect at a mela ? Well they're open to all. It's usually free entry and the chance to see big stars from the fields of live music, dance, TV, film, entertainment, comedy, and local community talent shows.

Hundreds of stalls offering the best of local cuisine are also prominent, along with art exhibitions, community showcases and the good old fun-fair.

Crowds at the Sandwell and Birmingham Mela last year Credit: Sandwell and Birmingham Mela
Festivities from last year's mela events in Nottingham Credit: New Art Exchange, Nottingham
More from last year's mela events in Nottingham Credit: New Art Exchange, Nottingham

Music artists including Malkit Singh MBE and Shin from legendary bhangra band DCS, who are both from Birmingham, and Nottingham-based San2 are among the Midlands-based stars performing before big crowds in the region over the summer.

Click here to hear singer Shin speaking to ITV News Central last year, about how Bollywood has influenced British pioneers of bhangra.

Click here to hear Nottingham artist San2 speaking to ITV News Central last year at one of the Asian music calendar's biggest awards nights, held in Birmingham.

The Mela has been going on for four years. First year we had 45,000, then in 2012 it grew as we had the Olympic Torch come to the event, so we had 100,000 people. We've grown from one entertainment stage to three".

– Danny Singh, Chair of Sandwell and Birmingham Mela

Punjabi actor and singer Gippy Grewal has made a huge difference to this year's event. He'll be performing exclusively for the mela, Malkit Singh is also performing for the first time, it's a great mix of local and international artists".

– Danny Singh, Chair of Sandwell and Birmingham Mela
The crowds gather at last year's mela at Victoria Park Credit: Sandwell and Birmingham Mela

More than 90 thousand samosas were eaten at last year's event at Victoria Park alone. At this year's events across the Midlands in total, that figure is expected to top the 200,000 mark. Hundreds of specialist stalls will also be on display at each event, alongside community talent shows aimed at showcasing the best each area has to offer.

Performers on stage at last year's mela at Victoria Park Credit: Sandwell and Birmingham Mela

Mela events confirmed so far for the Midlands across the summer include:

  • BIRMINGHAM: Sandwell and Birmingham Mela (Victoria Park, Smethwick, Saturday 5th July and Sunday 6th July)
  • LINCOLNSHIRE: Multicultural Mela 2014 (Meridian Park, Sunday 3rd August)
  • LEICESTERSHIRE: Loughborough Mela (Loughborough Town Centre, Sunday 17th August)
  • LEICESTER: Leicester Mela (Leicester Town Centre, Bank Holiday Monday 25th August)
  • NOTTINGHAM: Nottingham Mela Weekender (New Art Exchange, Saturday 30th August and Victoria Embankment, Riverside on Sunday 31st August)
  • Know of a Midlands Mela event also happening this summer ? Tweet me the details: @tejinderITV

Click here to get a flavour of festivities at last year's mela in Leicester. It featured singer H Dhami, who's from London, delighting Midlands crowds. Expect more of the same at this year's events across the region !