London Mela 2009: Asian Culture Gets Hot in the City

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The biggest celebration of Asian music and culture outside the Indian subcontinent is back for 2009. Last year's London Mela attracted 55,000 visitors, and organisers expect this year's event to be even bigger. As well as the brightest lights on the British Asian music scene, the stars of Bollywood and traditional erformance, mela visitors can enjoy hundreds of stalls selling food and handicrafts. Here's how to get the best out of London Mela 2009.

For all those who like Asian music, art and - of course - Asian food, this year's London Mela is sure to prove a treat. Hailed as the biggest celebration of Asian culture, lifestyle and vibes outside the Indian sub-continent, the London Mela in Ealing, north west London last year attracted a record 55,000-strong crowd. And this year, organisers expect to smash that record.

The festival, which is completely free of charge, takes place on Sunday, August 16, at Gunnersbury Park, W3. Anyone who's been to the London Mela before will already know that there will be plenty of activities and attractions for all ages. For those who've not had the pleasure of attending Mela before, here are just some of the things to look forward to.

Music
This year's Mela boasts 6 stages of continuous music and dance performances from a wide variety of groups, including Apache Indian with his unique fusion of Ragga and Bhangra. The BBC Asian Network Main Stage features such acts as Des-C and the Live Band, B21, Outlandish, Amar featuring Jim Beanz & Rebel, and even more. The solar-powered classical stages will host acts such as Akademi and Swati, while the Community Area is full of dance specialists. Doosra, the alternative stage features acts Kazz Kumar, Humans V's Machines, Engine EarZ, and more, while the Asian Network's Mix Tent has some of the latest and hottest DJ's on display. And finally there is even a kid's area to keep the little ones entertained while at the festival, as well.

Art
Art and music go hand and hand, and that's what makes a festival like London Mela so successful year after year; it's that perfect blend of music and additional forms of artwork that keep patrons entertained every single time. Visitors will find street arts and performances, impromptu dance sessions and some of the most awe-inspiring art installations in all of London.

Food
Of course it's impossible to have a festival of this magnitude without providing plenty of good food to eat - and London Mela never disappoints. Throughout the fairground and different markets there are a host of attractions that will please both the taste buds and the wallet simultaneously.

London Mela 2009 will be a magnet for Asian-culture vultures from all over the UK and Europe but time is getting short to find hotels in London for the weekend of August 15/16. Online travel retailer lastminute.com knows the pitfalls of finding travel and accommodation at the last minute. Hotels can be a particular problem: browsing through all of hotels in London on such little notice can be a difficult task, and actually choosing between last minute hotels can be even more challenging.

Fortunately for those planning to attend the 2009 Mela, lastminute.com is an excellent resource for all travel arrangements, especially finding a perfect lastminute hotel at lastminute.com.

Last Minute take the level of service one step further by offering the best discount hotels as well as the cheapest flights and even car hire. With all of this stellar service in one place, there's no need to look anywhere else when planning a journey to London Mela 2009.

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Stuart Morrison

Max Brockbank

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