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London Mela announces Melatopia festival

London Mela, the long-running festival of desi music and culture, is going virtual for year 18 with Lost Horizon and Sansar

By IQ on 19 Oct 2020

London Mela

image © London Mela

The 18th edition of London Mela, the UK festival of South Asian culture, will be held in a virtual-reality venue created by the team behind Lost Horizon.

For 2020 London Mela – usually held in Southall Park, west London – becomes Melatopia, a VR event taking place online on 7 and 8 November 2020, and featuring the same mix of music, dance and culture from the Indian subcontinent and surrounding countries.

As with Lost Horizon, which was seen by four million people in 100 countries, Melatopia viewers will be able to experience live artists, DJs and dance performances in a virtual world created especially for the event, and on a range of platforms, including smartphone, tablet, computer or virtual-reality (VR) headset.

Like Lost Horizon, Melatopia will be built using Sansar, Wookey Technologies’ platform for virtual live events.

“We want to build festivals that the whole world can attend”

Performers will include headliner the Raja Kumari, bhangra legend Panjabi MC, Juggy D and Pandit Ram Sahai Sangeet Vidhyalaya, qawwali star Chand Ali Khan and BBC Future Sounds artist Celina Sharma. All artists will be recorded exclusively for the festival.

Remarkable Productions’ Julian Rudd, producer of London Mela, comments: “Remarkable Productions is really excited to be working at the coalface of digital, VR and online festival production with such impressive partners.”

“In these dark days for artists around the world, Melatopia represents hope and opportunity that there is a future for our sector,” he adds. “Alongside Nutkhut and Mela Partnership, we are proud to present Melatopia, the world’s first truly global VR mela festival of desi culture.”

Lost Horizon’s Chris Macmeikan MBE says Melatopia is a proof of concept that, once built, “like a real venue” can be used multiple times.

“We want to build festivals that the whole world can attend,” adds Macmeikan. “In July of this year, our innovative work with VR and streaming at Lost Horizon attracted over 4m people from over 100 countries.

“Melatopia is an exciting new opportunity to bring this international diaspora of people together”

“That is why we are so excited that our second project is with London Mela. London Mela is already a hub to the entire Asian diaspora. Now, we will create the world’s first global mela together.”

“When a global diaspora meets new technology, change happens,” comments Ajay Chhabra, artistic director of Melatopia. “The South Asian presence in Silicon Valley is completely engaged with Mela, and Melatopia is our way of bringing people together in a time of isolation.

“Change creates challenging new opportunities. With so much change occurring all around us, from the very personal loss of loved ones to the major change artists and communities are facing the world over, Melatopia is our way to keep fearless ambition alive, to be bold, to take risks and to create a new platform for what we know best: the coming together of community and artists to create a new utopia – Melatopia.

“The South Asian diaspora is international, with a footprint on every major continent, in every major city globally. In a time of isolation, Melatopia is an exciting new opportunity to bring this international diaspora of people together, by using new technology and cross arts to form connections to a new and intergenerational audience.”


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