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New website as Middlesbrough Mela goes digital

Middlesbrough Mela is back for 2020 - and is digital only!

The popular annual festival now has a new website with a host of fun-filled interactive digital videos - starting with an online storytelling session for kids on Monday, August 17.

The team behind Mela have been working with a range of talented local artists to commission a brand new children's book called Sara, which has been beautifully illustrated by renowned artist Becki Harper.

The children's book will be premiered on Monday where it will be read by author Umar Butt for thousands of Teesside families to enjoy online.

Funding has been secured for this year's digital Mela after successful bids to Arts Council England, Unison, Tees Valley Community Foundation and Middlesbrough Council.

Other video workshops will be available on the Mela website over the coming weeks including family yoga, Mela mask and print making, mini music workshops and the famous Mela mandala workshops will also return.

A collection of photographs and memories from past Mela events will also be held on the website going as far back as 2004 and Mela fans are being encouraged to get involved and share their own memories.

As part of the aim to make this year's Mela accessible and inclusive for everyone, 400 free craft kits containing materials and tools will also be made available to families across Teesside so they can have a go at the crafty workshops.

The event would have been celebrating its 30th birthday this year with a huge outdoor event but the celebrations have been postponed until 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Middlesbrough Mela committee are already making plans to turn the story of Sara in to a magical carnival which will parade through Albert Park at next year's outdoor event - and Mela fans can be part of the fun by entering this year's competition to design a costume for the parade. 

Mieka Smiles, Middlesbrough Council's Executive Member for Culture and Communities said: "Digital Mela 2020 is one of the most exciting cultural opportunities that we've had this year. I urge families across Middlesbrough and the whole of Teesside to get involved as there is loads to do that will take up hours of time in the school holidays, and it's all free, it's the go-to website to keep the family happy this summer.

"Sara is a truly beautiful story that is heart-warming and perfect for little ones, and the other crafty workshops and family yoga will go down a storm too. Get comfy on the sofa on Monday with the whole family and visit the website to hear Sara read aloud by the author."

If you have memories of Mela you'd like to share, send them to the Middlesbrough Mela Facebook page or email

You can find out more about the digital Mela 2020 and get involved with the activities and competitions on the Middlesbrough Mela website.

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