Middlesbrough Mela has launched a new website as the multi-cultural festival moves online for 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Over 50,000 people from the North East usually attend the annual two-day festival in Albert Park, Middlesbrough. But the event will take place digitally this year between Monday, August 17 and Friday, September 11.

Family activities will take place online to celebrate the festivals 30th year anniversary. Video workshops, family yoga, Mela mask making, printmaking, mini music workshops and Mela mandala workshops all organised to take place online over the next three weeks.

An online storytelling session for children will kick-start the event this Monday with the premiere of a new, locally created children’s book, Sara. Talented artists helped to make the book and author Umar Butt will lead the shared book reading on Monday.

400 free craft kits containing materials and tools will also be provided to families across Teesside so they can take part in arts and crafts events over the next month.

Photographs and memories from past Melas will also be displayed on the new website for people who attended the event in previous years. Former attendees can still to send and share their own images and memories of previous events here: info@middlesbroughmela.co.uk

Event organisers are already looking forward to 2021 when the Mela can return outdoors. There are plans to turn the story of Sara into a parade at Mela 2021, with a costume design competition being held for fans, who will have the chance to be featured in next year’s festival.

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.”

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.

More information about the digital Mela 2020 and details on how to get involved with the activities and competitions can be found here: www.middlesbroughmela.co.uk