We know it’s the best – and now it’s official!

Covid-19 restrictions saw Middlesbrough’s ever-popular Mela go virtual this year for the first time in its 30-year history.

But a mere pandemic wasn’t enough to halt the region’s greatest multi-cultural celebration in its tracks.

Organisers simply took this year’s event online by creating a virtual festival from scratch.

A brand-new website, with online workshops, art packs for local communities, online storytelling and much more saw the festival shortlisted in the Best Online Mela category of the 2020 UK Bhangra Awards.

Art and storytelling were key parts of the 2020 virtual Middlesbrough Mela

And Middlesbrough Mela went on to beat off stiff competition from as far afield as Glasgow, Belfast and London to land the coveted title.

Mela Committee vice-chairman Nav Hussain said: “Everybody involved pulled out all the stops to ensure our loyal audiences could still enjoy the Mela despite the pandemic.

“The Bhangra Awards are some of the highest accolades in the industry and voted for by the public worldwide, so it’s a real honour to be voted the Best Online Mela.”

Cllr Mieka Smiles, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Communities & Education, said: “In the true spirit of Mela when the show couldn’t go on – it went online.

“That was a fitting way to mark the Middlesbrough Mela’s 30th anniversary, and to put together such a fantastic programme at short notice was an incredible achievement.

“That’s been rightly recognised with a prestigious Bhangra Award that puts Middlesbrough on a par with the biggest cities in the UK.

“Whatever 2021 has in store, I’m sure the Middlesbrough Mela will return bigger and better than ever.”