A record 22,000 people flocked to Wandle Park this weekend for two fantastic celebrations of diversity – Croydon PrideFest and Croydon Mela.
The first event in this major entertainment double-bill, Croydon PrideFest 2019, was – as promised – bigger, better and more diverse than ever. An estimated 10,000 people headed to Wandle Park for PrideFest on Saturday 13 July – double last year – with around 1,000 people joining this year’s parade through the town centre.
Organisers attributed this year’s success to the quality of the acts, the inclusive nature of the event and improved accessibility. Alongside the main stage – headlined by Croydon’s very own David McAlmont, UK rap star Lady Leshurr, and Soju from Ru Paul’s Drag Race – the event also had a new cabaret tent hosted by Batty Mama. Improved wheelchair access and British Sign Language interpreters helped to ensure that the event could be enjoyed by all.
Mark Watson, Croydon Pride, said: “When we set up Croydon PrideFest we knew we wanted to have a parade through the town that anyone could join and a festival that was as inclusive as possible. This year was our biggest, best and most inclusive event ever. The response to the town centre parade was fantastically positive and shows that Croydon is London’s most inclusive and welcoming borough.”
The following day (Sunday 14 July) Wandle Park once again played host, as an estimated 12,000 headed to Croydon Mela for a colourful celebration of Asian culture, with music, dance, food, family fun and entertainment. Programmed by three women from Croydon –Chetna Kapacee, Anusha Subramanyam and Malti Patel – with media sponsors Sunrise Radio and Simply Bhangra, the event showcased local talent on the Dance Dhamaka stage and Rung Mela Zone. Headliners on the main stage included Apache Indian, DJ Ritu and Najma Akhtar alongside local groups.
Chetna said: “It was fantastic to be able to celebrate the diverse south Asian communities of Croydon across the different stages and activities at the mela. It was a joy to see so many people of all backgrounds and ages having a great time.”
“It is absolutely fantastic to see these two events go from strength to strength – huge congratulations and thank you to everyone who has contributed, including major sponsors LV, Wilmott Dixon and Arts Council England. These are the latest festivals putting Croydon Music City on the map, and PrideFest and Mela are particularly special because they celebrate our borough’s amazing diversity and inclusivity. We look forward to seeing both events return next year.”
Councillor Oliver Lewis, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport
At PrideFest Croydon Council officially launched its new anti-hate campaign, with hundreds of individuals and organisations at both events lining up to say no to hate, and pledge support for a zero tolerance approach. For more information or to sign up the anti-hate crime pledge visit www.croydon.gov.uk/saynotohate