How to make a festival stand out? Add Punjabi MC and Ms. Dynamite to the Line-up. That’s what exactly Newcastle Unity Festival did. The Newcastle Unity Festival is an open-air music event, taking place during the Bank Holiday weekend on 23rd May, from 1pm to 8pm. The festival will be free on the day and is funded solely by individual donations (www.gofundme.com/nufest).
The festival organisers’ aim is to challenge all forms of intolerance, promote unity in the community and celebrate cultural, social and ethnic diversity. Since February, the far-right group Pegida and a white supremacist group have stage separate marches in Newcaslte. On both occasions those promoting the values of toleration and positive integration have held counter demonstrations and far outnumbered those who sought to bring hate to the streets of Newcastle. The Unity festival will be another positive symbol of what it is when a community can come together in harmony.
‘Mundiya toh Bach Ke Rahi’ by Punjabi MC was equivalent to Gangnam Style in the late 90s. It still can turn Hare Krishna into a bad boy. Punjabi MC, Ms. Dynamite, Akala and Natty are set to play at the main stage and will be supported by local musicians. There will be a second Live Stage and Dub Reggae Stage with special guest Selectors & live MCs. A Dance tent will be curated by Inspired Events, who provide mentoring & support for young autistic people, while DJs will be offering a diverse range of sets.
The festival is family friendly and will have an arena for children provided by Little Big Butterfly with a bouncy castle, face painting, story telling & plenty of other activities for children. A special tent will also feature Comedy, Spoken Word, Acoustic performances & a fab, local young people’s Steel Band. It can’t be a family festival without food and so there’ll be all kinds of stall serving the best of world food. A fully licensed bar will serve the needs of grown-ups.
Daniel Kebede, 28, who is helping to stage the festival, spoke to Chronicle Live, “We felt there was a need for an event of this type in the city. Something which wasn’t staged as a counter demonstration against racism.
“We thought it would also be a good idea to put together an event that challenges division and all forms of intolerance in a proactive way, too. To put the unity back in community, so to speak.
“The event has been well-received and incredibly well supported so far but we still have a way to go with fundraising and still really need help.
“The festival is free because we wanted it to be open to all with no barriers to attending. To make it free, we are relying on donations from people who believe in the unity vibe and understand that the whole idea is to bring people together.”