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Masala Festival Brings Spice and Style to Newcastle

Returning to in-person events after two years of hybrid ones, GemArts’ celebration of South Asian art and culture is getting ready to spice up the city!

The award-winning Masala Festival takes place across the city and beyond from Monday 18th-Sunday 24th July, bringing a host of events, workshops, pop-ups and demonstrations to venues, and celebrating the wonderful diversity of the city through music, dance, visual arts, film, literature, performance, family fun and food.

Image: SEVENS by Luci Barriball

The launch event on Monday 18th takes place at Dance City, where one of the UK’s leading choreographers, Nina Rajarani MBE, presents a new triple-bill of Bharatanatyam and Kathak dance from Srishti Dance Company, complete with live music. SEVENS explores the sacred – and sometimes sinful! – significance of the number seven (fittingly, it’s Masala Festival’s seventh anniversary), with the performance taking audiences on a rollercoaster of playful, energetic, soulful and contemplative dance.

On Tuesday 19th at BALTIC, enjoy a series of contemporary South Asian film shorts which tackle subject matter ranging from identity, physicality, values and purpose, plus there’s a post-screening Q&A which promises to offer even more insight.


Image: Shazea Quraishi

On Wednesday 20th things get wordy over at Newcastle University’s Culture Lab, as Bloodaxe poet Amali Gunasekera reads from her second collection, The Golden Thread, and Pakistani-born Canadian poet Shazea Quraishi previews her forthcoming book, The Glimmer.

Thursday 21st will see a contemporary take on art rock and jazz come to The Globe; Yaatri’s blend of complex instrumentation and soundscapes takes influence from the rhythms of India, the immersive sounds of electronic music and the energy of rock and roll, resulting in a performance of heart-pounding excitement. Don’t miss them!


Image: Yaatri


There’s more music on Friday 22nd at Sage Gateshead, where virtuoso sitar player Jasdeep Singh Degun will be joined by an ensemble of collaborators from across the Indian classical, Western classical and jazz traditions to showcase the beauty and power of his music.


Image: Jasdeep Singh Degun

There’s loads more to enjoy across the water in Gateshead too, in particular the culmination of the festival, the family-friendly Mini Mela, at Bensham Grove Community Centre on Sunday 24th.

The festival once again partners with Indian street food experts Dabbawal, who will offer a flavourful journey through South Asia with their stunning menu and some special culinary celebrations at their High Bridge restaurant. We can’t wait to get stuck in!


The Masala programme definitely has something for everyone amid its array of performances, talks, readings and more so check the listings and find something to bring some heat and colour to your July.


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