South Mumbai ready to spark to life with Ballard Estate Festival

SoBo, considered in cultural comatose, is ready to spark to life with the Ballard Estate Festival

Weekends in South Mumbai are set to get more vibrant with the business district of city, Ballard Estate, which usually goes to bed at 6 pm, transforming into an art and culture hub every weekend for the next eight months, starting January 23.

Mumbai Ballard Estate Festival hopes to transform the busy business district into a cultural hub for the next eight months. Pics/Satej Shinde
Mumbai Ballard Estate Festival hopes to transform the busy business district into a cultural hub for the next eight months. Pics/Satej Shinde

Characterised by broad roads cutting through magnificent buildings with European Renaissance facades designed by George Wittet, it houses several shipping companies. The district which turns into a ghost town on weekends, prompted the Mumbai Port Trust (MPT) to rethink its use. MPT owns a large chunk of land here, and realised it could be turned into an entertainment zone.

Mumbai Port Trust trustee Atul Shah is briefed by volunteers of the Ballard Estate Festival
Mumbai Port Trust trustee Atul Shah is briefed by volunteers of the Ballard Estate Festival

With The Mumbai Ballard Estate Festival, the Port Trust has entered into an agreement with private entertainment firm Ferriswheel to organise the street-festival every weekend until March 27. The venue is 4,000 square meters large, and Ferriswheel hopes will give the Mumbaikar an assortment of leisure indulgences to choose from without burning a hole in the pocket. “We aim to draw in over three lakh visitors over six months,” says Shubhra Bharadwaj, founder of Ferriswheel.

All stages, enclosures, stalls and structures set up for the festival on weekends will be dismantled every Sunday night, so that the district can get back to business on Monday morning. A separate kids area that offers games; sports and interactive sessions will be a highlight, along with an open-air theater. The entry fee is R150 per person, and an extra R75 will be charged per child. The concerts will be free for all. Ferriswheel is likely to pay a daily rent of R58,000 to the Mumbai Port Trust.

A ticketed entry from J N Herredia Road, past the State Bank of India (SBI) branch, will lead towards to the main stage, while another adjacent road, leading towards the war memorial, will serve as exit.

Bharadwaj says they have engaged private security and police personnel will also be present at all times. Waterless toilets and dustbins are expected to keep the area free of filth.

The first few months will see a performance line-up that includes artistes like musician Raghu Dixit, comedian Aditi Mittal, culinary experts and folk artistes. Add to this some pop-up restaurants and you have the perfect weekend plan.

Musician Vasudha Sharma, who is expected to perform on February 7, says, “Even those who aren’t regular at pubs, clubs or gigs will get a taste of different music.”

Right now, say the organisers, there is an emphasis on comedy and music, but as the weekends take off, expect to see interesting additions.

The festival line-up
Musical concerts, movie promotions, exhibitions, performing arts showcase, food festivals presenting cuisine from across the country, contemporary art shows, heritage walks and flea markets is what you can look forward to.

Highlights
January 23: Sherrin Varghese performance
January 24: Sanam live band
January 30: Bombay Bassment performance 
January 31: Ghalat family and Angad Singh perform 
February 7: Vasudha Sharma performs 
February 13: Band Indus Creed perform 
February 14: Nikhil D'Souza, singer, performs 
February 28: Raghu Dixit Project perform
March 5: Stand up show by Aditi Mittal

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