By Isabel Bedford
WOMAD is known for bringing together music, arts and dance from countries and cultures around the world. The organisation hosted its inaugural UK festival back in 1982 at the Royal Bath & West showground in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, with the likes of Simple Minds, The Chieftains, Echo and the Bunnymen and the Drummers of Burundi gracing the stage. Peter Gabriel’s festival has since gone from strength to strength, with the organisation now hosting festivals all across the globe, from Adelaide to Abu Dhabi. The 30th anniversary of the UK festival will once again be at Charlton Park in Wiltshire, which has been its home since 2007.
This year’s headliners include Buena Vista Social Club, Khaled, Hugh Masekela and Femi Kuti. Former Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant will be appearing alongside Justin Adams, whilst also unveiling his new band, the Sensational Space Shifters.
As well as consistently attracting some of the biggest names in world music, WOMAD is a great occasion for discovering new musical gems. You will inevitably stumble across some exciting artists, or even entire musical genres, you’ve never encountered before over the course of the weekend.
With a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere, WOMAD claims to have ‘a little bit of everything’ and there are certainly many activities to suit all ages and tastes. Whether you’re after a relaxing foot massage or a kora workshop, a pint of real ale or a tasty cup of chai, you can be sure to find your bliss somewhere on site.
One of the highlights for me is the Taste the World stage, where musicians show off their culinary skills by whipping up their favourite dishes – which you can sample if you get to the front quick enough – and invariably treat the audience to an impromptu, intimate set. This stage can be found in the enchanting woods of the Arboretum, the perfect place to kick back and escape the heat of the midday sun – that’s assuming the sun will make an appearance at this year’s festival…
As well as showcasing music from far-flung corners of the world, WOMAD also aims to raise awareness of current global issues and charitable causes. One way you can get involved this year is by donating your old books to build a ‘Dream Bed of Books’. After the festival, donations will be sent to under resourced schools in Mali by the charity Send a Book to Mali.
WOMAD Charlton Park takes place between July 27-30. For more line-up and ticket information visit womad.co.uk