10 things you must check out at this year’s WOMAD Festival

If you're coming to WOMAD this year, make sure you get the full widescreen experience by immersing yourself in everything the festival has to offer. There are so many great events and activities on offer, but it's impossible to do everything, so we've selected 10 interesting things you might want to check out this year.

1. Re-balance your chakras with a cocktail at the Chakra Bar

If you’ve never been to the WOMAD Spa, you might want to think about upgrading your ticket to gain access to an oasis of calm not far from the craziness of the main festival arena. Alongside wood-fired hot tubs, jacuzzis, saunas, all-day yoga and therapists from around the world, the Spa houses a Chakra Bar providing botanical alcohol-free cocktails, power tonics, and turmeric lattes. The Spa is a luxurious sanctuary in which to relax, rejuvenate and restore.

2.  Do the WOMAD food challenge

WOMAD has a long history of bringing not just music and dance from across the world to the festival, but also a vast array of foods from every corner of the globe. Besides the great diversity in food traders across the festival site, we recommend you spend some time at the Taste The World stage in the Arboretum, where some of the artists performing at the festival will treat you to their favourite native dishes. Ghanaian artist Jojo Abot will be cooking up some ‘Red Red’, BaBa ZuLa will be rustling up some ‘Manti’ (Turkish dumplings) and Scottish folk band Rura will be asking you to taste some of their ‘Cullen Skink’.

This year we challenge you to taste as many new dishes as your belly can handle— from Goan fish curries to Spanish paella; Moorish chicken wraps to falafel platters. Why not snap your dishes and post them on Instagram with the tag #WOMADFoodChallenge to keep us updated on your progress?

3. Find your inner chi with some morning meditation

See to your well-being before a day of festival madness by checking out some of the morning meditative activities on offer. Group yoga, tai chi and meditation sessions take place across the site which are open to all festival attendees. If you’ve not done anything like this before, then WOMAD is the perfect place to start.

Morning yoga and tai chi in the Arboretum at Womad 2018

4. Participate in the Indonesian Gamelan workshop

There are plenty of opportunities to try out weird and wonderful instruments at WOMAD, and this year we particularly recommend you check out the Indonesian Gamelan workshop ‘in the round’ with percussive collective Kayai Fatahillah Ensemble. Making their debut appearance at the festival, this energetic group invite you to join them in bringing the amazing percussive sounds of Indonesia to Charlton Park.

5. Check out Liniker e os Caramelows: the band that’s ‘messing up’ the Brazilian music scene

Best known for their viral hit ‘Zero’, with it’s refrain “Deixa eu bagunçar você” (“Let me mess you up”), Liniker e os Caramelows have captured the attention of the Brazilian music scene with their delectable sunshine grooves. Led by the transgender singer Liniker Barros, this eight-piece from São Paulo mention Brazilian regional music, electronic music, ethnic music, MPB, pop (both Brazilian and American) samba rock, Brazilian punk and Black Sabbath amongst these influences. Whether laidback to the point of being practically horizontal on the slower numbers, or ratcheting up the funk in other places, everything is flavoured by a delightfully easy soulfulness.

Liniker e os Caramelows - Zero

6. Learn to play the Kora

The kora is one of the most recognisable sounds in West African music. It is a 21-string harp built from a small calabash, with a playing technique which resembles that of flamenco and Delta-blues guitar, using both hands to pluck the strings in polyrhythmic patterns. The instrument is used by male musicians mainly to accompany narrations, recitations, and songs in honour of a patron. Each year, WOMAD offers a rare chance for festival-goers to get a free demonstration and beginner lesson in the instrument. You can sign up for your free lesson at the Kora Workshop tent in the Arboretum.

Photo credit: Nic Kane.

7. Become a space explorer in the World of Children

This year’s theme at the World of Children is ‘Space’. Expect space unicorns, cosmic clowns, riotous robots, space oddities, moon watch, Ziggy Stardust, spiders from Mars, shadow puppets, a solar coconut shy, alien invasions and lots more. The universe is your playground! Everyone is welcome to create large-scale processional structures, costumes and headdresses, ready for the big family parade through the festival on Sunday.

8. Visit the Cosmodrome

New to the festival this year is the Cosmodrome from the University of Hertfordshire, adding to the scientific skyline that makes up our hub of discovery. This incredible planetarium boasts a packed daytime programme of the hottest topics in astrophysics such as black holes, the nature of dark matter and how galaxies form, and as night falls a crack team of astrophysicists will be on hand to point telescopes at some of the most beautiful sights in the cosmos and answer questions from the audience. There will even be late night showings of full dome visualisations of the Dark Side of the Moon and Holst’s Planets.

9. Check out Sandunes at the d&b Soundscape

The d&b Soundscape returns to the festival for a second year, offering 360° of immersive sound in a weekend of musical programming that will fully exploit the possibilities of this unique speaker system. Amongst the many ‘must-see’ performances on the stage is a set by the innovative Indian artist Sanaya Ardeshir, aka Sandunes.

Sandunes is a keys player, composer and beatsmith. Hailing from Mumbai, her work has trodden a global footprint lately, seeing her open for Bonobo at Manchester International Festival, support George Fitzgerald’s album release tour at Evolutionary Arts Hackney, perform at London’s Barbican Centre under a commission from Warp Records and Boiler Room. At WOMAD she will talk about her music: art meets technology and her fascination with gathering sound samples.  And for her performance, expect a gorgeous set of mid-tempo electronica, glitch, IDM and downtempo territory.

Sandunes performs a set for Resident Advisor

10. Discover the possibilities of playing music on a single string

Despite the limitations of his guitar outlined in his stage name Brushy One String, Andrew Chin is able to extract plenty of groove from his chosen instrument, in the process sounding not unlike those fabled Mississippi Delta bluesmen of yore. Hailing from Jamaica, the veteran musician will showcase his unconventional reggae rhythms at his workshop on Sunday before taking to the stage later that day.

Brush One String.

WOMAD Festival takes place 25-28 July at Charlton Park near Malmesbury, Wiltshire. This year’s festival includes appearances by Ziggy MarleyMacy Gray, Salif KeitaAnna CalviOrbital, Saving Grace feat. Suzi Dian & Robert Plant and many more


An iconic WOMAD performance

  • Live at WOMAD 1985

    Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

    Released 23 July 2019

    A remarkable record of a magical event that changed the perception of Sufi music to a wider audience and set Nusrat on a path to international recognition of his genius. The power and beauty of Nusrat’s voice comes rushing back through the years and lifts us up to the ecstatic heights of Sufi expression.

By Oran Mullan

Main image: WOMAD 2018. Photo credit: Jon Butters.

Published on Fri, 05 July 19

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