8 things you have to try at this year’s WOMAD Festival

Each year, WOMAD Festival presents a jam-packed weekend of performances, workshops and activities for the thousands of people who attend, but with so much choice, it's hard to know where to start. We've picked out some essential fringe activities that we think you should check out in between your favourite artists' live sets.

1. Take a gong bath in the World of Well-being

The World of Wellbeing is an escape from the festival craziness and a place to relax and enjoy a huge selection of therapies and treatments, from massage, acupressure and shiatsu to the slightly more unusual. Gong baths are a form of sound meditation, and will help you to relax, relieve tension, and instil a sense of calm amid the festival craziness.

2. Embark on a virtual space mission

Visit the ‘Give it a Go’ Gazebo on Saturday from 4pm to 6pm to explore the International Space Station. Wearing a special virtual reality headset, users will have the opportunity to undertake a set of short missions in groups, getting a sense of what it’s like to be an astronaut. Call back on the Sunday afternoon at the same time to learn how MRI machines work, experiencing a 360 video of what it’s like to use one.

3. Experience a live music soundscape

This year there is an exciting new stage, nestled in the corner of the WOMAD main arena between the Big Red tent and the ferris wheel— the d&b Soundscape. Named after the flagship sound system that industry moguls, d&b audiotechnik, have pioneered, Soundscape takes sound back to its basic, primal roots. This year festival-goers will experience how hearing is truly supposed to be, as the cutting-edge technology bridges the gap between physics and creativity, putting artistic engineering at the centre of the sound production process. Removing the sensory disconnect between the eyes and ears that most people don’t even realise is there, the experience at the Soundscape stage will be truly supersonic.

What is d&b Soundscape?

4. Have a quiet moment to yourself on the La Di Da Loo

Anyone would appreciate a little bit of luxury in the midst of festival grittiness. Available in both the main arena and the campsite, the La Di Da Loos offer top class toilet facilities as well as fantastic pampering options. Indulge in a range of gorgeous lotions and potions whilst taking full advantage of our styling stations, where hairdryers and hairsprays are at the ready to help keep you looking fabulous throughout the festival.

La Di Da Loos

5. Dress up as an insect and join the annual procession

It’s all about insects at this year’s World of Children. WOMAD is celebrating our many-legged friends and their hugely important role in our ecosystem that transcends all borders. From the micro to the macro, there is everything from the festival’s smallest Marionette Insect Circus to Aerial Bug Fun where kids can have a go at flying, gliding and swinging away on a giant trapeze, with workshops and activities galore in between. Little ones will be encouraged to get creative and design their own insect costume, make some bug bling with wibbly wobbly antennae, luscious ladybird headdresses or make a pom pom spider, or even help create some giant structures like dragonflies and dung beetles —all in preparation for the grand procession on the Sunday where mini WOMADers and adults, musicians and dancers come together to showcase their glorious work.

Photo credit: Di Holmes.

6. Learn about the physics of gin

What better education can there be than the Physics of Gin, as Edinburgh University physicist Dr Anne Pawsey proves with her fascinating, hands-on exploration of the science of the nation’s current favourite tipple, looking into the physics of alcohol, the influence of ice, and what actually happens when you shake a Martini— strictly for adults only. This will be one of the many interesting events taking place at the Physics Pavilion.

7. Hang out with the Woodland Gamelan

Festival favourites Woodland Gamelan will return to this year’s festival bringing their unique tools, tents and imaginations back to the arboretum, ready to convert the smallest piece of wood into the simplest instrument or create a full gamelan. A gamelan is a traditional ensemble made up of predominantly percussive instruments, which originates in the Indonesian islands of Bali and Java. The guys of the Woodland Gamelan create their own micro-community in the heart of the arboretum and their affinity with nature and creative spirit is infectious. Here you will experience a vibe which truly embodies the spirit of the festival.

Woodland Gamelan at WOMAD 2017.

8. Join a social network of hammocks

This year WOMAD has invited Brazilian art collective OPAVIVARÁ! to bring a unique installation to the Arboretum. They create interventions and situations which redefine public and private spaces, and this year they are presenting Rede Social at WOMAD as part of the World of Art; a multi-part hammock, tangible ‘social network’ that is a space for contemplation, experimentation and coexistence. Based in Rio de Janeiro, the group are bringing their colourful and inviting ethos to the festival.

OPAVIVARÁ! bring Rede Social to this year's festival

WOMAD Festival takes place 26-29 July at Charlton Park near Malmesbury, Wiltshire. This year’s festival includes appearances by Amadou & Mariam, Omar Souleyman, Leftfield, Camille, Django Django and many more

Book tickets for WOMAD

Classic WOMAD Sounds

  • 30 – Real World at WOMAD

    Various Artists

    Released 30 July 2012

    The symbiotic relationship between WOMAD and Real World Records was apparent from day one. When, in 1989, the record label was born, it immediately joined its seven-year-old big sister in the vanguard of introducing the world's finest music to our ears.

By Oran Mullan

Published on Tue, 17 July 18

Further reading

The Gloaming announce 2019 National Concert Hall dates in Dublin

The Gloaming return for their annual run of shows at the Dublin venue in 2019.

Richard Spaven announces new album and unveils single ‘Faded’

The new album, a forthcoming Society of Sound release, was recorded at Real World Studios

Track of the Day: ‘In The Sun’ by Joseph Arthur

A look back on Arthur's most popular song, which featured on 2000's Come To Where I'm From.

Real World Sessions: Remmy Ongala & Super Matimila, 17 August 1991

Rupert Hine and Stephen W Tayler look back on the 1991 session which yielded Remmy Ongala's 'Mambo'.