The 2008 WOMAD world music festival in the UK has proved a massive success. Back at Charlton Park, Wiltshire for the second year, Lord Suffolk’s magnificent grounds were turned into an amazing mass of color, sound and cultural activity, which saw 30,000 festivalgoers dance, sing and eat their way through a wonderful weekend.
WOMAD was back with the luck of beautiful weather on its 26th anniversary, after a run of 24 years of sun, last year’s festival was a welly festival for sure being hit by torrential rains all weekend. This year however, it has experienced a return to form with fantastic sunshine meaning red noses and shoulders were the only concern as families rocked up in there thousands.
2008 brought a new look site, placed over a greater area, it was met with great enthusiasm from artists and festivalgoers alike. With the main arena moving, to give both the festival a more free flowing feel, and to help counteract any more ‘freak’ weather, this new look to the grounds has proved a massive success.
Many new initiatives had been put in place this year that have been a success, one being the cup return policy (on returning a beer up, you get 10p back or 10p off the next pint), this has resulted in the festival having noticeably less litter, with many children taking it upon themselves to collect empties!
The WOMAD Festival has built up a reputation over the years as being the safest, and most family friendly festival to attend, and this year the festival organizers have surpassed themselves. Crime is at an all time low with only six arrests over the entire weekend. The Wiltshire Police and festival organizers have worked very closely this year to ensure that a safe, and enjoyable weekend was had by all!
Festival Director, Chris Smith – “2008 was an important year as we had to win back the trust of our audience and the local community after the mud bath of 2007. I am delighted that the success of this year has achieved both of these things and so much more, a fantastic festival with a great vibe in a beautiful place!”
This year was another phenomenal and eclectic line up, that only WOMAD can bring. Peter Gabriel called it – “…musically one of the best festival we [WOMAD] have ever had”.
The festival was full of many highlights, including Finley Quaye bringing everyone together with some classic hits as well as new material, followed by the energy filled Roni Size Reprazent who stated they were blown away by the vivaciousness of the WOMAD crowd. Nathan ‘Flutebox’ Lee proved you can do two things at once as he wowed the crowd with his eclectic mixture of classical flute playing and urban beat boxing. Playing in the Siam Tent, Toumani Diabate proved WOMAD is a family festival through and through by bringing his son on stage for the first time in the UK.
Hailing originally from Los Angeles, Dengue Fever, gave an amazing performance mixing their Californian West Coast rock roots with the influence of Cambodian sounds picked up by the lead singer whilst travelling throughout Cambodia in the late ‘90s proving once again WOMAD is the Mecca of global amalgamation. Going from the sounds of California and Cambodia to the witching music of Sa Ding Ding, China’s pop princess, who wowed the audience not only with her upbeat songs but also with the couture dresses representing her life travels throughout her home.
This was followed by the legend Eddie Grant who played classics such as ‘Electric Avenue’ to an ecstatic audience who couldn’t help getting on their feet for a Grant induced boogie! The founder of the festival Peter Gabriel was also in attendance conversing with Karl Wallinger at the Little Sicily stage talking about the upcoming album Big Blue Ball.
Throughout the three days, seven stages, 70+ acts, numerous workshops, the Taste The World area and the world of wellbeing which is dedicated to the tired feet of dancers, plus much more, WOMAD has one again proven itself in its 26th year as the number one festival for World Music, Arts and Dance.