“The place reverberated under the mighty watch of Mount Taranaki with the kind of passion that only comes from the sheer celebration of diversity.” – Rosie Morrison, The Spinoff
It was a monumental year for WOMAD New Zealand, who delivered on their accolade as ‘Best National Event of the Year’ with this years WOMAD being touted as one of the best yet. From Mexico to Mauritania, Cameroon to Canada, from upbeat party vibes to quiet moments of reflection and meditation featuring ouds, koras and squeeze boxes WOMAD offered a unique experience for all. The weather over the weekend was festival perfect; warm but overcast, with the last drops of rain falling before the first acts kicked off the 14th anniversary of one of the most beautiful outdoor festivals in the world.
Dates for the 2019 festival have been announced as March 15-17.
More details to be revealed on the WOMAD website in the coming months.
“People chatted under shade, tucked into a dizzying array of food, danced in nooks and crannies, or took in spoken word performances on a stage surrounded by trees. Smiles seemed to be mandatory.” – Chris Schultz, New Zealand Herald
WOMAD 2018 – set in the stunning 55-acre Brooklands Park and TSB Bowl of Brooklands, New Plymouth – was one of the highest selling WOMAD weekends in its 14 year history. A completely sold out Saturday put the site at capacity with 12,500 audience members and 17,000 people in total (including all of the workers, artists and vendors). After the announce on Friday evening of Saturday tickets being sold out, locals rushed to snap up the remainder of the three day passes. Sunday ticket sales were close to 10k “one of the busiest Sundays” since TAFT CEO, Suzanne Porter has been involved.
Friday night opened clear, and over five hours of musical and cultural magic ended with a choice of two of the biggest names in dance history. On the Gables Stage performing a bass heavy dub-reggae set was Adrian Sherwood while on the TSB Bowl Stage, the legendary ’90s dance duo Thievery Corporation closed the evening with a full live band.
The second day of WOMAD was as wonderful as ever with what seemed like all 17,000 festival attendees present by 11am when gates opened. It was a day of more big headliners like Kamasi Washington (USA) and his extraordinary band and sitar virtuoso Anoushka Shankar (India/UK). Bixiga70 from Brazil, who performed their second set of dizzying South American electronica and African funk was a highlight as was the charismatic Chilean singer-songwriter, Nano Stern who performed on the Dell stage before heading over to the Nova Energy Taste The World stage to cook ceviche with Jax Hamilton. Saturday night closed on a high with the Melburnian producer Jake “Mista” Savona’s cross cultural Havana Meets Kingston who were joined by prolific Jamaican rhythm section Sly and Robbie “it all created fabulous party music which got everybody dancing for the rest of the night – all the way back to the campsite.” – Tim Graur, 13th Floor.
Day three, the busiest Sunday in the festival’s history saw Mauritanian singer Noura Mint Seymali and her trio deliver a set of desert blues to the leafy Dell stage while Tuareg collective Tinariwen wowed the Todd Energy Brooklands stage. The virtuoso Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela created an enormous sound with just their two guitars on the TSB Bowl stage, while festival favourite Jojo Abot (Ghana) slayed her second set of the festival closing the Todd Energy Brooklands stage on a high.
As anyone who has been to one of the three day festivals will tell you – WOMAD is about exploration and discovery, and this year’s highlights included; Lemon Bucket Orkestra (Canada) who ended their set at the Todd Energy Brooklands stage on Saturday night playing amongst the crowd. Also from Canada Le Vont Du Nord got everyone at the Gables stage stomping and clapping, while Violons Barbares’ stage chemistry and charisma won over both the Dell and Gables audiences.
The hand-picked local artists were as always, on point; Aldous Harding’s possible last show of 2018 took place WOMADs Gables stage, where the intensity was both “gripping and heartbreaking” (NZ Herald). Dragon’s set at 6pm on Saturday saw the band perform to an overflowing TSB Bowl stage. Hopetoun Brown and The Miltones performed their hearts out to full and engaged crowds, Maisey Rika performed soulful sounds, accompanied by Troy Kingi, Seth Haapu Horomona Horo, while Taranaki favourites The Slacks performed their biggest hometown show yet.
“…most acts put on repeat performances over the weekend allowing you the chance to customise an itinerary that would rival an around the world music trip.” – Rosie Morrison, The Spinoff
“There aren’t too many places you can sit on the grass and watch international music while surrounded by trees, birds, and water.” Stephanie Mitchell – stuff.co.nz
Where culture meets culinary The Global Village offered up a colourful, diverse and delicious line up of food with the commonly overheard phrase “I’m here for the food”. New festival features included Alan Scott’s wine tasting and the Garden of Brews which both went down a treat. The Poetry Slam (in it’s second year) proved to be a real festival highlight, packing out the Pinetum Stage.
Camping across the weekend was a focus for the festival this year, with a significant investment spent on ensuring the longevity and quality of the facilities that left both organisers and campers satisfied.
Comments on the festival from organisers were “It’s boring to say, but 2018 was the year of getting everything right”. The youth (13-17) were extremely well-behaved, it was the first year where youths had to be accompanied by a ticketed adult. There were no major incidents – arrests or medical. “It was operationally superb, we were really blessed with great weather and combined with the stunning line up –we delivered one of our best festivals yet” – Suzanne Porter, TAFT CEO.”
” What stood out about Womad was the diversity of activities on offer. I went to a poetry slam, watched a orchestra workshop, and sang along at the top of my lungs to bangers from Dragon. A 10/10 experience for my first Womad.” Stephanie Mitchell – stuff.co.nz