Photo: womad.org
WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) is an international art festival held in various locations all over the world. One of the longest-running cultural events in the world, it has been held in more than 30 countries since its inception. The festival’s flagship event takes place in the United Kingdom.

WOMAD was founded in 1980 by Peter Gabriel, an English rock musician, and a group of friends. The inaugural festival took place in the English town of Shepton Mallet in 1982. The line-up included Peter Gabriel, The Beat, Don Cherry, Echo & The Bunnymen, Drummers of Burundi, and other performers.

The inaugural festival wasn’t a failure per se, but its high costs, lack of suitable transport for the venue and lack of publicity put into question its further existence. To save the festival, Gabriel’s manager Tony Smith suggested that he and the remaining members of the rock band Genesis, which Gabriel had left several years prior, participate in a reunion concert. The revenues generated by the show helped pay the debts and firmly establish WOMAD as an annual event.

The festival’s philosophy is based on presenting music that the WOMAD team feels to be of individuality, passion and excellence, regardless of geographical origin or musical genre. WOMAD strives to celebrate the world that has no boundaries in its ability to communicate through music.

Alongside exciting live shows featuring performers from various corners of the world, the festival program includes adult and children’s workshops, the Taste the World program, and the Global Market.

Adult workshops for musicians involve musical instruments, dance and discussions, while children’s workshops involve various arts and crafts. Taste the World is a cooking show where musicians cook a dish from their home country in front of an audience. At the Global Market, festival-goers can buy international food and wares from around the world.

WOMAD’s flagship event, WOMAD in the UK, is held in Charlton Park, Wiltshire, England on the last full weekend of July. Since its inception, the festival has also traveled to Australia, New Zealand, the UAE, Spain, Italy, Chile, Russia, and other countries. The festivals take place in different countries, but they share one vision and have one common goal, to promote tolerance and cross-cultural awareness and to present and celebrate the impressive array of art forms our planet has to offer.


Photo: Sally Walton


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