I’m going to get straight to the point. We love WOMAD.
So much so that we’ve been to the world music festival 3 times now. In 2010, 2011 and – after a brief hiatus with a huge baby bump – in 2013.
I’m not going to lie. That third year with a 10-month-old baby in tow was a very different experience to the years before it. The Boy was a pretty easy-going baby, but he was a baby nonetheless. We took more stuff. We stressed more about sleep. We basically just faffed a whole lot more.
But oh, it was worth it.
Even with some fairly dire weather, and a leaky tent, it was worth it.
I’ve been trying to put my finger on exactly why we like it so much, and I think it has a lot to do with this: WOMAD is not cool.
It’s not Glastonbury, or T in the Park, or Bestival. The headliners aren’t plucked from Radio 1’s most-played list. In fact, not only will you probably not have heard of most of them, but you won’t be able to pronounce their names, either.
WOMAD – which stands for World Of Music, Arts and Dance – draws from a global pool of musicians, so every new act heralds a new discovery (for us, anyway). The fat, brassy sounds of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble will forever remind us of their roving set in the Siam Tent. And the smooth, smoky voice of Rokia Traoré will always take us back to a field somewhere just off Junction 17 of the M4.
By default, the people who go to WOMAD aren’t cool, either (sorry, folks – I’m including myself in this sweeping generalisation). You won’t find a sea of teenage girls in Hunter wellies and cut-off jeans. Just a fairly middle-class, middle-aged crowd clad in a 50/50 mix of hemp harem pants and Trespass waterproofs (though not at the same time). The epitome of cool, WOMAD is not. What it is, though, is really chilled out. There’s no attitude. No agenda. It’s the kind of place you know your kids are not only safe, but in their element.
On the subject of which, kids are far from an afterthought at the festival. They have a whole area – World Of Children – dedicated to them, with dance classes, storytelling, interactive installations, and plenty more. Hundreds of children join in the Sunday parade, snaking their way through the music stages and food stalls (which are, in themselves, enough reason to buy a ticket – I wrote a bit about them here). The Boy in particular will love it when we go next year.
And go next year we will. Because next week, when the field fills up and WOMAD 2015 kicks off on July 24th, we’ll be listening to the highlights on BBC Radio 3 and wishing we were there.
Until next year, WOMAD. We’ll miss you.