WOMADelaide notches up 25 years in spectacular style

By Ian Williams

A smorgasbord of cultural and artistic innovation will be on show as WOMADelaide celebrates its 25th year in March with one of its busiest programs yet.

Organisers of Adelaide’s internationally-renowned, four-day world music festival love to surprise and this year they’ve added several exciting new elements to the activity list.

To squeeze in all the action, the Botanic Gardens site has been extended and for the first time breakfast with pandas will join the range of unique dining experiences.

The music line-up for the March 10-13 festival is as strong and diverse as ever, and includes over 60 acts and speakers from over 20 countries.

Hot 8 Brass Band will be bringing their infectious street brass sound from New Orleans while a group of 35 boys aged 8 to 16 will deliver the Manganiyar Classroom – a spectacular musical theatre production by India’s Roysten Abel.

Dance lovers will be leaping to Parov Stelar, the Austrian pioneers of electro-swing music, and the Specials who ushered in the modern era of British ska, a danceable mix of Jamaican Bluebeat and punk.

The Specials_LIVE[5]

The Specials at WOMADelaide

Local favourites include Archie Roach, who played in the first WOMAD 25 years ago, and the Waifs, who are also celebrating 25 years of music making.

This year WOMAD is also taking over Frome Park next to the main site for the inspiring French fire sculpture and art troupe Carabose to perform their magic, with a performance titled Exodus of Forgotten Peoples.

And in another first, WOMAD is teaming with its neighbour Adelaide Zoo for 10 couples to camp out and dine with the animals.

“WOMAD has never been a camping festival but we could be tagged a pseudo camping festival this year,” says WOMADelaide Planet Talks Program Manager, Vic Pisani.

Centre Tree night_WOMAD16_Credit Steve Trutwin

Centre Tree night at WOMADelaide

“It’s a pretty special accommodation package over four nights and I wonder if there’s another festival camping experience like it anywhere else in the world.

“Among the activities, there’ll be a barbecue dinner and night safari tour and in the mornings, after brekky with pandas and friends, they can have a nice hot shower and walk back into WOMAD.”

Vic says a feature of WOMAD is the many pockets of mini festivals within the main event.

A new addition this year is WoMade Boutique to be held in a separate exhibition and retail space to showcase 15 Adelaide designers and makers. Their work ranges from homewares to body products, leather handbags, textiles and sculpture.

There is also The Planet Talks program – a thought-provoking forum series over the WOMAD weekend featuring 23 inspiring thinkers from around the globe discussing our sustainable relationship with the planet.”

Food always rates high on the program and the much-loved Taste the World returns with some of the festival’s biggest stars swapping their instruments for cooking utensils.

Adelaide favourite Poh Ling Yeow is also bringing her Jamface café to the park as chef in residence. She’ll be preparing a feast of dishes from around the world matched with wines in the full-service Taste the World Restaurant. Bookings can only be made online.

As always, WOMAD caters for all ages, with the KidZone delivering a range of activities together with bedtime stories featuring children’s author Mem Fox, Play School’s Karen Pang and accomplished Indigenous artist Allan Sumner.