More than 300 artists from 22 countries performed at the World of Music, Arts and Dance Festival (WOMAD) in New Plymouth from 13-15 March. The sprawling Brooklands Park near the city centre is an ideal festival venue, four stages are set up in the big garden and festival goers can roam between them with stops for food and drink. Detours can also be made to the Village of Wellness for a meditation or yoga session, or to see what’s cooking at Taste the World.
WOMAD is a 3 night / 2 day event, I went on Sunday – $109 for a day and night ticket.The Romanian brass orchestra Fanfare Ciocarlia were a stand out for me with their fast and energetic performance getting the crowd on their feet early in the day.
I was intrigued by New Zealander Flip Grater’s story behind her song ‘Diggin’ for the Devil‘. The song was written after she’d visited villages in northern Argentina that celebrate Carnival by digging holes in the ground to let the devil out. Then dressed as devils themselves the villagers let their wicked side party for a week. At the end of the week the holes are refilled and the wicked partying stops until the following year, could be a starter for the bucket list.
It was tricky deciding what to listen to as the artist profiles in the festival guide were so well written that I wanted to hear them all, however personal taste soon dictated when I lingered or wandered. To match the world music, food inspired from across the globe is sold from strings of stalls throughout the park. I liked the Pic’s Peanut Butter caravan that looks like a shiny silver toaster with two pieces of toast peeping out the top.
There were a few eating and seating areas, my favourite was under the trees near the Lucky Star caravan serving coffee, juice and ice cream sundaes. Seats and shade were in hot demand given the sell out crowd and fine weather but I always managed to find a spot, if you’re not too much of a roamer taking your own chair is a good idea.
There were a few things that I thought were particularly well done at WOMAD – the elevated seating for over 65’s and the platforms for wheelchair users (they weren’t in the shade though so take a sun hat). The reusable globelet cups were a great idea – when you purchase a wine or beer ($6.50 – $9) you buy a globelet for $2 and reuse it for the day. It makes a good souvenir and is a useful item to add to the camping kit or picnic set. The globelets also reduced waste by a few hundred thousand cups.
The arts section of the festival included street theatre company Osadia. These well outfitted and made up hair artists create hair sculptures on the heads of their audience who then become walking works of art.
Being bald doesn’t preclude someone from having a hair sculpture, your head could be painted, a fake mohawk added and two parts of a wrench attached (see below). See Osadia at work at the Auckland Arts Festival from 20 – 22 March (free event).
Sinead O’Connor was one of the headline acts at the festival and came with a few surprises, for me anyway. She still has the shaved head that I remember from her heart clutcher hit ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, but she also wore a dog collar, a big crucifix and no shoes. I’m not familiar with any of Sinead’s recent work but I admired the raw and honest lyrics and her voice was as powerful and captivating as I remember – I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss is her latest album.
Sinead was undone by a duck that came on stage and quacked not long after she started her encore song – ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’. Although even before the quacking it was obvious she couldn’t rouse the intensity needed for the song, an intensity that she’d shown effortlessly earlier in the night. Sinead has since announced she will no longer sing ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, she’s obviously moved on musically, and I for one like where she is headed.
Two words – book early, 2016 WOMAD dates – March 18-20. I didn’t follow my own advice so my solution was to buy a little $16! tent from The Warehouse. It was a weather dependent trip for me and fortunately New Plymouth TOP 10 Holiday Park still had a few vacant sites when I made a last minute booking. Thousands of people camped at the racecourse adjoining Brooklands Park for a very reasonable $59pp for three nights. Fancy camping – glamping, is also an option.
PS. Thank you so much to the person who found my camera battery and handed it in to Lost and Found. I’m going to do five random acts of kindness in thanks.