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The Joy of WOMAD:

On the fringe of the city an opened window is greeted with the bursting rhythm of Djembe drums.

Horns and West African singing echo through the trees and up towards the hills, washes of cheering carried by the wind down to the city beaches. The call of WOMAD is upon us. The Adelaide CBD transforms into a cultural hub of celebration and gently remind us of “all that is good in the world”.

There is a sentiment that surrounds the 30 year festival that revolves around care and the idea that by putting on, what is largely considered to be one of the greatest events in the world, we somehow navigate the turbid seas of social negativity that often plague our feeds. WOMAD sets fire to our minds and warms us from within. Children play. Trees guard us. Singing and joy fill the air. For just 4 days in March the festival permeates the social fabric of the city and all is well for a time.

Deep inside the heart of the Adelaide CBD, nestled on Kaurna country, breathes the Adelaide Botanic Gardens / Tainmuntilla. The gardens have offered an ecological and spiritual grounding for our indigenous, city dwellers and tourist alike for what seems forever. No festival on earth can boast such a site. This is where the busy commotion of city life can be halted to pay respect and refuge to the 90,000 people who attend the event over the magical 4 days in March.

Peter Gabriel the great art-rock musician from the United Kingdom founded the world festival in 1980. WOMADelaide was held for the first time in `92 and through a steady development of credentials in things like zero waste, indigenous activism, site management and greening the city, it has won awards like the Helpmann Award for Best Contemporary Music Festival.

Families travel from far and wide to participate in the event and its magnetic energy draws talented art collaborators from all over the world. It is fair and honest to say that WOMAD has become the lifeblood of Adelaide’s performing arts culture. There is no where on earth like it. Ancient trees towering over multi million dollar stages that deliver incredibly high production. Safe and inclusive, the event manages to combine all of the arts practices into one experience for children and adults from all social demographics. It is utterly surreal. A daily parade of children dressed up in costume as enchanting characters train through the site, linked arm in arm, beating drums and throwing coloured dust into the air in celebration of life itself. It’s hard not to be swept up in it all. Bankers, Lawyers, Politicians and everyday people are all together, shoeless, under the same sun and stars. One minute the 70’s pop group Chic are playing, the next the Hindustani legend Ravi Shankar is delivering a mystical symphony. The curation is of the highest calibre and so is the production bringing the best out of people that are in attendance. It stands for a level of excellence South Australian’s have come to be proud of and there is no doubt the event has cemented itself into the eternal DNA of the Great State.

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